Pen Review: Pilot Metropolitan

This week I’m checking out the Pilot Metropolitan: the number one fountain pen on Amazon and arguably the best beginner’s fountain pen ever made. This is the Honda Civic of pens. Like a Honda Civic, it delivers unrivaled quality for it’s price ($13) and it lasts forever even if you mistreat it.

The Writing Experience

I wanted to love this pen. A part of me even wanted it to usurp last week’s pen, the Kaweco Sport, as my go-to. But there’s one fatal flaw–for me at least–that makes this the five star pen I’m going to re-gift at the first opportunity.

Like so many great writers, the Pilot Metropolitan is severely unbalanced. The barrel and cap are made out of brass. There’s a commanding heft to it, which I do like. But when the cap is posted, all the heft makes the pen top heavy. Your experience may differ, but I couldn’t find a comfortable way to write with the cap posted. Even with the cap completely off–where it will inevitably go missing–the barrel is still so much heavier than the plastic grip.

This has more to do with the way I write and my personal taste than any fault in the design. But if this sounds like a writing experience you wouldn’t enjoy, may I suggest the Kaweco, which you could probably balance on your nose.

Design and Looks

On your desk or in your hand, this is a gorgeous writing instrument. No pen under $20–and very few at any price–can compete with the Metropolitan in the looks department.

Mine is from the Retro Pop series. Accented with an orange hippy flower print, it looks like the Porsche Janis Joplin died in. There’s also an Animal Print series, featuring white tiger, leopard, lizard, python, and crocodile. Those look a little goofy, if you ask me.

Pilot-metropolitan

The presentation is something special. It comes in a padded tin box and a boutique-ish little bag. The effect is charming like “awwww, you didn’t have to do that.”
Pilot-Metropolitan

The Nib

The Metro has a steel nib that still manages to give you some warmth and just the right amount of feedback. It’s not scratchy, but it doesn’t let you forget that paper has a grain and texture.

It’s a Japanese medium, which is more like a German fine. The “sweet spot” is generous, you can write from almost any angle and still get a clean line. It’s not super wet

pilot-metropolitan

When I varied the pressure, I could control the line in a way that reminded me of writing with a calligraphy pen. I don’t have the penmanship to make the most of this, but it would be a treat for someone who does.

The nib is long, like a less boxy Lamy Safari nib. This length could be where some of the springiness comes from. I found the Metro favors a vertical writing style, closer to an ordinary pen. I could see this being handy for a beginner who’s never given any thought to the angle of their writing utensil.

Looks wise, the nib is precisely engineered but totally generic. It’s about as exciting as the suspension on a Honda Civic. That’s the point.

The Ink

Mine takes an international short cartridge. I found this out after canvasing the city for Pilot cartridges, having read that it only takes those. (Weird that it didn’t come with one, I’ve since seen other Metros that do include ink.)

I have no experience with the converter, but the Goulet Pen Company had good things to say about it in their video review.

The Bottom Line

I didn’t like this pen but you’ll love it.

Everything about the Metropolitan is designed to give a good first impression to new fountain pen users and a reliable everyday writing experience to the ones who’ve moved on to something different. And you will move on. To go back to the Honda Civic analogy: you could say it’s reliable, you could say it’s boring. In either case, you’d be right.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. All Amazon prices and availability are subject to change, and only current as of the time of publication of this review.

Pen Review: Kaweco Classic Sport

 

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

This week, I drafted my first short story in 2 years (more on that soon.) I wrote it with a new fountain pen, which I bought to mark the occasion: the Kaweco Classic Sport . (Pronounced ka-vay-co.)

I had moved away from short stories in favor of more profitable but less fulfilling work, and I had traded my beloved fountain pens for more practical alternatives I could pick up at Rite-Aid. This was my return to both.

From the first line, the Kaweco brought back the whole sensory experience I was missing.

On the page, the Sport is smooth and responsive. Off the page, it looks so good I’m waiting for the chance to say “here, use my pen.”

The Nib

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

The soul of any fountain pen is the nib. It’s where 99% of the value resides. This nib is a workhorse that can compete with pens at a much higher price point. It’s decently springy for a steel nib–more so than the Lamy Safari anyway–and it doesn’t scratch or skip.

For fountain pen beginners, the Kaweco is very forgiving, with a large “sweet spot.”

Other reviews have noted a problem with railroading when too much pressure is applied. So if you’re into varying line thickness, the Kaweco might not be for you. My handwriting isn’t sophisticated enough to tell the difference.

 

The Ink

This is a small pen which uses small cartridges. I had my doubts about ink capacity, but my first cartridge was good for 30+ A5 notebook pages.

Here in Spain, the ink is cheap ( €2.10 for 6 cartridges.) The only places where I could find that price State-side were Jet-Pens and Goulet Pens. Expect to pay $6 elsewhere.

The Design & Looks

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

Capped, the Kaweco is small. It looks more like a lipstick tube than a writing instrument. But When the cap is posted (pen-nerd speak for putting the cap on the back of the pen) it becomes full-sized. This feature gives you portability without sacrificing writing comfort.

The flat sides of the hexagonal cap keep it from rolling around on your desk.

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

The clip is detachable. I tend to leave it off.

The price

You can pick up the Kaweco  Classic Sport for about $23. This is up from $15 in 2011 when playwright Jon Robin Baitz proclaimed his love for the Kaweco in the New York Times. He said the pen cured him of  a fear of handwriting that had followed him since elementary school.

Kaweco-sport-clasic

The Bottom Line

I would highly recommend this pen to just about anyone. You can’t go wrong with gifting this beauty. For a serious pen collector, it’s an outstanding day-to-day pen with a fun design. For the uninitiated, I couldn’t think of a better introduction to the world of fine writing.

However, if you have extra large hands, you may want something bigger for cramp-free writing.

Image: JetPens.com

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. All Amazon prices and availability are subject to change, and only current as of the time of publication of this review.