TWSBI Eco Review

The entry level fountain pen market is not overly crowded but I would call it dominated by two pens, the Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari. TWSBI has a reputation for playing a little above that entry level field but offering a true bargain in a real piston filling pen. Namely the ever improving 530/540/580/580-AL series. In July of 2015 TWSBI’s back room may have just put a bulls eye on Lamy and Pilot for the entry level market and I’m glad to report there is a solid third player in that niche field now. The Eco is a demonstrator piston filling fountain pen for under $30. I had no need for another pen and my daily rotation was humming along good but my curiosity won out so I ordered an Eco to see how well TWSBI could do for less than three ten dollar bills. The Eco has been out for several months now and it’s been reviewed by several of my blogging colleagues. My findings are similar to others but I will add my personal taste comments and preferences.

The Pen

IMG_0284TWSBI Eco Fountain Pen

  • Steel Broad Nib
  • Price: $29
  • 5.5” capped
  • 4.15” uncapped
  • 6.55” Posted
  • 22.8 grams, with ink

Packaging

The packaging belies the price point for this pen. I think thatmakes it an exceptional bargain for gifting as the whole package looks more expensive than it is. Not quite to Apple’istic level of the 580 but pretty darn impressive for a $30 pen.

IMG_0327

What’s In The Box

    • Pen secured and well-presented
    • Wrenc h for disassembly / maintenance
    • Silicone for maintenance, mostly the piston seal after many flushes with flushing solution.

Overall Appearance

Overall Cap OffThere are two models of the Eco differentiated only by the color of the cap and tail. Both models (colors) of the Eco are demonstrators, love them or not. You can get a white or black cap and tail. The cap and tail have a hexagon shape that tapers into the round clear plastic body of the pen. The clip and the band at the bottom of the cap or both chrome, the clip being metal and the cap band is plastic with a chrome finish. Another nice accent is the red TWSBI logo inset in red on the very top of the cap.

The whole design is unique which does open it up for honest critique. I’m not really a demonstrator pen person but right now I have the Eco and a 580 AL inked up and I’m enjoying watching the ink slosh around, my mood varies.

IMG_0299Ergonomics

I don’t think any of the aesthetics of the pen detracts from it being a normal handling pen. Round barrel, average size with a good tapered section down to the nib. With the mostly plastic construction weight is light and I like the balance of the pen unposted. I do not post my pens so I’ll refrain from opinion on using the Eco posted. The cap does post but I have no basis for comparison of the writing experience as a poster.

Section

SectionThe section is smooth and reminiscent of other TWSBIs. I personally don’t like the ink seepage around this area where it goes into the feed but I’m told it doesn’t hurt anything and I’ve had no mishaps with it. Your annoyance factor may vary.

Cap

FinialThe hexagon shaped cap is topped with a red TWSBI logo inset. I don’t think I would call it a finial but it gives character to the pen and displays its lineage proudly as does the ECO and TWSBI printed on the chrome band at the bottom of the cap.

Clip

capThere is nothing special here but nothing wrong with it either. It’s a flat, straight design that fits with the overall design of the pen. Ramp is good so it catches well on a pocket or pen case. Tension is about average and seems adequate.

Filling System

IMG_0304The filling system is the most amazing part of the value proposition that the Eco delivers. A true piston filler that uses the majority of the pen body as an ink reservoir giving you nearly 2 ML of ink capacity. That should keep you writing a while even in broad nib mode. The piston worked smooth and is even user serviceable with the included wrench and lube. Now TWSBI has been doing the wrench and lube inclusion for years but at this price point I was surprised. Probably another note on ergonomics is the hexagonal shaped tail makes for a good grip for the piston movement.

Nib

NibI’m sure the nib is made by one of the major players, Jowo, Bock, etc. TWSBI does a nice job engraving the nib and mine was perfectly aligned out of the box with every measurement I could see with my 10x loupe.

Writing

With its well aligned nib and consistent flow the writing experience is wonderful. Not glassy smooth so you definitely interact with the paper and pen contact. I would call it smooth, with feedback, for good control but not slick. The broad I purchased is maybe a little on the smaller size of broad but I tend to like Magic Marker size lines from my broads. Wetness falls just to the wet side of the scale and I have not experienced any hard starts or skips even after a thinking session with the cap off. I have come to appreciate my pens that are solid starters and performers. Every time I put nib to paper I just want ink to be there, simple request and many more expensive pens have not delivered. Superb job here TWSBI.

Writing SampleIMG_0301Conclusion

For less than $29 . The only thing that would keep me from recommending this pen every time to a new user is the frequent reluctance of new fountain pen users to use bottled ink. I don’t blame them, I started with cartridges myself but as soon as one is ready to try bottled ink this should be your first pen. Very impressive TWSBI.

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9 thoughts on “TWSBI Eco Review

  1. Nice review. Enjoyed the detailed breakdown. I have a lot of pens all over the map of cost and “prestige”, but you know what’s funny? My 2 TWSBI Diamonds are never ever without ink. They are my go to workhorses that I simply love to use. I’m trying to think back if I have ever had an ink issue & I don’t think I have! The nice thing I like about the ECO it they’re inexpensive enough, I’d feel comfortable leaving one or two loaded up at work….. You’ve talked me into it, now to find my credit card!

    • Thanks David for the kind words and stopping by. I also like the pricing. I have pens that write better and are prettier but nowhere near the price range of the ECO. Closing my eyes I would not guess I was writing with a $30 pen.

  2. Thank you for mentioning the ink seepage around the nib in your review. I concur that it is annoying, especially since most reviews don’t mention it. I just re-inked my ECO after cleaning it last week, and the nib seepage has been driving me crazy today. I have inky fingers (which I don’t mind) from pulling out the nib and feed and reseating multiple times thinking there was a problem. I have read six or seven reviews for this pen today and none mentioned the seepage, so you have saved my frazzled brain. Thanks!

  3. Great Sandra! Thanks for stopping by and writing. It’s such a great pen and granted the seepage doesn’t take away anything from the performance of the pen but I wish it wasn’t there especially when one re-ink to the next are drastically different colors. I didn’t go as far as you did taking it apart. I’m always afraid my bear like paws will crush and misalign the tines. Sounds like you are enjoying your pen so that is good news.

  4. Pingback: Snap Judgements: TWSBI ECO – The Economical Penster

  5. Good morning! I know I’m commenting on a post that is “old,” as internet commenting goes, but I just received this pen. I concur with the comments and dismay about the seepage around the nib. I have a few fountain pens and have never encountered this before. Then again, I have never had a clear pen either. My only concern is I hope the seepage does not start to leak out at the point where the nib and pen meet.

    I also found it much messier to refill than other cartridge filler pens I have. I have a Faber-Castell one and the ink from the bottle just flows right off the nib after filling it. With this pen, on the other hand, the ink seems to stain the nib until I wipe it off.

    Just personal thoughts, but so far, I’m very happy with the pen. It writes nice and, for an extra fine nib, it doesn’t feel scratchy on paper when writing. I’m a lawyer so I do an exhaustive amount of writing!

    • Thanks Doug for stopping by yes the ink seepage freaked me out a bit but in fairness it cleaned out just fine. It’s a great pen for the money. Faber Castells I really like also, I have owned more than several and everyone has been a perfect writer right of the box, no nib tuning needed. I can’t say that for any other brand I own. I’ve never really had trouble with their nibs staining but I found what you did there always seems to be ink smeared on teh FC nibs.

  6. I am pretty sure that I want a TWSBI ECO to be my next fountain pen. I really appreciated your review. I used a fountain pen some decades ago when I was in elementary school. Now a have 2 fountain pens that I recently purchased. One is a Platinum Preppy and the other is a Pilot Metropolitan.

    • Thanks Donna for stopping by. The TWSBI Eco is my most read review, many people love that pen. It’s a great first pen to get you started using bottled ink.

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