A new step into my fountain pen addiction: pens with a flexible nib. The flexible nibs are used a lot for doing calligraphy, because, more than any other nib, the ability to change line width upgrades your quality of writing. The most recommended starting fountain pen with flexible nib is the Noodler’s Ink Ahab. Besides the flex nib, also known as a ‘smelly’ pen. Let’s try it out!
The Noodler’s Ink Ahab fountain pen is produced in the USA by the Noodler’s Ink company. It’s available in many online webshops, and it offers a cheap introduction to flexible nibs. Good flexible nibs are very expensive (also because eg. gold nibs are not as stiff as steel ones) and will please you more when you take writing with flexible nibs more seriously. Nevertheless, the Noodler’s Ahab is not a waste of big money if you just wanna give it a try.
I ordered my Ahab online at La Couronne du Monde for € 23. The pen just comes in a paper box, nothing special or fancy. When you sort the pen for the first time, you will immediately notice a smell, a bad smell, and it seems I am not the only one who complains about this. The reason is the body of the pen is made of ‘vegetal resin’ (whatever this can be). Meanwhile, I have the pen for almost a year, and the smell is less than at the beginning. But the smell is not that disturbing, and you get used to it :-).
I have the impression that the pen is most available as a transparent, clear pen, often referred to as a demonstrator pen. But it seems the Ahab is also available in other transparent colours. I like the clear version, which let me see the inkflow and what is going on inside the pen.
The body of the pen is made of good quality ‘plastic’ (I don’t know if I can call this plastic) . It’s smooth and gives a good warm and soft feeling when holding the pen in your hands. Much better when you compare this with eg. a Preppy.
For opening the pen, you just have to unscrew the cap, and I like this unscrewing ceremony. When screwed on, it stays at its place. The cap has a (stainless) steel clip. The clip is quite big and I don’t know why at the middle of the clip it bends extremely outwards. The clip shows it is a ‘Noodler’s ink’ fountain pen. Then, for the first time since I’m doing fountain pen reviews, I noticed the clip starts to rust on the inside where the clip connects with the cap. This happend after I cleaned the complete pen with water. Such a shame!
You can use the pen posted, the cap will stay tight and secure.
The Ahab is a piston filler pen. You have to unscrew the body to get access to the filler mechanism. I had to use a lot of power to get it unscrewed, so be careful not to screw it too hard. All parts of the pens can be separated, this makes it easy for cleaning the pen. The piston filler mechanism works well. I filled the pen with the Iroshizuku Tsukushi (by Pilot) ink.
If you remove the piston filler system, you can convert this pen easily into an eyedropper pen. Just use some silicon grease to get it thoroughly closed.
The grip of the pen gives the same good feeling as the body. Even with sweaty hands, I had no problems with it. Beneath the grip, you see the ink flowing. This looks nice and is somewhat special.
As mentioned above, the nib is a #6 flexible nib. With this nib you can vary the linewidth by using pressure. By doing this your handwriting will join the calligraphy world, the world of handlettering. Now, with this steel nib, the big disadvantage is you have to use a lot of pressure and therefor it’s difficult to control the output. Also you have to be careful not to use too much pressure and thus causing damage to the nib. It will take a lot of practice with this pen to get decent results.
To get 100% result of a flexible nib, you need a good inkflow, and that’s not always the case. You have to adjust your speed of writing to get the ink out of it, and on many occasions, inkflow started to late or resulted in railroading (only outer lines with no ink inside). And then there is also the quality of the paper that should reduce feathering of the ink. This occurs when the paper cannot deal with the amount of ink on it.
I took this pen a lot with me (in a bag on the back of my bike) and I noticed some spoil of ink inside the cap. So, when using the pen a lot, you should consider to clean out the inside of the cap.
Final conclusion: the concept and the idea behind this pen looks good, but I expected more. This pen really has some minor and weak points, and also you will have to practice a lot to get good results. No, this pen is not my cup of tea. If you want to do real calligraphy, save your money, be patient, and go for the more expensive pens.
The good and the bad:
+ price/quality considering to be an intro to calligraphy
+ easy convertable to eyedropper
– insufficient inkflow resulting in bad starts and railroading
– the pen smells bad
– inside of the clip starts to rust
Some technical info:
- 13,9 cm closed
- 12,7 cm without cap
- 17 cm posted
- 20 gr. complete (empty)
- 12 gr. without cap
- 1,4 cm barrel
- 1 cm grip
- 1,5 cm cap
- 2 cm cap with clip included
Another flex nib cheap solution with the Jinhao?
–> soon available