The next entry in my “Cheap Chinese Pens I Got from eBay” series is the…
Yiren 823 Fountain Pen
Filling System: Twist-Style Piston Converter & International Standard Cartridge
About the Pen
This was one of the first pens I purchased during my recent eBay bender, and it was one of the ones I was most excited about. I just loved everything about the way it looked in the pictures, so I took a chance on it. Within five minutes of inking it up, I decided it was worth every penny. The short story is: This pen rocks! The long story is.
I think the Yiren 823 is a really nice-looking pen. The shape is pretty simple, but the design is striking. It’s a mottled gray and green pattern that resembles clouds, with a healthy dose of chrome trim for the finial, end cap, cap band, and clip. Although the design is eye-catching, the colors and simple shape give it a classy look that would be perfectly at home in any business setting. The 823 sports a two-tone nib that’s likely a standard #5 in size, stamped with the Yiren logo and “YIREN 22 KGP” indicating that the gold parts of the nib are plated with 22 karat gold. Not sure what to think about that considering the pen cost me $7, including shipping from China. If I have any complaint with the appearance of this pen, it’s that the chrome accents are serious fingerprint magnets.
Build Quality (5/5)
The first thing I noticed about the Yiren 823 was that it had a good bit of weight to it. The cap and barrel are metal, and for some reason, there is a large spring inside the barrel that’s adding some weight. I’m not sure if that’s to keep the converter from moving around or an attempt to balance the pen (the converter slides into the spring). The nib and feed are friction-fit and can be removed from the section very easily, allowing for fast disassembly of the pen for cleaning. The cap posts, but not very securely. I typically set it to the side to prevent it coming loose while I’m writing. The cap does, however, snap shut very tightly with a really satisfying click. It doesn’t take too much pressure to remove the cap, but it’s one you never have to worry about flying off.
It’s really hard to tell if the section is metal or plastic. It looks like plastic. But when screwing it into (or out of) the barrel, the threads marry up so perfectly that it’s a very smooth connection. This leads me to believe the section is actually made of metal with some matte finish that looks more like plastic. The pen’s clip is interesting in that it is attached via hinge at the top of the cap. Instead of stretching/bending the clip back, the entire clip rotates away from the pen. It’s nice because you don’t have to force it open or worry about snapping it or bending it out of shape. But it’s not a super strong clip, either, so you don’t want to put it in your shirt pocket and ride a roller coaster or go jogging.
I think the overall build quality of this pen is excellent. I’ll have to wait and see if the clip holds up over time or if the hinge wears out. But right now, I have no complaints about the pen’s quality.
If I wasn’t surprised enough by the quality of the pen, I was downright thrilled with the writing experience. I only had a small amount of the ink I used (Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki), so I had to fill it using a syringe. Typically this requires quite a bit of priming to coax the ink through the feed to the nib. But I used the syringe to put a drop or two of ink between the nib and feed, and it served to draw the ink right up from the converter. The pen wrote right away. It never skips. It never hard starts (unless I’ve had the cap off for ten minutes while taking pictures). Every time I pick up this pen, it writes immediately.
So far, I’ve found this pen to be super comfortable to write with. It seems perfectly balanced when not posted and it takes no pressure to write. The section has three textured cutouts for your fingers, giving it a bit of a triangular shape. These cutouts work great to keep my fingers in place, ensuring the pen sits at the right angle for writing. If you have a different way of gripping a pen, or if you don’t like the triangle-style grips of other pens, this might end up being uncomfortable for you. But between the matte finish and the ribbed cutouts, my fingers stay in place on the section while I’m writing. The best thing to report, for me anyway, is that I have not experienced any hand cramps while writing with this pen. The weight and size of the barrel seem to be perfect for me and I can just keep writing unfettered by pain.
Writing Experience (4.5/5)
In case you hadn’t picked up on this yet, I absolutely love this pen. It’s comfortable. It writes all the time. The nib is wicked smooth and it’s a fairly wet writer. And it’s really a very handsome pen; very classy. Most Chinese pens with standard nibs come in a Medium grade, and the 823 was advertised with a Medium. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually writes somewhere between Fine and Medium. I have small handwriting, so I prefer Fine and Extra Fine nibs. But this pen is perfectly usable as a daily writer. I’d still like to be able to get a true Fine nib for this pen, but the way it came exceeded my expectations, so I’m only knocking a half point off for it. If this nib was just a little bit finer, it might be the perfect pen for me.
I did try reverse writing, and found the line to be very fine. Amazingly fine. And although it gives quite a bit more feedback, it’s actually still really smooth. The only drawback is that it doesn’t put down much ink at all. You have to write fairly slowly for the feed to keep up. But if you have to do a little bit of extremely tiny writing, this pen will do an outstanding job when reversed.
When I reviewed the Knox Galileo, I said it was an amazing value for $15.00. Well, the Yiren 823 offers slightly better build quality, it outperforms the Galileo as a writer, it has a finer nib, and it was half the cost. I’m not sure you can find another pen this good for $7.00. The 823 is a perfectly capable EDC fountain pen, and a nice-looking one at that.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 24.5/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Very smooth, Medium/Fine nib||Chrome trim is a fingerprint magnet|
|Awesome build quality||Clip isn't very tight|
|Never skips!||I would like a slightly finer nib|
When it comes to these “cheap” Chinese fountain pens, I typically hope for the best but expect the worst. My $18 Crocodile fell apart immediately. My Duke Uranus throws ink around when I remove the cap. But this Yiren is absolutely stellar. I’m genuinely surprised at how great this pen is, especially with the $7.00 price tag (that included shipping). It’s solid and well built, and it writes better than most of my other pens. I’d put the Yiren 823 right up there with my Pilot Metropolitans in the “go-to pen” department.