My whim purchase of the Delike Alpha arrived this morning from China. I chose the pretty mid blue (“Noble Blue”) aluminium pen and I was intrigued enough to buy it with the EF “bent” nib. Since the nib units just screw in, it seemed rude not to try a couple of other nib options as well, so I also bought standard EF and F nibs. The whole lot set me back around £20 and even comes in a nice tobacco-sized tin, just like the Kaweco Sport it is copying.
I have slightly mixed feelings about the whole Chinese “knock-off” pen industry. On the one hand, copying a product design, even if you aren’t selling it as an outright fake, isn’t really ethical. On the other hand, it’s unlikely I would be sufficiently interested in the original product to buy it anyway. If anything, trying out the cheap* copy may be enough to make me want a real one. Also, part of the attraction of the Delike was the “bent” nib, which Kaweco don’t offer. Thus, my conscience is entirely clear in this case.
*I know that Kaweco do a Sport for under £20 but I’m not that keen on plastic pens. The Kaweco AL version is around £60.
So, on to the pen itself. It’s cute and compact, truly pocket sized when closed and if you have a capacious pocket, you could even accommodate the tin as well. The colourful aluminium body, available in Noble Blue, Carbon Black and Matte Silver, has a matte/satin finish, much the same as the Namisu Ixion, shown below for scale. As you can see, closed, the Delike is much more compact, but once open and posted, it becomes a full sized pen. I have no idea of the significance of the “War and Peace” inscription on the cap.
Posting is fairly essential for balance as well as making the pen a more comfortable length. I found the additional “tail” weight improved the nib performance by adjusting the writing angle.
Initially, I thought they had sent me the wrong model as I couldn’t see that the nib was bent at all. I wasn’t expecting an angled Fude nib, rather more a slightly upswept nib in the Sheaffer style. Well, it’s nothing like that! It looks quite straight at first glance, but once I’d examined the nib with a loupe, all became clear. Essentially, the “blob” of the tip is on the top rather than the bottom. I don’t know if there is a proper name for this type of nib.
I must admit that I liked the EF “bent” (let’s refer to it as EFB) nib immediately. It writes very smoothly. I don’t know why this still surprises me about cheap Chinese pens, as I have found them for the most part to be consistently good writers, possibly more so than some of their more expensive counterparts. Despite being called an EF, the line width is much broader than you’d expect.
As previously mentioned, I also bought additional nibs in standard EF and F. There is an M available on some listings, but this just seems to be the F nib, which has no stamp on it to indicate size and is sometimes named as an M.
For convenience, I dip tested all the nibs initially and have only fully tested the EFB. Ink flow through the feed is good, though be careful just after filling up as I had a couple of blobs. Below are my dip test scribbles with EFB, EF and F respectively. (The inconsistency with the F nib is just down to inept dipping.)
As you can see, the standard EF nib is a lot finer than the EFB and, as with many EF nibs, prone to a little scratchiness unless you have a very light touch. Any scratchiness may have been partly down to the nib only being dipped rather than the ink flowing properly through the feed. The F nib is also a very smooth writer, possibly the smoothest of the three, though I would have to do more extensive testing. It produces a similar line width to the EFB and it is hard to tell between them. My favourite is still the EFB.
I believe the nib sizes are given as EFB (0.6mm), EF (0.38mm) and F(0.58mm), though I have seen different sizes given on different listings, so do check. There seems to be a slight lack of consistency in the naming and size given for the F (or M).
In summary, a very nice pen for the price and I can easily see this pen becoming my default pocket carry*. It is compact, attractive and writes smoothly with the right nib. Although, if you favour broader nibs, the Delike won’t be for you. The tin is cute, but a bit of a gimmick with a lot of unused space. I would have preferred a smaller container or a pen sleeve. I’ve never really understood why most pens come in such disproportionately large boxes.
*though it’s hard to fault the convenience of a Pilot VP for quick jottings, especially when you only have one free hand.
As well as aluminium, the Delike Alpha is also available in Brass and Chrome and then there are a variety of colourful resins, though these are around £20 for just the pen, so may incur additional import costs.
Verdict: One for lovers of compact and finer nibbed pens. It would be rude not to try this one for the price!