NOTE: There is an amendment to this review at the bottom. Please be sure and read all the way through, or at least pay close attention to the end.
I’ve seen a lot of pens come through Kickstarter over the years. In fact, I jump on there every so often and just search for pens to see what might be worth backing. Aside from a few, most pens aren’t worth a second look and an even smaller number actually go on to be productive, long-lasting brands that build over time with revisions or new models. In fact, I think I can probably count on one hand the number of pen brands that have been born out of Kickstarter.
The latest in that group of designers and makers to reach for a lasting pen brand is the Riind Pen designed by a pair of MIT grads with usability, clean lines and functional design at its core. They reached out to me about taking an early look at their new pen and I gladly accepted. I mean… It’s a new pen. Duh!
So does it hold up to the hype? Let’s find out if the Riind is indeed the pen… rewritten.
Removing the pen from the packaging, I was immediately impressed. It’s well made and the gunmetal finish on the model they sent me is gorgeous. It’s a deep, matte grey with just a hint of sheen. The pen also comes in silver and black as well as another black version with a black clip (ultimate, super stealthy yo!). The pen is snazzy, for sure. Clean and simple with a knurled grip section (and matching knurling on the deployment mechanism). It’s not overdone or excessive, in my opinion, and offers a nice bit of visual contrast when looking at the pen.
Looking to the top of the pen, just below the knurled deployment mechanism is the word “RIIND” in tasteful white block letters. While a lot of brands omit their logo entirely, this one isn’t overly ostentatious or even super noticeable. It’s well done as far as logos and branding goes on a pen.
I will say that the knurling on the grip may be a bit aggressive for some. This is purely a personal preference and others may find it to be extremely comfortable. I typically don’t like it when a manufacturer puts a “grip” on a pen as they’re sort of dictating where the end user should be holding the pen, but their knurling is pretty comfortable. It's about on-par with that of the Tactile Turn Mover & Shaker. I think they could tumble it a little to smooth it out a bit more and it would be perfect.
The clip on the Riind is completely unique. It’s a metal “bar” that has been bent into a soft “V” shape, with each end terminating 180° apart and with one side slightly higher than the other. It’s an odd shape, but it works really well and the clip pulls out from the pen far enough that you could clip it on even the thickest of notebook covers or jackets or whatever. My only qualm with the clip is that because of the shape and the offset connection points, it sticks up out of a shirt pocket much too far for me to comfortably carry. I have this issue with some other pens like the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and while not a deal breaker, it makes me reach for other pens if shirt-pocket-carry is ideal. Still a really great, functional design that looks rather stunning. I would like to see the option for the black clip on all models of the pen and not just the black version. I think black on gunmetal would look really nice.
If you’re a fan of a lot of different refills, then the Riind might be right up your refill-lovin’ alley. Because it accepts approximately 1,236,871 refills. Give or take. Pretty much all 110mm refills will fit and there’s a whole list of them on the Kickstarter campaign. The one they include with the pen is the Pilot G2 Gell Refill. But if those aren’t your cup o’ tea, it’ll take Monteverde, Mont Blanc, Cross, Schmidt, Ohto, Uniball, Zebra… You can find a refill. Trust me.
I guess the only downside to the refill compatibility is that there’s an awful lot of competition out there for the Riind. Plenty of makers are producing pens in Aluminum, Brass, Copper, Titanium and Steel that accept 110mm refills. So what sets the Riind apart?
The deployment mechanism, that’s what. The guys at Riind have designed a new mechanism from the ground up that uses what they refer to as “ContinuousCam Technology.” If you’ve used a Retro 51, you know about a cam mechanism. Turn the little knurled knob at the top and you get to a hard stop with the tip deployed. Turn it back and it retracts. Where the Riind is different is that the mechanism turns continuously. Turn it either direction and it does its thing. It feels really, really good, too. Solid, but not hard to turn. The clicks are tactile and audible and it just feels like a really well-made mechanism.
All-in-all, I think this is a nice pen. It’s machined perfectly, finished beautifully and very well designed and the mechanism is also really unique and really, really well made. No wobble. No play. No mess. it just feels awesome. I found myself sort of playing with it at various points throughout the day, much to the chagrin of anyone within earshot of me. But dang. It just feels good! (I think I said that already, didn’t I?)
All that being said, this pen is a hard one for me to recommend because of the price. Before I even received this pen, I voiced my concerns about pricing to someone else who had reviewed this pen prior to the Kickstarter launch. And as soon as I posted a photo of mine on Instagram, two separate people made the comment that they felt it was much too expensive. At $125, I tend to agree.
Before you burn me at the stake, let me explain...
I realize that this pen is custom-designed and custom-manufactured from tip to tail. That there are no stock parts on this pen. Talking to the guys at Riind via email before receiving the pen, they mentioned price to me and said they wanted to put it between the Karas Kustom Retrakt and the CW&T Pen Type B, but they’re a little closer to the Pen Type B pricing than the Karas Kustoms pricing. And to be honest, at the end of the day, they have an aluminum pen that accepts the Pilot G2 refill (or similar). There are a lot of pens on the market that accept this same refill and that are made of the same material and they come in at half the price or less. Sure, the mechanism is cool and very well made, but I don’t think it’s worth twice the price of admission.
And I’m just going to say it… CW&T’s pens suck. The Pen Type A was a complete failure. It was two years late, overpriced and their fancy “pop” design made refills clog up and dry out and do all sorts of things (who'd have thunk it that shoving a refill into a vacuum doesn't work?). The Pen Type B is what the Pen Type A should have been, but it’s extremely overpriced. It should be closer to the $99 price point. And while I’m at it, the Hi-Tec-C refill sucks, too. Riind is doing themselves a disservice if they lump their pen in with anything from CW&T’s overpriced, rich-hipster-driven nonsensical designs.
The Riind is nice. It’s beautifully designed and extremely well made. But when it’s all said and done, my money stretches out a little more with offerings from their competition and still leaves me room in the budget for another pen or a few notebooks or a date night with my girl, all of which are more important to me as a consumer than an MIT-designed continuous cam mechanism.
If they could offer this pen at a price point that was a little closer to the competition, I’d be all over it in a minute. But as it sits now, a Pilot G2 refill-holder priced at $125 (not sure what the actual retail price will be post-Kickstarter), I can’t really recommend it and I don’t think I’m alone here as several people I know have been on exactly the same page with me. You may feel differently, though, so be sure and check them out at Riind.com and visit their Kickstarter Campaign here for more details, additional photos and a close-up look at their process and design.
Thanks to the guys at Riind for sending over a prototype for me to take a look at. I definitely enjoyed using it. I’ll be interested to see where they go from here and what products and pens they produce in the future. They know design, that’s for sure, so I’d love to see what else comes out of their studio.
Thanks for reading,
I recently received an email from the guys at Riind and they have agreed, after some conversation with a few bloggers (myself included), that their price point on the Riind was a bit ambitious considering the current pen market and their competition. As such, they have decided to reduce the price of the Riind on Kickstarter to $95 including shipping. Current backers will have the opportunity to modify their pledge amount and any new backers will be able to take advantage of the new pricing as well. At $95, I think this pen is an excellent value and I'd recommend it wholeheartedly. In fact, I'll be backing the black/black version myself.
This is an excellent example of a company listening to their customers and reacting positively to their needs and wants. Well done guys! I can't wait to see where your project goes from here!