So TWSBI recently launched a curveball into the market for inexpensive pens, releasing the TWSBI “Go” after what seems like not-a-lot-of-hype, at least compared to past TWSBI product launches. Reaction from the pen blogosphere has been … interesting … to say the least. Some people love it, others have referred to it as the “acid-washed jeans” of the pen world. What’s my personal take? I think it’s a great addition to TWSBI’s lineup, and could cause some upheaval in my recommendations at the $20 price point.
As you can see from the pictures above, the Go is a chunky pen, slightly shorter than the TWSBI 580 and the TWSBI Eco, but with more girth. Without the piston mechanism or any metal trim, the TWSBI Go is also much lighter than either of those pens, making it a comfortable pen for long writing sessions. It’s a longer pen when posted, but the cap hardly weighs anything so it didn’t throw the balance off for me.
TWSBI really innovated here with the filling system on the Go. While TWSBI refers to it as a “spring loaded piston filling mechanism,” I’d characterize this pen as a plunger filler. Plunger fillers, of course, are not a new concept, but they are uncommon in less expensive pens. The main selling point with TWSBI’s take on things is ease of filling: TWSBI claims that you just need to press down once, release “and you’re ready to GO!” It is indeed very easy to fill this pen (and presumably to flush it out), making the Go not only an excellent pen for beginners but also a great pen to use for ink testing. [Edit: See the comments below for some discussion of the proper terminology that should be used here. My point is that this pen fills differently from your typical “Piston filler” fountain pen.]
And, last but not least, I’m going to talk about the aesthetics of this pen, which have prompted more discussion than the new filling system or the overall quality of the pen itself. The TWSBI Go is not “attractive” in the traditional sense - it’s neither streamlined nor shiny, it’s made entirely of plastic, and the filling system looks like some sort of steampunk Rube Goldberg machine. But somehow the look works for me. It’s fun. Don’t think too hard on it.
I do have some concern about the long-term strength of the plastic. The TWSBI Go has a “snap” cap that isn’t internally reinforced in any way, leading me to wonder whether or not it might be prone to cracking over the long term. That said, given the price point, I’m not going to worry too much about this. The TWSBI Go isn’t intended to be a “last-pen-you’ll-ever-need” product.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
If you’re just testing the waters with fountain pens in general, have been looking to try out a non-cartridge/converter fountain pen, or just want something different for a change, there’s not much risk in giving the TWSBI Go a try. The filling system is easy to master, the pen holds a decent amount of ink, and TWSBI offers a lot of quality nib options. I do hope that TWSBI introduces the Go in some different colors - this format presents an opportunity for the brand to step outside their clear/blue/gray demonstrator comfort zone - the “Sapphire” and “Smoke” motifs are getting a little tired as they’ve been launch colors for most of TWSBI’s models.
I purchased the two TWSBI Go pens featured in this review from Amazon, which currently stocks the Go in the full range of nib sizes (EF through 1.1mm Stub) and in both the Sapphire and Smoke versions.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I purchased the pens featured in this review with my own funds, for my own use.