If you aren’t familiar with Spoke, they are small design and I’d say “tinkering” studio that have been producing machined goods for the last 6 to 7 years or so. Started by brothers Brian and Dan Conti, they are also the creators of the Baux pens as well as the Strong Like Bull magnet company. So, when I say “tinker”, I mean it in the most complimentary way. These guys just love making cool stuff.
After the release of their Spoke 4 (4th generation) mechanical pencil, they were in touch with fellow blogger (the Godfather of pen blogging really) Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict who said he had some ideas…
Within a few months, the guys worked together to produce the first prototypes of what would be called the Spoke Pen which is currently on Kickstarter and successfully funded. They were kind enough to send me one to check out and I’ve been putting it through its paces over the last few weeks.
As an overview, the pen is an all metal (ALL metal) barrel designed to take the Uni-ball Signo DX refill, one of Brad’s favorites. There are other metal pens that have allowed the Signo DX refill, but this is the first one designed specifically with it in mind and I think they made a solid choice.
The overall design of the pen is very unique and plays nicely into the Spoke aesthetic which they refer to as “geometric-deco” which has inset milling with straight lines and some subtle curves for interest. It was one of the things that drew me to their Spoke 4 pencil specifically since I think it looks awesome.
The pen is made up of several parts, 12 if my count is correct, which is a lot when compared to what you see in most Kickstarter pens. This complexity has its reasons as they’ve also incorporated magnets into the cap and the ability to create a tremendous amount of customization as time goes by. Even with all the parts, everything is tight, sturdy, and intentional.
They sent me over an all black “Ninja” edition of the pen (they must know me pretty well) and I love the design in this scheme. The finish is uniform and well done across all surfaces, even in the tucked away parts.
The grip section on mine is also black being aluminum, but they are also allowing for a titanium grip if you so choose.
While writing, the Signo refill is snug. REALLY snug which makes for a solid writing experience. No wiggles thankfully.
The only part of the pen that isn’t black is the tip which is made from stainless steel so it can attract the magnet in the cap… segue!
Rather than using a threaded or snap cap, the guys opted for a magnet closure which, as mentioned above with their Strong Like Bull brand, is completely appropriate. The magnet is pretty much just the right strength for this application. It is just strong enough to hold the cap and barrel snugly in place, but easy enough to pull apart with very little effort.
When I mentioned I had put the pen through “it’s paces” above I wasn’t kidding. Pretty much from the day I got the prototype in the mail it hasn’t left my pocket. This is for two main reasons: I really like the pen and I wanted to see how it held up to somewhat heavier use.
And, somewhat contrary to how I usually carry pens (almost always in some sort of sleeve), I simply clipped this one to my pants pocket to see how normal use, pocket lint, and occasional “bumps” might interact with it.
Overall, the pen has taken it pretty well in my opinion. I wasn’t intentionally inflicting harm to it, but it has now adopted some weathering in a couple of spots over the past month.
Being the all black version, the steel clip is covered in E-Coat (Electrophoretic Painting Process…) which gave a nice uniform “painted” finish to the part. An area of wear I’ve noticed is on the clip near the edges which are a little sharper where it has met my jeans pocket.
The other place I kindly added some “patina” to the pen was near the top of the cap where I wore through some of the finish to reveal the aluminum below.
These points of wear I would consider “normal” if tucking a pen into your pocket is your regular routine. Throw it in with your keys and you’ll see tremendously more wear (which I didn’t do), especially with black.
One thing I suspected would also happen with the design is the accumulation of dust/lint down in the nooks and crannies of the geometric-deco machining points. It is especially so near the end of the pen. I am a clean person, but it was surprising how much lint and dust got caught just from being in my pocket.
Cleaning it out periodically shouldn’t be too much trouble, but is something to call out as some potential ongoing “maintenance” with the pen. Again, being the all black finish makes any spec of anything more pronounced.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the execution. I would honestly expect nothing less from these guys considering their past products I’ve had the pleasure of using.
After using the pen for minutes I knew I would also want to back the project. For my pledge I’ll be opting for a more “raw” metal look with a titanium grip. Seems like a nice contrast to the all black…
As mentioned, the Kickstarter project has already met its goals, but there is still about a week left to hop on. Thanks again to Spoke for sending me over the sample to check out!