A few thoughts on Noodler´s flex nib pen


So, I have been drawing some with the Noodler´s flex pens I got, and I have a few thoughts on this new tool. The text is long, so if you are not into fountain pens, just click a link in the sidebar and go somewhere else to enjoy yourself. : )

First of all, this pen is still absolutely wonderful to draw with. Fabulous. I love the variety in line width it offers, and how easily it flows on the paper. It feels very smooth, no scratching or strange behavior ever. (Mind you, I have only tried it on very smooth paper so far, in a Moleskine sketchbook, so I am not sure yet how it behaves on a bit of texture.) It is a great drawing tool, and I know I am going to use it a lot.

I had Noodler´s Fox red ink in one of my two pens, and had a few incidents with that – there are a few red ink blobs in the lower left corner of the drawing above to prove it. I´m not really fond of the Fox red ink, it´s a bit ’stickier’ than the Lexington gray I use otherwise, and I think that´s what made these problems occur. It seems the ink in the nib dried a little when I didn´t use the pen for a few days (stored with the nib up), and when I tried to – perhaps a tad violently – start it up again by drawing with a bit of pressure, it suddenly flooded and ink ran out on the drawing. The Lexington gray dried a little too, but the pen was never hard to ’start up’ again, I just drew a few lines with it and it was ok. The red ink seems a little trickier. Hardly the pen´s fault, really.

I am very used to my Lamy Safaris, and as I wrote in my last post, I am a bit harsh with them sometimes. I often draw with more pressure with them to get a bit of variety in line width, and I had to really readjust my drawing habits to avoid tormenting the Noodler´s pens in the same way. The flex nibs are much more sensitive, and I often had a too wet nib in the beginning, before I realized I was pressing too hard. Once I got the hang of it, the flex pens behaved extremely well.

There is always ink in the nib of a fountain pen, but sometimes some of it ends up on top of the nib, ready to make a mess if you don´t watch out. On the Lamys, I simply wipe that excess ink off with a paper towel with a ‘pulling-out’ movement. I did the same on the Noodler´s flex nib:


Oops. (No worries, it´s not blood, it´s Noodler´s Fox red ink.)  The flex pen couldn´t take it.

The first time this happened (yes, I did it again later, how stupid is that?) I panicked a bit – partly because I thought I had ruined the pen, and partly because my white desk at work wasn´t exactly looking pristine anymore – but then I remembered this video over at Goulet pens´ Ink Nouveau blog. These pens come apart completely for cleaning, and you can adjust the nib the way you want it, since it is detachable from the pen and the feed:


I simply have to stop wiping the nib off the way I did, and all will be well. After cleaning, the pen is easy to put back together, and this one works just fine now. : )

A few other things:
The Noodler´s flex pen as a whole is rather small, very slim and very lightweight. It doesn´t have that heavy, sturdy feel to it that many other fountain pens have. With the cap posted it feels nice and balanced, without it it is more like holding any plastic Pilot roller ball or the like. It is more goodlooking than cheap Pilots, though. :)

I carry my Lamy Safaris with me every day at work, I usually clip them onto the neckband of my t-shirt. They get shaken, stirred, dropped and borrowed but never leak, and never cause any problems. (The only really bad thing that can happen is dropping them on the floor without the cap on, but luckily the nibs are easy to replace…) I have tried to use the Noodler´s flex pens the same way, but they can´t really take this kind of abuse. They are more sensitive than the Lamys. Either the ink dries up a bit in the nib, or it suddenly flows a little too much. Now I just carry them in my pen case, and use them only for drawing, not for every day work use.

And then there´s the surprising ’smell issue’. I read a few reviews on this pen before buying it, and some people thought it smelled funny. I have never had a pen that smelled before, but this one actually does. It has a bit of some sweet plasticky smell when you put the pen under your nose, but it´s not disturbing at all in my opinion. One person referred to ‘vomit’ to describe the smell, but honestly, he or she must have had something else than the pen close to his/her nose… Using the pen in a normal way, i.e. on a paper, with your face far above it, will cause no problems unless you are extremely sensitive to smells.

On the whole, I love this pen. It´s not an everyday durable workhorse in the way that the Lamy Safaris are, but it is definitely a fav drawing tool. It has already won a permanent place in my pen case, along with the Lamys. I am sure there are ‘better’ flex pens out there, vintage or expensive ones, but for $14, honestly, I don´t think you can get anything as great as this little pen.

17 x 13 cm, Noodler´s flex pen with Noodler´s Lexington gray and Noodler´s Fox red ink on small Moleskine Sketchbook spread.

26 Responses to “A few thoughts on Noodler´s flex nib pen”

  1. Libbi says:

    I can’t find this pen in stock any where…any ideas??
    Thanks! LOVE your drawings!

  2. Dan Kent says:

    Thanks for the review – it was really interesting. When I learned about the Lamy from you and bought it, I read on care of fountain pens and treated it with a kit glove. I am glad to hear that I can be a bit rough with it. Now I’m enjoying it even more. Someday I will try this pen too.

  3. mari brown says:

    Great post, I like it when I can learn more this way and get ideas… Im not sure if Im ready to try one yet (did many, many moons ago), Im comfortable with my ink pens, maybe a bit too comfortable (maybe I need to step out of my comfort zone??)… But you really have given me food for thought.

    Right now Im trying out new markers that I got “ALPHA”, they are great to do more design drawing with…

    Har du ritat andra Stockholms bilder, jag tycker om dom.

  4. BarbaraB says:

    Thank you for all of the great information about both the Noodler and the Lamy.

  5. Wonderful post, Nina! You are really whetting my appetite for this pen, you do such terrific drawings with it. Of course, you’d do terrific drawings with a sharp stick…

    • Thank you, Kate, don´t know about the stick when it comes to me, but I actually think I HAVE seen a post where you made a splendid drawing with a stick! : )

  6. Sue Brown says:

    Thanks Nina – useful info and great sketches :)

  7. Erik says:

    Curious about inks – - any reason I could NOT use koh-i-noor black tech pen ink in the reservoir?

    -a devoted fan of your website&drawings

    • I had to reply to this one, before you ruin you pens! ; )
      No, tech pen ink WILL totally clog your fountain pens, so don´t put it in there. I´m no scientist, so I´m not sure I have the exact correct explanation to this, but I think it has to do with the fact that tech ink contains other binders than fountain pen ink, it dries in the air and is waterproof. On fountain pens the ink on and in the nib is in contact with air all the time – it will dry up really fast. And since it is waterproof, you will probably not be able to wash it out either, so the pen will be ruined. In tech pens you have more of a closed system, the only place the ink comes in contact with air is at the very tip of the nib.

      • Erik says:

        Wow, thanks for the alert, and explanation. I do not have a noodlers nib yet but want to try it, they are sold out when I looked. Again, thanks for the lesson.

  8. Adrianne says:

    Lovely drawing, Nina. Really interesting and complex. Great sense of depth.

    Thanks for the pen review too!

  9. Liz Steel says:

    Thanks for a great post Nina – of course you now know who wants to go out and buy a new pen as a result of it!

  10. Your drawing style in the collection of leads and plugs above has inspired me to practice today, thank you.

  11. Nikira says:

    Thank you very much for interesting review and fabulous drawings. Now I am compelled to get it and try out. Did you use Namiki Falcon with flex nib? I heard it is the best pen ever.

  12. Nina, I have been looking forward to your review, and now am excited to get a Noodler’s pen. Thanks for all the info! I love your ‘plug jungle’ drawing–they look like they are alive!

  13. Christina says:

    Vilken bra recension att läsa medan jag otåligt väntar på att Goulet pen Co ska få in pennorna igen. Jag har anmält intresse genom e-post men jag går in nästan varje dag ändå och blir lika besviken varje gång, men den som väntar på ngt gott…
    Hade jag inte sett videon hade din bild av “trasig” flexpenna gjort mig bestört ;-)
    Jag tycker det verkar vara en väldigt bra funktion, att man kan ta isär hela pennan till minsta beståndsdel. Kanske det är orsaken till att den är lite känslig, som du skriver?

    • Tanken har slagit mig också, det där med känsligheten. Men det är ju helsmart att den går att ta isär, speciellt om man vill byta bläckfärg ofta (vilket jag ju i och för sig sällan gör…).

  14. thanks, i bougth my first lamy safary when i discovered your blog, and now i have to try this pen (i already hava a namiki falcon but is a little bit expensive)
    thanks again and i hope to meet you in lisboa

    • I´m looking forward to meeting all of you guys too in July! : )
      I understand your comment about the Namiki – if I had one, I wouldn´t be bringing it along when drawing outdoors, of fear of dropping it…

  15. Great post – I shall be referencing it

    One thing – the Goulet currently says that “All of the Noodler’s flex pens are currently sold out. We are waiting for Noodler’s to produce more. “

    • Thanks for noticing, Katherine! So, a longer wait this time, perhaps, for people who want this pen. I have noticed Goulet run out of them fast every time they get them.

  16. Thank you so much for all your comments, I appreciate them! (And I read every single one, even if I don´t always have time to reply to them. Just so you know.)
    And to those of you who will try this pen out in the future, I´d be curious as to know what you think of it – let me know!

  17. Hi – I love posts that include technical info – very useful to other sketchers. And this is a terrific drawing!

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