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Looking For Most Recommended Modern Flex Pens

flex omniflex pilot noodlers falcon conklin fpr

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67 replies to this topic

#1 Vunter

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 15:34

I've been wanting to get into flex pens ever since I started using fountain pens a few years ago, but didn't want to get ahead of myself.  So I started off with all the recommended beginner pens.  I've been writing with all my pens for awhile and now I'm itching to get into flex but would like some recommendations.

 

I've been watching a bunch of youtube videos and curious which flex pen most people here think has the best performance.  I hear vintage flex is where its at, however I can't afford vintage flex so I have to stick to modern flex for now.

 

Here are the modern flex pens I am aware of.

  • Pilot Falcon
  • Pilot Custom 912 - FA Nib
  • FPR Himalaya V2 Ultra Flex
  • Noodlers Ahab, Boston, Creaper, Konrad, Neponset, triple
  • Conklin Omniflex
  • Edit - Desiderata Pens

Like I mentioned above I'm curious what the community thinks is the best performing modern flex pen and feel free to let me know of other ones that is worth looking into.  I know mileage will vary.


Edited by Vunter, 19 December 2019 - 15:56.


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#2 WLSpec

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 16:39

If you're new to flex, I would encourage you to go for a Noodlers. People love those, I actually have not tried one (need to get on that) but based upon the price and reviews I see those look great for starters. I love my Falcon, though I could NEVER use it for everyday writing (I'm a lefty and the nib is ef, which makes an incredibly scratchy writing experience), but I'm okay with that because I didn't intend to use it for everyday writing. 

 

Also, vintage flex nibs are a whole new world to explore, so I would check some of those out too (although they can get pricy!)



#3 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 17:54

I don't consider the Pilot Falcon to be a "flex" nib... A fairly "soft" nib, OTOH...

 

The first pen I obtained that felt like it deserved the name "flex" was the Pilot 912 with FA nib. It nearly flexes just from the motion of my fingers when writing.

 

None of the other so-called flex nibs I've bought have been comfortable to me -- they may flex, but they need so much bloody pressure to obtain moderate spread. Among these:

 

Conklin Duraflex (Omniflex nib)

Stipula Etruria Rainbow LE (T-Flex nib), Model T (T-Flex I believe, Titanium I know)

Pilot Justus 95 (not really billed as flexible, but has that H<>S adjustment feature)

Noodler's Ahab, Boston Safety, Konrad, Neponset, Standard Flex Creaper, Triple Tail (especially unmodified nibs -- take a Dremel to the wings of the Ahab/Konrad/Creaper to improve the still heavy flex).

Monteverde Monza Flex (the other Omniflex nib)

Pineider La Grande Bellazza (HyperFlex nib)

 

Actually -- Bock Titanium nibs in Ranga offerings, and a pair of old (Stipula era?) Levengers also with titanium nibs have a smidge more flex then some of the above listed "flex" nibs.



#4 txomsy

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 20:20

While I haven't tested it, I do understand that most likely the best modern flex nib is the Montblanc Calligraphy nib. But pens go for up to 1000+ USD, so you probably do not want to go that route now.

 

As for the other pens... I understand a Pilot pen with a Falcon or FA nib may run easily for 100-200 USD. At that price range you can find vintage flex nibs that may be better (sorry, no experience with the Pilot nibs either so I cannot compare). You can get a Mabie Todd for that or even a lot less. If you look in German eBay, you can find many piston fillers with flex nibs in price ranges around those of a Noodler's Konrad with music nib (search for "füllfederhalter flex" and look at the vintage ones). My most beloved flex pen is a Salz Bros Peter Pan that cost me some 20-30 USD.

 

As for the rest... I'd venture to profer the following advice (but do not take me too seriously, I'm by no means a real expert and most of what I say is hearsay): from my point of view you have two avenues to follow.

 

The 'short term cheapest' is to get a Jinhao (or similar) and swap the nib for a Zebra G nib. This would give you an idea of what a great flex nib for an FP might feel like, if you can find one as flexible and thin writing. The downside is the nib will last a few weeks and you'll need to swap it again, so in the long run may turn more expensive (but also lots of fun).

 

The longer term, cheap, is to go for a Noodler's pen (if you can get a Konrad with music nib that may be nice, but a Creeper or Ahab will do as well with a flex nib after applying the Ease My Flex mod, look up the thread here on FPN), or a cheap -yet compatible- pen with an FPR flex or ultraflex nib (If you get the FPR flex nib, you'd apply the Ease My Flex mod to it, the UltraFlex is just a flex with the mod already applied, in my experience, a #6 nib has been more flexible and manageable). The downside is that it won't be as flexible as a Zebra G, but it will not wear out (not so fast at least).

 

Note that modern flex nibs (except perhaps for the MB Calligraphy nib) are actually semi-flex nibs and require a significant amount of pressure to flex, and so may result tiresome for long writing sessions (which is the reason for the Ease My Flex mod or buying an FPR UltraFlex, and for swapping in a temporary Zebra G as well).

 

To sum it up: what I did was test first a Jinhao with a Zebra G, then I tried the FPR flex nib and Noodler's nib creaper, then I applied the Ease My Flex mods and finally I decided to explore the vintage route, which is -I would say- the most satisfying. But, OTOH, how can one know if going vintage is any good without having tried first modern semi-flex to be able to compare?


Edited by txomsy, 19 December 2019 - 20:22.


#5 A Smug Dill

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 23:23

I've been watching a bunch of youtube videos and curious which flex pen most people here think has the best performance._...‹snip›... Like I mentioned above I'm curious what the community thinks is the best performing modern flex pen and feel free to let me know of other ones that is worth looking into.


But what do you mean specifically by "performance"? The range of sheer physical spread between the tines when flexed, the amount of pressure it takes to spread the tines, the rate of ink flow through the feed, the speed at which the flexed tines will snap back, the smoothness of the tips of the spread tines against the paper surface, etc. are all different things. What do you require for your particular writing application(s) and technique(s)?


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#6 MuddyWaters

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 23:48

To best answer smug's good question, you could try a dip pen with a dip pen nib. Those give a good flex experience for cheap and if you like feedback they are even better.

Link to a post about ergonomics I made: http://www.fountainp...with/?p=4179072


#7 Addertooth

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 00:11

I have a Noodlers Ahab.  It is very unimpressive.  The feed can't keep up with the (very stiff to use) flex.   At others have stated, some vintage flex pens are very nice, and without a wallet-breaking price.  



#8 melissa59

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 00:31

I have a Noodlers Ahab.  It is very unimpressive.  The feed can't keep up with the (very stiff to use) flex.   At others have stated, some vintage flex pens are very nice, and without a wallet-breaking price.  

Ditto.

I have to press hard to get the Ahab nib to flex. And when I press hard, my writing looks terrible.


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#9 loganrah

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 02:13

100% the #10 FA in a Pilot 742 or 912. 

I actually prefer the #15 FA (in an 823) for day to day writing, but if you want the best flex performance the #10 FA is amazing. 

A 742 with FA nib can be had for US$150 or thereabouts direct from japan. And it fits the con-70, which you'll need to hold enough ink for any serious flex use.



#10 Vunter

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 02:24

But what do you mean specifically by "performance"? The range of sheer physical spread between the tines when flexed, the amount of pressure it takes to spread the tines, the rate of ink flow through the feed, the speed at which the flexed tines will snap back, the smoothness of the tips of the spread tines against the paper surface, etc. are all different things. What do you require for your particular writing application(s) and technique(s)?

 

By performance I guess I just meant the best flex experience among all the modern flex pens.  When I watch pen review videos most say that these pens require more pressure and the feed cant keep up leading to a lot of railroading.  Maybe I'll rephrase best to better.  Among all the modern flex pens available what is the "Better" overall experience.

 

As for the other pens... I understand a Pilot pen with a Falcon or FA nib may run easily for 100-200 USD. At that price range you can find vintage flex nibs that may be better (sorry, no experience with the Pilot nibs either so I cannot compare). You can get a Mabie Todd for that or even a lot less. If you look in German eBay, you can find many piston fillers with flex nibs in price ranges around those of a Noodler's Konrad with music nib (search for "füllfederhalter flex" and look at the vintage ones). My most beloved flex pen is a Salz Bros Peter Pan that cost me some 20-30 USD.

 

I would totally spend 200 or less on a vintage fountain pen, but like every vintage pen I see costs like 400 - 900 depending on the pen.  I'll have to look into the German ones on Ebay. 



#11 A Smug Dill

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 02:37

By performance I guess I just meant the best flex experience among all the modern flex pens.


But experience is necessarily subjective, and evaluated by the individual pen user. I was asking you how you would evaluate your "flex experience", because that's not up to anyone else to know, or impose on you by assuming you want the same writing outcomes and employ the same writing techniques as they do.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#12 Vunter

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 03:06

But experience is necessarily subjective, and evaluated by the individual pen user. I was asking you how you would evaluate your "flex experience", because that's not up to anyone else to know, or impose on you by assuming you want the same writing outcomes and employ the same writing techniques as they do.

 

Well every single video I watch they all say the flex really isn't true flex and they all have ink starvation issues which requires a lot of feed priming while writing.  Because every single video I watch plus many of the forum posts I read share the same opinions and conclusions on the pens themselves I just assumed the community would have an opinion on what writes the closest or gets closest to the vintage experience.

I'll give an example.  Lets take two pens; mind you in this example what I say has no bearing on anything beyond a theoretical example.  Let's say The Ahab and the Conklin Omniflex.  If they both require similar pressure but then lets say the omniflex's feed keeps up better than the Ahab's feed.  Than to me I would say the omniflex is slightly better if everything else is similar.

In reference to what I am trying to ask I would say of all the modern flex pens which pen has the least amount of railroading, less need to prime the feed frequently, requires the least amount of pressure, and can lay it down juicy while flexing for the longest time without issue.  In my research all the pens I listed above have those issues, but which pen does it the least or not as often as the other pens. 



#13 A Smug Dill

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 03:21

Try a Pilot Custom 743 with 14K gold #15 FA nib, paired with a replacement 3-slit ebonite feed produced by Flexible Nib Factory and designed to better support "flex" writing in English, then. You get soft (i.e. easy to "flex" without requiring too much pressure to get broader lines) and juicy with that combination.

I personally hated the #10 FA nib on the Pilot Custom 912 so much, I ripped it out of the section and snapped the metal in two with my bare hands in frustration. But, as you say, your mileage may vary.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#14 loganrah

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:03

Try a Pilot Custom 743 with 14K gold #15 FA nib, paired with a replacement 3-slit ebonite feed produced by Flexible Nib Factory and designed to better support "flex" writing in English, then. You get soft (i.e. easy to "flex" without requiring too much pressure to get broader lines) and juicy with that combination.

While I agree that the replcacement feeds from Flexible Nib Factory are excellent, be careful with the 3-slit. It is insanely wet, far too wet for use wth many inks even for serious flexing. I would start with the 2 slit and only get the 3 slit if you still don't find that wet enough. But otherwise this is good advice. The FA nibs in either size are excellent.

And if cost is an issue it should not be that difficult to resell a 743 or 742 with an FA nib around here and recoup a reasonable fraction of your cost if you find that you don't like these pens in the end.



#15 A Smug Dill

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:24

While I agree that the replcacement feeds from Flexible Nib Factory are excellent, be careful with the 3-slit. It is insanely wet, far too wet for use wth many inks even for serious flexing.


I just reasoned that, if someone seems to think in broad terms that "wet is better" without some sort of quantitative criteria in that regard, it's better to go straight for the max — possibly overkill — so that it could well serve as convincing "evidence" that the chasing "juicy" blindly may not actually suit his/her purposes. Not, "this 2-slit feed supports my flex writing OK, but I wonder if I could get 'better performance' with the 3-slit feed," but hopefully either, "this 3-slit feed is marvellous and a wet dream!" or, "oh drat, this is too wet for how I want to write and it was a mistake, I'll now get a 2-slit feed and write that 3-slit feed off as not fit for my purposes now that I have had first-hand experience."

 

Knowing where the line is drawn is important, I think, and from what @Vunter has written, it doesn't appear that he/she knows where he/she draws the line yet.


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#16 Vunter

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:34

I just reasoned that, if someone seems to think in broad terms that "wet is better" without some sort of quantitative criteria in that regard, it's better to go straight for the max — possibly overkill — so that it could well serve as convincing "evidence" that the chasing "juicy" blindly may not actually suit his/her purposes. Not, "this 2-slit feed supports my flex writing OK, but I wonder if I could get 'better performance' with the 3-slit feed," but hopefully either, "this 3-slit feed is marvellous and a wet dream!" or, "oh drat, this is too wet for how I want to write and it was a mistake, I'll now get a 2-slit feed and write that 3-slit feed off as not fit for my purposes now that I have had first-hand experience."

 

Knowing where the line is drawn is important, I think, and from what @Vunter has written, it doesn't appear that he/she knows where he/she draws the line yet.

 

Your correct that I have 0 experience which is why I am seeking everyone else's opinions that may help my understanding.

 

Like your put into a room and the pens I listed in the OP are on a table and you have to pick one pen to write a one page or two page letter. Of the pens listed which pen would you gravitate to.



#17 A Smug Dill

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:48

Of the pens listed which pen would you gravitate to.

 

 

Pilot Elabo/Namiki Falcon. I have three of those (and haven't been frustrated enough to sell, give away or destroy any of them). But then my technique for getting line variation — in Chinese as well as English writing — is primarily based on moderating and fluctuating the pressure I put on the pen. I personally find (so-called) "flex nibs" counter-productive and annoying, because they just don't work well with my technique, which is no doubt different from yours.

 

I have a FPR Himalaya v1 with a #6 Ultra Flex nib, but while it sounded like a good idea at the time when I ordered it, it hasn't interested me enough to ink and write with it after I cleaned it. It's been sitting in my test tube rack-cum-pen rack for the past few months unused.


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#18 peroride

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 06:09

Your correct that I have 0 experience which is why I am seeking everyone else's opinions that may help my understanding.
 
Like your put into a room and the pens I listed in the OP are on a table and you have to pick one pen to write a one page or two page letter. Of the pens listed which pen would you gravitate to.

 
What do you need flex for?
 
That's a rhetorical question but something to consider before going down a rabbit hole. :bunny01:
 
TL;DR

  • 1 pen for life? Mottishaw flexible oblique on Nakaya or IndyPenDance/FPnibs Jowo #6
  • Just starting on a budget? FNF Jowo #6 steel flex, FPR himalaya v2 + extra converter, Conklin Omniflex, 
  • Just dipping into things? get a dip pen like @MuddyWaters suggests
  • Middle of the road? I thirded/fourthed the crowd suggestion on Pilot FA in #10 or #15 w/ double dip to recharge feed for flex. I'd skip the hassle of FNF ebonite feed install as it's plenty semi-flex enough for me

As grandma would say, "Talk does not cook rice"
 
I would suggest attendance at a pen show or meetup to try before you buy as the feel of the pen is a very individual experience.
 
I had the misfortune to get my vintage flex nib cracked by an experienced pen dealer specializing in vintage flex. It was a valuable though expensive lesson in more ways than one. Same pen but different feeling for everyone. 
 
My first flex pen was from Greg Minuskin, a vintage Waterman wet noodle :puddle: . I fell in love with the feel and line variation.
 
They're great but these vintage lever fillers and eyedroppers are not practical (for me) as their historical value adds delicate care and concern :crybaby: . Greg often offers Pelikan 140 and my wife loves hers but again not an everyday carry unless you're very attentive.
 
Then I heard about Susan Wirth who was a great proponent of line variation from an italic grind. She's right, get a nib ground and swoon, a whole new feeling of delight. :P
 
So for me I go for the feel and line variation is just frosting. :) I have other parameters but that is not relevant to this thread. B)
 
Maybe you don't need flex just a nib grind?
 
If you want flex and can't try in person, here are some handy links that have helped me:
 
If there's an emoticon, I own or have tried it.
 
Original list

  • Pilot Falcon
  • :P Pilot Custom 912 - FA Nib  Pilot 743 stock FA both plastic feed and as dip pen sans FNF 2 slit ebonite
  • :P FPR Himalaya V2 Ultra Flex - surprisingly good but not without initial issues for me
  • :unsure: Noodlers Ahab,  Boston ( :wub: flex or no-flex), Creaper, Konrad, Neponset, triple tail <-- someone did a great video here
  • :) Conklin Omniflex - I have it in All-American and a great workhorse but Yafa's transitioning to Jowo so hold off until dust settles
  • Edit - Desiderata Pens

Add ons


Edited by peroride, 20 December 2019 - 06:15.


#19 Honeybadgers

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 06:55

The pilot falcon will SEVERELY disappoint you as a "flex" pen without spencerian modification (added flex without needlepoint is about 50 bucks from gena saloreno, with needlepoint, 90.)

With it, it's a very delicate, high performance, very unforgiving pen. Without, it's just a slightly soft gold nib.

The Conklin omniflex is poo. Avoid.

Noodlers flex nibs are decent, but the FPR ultraflex is going to be your best low cost option.

The pilot FA is a real flex nib, and very good. But pricey, though out of the box, I adore mine. Real vintage semiflex performance, and you can get ebonite feeds for them from flexible nib factory for 20 to 40 bucks (only use the 2 slot feed, the 3 is a firehose and all but unusable unless you only use pelikan 4001 and write on tomoe river. The 2 will keep up with everything a normal human needs. I have tested both on my 823 with the #15 FA)

The aurora flex nibs are not really flexible.

Another decent option is the pilot 14k soft fine. Very acceptable flex. The platinum one is soft but doesn't spread.

I dont own a desiderata, but pierre and I are talking, and one is likely in my future soon.

One other option for a dip nib unit is osprey, their cheaper duo fold style pen and the more expensive milano can be fitted with a removable unit that holds zebra G dip nibs. I have found it to be good and reliable. And the Milano in ebonite is generally just an awesome pen, and their normal nib units are really good. They also have an EF stainless steel flex nib unit similar to the FPR ultraflex.

Titanium nibs flex but are mush and unforgiving.

The pilot justus 95 is a great everyday pen, flex is similar to a pilot soft fine, but can be firmed up. It's one of my favorite everyday writers. Big and light and comfortable.

Edited by Honeybadgers, 20 December 2019 - 07:00.

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#20 SoulSamurai

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 07:47

I strongly recommend a FPR Himalaya. They are great pens with ebonite feeds that come in both #6 and #5 (5.5 as FPR calls it) nib sizes. FPR have both flex and "ultraflex" nibs, I recommend getting at least one of each nib, so can see which one you prefer. Personally I love my Himalayas.

FPR have some other pens that can house their flex nibs, such as the Triveni which can accept standard international ink cartridges, but my most positive experiences have been with the Himalayas. Their ebonite feeds can keep up with the nibs in a way that plastic feeds can't always seem to manage.

I love my Noodler's Creaper, but I don't use it because it dries out too quickly. As do Noodler's other "vegetal resin" pens (same as many other companies' cheaper plastic/resin pens), their acrylic and ebonite pens work fine in my experience but only come in #6 nibs, so if you prefer a #5 (as I do) then the Himalaya is the way to go. If they ever release an ebonite or acrylic Creaper I will grab one of course.

BTW it seems Osprey have a flex nib now (eg https://www.ospreype...osprey-flexpert), that I believe comes in a section (the "flexpert" I guess?) that also accepts some dip nibs. I've only just heard of this one and I plan on picking one up soon, but for now I cannot comment on the quality.


Having said all that, my personaly opinion after experimenting with "affordable" modern flex pens for a couple of years or so is this: flex is fun, but stubs are easier to use, easier to get, less hassle, and writing with them looks great. They don't necessarily produce writing that looks better than flex nibs, but it doesn't look worse,and it's easier to get it to look good than it is to get flex writing to look good.

So yeah, don't neglect stubs.

Edited by SoulSamurai, 20 December 2019 - 07:53.






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: flex, omniflex, pilot, noodlers, falcon, conklin, fpr



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