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Delike's got a new offering in the form of the Delike Element and well OK let's admit it its a clone of a particular famous German model , this time instead of the usual EF and Mini fude , the pen is offered with Fine or Mini-Fude

 

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I find it rather exciting. However, I'd like to see also some technological innovation and wish they started making proper replicas of some great historical pens like Montblanc 13x.

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to be honest I feel nothing for them ; those German company ... No I do not condone cloning, copying, or pirating design but these days even as a veteran fountain pen user I must say I am finding less to like the German fountain pen in general, yes the Montblanc Meisterstück are still good pens ; the Pelikan Souverän still good performing pens, and the Lamy 2000 also ... but seriously I am not seeing much of a progress from them ... and their QC and general quality of pens these days except for top dollar items is proving to me going down with each new purchase I did .. so if someone from outside can shake them up a bit I am all for it ... let me say this my Lamy Safari Petrol and Dark Lilac sit idle these days , they come to me NIB write worse than my more than 20 years old late 80's no frill basic Safari, and many of the Chinese fountain pen that use that Lamy style nib is proving actually better pen ( if not better nib ) , Kaweco is in the same boat .. I am still waiting on them to provide us with a proper production of the vintage Kaweco sport aka Piston filler instead of wasting money on cartridge or that over expensive and not particularly working mini converter.

 

As far as the element goes I might actually go get one ; it seems a good candidate for knock around EDC ; and I do like the Delike mini-fude nib anyway

Edited by Mech-for-i
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MuddyWaters

to be honest I feel nothing for them ; those German company ... No I do not condone cloning, copying, or pirating design but these days even as a veteran fountain pen user I must say I am finding less to like the German fountain pen in general, yes the Montblanc Meisterstück are still good pens ; the Pelikan Souverän still good performing pens, and the Lamy 2000 also ... but seriously I am not seeing much of a progress from them ... and their QC and general quality of pens these days except for top dollar items is proving to me going down with each new purchase I did .. so if someone from outside can shake them up a bit I am all for it ... let me say this my Lamy Safari Petrol and Dark Lilac sit idle these days , they come to me NIB write worse than my more than 20 years old late 80's no frill basic Safari, and many of the Chinese fountain pen that use that Lamy style nib is proving actually better pen ( if not better nib ) , Kaweco is in the same boat .. I am still waiting on them to provide us with a proper production of the vintage Kaweco sport aka Piston filler instead of wasting money on cartridge or that over expensive and not particularly working mini converter.

 

As far as the element goes I might actually go get one ; it seems a good candidate for knock around EDC ; and I do like the Delike mini-fude nib anyway

I'm all for pushing the game but copying those designs you critique is something else. Sure lamy and kaweco steel nibs suck, which is why I don't buy them, but Faber Castell Makes consistently good pens and nibs. Also it is an exaggeration to say that German qc has gone down when the bodies of their pens are still much better than that of Chinese pens.

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Honeybadgers

Oh HELL YES.

 

I was hoping they'd copy the liliput.

 

I dunno why, but I just do not like kaweco, and delike just seems to make their pens better for a quarter the price..

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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I ordered one. The real thing was just too rich for my $100 a month internship wage. That one I can stomach. One day I might get me a Fireblue, but right now that one will do just fine.

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I'm all for pushing the game but copying those designs you critique is something else. Sure lamy and kaweco steel nibs suck, which is why I don't buy them, but Faber Castell Makes consistently good pens and nibs. Also it is an exaggeration to say that German qc has gone down when the bodies of their pens are still much better than that of Chinese pens.

 

what I mean by going down is by comparing with their older German peers ; and I stick to that, it;s not really restricted on one brand , my 1990's M200 / M205 outperform my new one on all account ; the current MB 114 , which I really want to get one , had proven to be not quite as fluid operating as my old workhorse ( end up not buying ) , and multiple purchase I've made convince me that ; Faber Castell do maintain a certain quality threshold but really at the price they ask for I expect them to, their nibs still disappoint, especially the steel, nail all over. No its not only about the steel nibs, gold nibs from German Mfr sees similar ... the variation on them seems even greater .. and as far as bodies goes , well well ... it depends ... really only the top dollar / top end models seems the case of being quality... I can tell you in no uncertain term that plenty of the current German fountain pen are no better and no worse than some of their Chinese counterparts and some Chinese ones are actually way better build , MB Meisterstück, Pelikan Souverän and Lamy 2000 ( but not their other models ) are all still maintaining high quality but again at the price point and price range they should be .. not so with their mid to entry level items ( with some individual exception )

Edited by Mech-for-i
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Honeybadgers

I'm all for pushing the game but copying those designs you critique is something else. Sure lamy and kaweco steel nibs suck, which is why I don't buy them, but Faber Castell Makes consistently good pens and nibs. Also it is an exaggeration to say that German qc has gone down when the bodies of their pens are still much better than that of Chinese pens.

 

I would argue that there is no validity that a german pen in the $100 range and a chinese pen in the $25 range are very far apart on quality of bodies.

 

The delike alpha is a little bit rougher on the size of the facets than the sport brass (if you look closely you can see a few facets longer than the others, but you can't feel it, and at a glance you'd never notice) but the alpha actually has a smoother screw cap and that extra centimeter totally transformed the pen into one that can be used unposted if needed for a superquick note. I've used my sport twice. I don't remember a time in the past 3 years where my alpha wasn't inked.

 

German nib QC has gone down. Body QC definitely not. But China has grown by orders of magnitude. My M205 demo stains if you look at it wrong, after a week with pilot blue black was quite noticeably stained. My wing sung 698 has been inked with just about every color I have for nearly 2 years straight and isn't stained one iota.

 

I ordered 3 of these. Will probably give 2 away as gifts. I wonder if the liliput clip will fit, I know the kaweco sport clip is too small for the delike.

 

I hope it has the lathe turn spiral that is somewhat visible in the pics. That'd feel really cool.

Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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MuddyWaters

I will argue Faber Castell nibs another time but I don't know of a German maker whose bodies fall apart like that of Chinese pens. All the entry levels pens are quite solid and well made. The $30 Chinese pens are nice but many still feel cheap.

 

I will agree though about the whole kaweco predicament. Kaweco makes unspectacular bodies for a ridiculous price. The alpha delike though is not a generalizable example since it's basically a brass plumbing instrument.

Edited by MuddyWaters
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The thing that really limits the number of Chinese pens i want to carry is the nibs. I use stubs, mediums and broad nibs. Pens with Chinese nibs just don’t get used. The character of the line is boring. My Delike with the fude is okay for a while. Some pens one can swap nibs but others not. And as far as I can tell you can’t know which can be easily swapped until you have the pen in hand. It’s pen by pen. The ability to put in an enjoyable nib can’t be determined before you get the pen

To hold a pen is to be at war. - Voltaire
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The thing that really limits the number of Chinese pens i want to carry is the nibs. I use stubs, mediums and broad nibs. Pens with Chinese nibs just don’t get used. The character of the line is boring. My Delike with the fude is okay for a while. Some pens one can swap nibs but others not. And as far as I can tell you can’t know which can be easily swapped until you have the pen in hand. It’s pen by pen. The ability to put in an enjoyable nib can’t be determined before you get the pen

 

The petite calligraphy nib ( in both open and hooded variant ) is likely the one you would want to stick with ... also Hero's newer no.5 on their ( non economical price ranged ) mid range or top range pens are generally labled as 0.58mm or 0.6mm , practically writing FM or M .. and you can forget Stub or B for most part ... the said size just do not work for daily use writing Chinese the language by any measure and for those who want to be artistic, and do quasi or full Calligraphy with the language they would turn to the full Calligraphy ( aka Fude ) nib ; though M nib is indeed offered ( both Lamy Style, and Pilot style type nib ) and B size nib are also offered in both no.5 and no.6 by specialty nib supply ( Calligraphy / Art supply )

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Honeybadgers

The thing that really limits the number of Chinese pens i want to carry is the nibs. I use stubs, mediums and broad nibs. Pens with Chinese nibs just don’t get used. The character of the line is boring. My Delike with the fude is okay for a while. Some pens one can swap nibs but others not. And as far as I can tell you can’t know which can be easily swapped until you have the pen in hand. It’s pen by pen. The ability to put in an enjoyable nib can’t be determined before you get the pen

 

 

I recommend you just invest in stub and broad nibs to swap. Knox's oblique double broad is buttery smooth and fits any chinese #5. Chinese pens are almost all (excluding the hooded examples, but those can accept fude nibs that give a broad experience) completely modular that way. Even the wing sung "pilot" nib can take the italic from a plumix.

 

Apart from the hooded designs, I can't think of a chinese pen I own that isn't easily swappable

 

I swapped the nib out of my delike alpha for a 14k manifold from an eversharp skyline. It fits like it was made for the pen.

Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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Me, although I have as many Delike Alphas as Kaweco Sports, I do find the quality and finishes of the Kaweco fairly superior. Plus they offer a larger variety of nibs and finishes. Until the Chinese start producing copper or fireblue torched pens, and metal threads inside the cap, etc..., I won't say the Kaweco are inferior.

 

Yes, certainly some things are better in one or the other. But going for a proven success and cloning it is always lagging behind. I now no longer get Alphas: cheaper clones do exist. But that leaves all innovation and risk in the hands of occidental companies: the copper liliput, the fireblue, the carbon fiber, all materials and finishes are first tested in Occident and produced in better quality. Chinese produces just wait and come with a slightly improved, lower quality, cheaper knock-off, they just take the easy way.

 

Innovation and quality do cost, and the risk involved costs even much, much more. Salaries and worker benefits aren't comparable either. I agree, many companies (like Kaweco) could do better. But still, I think their price is justified. And there is a market for it.

 

And I do think the day Chinese companies decide to venture into developing totally new, risky products and their workers getting comparable benefits, prices won't be so different.

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Honeybadgers

Is there a copper kaweco sport, or just the brass?

 

I disagree that china's prices are because they copy everything. The wing sung 698 isn't a copy of anything, has a novel snap down system for its piston, delike's bent nib is really lovely, moonman's been throwing out incredibly interesting designs one after the other that are modernist masterpieces (the C1 is clean, crisp, precisely machined, well thought out, and feels ultra premium) And PenBBS has been a HEAVY innovator in the market, with amazing acrylics, 100% original designs, well made self fillers, and a general very high fit and finish.

 

The only real let down from china right now is the lack of nib variety, but to me, that's just a moot point. Kaweco nibs are junk to me, highly prone to baby's bottom. I'd rather get a delike with a bent EF nib that I almost guarantee to write well, and have the option of swapping them with just about everything (the kaweco's odd little bock #5 is not happy to swap with a lot of other nibs) And visconti is famous for its appalling quality control. High end pens like the parker sonnet are prone to drying out and that problem hasn't been fixed in decades.

 

You're conflating price with quality. In the world we live in, it's simply not true. Apple products cost a lot more than competitors and offer nothing more in terms of outright physical quality.

 

These aren't pharmaceuticals. It doesn't cost millions to engineer a pen. Some may be more complex than others like the facets and materials in something like the visconti divina, but We've even seen that degree of extremely precise, flawless machining out of china in a few penBBS models (the 380 is a stunner)

 

I just don't follow your logic when it comes to china at all. Yes, the country is into some shady, shady (bleep) (their complete disdain for copyright for one) but when Wing sung wants to make a perfect copy of the parker 51 with a modernized, updated vacumatic filling system and the addition of an ink window to the design, I'm not going to complain about being able to buy a great product that isn't being made anymore anyways.

 

The alpha is kind of an odd duck in that it clearly copies the sport, but I would wager that one change to increase the length changes it into a completely different pen.

Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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I tend to agree, but the devil hides in details.

 

Generally speaking, Chinese brands tend to mass-produce cheap products for average consumers. They need to make sure their products will be sold while containing production costs. Thus, quality control design, improvements, variability and risks should be minor. Addressing big masses also means you better limit yourself to well-proven, popular designs and ignore anything but what will appeal to maximal market. No experimenting, no diversifying beyond safety nets.

 

So, they look at trends, influencers, etc and reproduce a cheap, safe, slightly improved (to reduce cost yet increase appeal) version for the masses. And when the fashion fades they stop production.

 

But, as far as I know, the Alpha is discontinued. So is the PenBBS 350 which is similar but longer. They just look for the quick buck. Which is OK but imposes limits. It is just their business model.

 

OTOH, you do not see unvarnished brass Alphas, nor copper or fireblue clones of the liliput, stonewashed pens, as many colors, carbon fiber, etc... They just provide a pre-aged, frozen, varnished, stable look for those who would like to follow the trend of the day. These pens will (for the average consumer) never change. No risk of a user discontent because his/her pen didn't age like the ones in Internet pictures.

 

 

That's not the business model of Kaweco and other companies.

 

These others do invest in exploring new, aggressive designs, and since development is so costly, they exploit it making a huge variety of models (how many different LEs of the Meisterstück are there?). Introducing novelties to the market is expensive (there are no precedents), so when they succeed, the model is kept around for as long as possible (over a Century for the Sport), even if they do major changes to it (eyedropper -> lever-filler -> piston filler -> cartridge -> converter)... They become easily identifiable and maintain marketing campaigns to sustain the brand.

 

They aim to customers who want a different product, one that speaks of quality, they can be proud of owning, one that identifies them or which they can identify with, personalized, unique, either factory unique (Stonewashed, fireblue) or personally unique (aged brass/copper). Something that tells them they are not an anonymous number in a huge mass. Something they can feel attached to and pass on to their loved ones to tell them they, too, are special. And these customers are willing to pay a price (time, money, ...) for it.

 

It is an altogether different business model.

 

One sells uniqueness, the other, the illusion of uniqueness. Different models. Different targets. Different prices.

 

From a functional point of view, some improved Chinese pens may be superior.

 

From a technical, quality, personal, individual point of view, some Western pens may be superior.

 

They are just different business models.

Edited by txomsy
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[snip]

 

As far as the element goes I might actually go get one ; it seems a good candidate for knock around EDC ; and I do like the Delike mini-fude nib anyway

 

That's how I see it. They ditched the plastic thread insert of the brass Alpha, abandoned the War and Peace eyesore and sized it between the Liliput and Supra.

 

No lacquer finish either. Just the brass.

 

1908040405PM.jpeg

 

It's a solid under US$10 all-brass pen with a good Delike #5 nib and a standard converter. The texture finish is something new they've added to the mix that's quite nice.

 

My full take is here.

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Very nice review.

 

How does the threading of cap and barrel feel like. I confess that that (and the larger diameter/length) are the two main things that put me off getting one.

 

I already have a copper liliput and do really love it.

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Very nice review.

 

How does the threading of cap and barrel feel like. I confess that that (and the larger diameter/length) are the two main things that put me off getting one.

 

I already have a copper liliput and do really love it.

 

Thank you. Both threads feel correct - not overly tight or loose. No cross-threading. They are a lot like the threads on the Moonman M1, which I suspect was made by Delike. That pen has held up well.

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