Truly bad pens, as opposed to good pens that I just don’t like, aren’t always the result of a company cynically exploiting consumers by just not bothering with good design or good manufacturing, though I suspect that’s usually the case. Sometimes it can be the result of good intentions poorly executed. There’s no way of telling which is the case with the Venvstas Carbon V but looking at this one-man operation’s social media output I suspect it’s the latter. That makes this review a little awkward – the Carbon V is a terrible pen – but if I know I pen isn’t worth your money I feel obliged to let you know. However, I’ll do it as kindly as possible. It’s worth noting that Venvstas tweeted that the issues with the converters/cartridges have now been fixed. As always, though, I can only review the pen in front of me.
Price: I paid €49 on Kickstarter; retail price €56
Nib options: stainless steel: extra-fine, fine, medium
Barrel options: carbon fibre, optional stylus; different sizes available (this is the standard, there’s a shorter and a longer version available)
Filling system: standard international cartridge/converter (but see below)
Size: 16.0cm posted, 13.3cm unposted, 14.cm capped
The principle appeal of this pen is its all carbon-fibre construction. I really like carbon fibre as a material, which is why I (and 173 others) backed the Kickstarter campaign back in December. From a distance, the pen looks sleek and, in the hand, it feels light yet strong.
Close up, the finish seems a little untidy in places. Much worse, though, is the gap between the cap and the body. These pens are handmade and I wonder if Lucio Rossi, the man behind Venvstas, just had too much to do to fulfil his Kickstarter commitments. The pen shouldn’t have gone out like this.
The cap is held in place at either end of the barrel with a small metal spring. These work but are ugly. They’re also not quite straight, which reinforces the impression that not enough care was put into its manufacture.
The Carbon V uses standard international cartridges or converters. At least, it kind of does. The barrel is held to the section by means of metal strips. There is no space to spare inside that barrel. I first tried to use a Montblanc cartridge. Although more or less standard size, Montblanc cartridges are a little fatter than standard and there was no way they were going to fit. I then tried a Schmidt converter. You don’t really get any more standard than that. It slid in (unlike the Montblanc cartridge) but I couldn’t push it in far enough to connect with the feed. When I took it out, the metal strips scraped all along the converter itself. Not a big deal for something that’s not generally designed to be looked at but incredibly annoying to have something damaged like that. Finally, I tried a Diamine cartridge and got it working.
In the hand, the Carbon V is a comfortable length and being so light it’s fine posted or not.
The nib is quite smooth and has good flow. It’s functional but lacks character.
The Venvstas Carbon V is a handmade pen that feels as if it was made in a rush. It wouldn’t surprise me if other people have pens that look great. However, I can only talk about the pen I have, and I’ve seen other people commenting about the same issues. Even more of a problem is the filling mechanism which is poorly thought through. It’s okay if Montblanc cartridges don’t fit because they’re not quite standard but it is definitely not okay if a standard sized converter not only doesn’t fit but is damaged. What’s more, I’ve seen that some people (including the mighty Mr Brown) haven’t managed to find anything that will fit. As such, it’s a pen that doesn’t look finished and doesn’t work as it should.
Carbon fibre is a cool material for a pen
Damaged my converter
Problems fitting cartridges