Review: FPR Himalaya Ultraflex

A few weeks ago, I attended a small pen meet with fellow southies. One of them had a wonderful collection of vintage flex pens. I’ve always been so hesitant to try flex pens because I’m afraid to ruin the nib with all the flexing. I didn’t want to flex the nib too much, and I wasn’t sure what the right amount of flex was. I did buy a Noodler’s Ahab several years ago but I found it so difficult to flex, it wasn’t too enjoyable to use. During the pen meet that I attended, I bravely tried out Pat’s flexies with a very light hand, very minimal pressure. I was surprised at how beautifully they flexed and how easy it was on the hand. I decided I would give flexies another try, but since I’m on a budget, I decided to try one of those FPR Himalaya Ultraflexies that Kailash from Pengrafik was selling at the time.

The pen’s body and feed are made of ebonite. I chose the brown swirly design over the plain designs because I thought it looked really pretty. Plus, I don’t have an ebonite pen yet, I thought it would make a nice addition to my collection. The pen itself looks really simple. I like the simplicity of the design, the flat ends, the simple clip, the simple chrome-colored trims that aren’t ostentatious or flashy. The pen is light, but it wasn’t as light as I expected it would be.

I liked the length of the section, it’s comfortable to hold and the length makes it a good fit in the hand whether the cap is posted or unposted. The converter is a plunger-type design which is screwed onto the pen. You’ll notice a lot of silicone grease when you unscrew the barrel. I suggest that you don’t unscrew the converter anymore to clean out the pen. Of if you do, make sure that you apply silicone grease on the threads. Because of the ebonite body, the pen smells a little like burned rubber. I think the smell is a lot less pronounced than the Ahab, though. I don’t mind it.

Prior to using the pen, I heat-set the ebonite feed first. Here is the tutorial I used to do this. It’s important to heat set the feed, so do not skip this step. If you don’t heat set the feed, the pen will not write well. Mine railroaded a lot and alternated with burping blobs of ink and not writing at all until I heat set it a few times. After it was properly prepared, I inked it up and the magic began.

Cursive is just not in my comfort zone, but it’s always fun to try something new. The ultraflex nib is so soft, it’s almost effortless to use. Of course it’s not the same as vintage wet noodles but as far as steel nibs go, this one is pretty soft. It’s a far cry from the Noodler’s Ahab that I owned. You can use it for regular writing or if you want to add line variations in block letters. Normal writing feels great on it. You can’t really get very thin hairlines like how you would if you used nibs for pointed pen calligraphy, but the fine lines do look (and feel) like you’re writing with an XF nib. Lots of nice feedback and the ink flow is consistent. If you use a wet ink, the hairlines may look thicker.

I haven’t really had the time to start studying calligraphy yet, but I do enjoy my wobbly figure eights. If the pen railroads a lot, try heatsetting it until you get a better flow. I noticed that you need to get into the rhythm of writing to avoid railroading too. Here’s a video of the writing sample. You can see that the pen keeps up with my hand pretty well. It took a bit of practice to get the speed and angle right, and I had to heat set until I’m happy with how it writes.

It’s important that you’re not afraid to tinker with the pen if you want to try this. It’s a lot of fun, really. Since it’s an ultraflex nib, it kinda guzzles a lot of ink, but it also shows off the beauty and character of the inks that I use. If you want to dabble in calligraphy but don’t have the moolah for vintage flexies or if you want to give your handwriting a bit of line variation from the bouncy nib (it feels like it’s bouncing as you write), or if you just want to zone out while writing figure 8’s on your notebook, this may be the pen for you. It also has a flexy variant but I wasn’t able to try that out.

FPR pens are available at Pengrafik.

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