Review: TWSBI Eco-T

Have you ever had someone borrow your fountain pen only to see them writing with the nib upside down? That has happened to me numerous times. (Yes, I lend my pens!) I end up reaching over and correcting how they hold the pen, but it always feels awkward to do so. After all, it seems presumptuous to correct how someone holds a pen -- something we've all been doing since kindergarten! But not everyone knows how to use a fountain pen on the first try. So, worry not! The TWSBI Eco-T is the pen to lend (or to give as a present to) that person.

Before proceeding, I have to say that I love my TWSBI Ecos. They’re among my favorite pens. They’re reliable writers that hold a lot of ink, write well, and could take some knocking around inside my bag. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone interested in getting into fountain pens. Some may disagree, but I think the Eco is the best pen in TWSBI’s lineup. So when TWSBI announced they were launching a version with a triangular grip – the Eco-T – I was definitely curious. I just had to try it!

I also have to mention that I have no issues with triangular grip sections whatsoever. I know that the marked triangular grip of the Lamy Safari/Vista/Al-Star can be polarizing for fountain pen users. Some love it, while others absolutely abhor it. Well, I belong to the “love it” camp. So it’s no surprise that I was looking forward to using the Eco-T.

The TWSBI Eco-T was released in November 2017. The only version released so far is in blue. (Update: A yellow-green version was released in March 2018.) It is similar to the regular TWSBI Eco in every respect except for its triangular grip section, cap, and blind cap (this is the knob that one twists at the bottom of the pen to operate the piston). The purpose of the triangular grip is to guide new users how to hold a fountain pen at an optimal position.

The Eco-T comes in similar minimalist packaging as the Eco, except that the packaging paper is turquoise instead of red. The pen comes in a plastic box which contains a red wrench used for assembly/disassembly, a small bottle of silicon grease, and an instruction leaflet. Attached to the clip is a warning not to use alcohol on the pen. (Or acetone for that matter!)

The Eco-T is a piston-filler, which means it doesn’t need a converter and holds a lot more ink than other popular “beginner” fountain pens such as the Pilot Metropolitan or the Lamy Safari/Vista/Al-Star. It comes with stainless steel nibs, and the available sizes are fine, medium, broad, and a stub 1.1 mm nib.

The Eco-T is a medium-sized fountain pen, similar in length to the Lamy Safari (see the comparison images below with the TWSBI 580 AL, Pilot Metropolitan, and the Lamy Al-Star). The pen can be posted, though that makes it rather top-heavy. I prefer using it unposted.

The pen I bought had a fine nib and it wrote smoothly out of the box. The line width it produces is comparable to that of the fine nibs in my Pilot Metropolitan and Lamy Al-Star. (See writing sample below.)

So how does it feel to write with the triangular grip section? Quite pleasant, actually. It isn’t as pronounced as the triangular grip on the Lamy Safari/Vista/Al-Star. It subtly guides the user to position the pen in a way that will allow the nib to write optimally. One can feel that it’s there, but it isn’t so obtrusive. If the Lamy triangular grip feels like a command to “write this way”, then the TWSBI Eco-T grip feels more like a recommendation. There is still room to rotate the pen in a different angle, if one prefers. But if one needs some help, the marks are there. This makes it a friendlier option for new enthusiasts.

In short, TWSBI hit the mark with the Eco-T. Just like the Eco, it’s a dependable, sturdy, piston-filling fountain pen that is a joy to write with. And it comes with the added bonus of helping the user hold the pen more easily. For regular fountain pen users, this is probably unnecessary, but it would definitely be a helpful feature for children and new users. So the next time someone borrows one of my pens, I know which one I’m handing over.

The Inky Way, 2020