The pen community features a varied herd of aficionados: many different people with many different tastes, and yet when it comes to specific fountain pens, it seems like the whole gang salivates at the thought of their release. This is the case with the Twsbi Eco. It’s not revolutionary in design or performance, nor is it aesthetically exciting, yet those with inky fingers rallied behind it as a breakthrough product with its performance to cost ratio. That’s hardly surprising when you take into account what it brings to the table.
Twisbi Eco Piston Demostrator Fountain Pen – Amazon
Full disclosure; I am not a Twsbi fan. I have nothing against them, but then again I never really saw the point. If I want an inexpensive plastic pen, I certainly don’t lack options, so the Twsbi product range always left me a smidgen cold. I will say that I was briefly tempted by the Twsbi Micarta but even then, nothing seemed exceptional, so it fell out of sight, out of mind.
When I saw the Eco enter the market in 2015, I still wasn’t particularly smitten, but I did like what I saw. Not because of its features or its performance, but rather its engineering prowess. Lots of reviews on the Eco around, but very few people touched on what appealed to me, which wasn’t the fact that it was a solid piston filler for under 30 bucks, but rather that it was engineered to perform to the same level as a “better” pen without cutting corners. This left only 2 things – merging components and using different materials.
The choice of materials is an easy one – very little metal on this fountain pen. As a matter of fact, only the nib is metal on the actually body and the rest is plastic. But what proved super interesting (to me) is the feel of this pen despite its materials. This is a solid, solid pen with no apparent quality control issues, and Twsbi managed that feat without breaking the bank by over optimizing its construction
Aesthetically, it is a touch mundane. I will say that it does look better in the flesh than in my photographs. I have a super sexy macro lens that loves to pick out imperfections and with inexpensive plastic trim, the Eco doesn’t look like it lives up to its prowess, but I promise in the hand it looks “worth” the price of admission.
As you can see, we have a pretty standard contoured body with zero flourish, but the piston and cap have a pleasant hexagonal design. This separates the Eco from the rest of the pack and makes it scream utilitarian – especially the piston knob thingy.
Speaking of the piston – all plastic and all perfectly manufactured. This is a seriously smooth customer with trivial take down construction thanks to the supplied piston wrench (its in the box, I didn’t bother snapping photographs because boxes are boring). The body and section is manufactured out of one slab of plastic. This is one of the many little things Twisbi did to minimize risk of breakage despite inexpensive materials. I really love it.
Another feature are the two o-rings, one at the grip section to give you some tactile feedback when screwing the cap back on and the other on the top should you wish to use the Eco posted. Some people have mentioned the “cheap” visual impact of using the o-rings, but I think in a clean, industrial design they look the part. Bare in mind that when your pen is full of ink you won’t really pay much attention to the two o-rings.
The nib is patently boring. Very solid #5 size sliver of steel that comes in all the usual flavours. I have nothing of note to add. The design is boring and the performance is flawless… but boring. This is not a criticism, as I would love it if all sub $30 nibs came as well adjusted. Zero scratchiness or issues and if you change your mind about the nib, it’s trivial to change it. Just grab and pull and the feed + nib will slither out.
Side note; this also makes it trivial to clean without having to flush ink out of the feed a dozen times over and when it comes time to assemble this workhorse back to working order, the nib slots in nicely into a lil’ shelf on the feed. You can’t get any simpler than this!
In hand comfort is great. The grip section is a smidgen too thin for me, but I like my pens Meisterstuck-sized, so it’s clear I am in the minority. As I mentioned earlier, the cap does sit posted with the help of an o-ring, which helps to aid retention, and I personally have had zero issues with this. Yes, it’s not as solid as it would be if the cap went down 2/3rds of the way, but it’s perfectly viable.
With regards to posted vs unposted, with the Eco I 100% believe it’s a dealers choice kinda scenario. I can and have scribbled both posted and unposted, and whilst I would possibly give the nudge to posted – it’s really too close to tell. Balance is great thanks to its uber-lightweight body and lack of metal.
Right, writing performance is perfectly boring: no skipping, burping or quibbles of any kind. It’s smooth and lays down a clean EF line. It hits the perfect equilibrium between too wet and wet enough. The ink I used is Diamine Aqua, and scribbling normally, I was able to lay down some nicely saturated lines.
First of all, truly sorry about my penmanship, but when I review pens, I write like I would normally, which means sometimes my nib decides to question its master and drags out odd letters… see above.
Regarding flex- zero flex, it’s a steel nail. It’s not unpleasant, but just what you would expect. It’s a perfect, resilient daily writer. I know I often show my bias for flex, but nails do have their place. If I had to “let” someone else use my pen for whatever reason (damn you social conventions), I would want my nib to withstand amateurish hands.
Flex nibs need to be flexed with care. They cannot be handled like a ballpoint whilst a nail will handle abuse far better (up to a point, the point being when the tines go splat).
Can we take a minute to talk about how pretty demonstrators are? Gosh.
Will preemptively respond to the common “But what about the Noodler’s Creaper?” as a direct comparison argument. Here is the deal people: yes the Noodler’s is a piston, but its *not the same*. The Twsbi Eco is a perfectly functional daily driver that will always work without kicking up a fuss. The Noodler’s Creaper is a bipolar adolescent, so I think it’s silly when you have both side by side.
At the end of the day, the Twsbi is designed from the ground up to be a solid everyday scribbler. Everything fits as it should and it’s designed with simplicity in mind. 10 parts total excluding the cap with everything designed in a way that screams intent and resilience. This is the Bruce Willis of fountain pens, not particularly unique but here every Christmas which is what makes it unique. Weird metaphor, I know, but you get the drift.
It’s super solid, it works super well, and it’s also boring – but its $28. So like, whatever bro.