Just finished about five sentences with the Levenger Decathlon shown in the picture above. Here's my quick take.
- Looks outstanding; excellent formal pen.
- Great Schmidt-sourced screw-in nib (mine is medium); this means that for all of you with custom ground Bexley Simplicity nibs, they're a direct swap. Good flow, smooth, and despite what I thought when I first looked at it, the two-tone nib looks very nice.
- Fit/finish is great!
- Feel in the hand is very good; almost identical in weight to the TrueWriter as well as in all of the other dimensions.
- Although I've never owned one, this has an Omas-esque quality to it - the facets make it feel similar to what I'd imagine a Paragon feels like.
Seriously, an outstanding pen. Levenger really hit one outta the park on this one!
All right...time to do a more proper review of this one now that I've had it for a bit longer. I'll gloss over the stuff that I've already covered up above.
Initial: (See above)
Appearance: (See above) I do, however, want to make a few comments about a couple of styling bits that I've come to enjoy over the past few months. I've owned a handful of faceted pens, and what I really like about this one is that the facets aren't quite so sharp as some of the others (specifically, the Retro51 Double 8). They're nicely rounded, and have a softness to them that lets them rest pretty easily in your hand. I'm also a big fan of the wider-than-average pocket clip on this one. It's wide enough that it doesn't twist or fold over when it's in your shirt pocket, and make your shirt pocket look all out of whack. It just sits there, and securely holds the pen where it's supposed to be.
Design: (See above) Much of this has been covered elsewhere, but I'll make a couple of comments regarding the weight and balance. Fully loaded, this pen feels quite similar to the True Writer in terms of weight - somewhere between 25g and 28g with a converter. While it's not heavy by any stretch, the cap does add a little bit of back-heaviness. While it won't bother most folks (and normally doesn't bother me, either), on occasion, it'll feel just a little back-weighted, depending on what I was using before I grabbed it. It's weird; some days I'll feel it, and some days I won't. It may be on the days where I've used something that's really lightweight (a Waterman 52 or something similar), and then grab this after lunch or something. YMMV.
Nib: As has been discussed, the nib is only available (currently - I'd imagine that they're working on getting a few other sizes ready) in a medium. It's a very nice medium, too. The steel nib used here is very nice, and what I've noticed lately is that it shows off a little more shading than most nibs I own. I don't know if it's just my nib that does this, or if it's a characteristic of the design.
The other thing about the nib, and some of you will take comfort in this, is that it's the exact same nib as is used in a Bexley Simplicity, the Retro51 Double 8, and other pens. If you have a Simplicity with an excellent nib that you really love - it'll be a direct swap into the Decathlon. I happened to have a spare (F) laying around, and I decided to grind it into an XF cursive italic, and it swapped in just fine. There are plenty of these screw-in nib units available out there; I believe that Pear Tree Pen Co. carries them (in fact, I think that at one time, they had a few Minuskin'd stubs available, too), as do a handful of other retailers. They're not terribly pricey, either, so if a medium isn't your thing, you're not entirely without option.
Filling: C/C. Works as advertised.
Cost/Value: At $138, Levenger's pricing has taken some heat. Lots of folks have commented that it's pretty steep for a steel nib. I'm torn as to how to feel about it. On one hand, I can get a Retro51 Double 8 for a fair bit less money and get the same nib; on the other hand, though...I've owned a Double 8 before, and frankly, I didn't like it. It felt brittle, like I had to be super-careful with it for fear of shattering it. The construction wasn't/isn't as good as this Levenger pen, either. At the end of the day, I'd be more inclined to go for the Decathlon. It just feels more solid and well-made than the alternative. I don't get too hung up on the nib being steel, because frankly, some of my best (and most hassle-free) pens have steel nibs.
Conclusion: Even though it's on the pricey end of the scale, I think that it's a pen that should be seriously considered by anyone who's looking for a really solid pen, and a great writing experience - especially if you're looking at a faceted pen and don't want to spend the big bucks to get into the more high-end brands. This is a nice pen that writes really well, and with the way that Levenger is utilizing Google Adwords, it would surprise me if you couldn't find a 15% off coupon out there to equalize the price a little bit more if you need to.
Edited by MYU, 02 November 2008 - 18:21.