So at some point most pen people have been curious to try out the fabled ‘flex nib’ whatever that actually means in practice. Confronted by a bewildering array of often expensive choices many people end up settling on a Noodler’s steel flex nib pen, it’s cheap and it offers a good entry point for those wanting to try a flexible nib. The Nib Creaper is the cheapest of the line, costing the princely sum of £12.50, and is what I chose when I fancied seeing what flex was all about. For the price it’s a good pen, but there are a few caveats.
Looks wise the Nib Creaper isn’t much to write home about. It’s not like it’s ugly or anything like that, it’s just pretty unremarkable. It’s a slightly tapered tube screwed into another tube. Maybe that’s a little harsh, as I suppose that could describe most pens, but I stand by the visually unremarkable comment. There are some interesting colours on offer, I have to admit not a huge number that particularly call to me, but it’s nice to have the selection I suppose. Summing up the visual appeal of the pen I’d say it’s not a pen you’d buy for the looks, although it’s not downright ugly.
On to design, the design works, but is not without it’s intricacies. The Nib Creaper is the smallest in the line by quite a way, it is definitely a slim pen, the section is a similar width to a pencil. It’s fitted with a piston filler, which is both a nice touch and sensible on a pen that uses ink at an increased rate due to the flex nib. However as the piston is pretty cheap I rarely get a full fill of ink on this pen in the same way that I would on other piston fill pens. This is hardly the end of the world, but it is worth bearing in mind. A lot of people have said that their Noodler’s pens needed some tinkering before they would write properly. I have to admit that mine wrote fine out of the box, no feed setting, no nib adjustment no nothing, it just worked, although I would still be prepared to tinker, it’s kind of half the point of a Noodler’s pen. The Nib Creaper is fitted with an ebonite feed, which really does a good job of helping to keep you supplied with ink for the flex nib. I feel like the feed is something this pen deserves more credit for, few fountain pens have and ebonite feed and those that do often cost a lot more than £12.50! A handy feature is that the pen can be easily taken apart without tools, which makes keeping everything in working order nice and easy. A feature that I feel is often neglected with the Nib Creaper is that it takes a #2 sized nib, which means you can transplant a whole host of interesting vintage nibs onto the Nib Creaper’s body, which is quite useful. Overall then, from a design point of view it’s clear the pen has clearly been built to a price, but it has been built well enough and works well, so long as you don’t mind a few of it’s little foibles.
As to how it writes, well as is becoming a theme, it writes well, but with a few provisos. The steel flex nib has only one tipping width, which I’d say is roughly a fine, unflexed it writes a pretty nice wet and smooth line, which was something I can’t say I was necessarily expecting at this price. Of course the question that everyone really wants to know the answer to is the flex question. A lot of people describe the Noodler’s flex nibs as semi-flex, I don’t actually think this is true, with a fair amount of pressure you can actually get quite a large amount of line variation out of this nib. That is however the caveat, this nib needs a lot of pressure to achieve a meaningful amount of flex, in fact so much that I would actively discourage anyone from using these pens as ‘training wheels’ for vintage flex, the two nibs really are chalk and cheese. That being said once you’ve got the hang of things you can actually achieve some rather nice flex writing. I’ve even found that once you’ve got it adjusted properly that the feed doesn’t need priming as often as many modern flex nibs, which is part of the beauty of this pen, you don’t feel bad adjusting it and trying to make it work as well as you can get it, because A. that’s what it was designed for and B. it costs £12.50. Of course one thing that really is worth remembering is that simply having a flex nib won’t instantly transform your handwriting, unfortunately that is a skill which takes more than just the right pen.
So to sum up, is the Noodler’s nib Creaper a perfect pen? No. Is it likely to be the only pen you ever want to own? Again, no. But is it good for what it is? Absolutely. As a fun and usable novelty the Nib Creaper is excellent and provided you go into using it with reasonable expectations I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.