Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pens- Wed. Review

Noodler's is releasing its latest evolution in flex pen design, the Konrad. This is a pen model that is currently offered in a refillable rollerball version, and was prototyped in a brush pen as well. But now, it is to be offered for the first time in a flex pen version.

I've been getting a lot of questions about what the new Konrad is like, and specifically how it compares to the other two Noodler's flex pens. The Konrad is a medium-size pen, in between the Noodler's Nib Creaper flex and Ahab flex. I think it's a wonderful compromise between the two pen sizes. It is a screw-type piston-fill just like the Nib Creaper flex pen, but with a larger ink capacity, closer to the Ahab (non-eyedropper converted, of course).

Noodler's Flex Pens capped, top to bottom: Nib Creaper, Konrad, Ahab

Noodler's Flex Pens upcapped, top to bottom: Nib Creaper, Konrad, Ahab

Noodler's Flex Pens posted, top to bottom: Nib Creaper, Konrad, Ahab

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pens, released in three colors: Red Mesa Tortoise, Roaring 20's Brown Tortoise, and Fleur de Lis Blue Tortoise

The Konrad flex pens are being released in three colors (to start), and there will almost certainly be others to come just like there have been with all of the previous flex pen models. 

The design of the Konrad is Noodler's best yet, a true evolution from the two previous models. There is a clear ink window on the pen that helps tremendously to see your ink level. Unlike the rollerball version which has a little bit of a yellow tint in the ink window (on the black version), these ink windows are all clear.

Noodler's Konrad Flex pen, postable with a clear ink window.

It is a screw-type piston fill with a blind cap, so posting on the pen will not be a problem at all. A blind cap is a removable, protective cap that covers the piston so that there is no chance of inadvertently unscrewing it and forcing ink out of the pen. Not that this was a problem with any of the previous pens, but it's still good to see Noodler's is guarding against this. 

Noodler's Konrad Flex with blind cap

One really nice aspect of this pen (aside from the pleasantly moderate size) is the fact that the entire thing can be disassembled with no tools whatsoever. You simply unscrew the back of the piston mechanism and it pulls right out of the back, so cleaning the pen could not be easier. One thing I will warn is that if you screw on the blind cap too tight, it will lock itself onto the back of the piston mechanism, and make it so that when you unscrew the blind cap it'll take the whole piston with it. It's an easy enough fix, you just hold the piston in place and unscrew the blind cap, but just be aware that this potential is there for this to happen. Don't take out all of your life's frustrations on that blind cap when you screw it on, and you'll be fine :) 

Noodler's Konrad Flex with easily removable piston mechanism (and double o-ring)

The nib and feed on the Konrad is identical to the Ahab, but some slight improvement has been made on their production. The issue that the Ahabs had with ink not flowing well from a new pen is much improved. What contributed to this issue was that the feeds on the Ahabs were being polished in the beginning of the Ahab production, which actually is not as ideal as unpolished for ink flowing reasons. This issue has been corrected with the Konrads (and Ahabs actually, but there is still 'old stock' of Ahabs out everywhere), though I won't be able to say for certain until our shipment of them comes in. 

It's still a good idea to give the pen a thorough cleaning. There are machining oils used to cut the slots in the feed, and residual oils can make the pens write a little dry or skip at first. This isn't always a problem, but about 10% of the Ahabs seemed to need a thorough cleaning to work well, I would assume that these will be the same way, but perhaps there are improvements made in the production of these feeds. I'm not privy to that information at this time. 

One other thing to be aware of with the Konrad (and any Noodler's flex pen, for that matter) is that the nib and feed are friction fit inside the pen. This makes it incredibly easy to take apart and clean, but it can also require a little bit of tinkering to get them set in the right place for your ink to flow properly. This is something I talked about with the original Noodler's Nib Creaper flex pens, and I have a video on adjusting the nib and feed here. The concept is exactly the same for the Konrad.

Noodler's Konrad Flex pen completely disassembled.

The body of these pens is what's considered 'tortoise', so it has a partially translucent body with a swirl pattern to it. It's quite lovely, I must say! The translucent aspect of these pens is basically cosmetic. Normally, the benefit of a tortoise would be to see your ink level in the pen, but since there is a clear ink window, that takes care of that. Still though, it's a neat design aspect of the pen. 

Noodler's Konrad Tortoise Flex pens, partially translucent bodies

So you might also be wondering about the ink capacity. The original Noodler's Nib Creaper flex pen is about .9ml, not too bad but many felt it was small. The Ahab addressed that when it came out and with the piston is 1.9ml, and eyedropper converted it's a whopping 6ml! The Konrad is a compromise between the Nib Creaper and Ahab. I was able to get about 1.1ml when doing a 'fresh fill', but when I expelled the air out of the pen using this technique, I was able to get around 1.3ml or 1.4ml. That's pretty good, considering most converters are somewhere around .5ml.

All-in-all, I think the Konrad is the best designed pen to come from Noodler's yet, and I'm very eager to see how it's accepted by the fountain pen community. We're expecting our first shipment of them to arrive today, and we're going to release them for sale tomorrow. Why wait until tomorrow? Well, we're also getting in Noodler's Rome Burning ink, a long-overdue backorder of J. Herbin 1670 (Rouge Hematite), the new TWSBI VAC-700's, and a replenishment of a bunch of TWSBI 540's, nib units, and inkwells. Rather than put them all in stock randomly as they come in, we're going to wait until it all arrives and list it all at once tomorrow. We don't have a set time yet, it'll all depend on when the TWSBI order comes in tomorrow. We will blog/tweet/Facebook when it all arrives and let you know when we'll make it live. 

The Noodler's Konrad pens will be selling for $20 at GouletPens.com, in Fleur de Lis Blue, Red Mesa, and Roaring 20's Brown. You can sign up for an email notification on each product page so we can let you know as soon as we list it for sale. I've love to hear any questions or impressions in the comments below!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Thank you for this review; the Konrad is beautiful, and I am intrigued! My question is this; I bought an Ahab a few months ago, and found the grip thicker than I prefer; I am a very big fan of slim pens. How would you feel this compares between the Konrad and the Ahab? 

  2. The grip on the Konrad is definitely smaller than the Ahab, overall. If you look at the pictures of the Ahab, you can see that there is a big difference between the front section of the grip (near the nib), and the back section (near the threads). If you hold the pen really close to the nib, then you may not notice a difference between the two pens but if you hold the back section of the grip at all, then the Konrad will be noticeably smaller to hold. 

  3.  Brian, thank you so much! Now I just have to decide between the red and the blue...

  4. Yes, but have they solved the knock-you-over smell that comes from the nib?

  5. They are made of the same resin as the other pens, with ebonite feeds. So they will still have that very distinctive Noodler's smell to them. 

  6. You're very welcome :) The red and blue both look nice, it's purely a matter of your preference which to get!

  7. It interests me that this version of the Konrad is slightly shorter than the Ebonite version that will see a later wide release apparently. 

    I'm also pleased to see that the price has been reduced from the reported $24 to $20. I have a strong feeling that I will be ordering a Roaring 20s and Rome Is Burning if they're both available at the same time tomorrow. 

  8. The nib and feed is identical to the Ahab. So that should make it even easier to sell spare nibs and feeds for these pens :-) Any news on this yet?

  9. How does the writing experience compare to the Ahab? I know you said the nib is identical but I was curious to see if the improvements on the production side of things have had an effect on how it writes.

  10. Is there any chance of the Konrad coming in a demonstrator version?

  11. Yup! Pretty soon actually, in a blue and smoke version. Maybe a couple weeks away...

  12. It's not all that different from the Ahab, but then I never had much of a problem with the Ahabs. Those pens got kind of a bad reputation just because of how passionate (I'll use that word) some users were who had issues with them, but I assure you that was a very small minority. The one advantage I think we'll see with the Konrads as they are in people's hands for a while is that the cap design is better for keeping the nib wet, it seals well and won't dry out like past Noodler's pens have. 

  13. Yup, isn't going to happen. Nathan doesn't want his nibs/feeds to get bought up in bulk and used in other pens, so he is only supplying them as replacement parts through his retailers for those who purchase the pens. It's totally his call, and I have to respect that he's been in the business a lot longer than I have and has his reasons for doing what he does. It's less convenient (for us, most of all), but that's how it's gonna be, it seems. 

  14. That is interesting....I'm also told he may make the ebonite one a regular offering. 

  15. Dear Brian !
    Hi From Turkey !
    I imagine to buy a Konrad, but I have a question about the Noodlers flex nibs. Because I had a bad experience with AHABs ink flow. As you explain clearly in the related videos, I can do nib feed adjustment depending ink characteristics.
    Depending my nib-feed adjustment, if the nib is not very tighten in  the section and the pressure that I will apply while I am doing a variations in my handwriting will push the nib in to the section and the nib will lost its proper position. Thats usually happen with AHAB.
    And How I can fix this issue ?.

  16. I haven't heard of the nib pushing up into the pen being a widespread issue, so it may be your particular pen, or the way you're holding it. How steep of an angle are you holding your pen? You want to have it at about a 45-degree angle, and when you're writing, you want the pressure put on the pen to be pushing perpendicular to the nib, not parallel to it (parallel will push the nib into the pen). I don't really know of any specific remedies for keeping the nib in place, this is actually the first I've heard of this being an issue! If the way you're writing is the issue, then you're likely going to have the same issue with the Konrad, as the way the nib and feed friction-fit in the pen is the same as the Ahab.

  17.  Dear Brian !
    Thanks for detailed explanation about my issue happen with AHAB. You pointed very well whats wrong. For AHAB my pen holding angle is less than 45 degree. May be I say, a little bit perpendicular. 25-30 degree. Probably for that reason usually I lost the nib adjustment.

  18. That would certainly explain it. Try holding it a little lower and see what that does for you. 

  19. I'm a fan of the Konrad pen. It's just a bit larger than the original flex pen, but it isn't as strange-looking as the Ahab, and does not have the Ahab's skipping problem. I am a bit disappointed on the colors: they are not what I saw in the photographs. The Red Mesa had a brown barrel (rather than the red pictured), and the Tahitian Tortoise was a dark camouflage green rather than the bright, happy colors shown, but writing with them more than makes up with the disappointment over the color.

  20. I like the Konrad too. I'm sorry that your Red Mesa was different, we actually noticed that on a few of the pens that we had come in and pulled them off the shelf. I don't know if it was a QC thing or an intentional change, but I don't think they're supposed to be like that. If you got it from us, let me know and we can get you a red body. As for the Tahitian, the color is going to vary a lot on that one, from pen to pen. I'm sorry you were disappointed with the colors, but glad that you're enjoying writing with them : )

  21. No worries. If I were unhappy you would have heard from me personally by now rather than a minor comment on a blog. I just felt that the information should be out there for anyone looking at these pens. Interesting about the red one: I suppose that makes mine special?

    The colors are not objectionable, just not what I expected. I really like the pens as writing instruments and they look good, even if they aren't what I expected.

  22. Yours is special indeed :) Thanks for your feedback, I'm glad you're happy with them anyway.

  23. Hello.

    After a few days of tuning and tweaking the nib and feed of my new Noodler’s Konrad
    clear pen with the optional non-flex nib I have to say that I feel a bit disappointed
    given the fact that I tried everything to make it write like a normal pen.
    Using Diamine Oxblood and Salamander, I can't keep this pen from writing
    super-wet and bleeding-through all my premium 90g (24 lbs) paper sheets and
    even bleeds my previously-undefeated Black N' Red premium notebook. Even Xerox 24-lb
    Premium printer paper can’t keep this nib from noticeable bleeding on the other

    I've done everything, from heat-setting the ebonite feed so it better follows
    the shape of the non-flex Noddler's nib, to sticking a toothpick on the center
    of the feed, to pull the feed to the point where the cap can only screw one
    turn... Nothing keeps this pen from unwelcome bleeding. The piston-screw
    plunger is airtight and properly greased.

    I thought the culprit were my new Diamine inks until I tried them on my trusted
    medium (almost broad) nibbed Pelikano Junior (I've had it for two years now and
    writes incredibly smooth): No bleeding. And the strokes are sooo thicker than
    my Konrad's that Oxblood's red sheen changes to an almost dark brown shade, but
    surprise: absolutely NO bleed-through whatsoever (on quality paper, of
    course!), not even a hint of feathering when writing really slow.

    I could use some advice, because I would love to carry my Konrad on a daily
    basis, but not until I can fix this pen’s horrendous tendency to draw fine but
    still lay a very WET line that takes forever to dry and bleeds-through on the
    thickest of papers available.

    Any advice that I probably missed to make my Konrad write like a normal, dryer pen would be most appreciated. Thanks!

  24. How does the Konrad compare to the TWSBI Diamond 580 Mini in terms of durability and writing quality?

  25. I purchased a Konrad Red Mesa Tortoise a little while ago and loved the design, size and feel of the pen. However, I found the nib in normal writing mode to be too fine for me and the flex aspect not too usable but the really cool thing is that I've been able to simply replace the flex nib with another #6 nib and the pen is now a total joy to use.

    It flows great, has terrific ink capacity and I feel is endlessly adaptable to my evolving writing preferences because of its capacity to accept the wide variety of #6 nibs available. I've inked my red mesa with Diamine Merlot which is such a rich and beautiful ink for this pen.

  26. Hello, I really want to buy one of this pens, and I really like FLEX with lots of line width variation. Is there a writing sample for the 3 of these in comparison so that I may choose which one I like best? I haven't been able to actually find one with the 3 different models (much less the Neponset too :) Thank you for the great video and article !


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