Fun fact: up until I received this pen, I would have sworn I’d already reviewed its felt-tipped older brother, the Tradio Pulaman “fountain pen” marker. Somewhere I’ve got the pictures, and the writing sample; I just never did the actual review. I keep wanting to reference a review I haven’t even written yet, and for that, I apologize. I’d also like to thank JetPens for providing this sample (and this lovely green J. Herbin ink cartridge) for review.
I’ve got to break down this design three ways: the basic overall design, the black pearl coating, and the wonderful little window. Design: all thumbs up. Simple, attractive, modern work of pen designing art. Look at that cap. Look at the window.
This might be my favorite part. You can see the nib! There it is! Hi! Wave at the nib! I wish I could see all of my nibs even when capped—the nib is the quintessential fountain pen part!
This black pearl finish is where I start to have mixed feelings. It feels smooth. It looks cool. But it makes the seams on the cap stand out more (they’re smooth, as smooth as with the matte black body on my Tradio Pulaman), and stand-out seams can cheapen the look, no matter how well they’re smoothed. Also: smooth surface picks up skin debris like you paid it to collect every discarded cell. We’re talking mad crazy. This is fingerprint/handprint city, in a way that the matte surface definitely isn’t. If you’re a stickler for cleanliness, this might drive you insane.
Black grip combined with the black pearl body? Not sure how I feel about that. Two toned nib? Good choice. The cap posts securely (though I’ve read of problems with similar models) and is almost necessary for so lightweight of a pen. It feels like it could just float out of my hand.
On exceptionally smooth Clairefontaine/Rhodia papers, a problem emerged: this nib has got undeniable butt cheeks, the result being times where the ink doesn’t want to get on the page, as capillary action is holding the ink up in the crack instead of bringing it down to the where the cheeks touch the page. It happened so bad on the S in “Smooth” on the writing sample that I had to go back and write over it again until ink happened or there would have been no S at all. I busted out my eye loupe to confirm, and sure enough:
The cheeks weren’t a problem while handwriting this review in cursive on Leuchtturm 1917 ruled medium notebook paper. It’s been a good tactile nib on this paper, no flow problems, but I know I won’t rest until I’ve smoothed out that butt.
One micromesh buff stick and some lapping films later, and I’ve got the butt cheeks toned down. And now, I’ve got a very smooth tuned nib. Aw yeah.
At this price point, the Tradio is in direct competition with the Lamy Safari. The Tradio line can’t compete on color and nib options (there’s only medium nibs, and only a handful of colors, though I did find that the Tradio Pulaman body and cap are fully compatible with the fountain pen bits), but the Tradio has two big advantages going for it: no proprietary cartridges (takes the standard international cartridges) and rounded grip (as in, not faceted-sculpted-telling-you-how-to-live-your-life-and-grip-your-pen-type grip).
The Tradio TRF100 is a decent, very lightweight plastic body beginner fountain pen. Some simple nib smoothing may be needed to achieve peak performance, but for me this pen will find a comfortable home as a knock-about work pen.