Having written about my Pelikan M400 vintage tortoise for three posts in a row last month, I thought today, for balance, I would celebrate a pen from the lower end of the price spectrum.
So, how would you like to see a pen that loads like a shotgun? I thought so. Take a look at the Bic EasyClic.
I first learned of these from one of Stephen Brown’s YouTube videos, in which he reviewed the red “Hello Kitty” version, giving it the same systematic treatment as he might give a Visconti. I was intrigued enough to seek one out and found them in our local Ryman stationer, sold in a blister pack, for just £3.99.
This is primarily a child’s pen, available in a range of colours and measuring about 12.7cm capped and 11.8 uncapped. It has matching, transparent coloured push-on cap, the plastic pocket clip of which looks rather fragile.
The section has two rubbery facets, left and right of centre, to aid grip. Between these, if you look closely, (I only spotted this today) is the Bic logo. The plastic barrel is in two parts, with a sliding section which you pull back using the ridged gripping areas and then tilt by about 30 degrees, to expose the cartridge holder. Inside this sliding section, there is a metal insert to hold a cartridge. You simply push in a standard international cartridge, push the narrow end into the metal collar and then tilt and push the holder back into place with an easy click which gives the pen its name. It is tempting to point it at the sky and shout “Pull!”
The nib is stainless steel with the Bic name and logo but no other markings. There is no breather hole. This is a butterfly nib with the tip formed by folding the ends of the tines back on each other, rather than having a pellet of tipping material. However, if the tines are level, the nib is capable of writing very smoothly.
Over the following few weeks, I amassed four more of these in other colours. On checking the nibs with a loupe, some needed slight adjustment to align the tines but this was easily accomplished. Two of my five models have TUNISIA on the barrel, while the other three have FRANCE.
The pen, being designed for a child’s hand, is short when uncapped. The cap can be placed on the back but does not post securely. As an adult with medium to large hands, and what with the tapering of the barrel, I found the pen too short to be comfortable for all but the briefest of notes.
However, after trying on a few different caps, I found that the cap of a Lamy Safari posts deeply and securely giving a posted length of 14cm and making this little pen much more comfortable and easier to control. The Safari cap also gives it more weight, without upsetting balance and stops the pen from rolling off a desk. So pleased was I at this simple discovery that I wrote to tell Stephen Brown, who said it was a cool suggestion. Of course, it does mean that you have an unused Lamy Safari and arguably you may have a better writing experience using the Safari which costs four times as much but that is not the point.
The pen weighs around 9.5 grams inked and uncapped, but posting a Lamy Safari cap brings this up to a comfortable 17 grams.
For disassembly, if desired, you can detach the section by pulling it hard, while holding the barrel firmly by the sides, (the non-sliding part) in the other hand. It snaps on and off. Beyond this I have not tried to remove the nib and feed from the section.
Mine have given various levels of success. I paired them up with matching coloured ink cartridges. The blue pen has the smoothest nib and this has been inked constantly. It is particularly impressive at starting immediately, even after a week or more without use. This is due to the cap forming a good airtight seal, with some rubber O rings on the section. You can easily slide open the barrel to check the remaining ink.
Clearly this pen will not appeal to those whose interest is only in higher end pens for serious grown ups. But if, like me, you do not discriminate on price or target age group and enjoy the merits of the pen, I think it is a fun pen and well worth a look. I like that it is a re-usable pen at this price and cheap to run on a bag of 50 cartridges for £2.00. For me the unusual loading mechanism alone is already worth the purchase price. And to find one which writes well with good flow and no hard starts at such a low price is great. If you are prepared to use better quality ink cartridges such as Diamine, Graf von Faber-Castell or Kaweco, this will improve the writing experience.
I do enjoy keeping an eye on what fountain pens are available, including school pens, in stationery shops and supermarkets both here and when travelling. It is great when you find a bargain which is also a good performer.