Review: Namisu Nexus Minimal Fountain Pen

Namisu Nexux Minimal with a fine nib The Namisu Nexus Minimal fountain pen was a Kickstarter campaign launched during the last days of July 2014. I backed it at the early bird level which was the lowest pledge amount. I picked the Matt Black finish (that’s the way they spelled “Matt”, but I’ll use “Matte” from now on). I debated dropping out before the deadline because they had never done a pen before and a November 2014 delivery date was clearly too aggressive. As their stretch goals kicked in the project became even more complicated since the stretch goals were really just add-ons at additional cost requiring even more management and procurement of unique products. But it was less than $40 to get it to my door (23 GBP plus shipping) so I stayed in.

I’m glad I stayed in, although the pen was in fact several months late, arriving in late February. I’ve had it inked since arrival and it’s still on its first ink. (Well, technically that’s not true but it’s true in spirit. More on that later.) The ink has lasted over two months because I just keep reaching over this pen to pick up another. When I do use it I like it since there is a lot to like about this pen.

Why I Got It

It was a nice looking pen at a reasonable price. I wanted to support an original fountain pen on Kickstarter. It’s a simple design which I like and it’s available in black which I also like.

What I Got

Namisu Nexus Minimal Matte BlackA matte black fountain pen with an aluminum body and a Bock fine nib. There’s no clip or other furniture on the pen. The pen feels very comfortable in my hand. There’s no traditional gripping section but the grooves in the pen help provide a secure grip.

I’m not sure what the aluminum barrel is coated with but it doesn’t have the cold feel of aluminum. It’s not slippery like some metal pens either. It’s very comfortable to hold.

They say the cap doesn’t post, but it does. Although the threads may scratch the barrel with repeated posting. So while it may be able to post, they may say it doesn’t because it’s not recommended. Besides, posting adds very little to the length of the pen.

The nib is a mass produced Bock nib unit. Mine is a fine nib. This isn’t necessarily bad but for me it’s the weakest part of the fountain pen. More on this in the section on writing with the pen. I suspect there’s some variation between the nibs that were used. I think they took the nibs as delivered and didn’t tune them. This is a inexpensive pen after all.

The black matte finish has held up well. I’m neither overly protective or abusive to my fountain pens. I don’t put them in my pocket with coins or keys (except a couple pens that are enhanced by this) but it will roll around a desk or table. There’s a couple blemishes that are noticeable upon close inspection. There’s no noticeable wear from me gripping the pen or cap. (I fiddle with the cap in my left hand as I write with my right.)

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.5730″ (141.56 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 5.3345″ (135.49 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.5050″ (12.83 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter (near nib): 0.5165″ (13.12 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter (widest): 0.5530″ (14.04 mm)
  • Weight (with ink): 26 g
  • Weight (body only/with ink): 22 g

Writing With The Pen

Namisu Nexux Minimal fine nib with Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire ink cartridgeI did not order a converter with the pen and the supplied cartridge broke during shipment. I did have to clean the pen before use to get the ink off so this would also have removed any manufacturing residue. I picked a Diamine Prussian Blue cartridge for this pen’s first ink. The ink flowed right through the pen, literally, and filled the cap. After cleaning this mess, and the pen, I picked a Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire long international ink cartridge. There weren’t any signs of leaking and the ink didn’t fill the cap.

The threads are sharp but I hold the pen well above the threads so this isn’t a problem. The pen isn’t designed to be held on the threads but if you typically hold the pen close to the nib this may bother you.

The Nexus is a wet writer. The Bock nib is a standard size for a western fine, which means it’s a bit wide for my tastes. The Edelstein ink is a little on the dry side so that helps.

I’ve had some annoying skipping with the pen. And by annoying I mean it’s frequent enough to affect the flow of my writing. A close inspection shows that the tines are slightly misaligned. Once I’m done with the review I may try aligning and smoothing the nib. I can limit the skipping if I concentrate on the pen angle and keep the nib’s very small sweet spot in contact with the paper. But I find this more fatiguing than regular writing so it doesn’t last long.

Speaking of fatigue I find the Nexus Minimal to be comfortable to write with and can go about 45 minutes before feeling any fatigue at all, but that means having to deal with the skipping.

Cleaning The Pen

The nib unit does unscrew if you want to remove it for cleaning. But I’d prefer not to and the pen is easily cleaned with just a converter or a bulb syringe to force water through.

Inks Used

As mentioned, the Diamine Prussian Blue flowed right through the pen. A second pen, my Sheaffer VFM, was loaded at the same time and didn’t have a problem. I haven’t heard of any similar problems and my second ink was fine, so this may be an isolated incident.

Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire in a long international cartridge was loaded next and is still in the pen. Flow is good, almost too good for my tastes. As I mentioned there’s a lot of skipping but I blame the nib and not the ink for this.

Wrapping Up

The Namisu Nexus Minimal fountain pen is a very nice pen. Its weakest piece is the nib, unfortunately that’s kind of crucial for a fountain pen. There’s only a couple of places to buy nibs in relatively small quantities and for a pen at this price point, so it’s hard to complain about the choice. Bock is a trusted manufacturer and I’ve no doubt many pens were delivered with aligned nibs and perform better than mine, but there’s always going to be variation in the mass produced nibs. Even a company such as TWSBI has had their own nib problems forcing them to change suppliers at one point1.

While aligning and smoothing a nib isn’t hard it isn’t something a first time fountain pen buyer wants to do with their one fountain pen. Eventually I’ll align the nib, but until then I’ll continue to pick up the pen next to the Nexus. At least until a rainy weekend when I decide to tune several pens.

With a little nib work the Namisu Nexus Minimal fountain pen is a keeper, but until the nib is fixed the Nexus Minimal won’t be inked again.

Additional Reading

Namisu Website

Kickstarter Campaign Page (now closed)

Reviewed on FPN

Gallery

 

 

  1. If I remember correctly, they changed from Bock to JoWo nibs on their Vac 700.

This Just In: Nexus Minimal Fountain Pen (Kickstarter)

Nexus Minimal fountain pen with packaging

[Updated Feb 26th – see below]

I received my Kickstarter Nexus Minimal fountain pen today. I pledged at the early bird level (the lowest) and didn’t order any of the accessories, not even a converter. I was concerned about the quality of the project but I did want to support a fountain pen. By “concerned about the quality of the project” I mainly mean that their delivery date (Nov 2014) was far to aggressive considering they wouldn’t get the money until mid-September. Plus, I felt if they were successful and reached their stretch goals (they did) they would have a project that was complicated to complete with so many options.  So while it arrived several months late it wasn’t unexpected or unusual for Kickstarter.

They shipped it with the cartridge in the pen (not loaded, just in the barrel). My cartridge leaked in the pen so I had to clean it out and will let the barrel dry for a couple days so that there isn’t any moisture trapped in there. This isn’t the first pen I received with the cartridge stored in the barrel, but usually the top of the cartridge (the hard part) is near the feed, in other words it’s usually shipped upside down. Maybe the cold affected it (I’ve avoided ordering ink because it’s been so cold for so long) but there weren’t any signs of ice so it may have been punctured when being jostled in transit.

I picked the Matt Black version which doesn’t feel like cold aluminum and has a bit of a soft feel to it. The pen feels nice in my hand although I’ve yet to actually write with it. I like the feel of the material. It feels lighter than I expected although I then weighed it and found it’s 22 grams which is close to their pre-production spec of 24 grams. And I don’t trust my scale enough to say they’re wrong.

They used Bock nibs and the nib is stamped with the Bock name. I usually don’t judge a nib until I write with it, but since I couldn’t write with it yet I took a look with a loupe. The tines are just slightly misaligned. I did see one commenter complain about skipping. I don’t think they did any nib alignments so they’re at the mercy of Bock’s mass production quality control.

With the exchange rate at the time, foreign exchange fees, and shipping this fountain pen was less than $40. For that price this seems like a very nice pen, although I have to qualify that by saying I won’t be inking it up for a couple more days. Unfortunately those of you who picked the Titanium pen are still waiting for them to work out the manufacturing process.

[Feb 26th Update] I inked up the pen today before lunch. It wasn’t problem free but I haven’t heard of anyone else having similar problems and it’s not something that would go unnoticed.

Since the pen shipped with a Diamine ink cartridge, but mine was broken, I wanted to pick a Diamine ink to start with and I had a box of Diamine Prussian Blue ink cartridges. So I popped one in and set the pen nib down to allow the ink to reach the nib. A couple minutes later, when I checked the pen, I found that the cartridge had completely emptied into the cap. It appeared the ink had flowed through the feed, not leaked around the side. I inked another pen with a Diamine Prussian Blue cartridge at the same time. That one didn’t have the same problem and in fact the ink took about 10 minutes to even reach the tip of the nib.

I checked back and I found that this Prussian Blue cartridge did the same thing in another pen, but in that case I blamed the pen and put it aside for review (which I’ve yet to do) because I had just taken it apart for a thorough cleaning. Interestingly, but meaningless, that was a Faber-Castell Basic which this pen reminds me of.

But back on this pen – I unscrewed the nib unit and there wasn’t any trace of ink around the threads, further leading me to figure the ink flowed right through the nib. So with the nib unit still removed I inserted a Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire ink cartridge and waited for the ink to flow. No signs of leaking and the ink took over 5 minutes to reach the nib. It’s been a couple of hours and there’s no sign of ink in the cap, although the pen has only been nib down when I’m writing. It’s either flat on my desk or nib up in my pen stand.

I haven’t  done a lot of writing with the Nexus Minimal fountain pen but my first impression are:

The nib isn’t the smoothest but it is smooth enough. I’ve certainly paid more for a pen with a worse nib. There’s some tooth on courser paper. I haven’t had any skipping on Doane Paper except when I first uncap the pen. The first stroke sometimes skips if it’s a upstroke. This doesn’t happen every time. I have the same hard starts but I also had some skipping on the slicker Rhodia paper (No. 16 Dotpad). This is typically an upstroke when starting a new word and when I was taking notes where I write a bit fast. As I mentioned the tines are slightly misaligned which may contribute to the skipping. In my case, on the upstroke the leading tine is higher than the trailing tine. The tines don’t seem that much out of alignment, but if I used Rhodia or other slick paper most of the time the skipping would be annoying enough for me to align the tines and smooth the nib sooner rather than later. With slower, deliberate writing I have less skips on even Rhodia paper. And I really do need to slow down whenever I expect other people to read my writing. But on Doane the hard starts aren’t frequent enough for me to make changes. At least not yet.

Also, I did not order the converter but a standard sized Schmidt converter fits just fine so no reason why other converters won’t fit. Standard international long cartridges also fit fine, at least the Pelikans I have do.