Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen in Ripple Ebonite



I wouldn't have ever guessed that I'd be shooting a video about a $40 piston-fill, flex nib, ripple ebonite fountain pen with a clear ink window, but here I am! Nathan Tardif of Noodler's Ink has blown me away again, and I'm here to share with you his latest unbelievable creation. It's the Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen in Ripple Ebonite. This material is one that's typically only available on particularly rare limited editions or vintage pens, but never anywhere near the price of this pen. Leave it to Nathan to do something that's never been done before.

The initial shipment of mottled and ripple ebonite Konrads that we received at GouletPens.com are long gone, and I was initially told that it would be a while before we would get more. But as it turns out we'll have more today, and the turnaround will be shorter than I was thinking, a few weeks instead of a few months for the pens to be available with some regularity. I think back to the initial days in early 2011 where Noodler's flex pens (the Nib Creaper, before the Ahab or Konrad was even around) would sell out in a matter of hours and have a 6 month wait to restock. And that was only 3 colors of them! Check out this post I did back in June 2011 about the flex pen release and how much of a rigamarole it was. Thank goodness we're not there anymore! I can handle a few weeks ;)

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen in Sahara Ripple Ebonite

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen in Rebellion Ripple Ebonite

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen in Sahara Ripple Ebonite, with (very) clear ink window, posts very securely

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen in Rebellion Ripple Ebonite, piston knob revealed after removing blind cap

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pens fully disassemble for ease of maintenance

Each pen's pattern is unique, but all of them are stunning!

A bed of smooth rocks makes a great place to set your pen, clearly. 

More colors of ebonite are expected, but this is all I've seen so far. 

These two pens happen to match patterns pretty closely, but others vary wildly from these. 

MACRO!!!

This would be an example of a differing pattern...

Here are some nice pics and a video preview of the pens for you. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me in the comments.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

34 comments:

  1. I have two of the plain Noodler's Flex pens. While I enjoy playing with them, the nib size at even the lightest pressure is *way* too big for my normal writing. Do you know if he has any plans for different size options on the nibs for the future?

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  2. Any idea if the QC is any better on these or is the difference in price only reflective of the materials? While I loved how the Konrad wrote, the build quality was sub-par. The first one, the barrel was routed out too big for the piston mechanism, I used it anyway and spilled a barrel of ink on carpet... you guys replaced it, and it seemed better. After the second filling, the second pen acted like it was stripping out a little, too, and rather than chance it, I stopped using it altogether.

    I like what Nathan is doing, and I want to support him (and you), but not at the cost of using a volatile, potentially "dangerous" (to my health - I've been warned to not let it happen again by my significant other) product. If the QC is other, I'd be willing to pay $40 for it instead of $20, but there's no way I can justify the cost on materials alone. Thanks.

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  3. Nice new title sequence!

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  4. I was lucky enough to bag the early release ebonite Konrad and am delighted with it. Better in every way than the other Konrads, Creapers or Ahabs. Great balance sans posting, the material has a lovely feel in the hand and it writes beautifully. The ink window is a great benefit. Oh, did I mention its beautifuL?

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  5. I have a Noodler's nib creeper flex pen, an Ahab flex, and a rollerball and have been disappointed in every one of them. These new Konrads are gorgeous and the price is certainly reasonable. However, once you stated that the nibs and feeds on these were the same, this became a no-go for me. Indeed, while I truly enjoy Nathan's inks, his pens leave a lot to be desired as far as I'm concerned. That doesn't mean that I won't be keeping my eye out on the reviews that are sure to come to see what the concensus is on these.

    As always, thanks for another great and honest review. Honest reviews such as yours help me to make educated decisions about individual products.

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  6. I absolutely do not need another fountain pen. But, I just put an ebonite into my shopping cart. I love Noodlers' pens: flex nib, built in filling mechanism, nice ink flow (except the Ahab), and a price that's hard to resist. The Konrad design is my favorite of the Noodlers. The hardest part today was forcing myself to choose between the mottled and the rippled pattern.

    And, while I was on the website, I got tempted to buy Noodler's brush pen. I'll try to justify that one by saying I can use it writing Chinese (which I am legitimately learning).

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  7. I'd read a few bad reviews of Noodler's flex pens and held off for a long time. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I ordered a resin Konrad. I love it! Maybe I just got lucky, but that is a REALLY nice pen. If used with a drier ink, I find it perfect for Spencerian script. I can't get really huge swells with it, but that doesn't bother me much. The important thing is that it goes from hairline to modest swell and back again very gracefully.



    I've always admired the ripple ebonite that you see on vintage Waterman pens, so I've just placed an order for an olive ripple Konrad. The ebonite that Nathan is using really does look like the old stuff. Can't wait to see it in person!

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  8. Seconded! I hope this is a sign of more videos to come!

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  9. Agreed. Imaginative and fun.

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  10. I have two Ahab's and a Konrad and all three behave differently. Their only similarity is that they all disappointed me as well.


    Ditto on the reviews.

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  11. No plan at the moment. Everything is going to stay the size it is for the time being, as far as I know. I haven't found the nibs to be all that broad, though the pens write VERY wet, so it can give a really broad line if you're writing on absorbent paper. What kind of paper are you using?

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  12. It's always tough when coming out with a brand new product like this, as there are QC improvements that will undoubtedly be made as the pens are out for a while. From what I can tell these ebonites are of a higher build quality, but then they've only been out for a couple of weeks and it's hard to say as I've only used a handful of these pens. It may be best for you to wait a little while and see how others review these pens before deciding to get one for yourself, just to be safe.

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  13. I'm glad you like it! This is kind of a new format I'm testing out...the intro/outro animation sequence is going to be a regular thing in my videos going forward for the time being :)

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  14. I'm glad you like it! I'm trying not to gush too much over these pens, but I really do feel that these are the best Noodler's pens made to date.

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  15. I'm sorry you've had bad experiences in the past, Noodler's pens aren't perfect, and they aren't for everyone. I think you're best waiting a bit on these, seeing the reviews that folks post, and then determine if it is worth trying later on once there's a more regular supply.


    I'm glad you like my review...I try to be as honest and straightforward as I can with the obvious affiliation I have as a retailer. One thing I can say is that since I've been carrying the Noodler's pens from their inception, I have seen significant improvements in their design and Nathan is always working to make them better. Keep in mind, before he came about, the cheapest modern flex pen you could buy was a Namiki Falcon at $144, so even with some of their quirks, the Noodler's pens have had quite a positive influence in the fountain pen community.

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  16. I'm sorry you've had a tough time with your pens, too. How are they behaving differently? Is it the way they write?

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  17. Haha...I know the feeling! I of all people don't "need" any more pens, but I added one of each of the Noodler's ebonites to my personal stash. I also couldn't pass up the brush pens....I don't do much with brushes but they are a lot of fun. And you can totally justify them for your Chinese characters! That's part of what they're made for, really. That and drawing.

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  18. There are plenty of bad reviews out there, no question. These pens in particular seem to get more pendulum swings in the reviews than most. I think a lot of that has to do with the price point...it attracts a LOT of new people with high expectations and little experience that perhaps are diving into the deep end with a flex pen, it also means that there is often tweaking/adjusting that may be required that inexperienced folks don't know to do. There are certainly legitimate QC issues as well, and for those I work to make them right and let Nathan know about them in case there are any manufacturing changes that need to be made. All in all though, the pens are "better" than they probably seem...Noodler's in general tends to attract some very passionate individuals that will sing praises if they love it, and tear the keyboard apart if they hate it. I know for a fact that there are certain individuals out there who are 'anti-Noodler's' that post scathing reviews repeatedly on different forums under various aliases to spread bad things about the brand. All of that craziness aside though, the Noodler's pens are some of the most game-changing pens to come out recently in the fountain pen world. No doubt a lot of the reason for so many reviews, too, is that there are just a lot of these pens out there in peoples' hands.


    I think the Waterman ripple was a benchmark for Nathan when designing the ebonite for these pens. I know he's a big vintage pen guy (watch any of his videos and you can tell he has a wealth of pen history knowledge!).

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  19. Brian, thank you for responding. Ultimately, I would have to ask myself which is the better value, a $40.00 pen that frustrates so doesn't get used or a $144.00 pen that performs excellently and stays in my rotation. I have everything from an expensive Mont Blanc 146 that I was gifted almost twenty-five years ago to a Pilot Petit 1 (which you don't sell, unfortunately) that cost me $3.50, all of which write beautifully for me. I also have pens that range in price from expensive to dirt cheap that are so-so writers or out and out bad. The reason I am so discouraged with the Noodler's brand is that no matter what I get, there is a problem with it. I soooooo like the looks of these latest Konrads and if the reviews turn out to be mostly positive then I may just take one more chance but, in the end, it comes down to a pen (at any cost) that I can use as opposed to one that will just collect dust.



    When Nathan's pens become as good as his inks I will be one of his biggest boosters. I love inks from the Noodler's collection that are as varied as American Eel Black to Apache Sunset and Antietam. As I said, I shall be keeping a close eye on the reviews the new Konrads get.

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  20. Well, pens like the MB and Petit aren't flex pens, so that right there makes it apples and oranges. The Pilot Metropolitan is an amazing pen for $15, but it's not flexible. Adding flexibility to a nib is something that most people don't realize is very hard to do...let alone at $12 or $20. If it was easy, there would be more companies doing it because there most certainly is a demand for it.


    The Noodler's pens aren't for everyone, you have to want to mess around with them...they're not always a 'take out of the box and go' pen like most others, you have to fiddle with them and get to know them.

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  21. Yes...all writing issues. I have one Ahab that I reworked both the nib and the feed and it performs fairly well now. The other Ahab has feed problems which eventually (hopefully) I'll be able to fix.
    The Konrad feeds ink like a fire hose, the filler threaded gizmo has a bad spot which seems not to be on the threads but in the piston bore...it gets hung up and you have to really apply pressure to it to free it. I'll play around with that pen as well....keeps me from chasin' wimmin'.

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  22. Yes Brian, the Noodler's Flex Pens are not for everyone, you may need to tune and hack the feed and nib to get them to write really well. This raises the question (again)...


    When are we going to be able to buy spare feeds and nibs for these pens? If you buy one, and mess up hacking the feed for-example, you have to toss the whole pen in the trash. What a waste! I thought Nathan was working to stop this kind of thing. After all, we can buy spare O-rings for the Noodler's piston fillers. Why can't we by feeds and nibs? All the feeds and nibs are interchangeable between the Konrad, Ebonite Konrad, and Ahab - so it's not like it is an inventory nightmare.

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  23. I have several Noodler's fountain pens. I'm not an expert fountain pen mechanic, but when I encountered flow problems I used Brian Goulets excellent videos on adjusting the nib. I was very pleased to have done the work myself.

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  24. Totally agree! These videos are such a good idea and are executed very professionally.

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  25. Very attractive pens - I am completely sold on Ebonite. I have an Ahab, but being left handed the flex feature is essentially untenable for me. Otherwise, I'd get one of these for sure!

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  26. Yeah, lefties definitely don't get to enjoy these pens as they were made to be enjoyed, and that kind of stinks. Still though, you could swap out the nib with another #6 nib (like Edison or Monteverde) and still enjoy the piston fill and ripple ebonite as a lefty.

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  27. I totally hear where you're coming from. Nathan does supply us with some spare feeds for those who tinker (and subsequently ruin) their feeds. I know that he's apprehensive about supplying feeds for sale because he is worried about the feeds being purchased to be used in other pens...personally, I don't think it's that big of a deal. It would certainly make my life easier if I could get an endless supply of nibs to sell! But alas, Nathan does things his way, and I will do as he wishes when it comes to his own products. I will encourage him to make replacement feeds available to the 'public'. Just know that replacements are (usually) available if you really need them.

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  28. I have two Ahabs, four Konrads, and they're all very unusual pens. Some of them did not write at all, some of them drooled, but none were good enough to even justify the $20 or so price. Yes, we understand Noodler's philosophy and their attention to detail, user serviceability, etc. but a pen should write when inked up, and these pens usually do not. Yes, experienced users can adjust them and are usually very happy with them, but the people who typically buy $20 pens (e.g., the Safari) and end up with a Noodler's pen based on raving reviews on FPN, or via a Google search, will be very disappointed, and discouraged to try fountain pens at all. I think that Brian does a very good job as a retailer/reviewer to point out that these pens are for real enthusiasts.


    However, I decided to buy the ebonite Kondrad, and I am blown away by how well it writes out-of-the-box. Perhaps this is the statistical anomaly or perhaps Noodler's did change something, but the net result is this pen writes. It is still unusual, and definitely not for beginners, but at least the pen writes. I am only talking about writing with light pressure, without flexing. I am not good at flexing and don't care about it too much. So maybe there's hope for Noodler's pens? Who knows. I think Nathan is also running the risk of antagonizing a large number of potential customers by introducing his personal political views into his products. I am not sure that is a good marketing strategy for him. Time will tell.

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  29. It's true that some of the pens are fussy, but they're actually the exception to the rule. Most of the pens write well out of the box, and most of the ones that don't usually do with just some simple tinkering. There are a LOT of these pens out there, and the seemingly high number of issues with these pens has as much to do with the volume of pens being used as it does with anything else.


    That said, Noodler's is still a pretty 'new' company as far as pen making goes, so there are improvements in quality happening all the time. The ripple Konrads are some of the best QC pens I've seen come from Noodler's yet, and I look forward to having them available more regularly. Despite the hiccups with the Noodler's pens here and there, it's still rather incredible what Nathan is able to do at this price point.


    And for his political views, that's not going to change. Nathan is who he is, and PC or not, he's going to be true to what he thinks is right. It absolutely turns some people off from his brand completely, but for others they love him that much more for it.

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  30. I have three Ahabs and love them. They have thier quirks but I see them like owning an old sports car, where the tinkering is all part of the fun. I just placed an order for my fourth Ahab and I am selling some of my vintage pens as I prefer how the Ahabs write. It took me over a year to finally buy a Noodler's, but I am really glad I got them.

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  31. Yeah, thankfully these are a little cheaper than sports cars ;) Good analogy though. They do take a bit of fuss sometimes, but they can also take you for a pretty wild ride.

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  32. Are these pens still available anywhere? Any idea when there might be more?

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  33. I'm sure you can, I put a Goulet #6 nib in my Monteverde Charisma and it fit just fine. I hope you got your answer earlier, I'm just now reviewing this post.

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