The Spoke Pen by Brian Conti in collaboration with Brad Dowdy launched on Kickstarter in early 2019. The campaign was fully-funded almost immediately and, thanks to nearly 1000 backers, pledges reached over FOUR TIMES the original goal. When a pen and pencil maker teams up with someone called “The Pen Addict,” you can be pretty confident that the end result will be pretty solid. So what makes this pen so special? What sets it apart from other products in this category? Well. I’ve been carrying this thing around for a couple of weeks now. Let’s take a look at what I’ve learned.
The community of pen and pencil makers on Kickstarter is a very “see a need, fill a need” bunch. In this case, the “need” was for a precision-machined refillable pen barrel for the Uni-ball Signo DX cartridge. The result is a slim but sturdy aluminum pen that is both stylish, and incredibly well built. This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway; When a person called “The Pen Addict” designs a pen, there are no half-measures.
The outer barrel, inner sleeve, grip, and cap of the pen are all made of high quality 6061 aluminum, which is commonly used in aircraft construction, automotive parts, and even the Pioneer Plaque. 6061 aluminum is fairly commonly used in the high-end pen market so while it isn’t particularly unique, it is definitely a solid choice (pun intended.) The campaign also included the option for a titanium grip, and the clip is made of a solid but springy steel alloy. The pens are anodized in a range of colors that add a bold and unique style to the pen. I decided on the orange finish, which looks excellent with the black accent components.
The Spoke Pen ships with a 0.5mm Uni-ball Signo DX refill, and the internal spring system is compatible with other EnerGel/G2 size refills. Since the barrel’s spring pushes the refill from behind, it is capable of accommodating the different lengths. This is different from most pen designs that see the end of the refill resting against the inside of the barrel, held in place with a spring from the front. It’s an interesting mechanical design choice that is working incredibly well so far. My one minor concern is that the spring will wear out over time and lose the ability to support shorter refills, but only time will tell. Due to the precisely-designed nose cone of the pen, not all “G2 size” refills will fit. I’ve tested a few Parker-style refills and less-common gel brands to no avail. From the pen’s campaign page, these models are guaranteed to work: Uni-ball Signo 207/307, Uni-ball RT1, Pentel Energel, Zebra Sarasa Clip.
My Favorite Feature
If you had asked me a few months ago what my favorite feature in a pen was, it would be a good clear or translucent body. Not all the pens I love are demonstrators, but all the demonstrators I have, I love. But times change, and new pens come into our lives. Perhaps it’s overexposure to the style, or perhaps I’m just growing and changing as an individual pen hoarder, but I have a new favorite feature; the magnetic cap.
Yes, as you can see in the diagram above, the Spoke Pen has super-strong neodymium magnets in the cap which lock on to the stainless steel end cone on the pen. The magnets are strong enough to keep the cap secure even when jostled or carried around in your pocket, and it makes a very nice snap as it locks into place. The cap does not post to the back of the barrel. For me that’s a pro, others may see it as a con.
Overall I find the Spoke Pen very comfortable to use. The smooth but subtle ridges of the ringed grip provide a great non-slip surface for quick writing sessions. The frame cut-outs on the barrel help to reduce weight for longer sessions, and look pretty stylish as well. Overall, this is a great pen.
It’s not very surprising that Brian Conti and Brad Dowdy designed a great pen; this is neither of their first rodeos. I’ve been using the pen, testing different refills, and carrying it around in my pocket for weeks now and it has never let me down. This pen was purpose-build to the “the best barrel” for its refill, and I feel that Brian and Brad have accomplished that. I backed the pen on Kickstarter for the early bird pledge price of $55, with the non-early bird price of $60. The Spoke Pen website states that the pen will be available this month (October ’19, at the time of writing) and although no price is listed, I expect this to be a worthwhile purchase in the $60 to $70 range.
This is a pen, by the pen addict, for pen enthusiasts. I cant wait to see what Spoke Design and The Pen Addict do next!