Next up in my “
Cheap Inexpensive Chinese Fountain Pens” series, another winner from one of my favorite Chinese brands…
Yiren 860 Fountain Pen
Filling System: Standard International Converter (& Cartridges)
About the Pen:
I’m a really big fan of gunmetal-colored pens. It’s just classy, you know? Eye-catching. I often peruse eBay in search of cool-looking pens that won’t break the bank. Quite often, I find interesting Chinese pens for under $10. I’ve purchased and used a number of them, and I’m always happy when I find new designs that I haven’t seen before. I stumbled on an auction for this beautiful little Yiren 860, and immediately fell in love with the gunmetal and gold colors.
Given the terrific success I had with another Yiren pen, I pounced on the 860 like a rat on a Cheeto. And I’m not sorry about it, either.
Before I get too far, I just want to point out that “Yiren” is the Chinese Bigfoot. I have no idea if that was their intention or not, but any company named after Bigfoot gets bonus points in my book.
The Yiren 860 is super classy-looking (although the dragon clip is a touch gaudy). It’s not a large pen, but the barrel seems to be made of brass, so it has some weight to it. The finish is a gold-tinged gunmetal (or black nickel) color that’s really deep and shiny. All the furniture is gold-colored, and it complements the gunmetal beautifully. The only other colors on the pen are the black section and the two-tone nib, although the gold on the nib looks nice with the rest of the gold on the pen.
And then there’s the clip. It’s a dragon. A dragon with faux ruby eyes. Okay, so the entire clip isn’t a dragon…the clip is a fairly standard metal clip with a dragon head soldered (or glued) onto the end. Either way, I think it adds a little bit of pizazz, gaudy or not.
The clip isn’t what I’d call terribly tight…It’s pretty easy to lift up. But it does seem to hold the pen in place really well, likely due—at least in part—to the shape of the dragon head. If you wanted to put the pen in your pocket and chase your coworkers around the office a bit, you probably don’t have to worry about losing the pen along the way (well, unless you’re tackling people, of course).
The nib appears to be a standard #5, and it writes a bit finer than typical Chinese medium nibs. The two-tone nib has some scrollwork around the edge, a Yiren logo engraved just below the breather hole, and the text YIREN 22 KGP below the logo. The 22 KGP indicates that the gold parts of the nib (logo and the area outside the scrollwork) are plated with 22 karat gold. The pen cost me $7, which included shipping from China, so whether or not it’s real gold is anyone’s guess.
The cap is a snap-style cap with the typical white insert for securing the pen. The cap has the Yiren logo and some Chinese characters (I assume it’s probably “Yiren” in Chinese) screenprinted on the front and 860 screenprinted on the back.
The finial is also gunmetal with a gold band that separates it from the cap and a gold button on the top that secures the clip in place. The end cap is a simple gold-colored, bullet-shaped dome.
And did I mention: Dragon Clip!?
Build Quality (4.5/5):
Overall, I’d say the build quality is outstanding. It’s a very solid pen. Nothing shakes, rattles, or rolls off while I’m writing. All threads are machined very well and screw together nicely. The nib plating is placed perfectly and it writes exceptionally smoothly.
The cap snaps into place very securely, although it does take a bit of force to uncap the pen. I’d like it better if the cap was easier to remove. The Yiren 860 has a somewhat cheesy converter and feed, but they’re pretty typical on this tier of Chinese pen.
There is a very slight wave pattern etched along the section to aid in gripping the pen. I love that they did this. It prevents the lacquered brass section from becoming slippery, but it’s subtle enough that you don’t notice it when writing. This is a very nice touch.
One kind of weird thing is that they didn’t bother to glue the end cap into place. I’m not sure if it makes any difference, but you can unscrew it from the barrel easily.
My only real gripe with this pen is that the finish isn’t very durable. I’ve been pretty gentle with it, but it’s still starting to collect scratches and nicks. This certainly won’t affect the writing experience, but I think it indicates that the pen will look pretty beat up after a while. And it has such a sexy finish, it’s unfortunate how easily it picks up blemishes.
Additionally, the finish is an absolute fingerprint magnet. If fingerprints on a pen trigger your OCD, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. I’m just looking out for your emotional and mental well being. You’re welcome.
I was actually getting ready to complain about heavy hard starts with this pen, but luckily past experience with my inks made me realize the problem was with the ink, not the pen. At first, I loaded up Iroshizuku Take-Sumi and the pen wrote magnificently. When the Take-Sumi ran out, I filled it with Pelikan Turquoise and experienced a lot of hard starting. I looked back through notes and samples, and I found that my Noodler’s Ahab also suffered hard starts with the Pelikan Turquoise. So, it’s the ink, not the pen.
Forgetting about the ink-induced hard starts, this pen writes like a CHAMP. It was superb with the Take-Sumi. No skips. No hard starts. No blurping or blobbing as I wrote. The line was smooth and consistent.
As the Yiren 860 is a smaller pen, I was afraid it might be uncomfortable to write with. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a really comfy experience. It’s a short pen, so if you have larger hands, you’ll want to post it. And it does post…but I wouldn’t recommend it. First of all, posting the cap makes the pen heavy overall and slightly back-heavy. Plus, given the issues with the finish easily scratching, I wouldn’t post it for fear of really scratching it up. So if you have larger hands, you might want to skip this one.
I did notice some hand cramping while writing, but relaxing my grip alleviated that. For some reason, I tend to grip narrower pens more tightly, and that leads to hand cramps. If I keep my grip relaxed, the cramping goes away.
Writing Experience (5/5):
I’m extremely pleased with how this pen writes. It’s just excellent. The nib is incredibly smooth, even when reverse writing. The line is probably somewhere between fine and medium, which is a huge bonus for me and my Liliputian handwriting. Most Chinese pens are full-blown mediums, so the handful that I get that write finer lines shoot right up my popularity chart. Of the Yiren 860, I’m a fan.
Hey, man, for $7, this pen is an overall excellent value. Heck, I’d even call it a steal. The build quality is excellent, it looks nice, and it writes very nicely.
I don’t know what else to say about it. Go buy one!
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 24/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Awesome finish||Finish isn't that durable|
|Super smooooooth nib||Cap takes some force to remove|
|Dragon clip!||Fingerprinty, could trigger fits of OCD|
This is the second Yiren pen I’ve reviewed, and I’m 2 for 2 in the success column. Both pens are outstanding. I’ve been trying to find out more about the company, but information is scarce. I know they also make the Bookworm brand, but that’s about it. I’d put Yiren above more popular brands like Jinhao and Baoer in the areas of design, writing experience, and (at least in Jinhao’s case) build quality.