Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Franklin-Christoph Fine Flex & Fine SIG Flex Nibs @1901FC

Thank you to Franklin-Christoph for sending these nibs for testing! I'm happy to share these here with you. These nibs are on a Frankin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis Antique Glass fountain pen. The review for this pen is here!
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ABOUT

Nib material: 14kt gold
Size: #6
Feed: Plastic
Price per nib: $115.00 / $125.00 USD
Where to buy: Franklin-Christoph
The Franklin-Christoph flex nib is a 14K nib with a special alloy and shape that promotes flexibility. In comparison to more delicate and thin vintage nibs, one might call it a modern semi-flex, as they are designed for more durability and consistency. Flexibility creates a different feel to the writing, and promotes line variation. - Franklin-Christoph

APPEARANCE

The 14kt gold flex nibs are two tone #6 fine nibs. They have a single slit, a round breather hole, and symmetrical oval cut-outs in the shoulders. They are rhodium-plated with a yellow gold laser-engraved FC diamond logo in the center. This particular nib is also engraved with 14K-585 and F near the base. The regular version is a fine round point, and Franklin-Christoph also offers an in-house S.I.G flex (stub italic gradient), which is also a fine nib.
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PERFORMANCE & FEEL

First of all, it's important to know if you're using these nibs, you will not achieve "vintage flex" results - it won't feel the same, it won't look the same, and it just doesn't work the same. In fact, there is no modern flex available (yet) that really feels like vintage flex. This has both advantages and disadvantages - check the next section for that!

Both nibs feel like a soft, bouncy nib - something like the Visconti Palladium nibs. I found both quite smooth, especially the round fine flex as the S.I.G has a stub shape. They are wet nibs, but not silly gushers that will never dry on your page. Both keep up well and easily with regular writing (without pressure), and can easily be daily users if you do not write with a heavy hand. Even with a little pressure, they keep up well and do not run dry, but controlling your lines and keeping your handwriting consistent takes practice with soft/flex nibs.
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I did experience railroading (where the feed runs dry) but this was always after I pushed the nib quite a bit. They never ran dry in the middle of a normal writing session, nor did they run dry if I was only using light, and not full, pressure. Fortunately, both feeds picked up ink flow well with just a tap or two on the page.
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How much line variation can you get? Well, I really pushed it. In the safe zone, you're looking at a fine-medium to a broad. If you're really pushing it, you can squeeze out a double broad but I would not do this too often because if you push too hard, the nib can lift off the feed. So although you can likely squeeze out more variation, the nib-feed configuration can't keep up with it. If you do push too hard and the nib and feed separate, you can flip the nib over and press lightly on the feed to close that gap again. Maybe not for the faint of heart, so be gentle with your nibs.

The round nib is easy to use because you don't have to pay attention to how the tip is aligned with the page. The S.I.G needs a little attention because of the stubby ends that are ever so slightly crisper, but for the most part, it writes with little effort. If you are writing fast or tend to rotate your nib into the page as you write, you'll just need to pay attention to how you write. That said, I think the S.I.G is killer. It's the perfect combination of a soft nib with line variation from the grind!

If you're looking for a vintage flex feel, this isn't it. If you're looking for something soft, a little wet, smooth, and for a nib that can add a little variation to your writing, you can find all that here.

PROS

  • Both nibs offer a bouncy, yielding writing experience that some users find more pleasant than stiff/firm/hard nibs that do not give when you write. Personally, I prefer softer nibs.
  • Both nibs offer a soft writing experience - not a full flex, but soft enough to achieve line variation. In addition, the amount of pressure required to achieve variation is not particularly high. They're not stiffer flex nibs (i.e. Noodler's steel flex nibs). 
  • In addition to real use, I use fountain pens for fun so for me, these nibs offer another dimension to the hobby that is enjoyable.
  • Great for artists and creators!
  • Great for daily writing, especially if you want to add some character to your writing. 
  • Wet, pleasant writers that do not gush ink. No blobs, no juicy lines that take several minutes to dry. They're perfectly usable.
  • A relatively affordable add-on to existing pens in your collection - the #6 nib unit fits many models of fountain pens out there.
  • A great way to spruce up your writing experience or just to try something new.
  • Although they do not replicate a vintage flex writing experience, they are more robust than vintage nibs are, especially in the hands of new users. Easy to find, easy to replace should you really destroy it!
  • The round fine flex is really pleasant and smooth but the S.I.G fine flex is AWESOME and if I had to recommend one over the other, I'd say get the S.I.G!

CONS

  • The nib size is less precise than a hard nib because, with even a little pressure, the line the tip puts down can get wider. 
  • For some, the price is not a hindrance. Others don't care for gold nibs and that's totally ok; so the price can be both good and bad, depending on how you look at it. As I am a fan of gold nibs, I think it's acceptable.
  • No one has said they will, but they're not going to replicate the writing experience from a vintage flex nib. 
  • If you've never used a flex or even a soft/semi-flex nib before, it can take some practice to get the hang of it, to learn how much they can flex/how much line variation you can achieve, and to just become comfortable with the writing experience. This can be a downside if you purchase one, have never used such a nib before, and are not expecting the difference from, for example, a firm modern nib. 
  • Can railroad, but ink flow picks up quickly.
  • If you apply too much pressure, the nib can lift off the feed, hampering ink flow. This is an easy fix, but it does mean you have to watch how much pressure you apply. 

OVERALL

If you are interested in a soft, pleasant, smooth writing experience that adds some character to your lines, these are great nibs. The S.I.G alone is totally worth it and on top of the soft nib characteristics, you'll have a lovely writer. These are fun nibs to write with and they can certainly be daily writers. The nibs, while soft, are fairly robust (and I say this having really pushed them...), so even if you're new to the soft nib game, they're tough. 

I know they are called flex nibs, and considering flex is just tines spreading to offer line variation, they do accomplish that. However, these are more soft/semi-flex than flex because the shoulders have give to them, which gives a soft writing experience. It takes a lot of pressure to get the tines to really separate (such as to a double broad line), and that is more pressure than they can handle. I'm not a flex expert, and there are definitely far more knowledgeable and experienced people out there who are well-versed in the subject, but this is just my humble opinion based on my humble experiences with flex/semi-flex/soft/rigid nibs. 

I hope this is somewhat useful in your fountain pen journey and flex nib adventures!





I received this item/these items free of charge. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion.

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