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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: Bic Cristal 1.6 mm Pens

For a few years now, pen manufacturers have been making broader pen points than 1.0 mm, which for a long time used to be the most standard nib size (I am guessing) commonly available.  Of these larger sizes that started appearing in the stores, 1.4 mm and 1.6 mm seem to be the most common.  (I don't recall ever seeing a 1.2 mm nib.  Do they exist?  Would they be that much different from 1.0 to be able to tell any difference at all?  Inquiring minds, etc. etc.)  I would look at these pens and think, "Who in the world would want to write with that chunky thing?"  And then I would buy them.  And try them.  And generally not care for them, so the answer to my question would be, "Not me, obviously."

However, hope springs eternal, and I keep buying and trying these types of pens.  I want to like them, but somehow they never seemed quite right.  Until now.

A week or so ago, I bought a pack of Bic Cristal pens in all different colors, and part of the reason these caught my eye was that they were 1.6 mm pens.  (I believe these are called the Bic Cristal "Bold" pens.  I should have saved the packaging, but I didn't expect to be writing this review!)  This was a little bit of a turn-off due to my past experience with this size nib, but I really liked some of the colors in the pack, so I thought they were worth taking a chance.

Here's my verdict after writing with them for several days: I don't know if it's the ink in the pens (just typical Bic ballpoint ink, as far as I can tell -- someone correct me if I'm wrong), or the 1.6 mm nibs, or some magical pen fairy dust they have sprinkled in these pens, but MAN are they SMOOTH.  The pens literally glide across the page, and although they have a tendency to be a little "blobby" as many of these types of pens do, a little blobbiness is never a deal breaker for me.

Stylewise, these are typical Bic Cristal pens, with all the classic design features that we all know and love (OK, that I know and love -- you might hate Bic pens but I for one associate them with my childhood; they were one of my top go-to pens as a kid).  Caps, barrels, stamped logo -- it all screams "Bic!!"


And even the ballpoint looks typical -- except for that seemingly impossibly huge ballpoint.  But I think that is definitely the secret of this pen's success.  The ballpoint comes with a small blob of wax affixed, to keep the pen from drying out before a writer gets to it.  That is not something I associate with Bic pens -- and it's certainly something associated more with gel pens than with regular ballpoint ink -- but I suppose it's necessary for keeping the ink from drying out on such a broad point.


In addition to the smoothness of these pens, the ink itself also seems to be more vibrant and intense than other Bic pens I have tried.  While this certainly could be due to the simple fact that the 1.6 mm tip is laying down more ink pigment on the page, it does make me wonder if this is a new or special formulation of ink.


At any rate, these pens are fantastic and I highly recommend them.  And they give me hope for the 1.6 mm nib!
 

20 comments:

  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one with a softspot for this pen. The blue is possibly the best ballpoint blue I've ever tried.

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  2. I agree -- the blue AND the black are simply amazing.

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  3. I had no idea Bic made 1.6mm ballpoints. These look surprisingly nice, even though I typically prefer finer nibs. Bic ballpoints don't get a lot of love from most stationery bloggers, so it was great to see this review! I also have a fondness for the basic Bic Cristal, since for me it was also a pen that I grew up with.

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  4. I honestly think it is hard to beat the sheer simplicity and utter reliability of a Bic ballpoint sometimes. No, they're not very sexy, but they are tried and trusted, which is much better sometimes.

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  5. I saw those at CVS one day but I don't use a bold tip pen, so I left them there. I wish they would make fine tips in colors.

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    1. I still am not a fan of bold point pens in general (got a Zebra 1.6mm pen the other day that is close to miserable), but these are definitely worth a try. I encourage you to give them a shot!

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  6. I'm glad I'm not alone - I found one of these stuffed in my desk at work, and it wipes the floor with normal biros. Immediately my writing felt more emotional and I actually looked forward to writing stuff instead of hating it. If only these wide-nibbed biros had been around when I was young, my life would have been transformed.

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  7. I was on the fence about buying these Bic 1.6 mm pens until reading this favorable review last night. I got a 24-pack today at Office Depot for $6.50, their regular price. There are 8 colors: 4 black, 4 blue, 3 red, 3 pink, 3 green, 3 purple, 2 turquoise, and 2 lime. After trying them out, I'm happy to find every color is bold enough to be usable, unlike Papermate's stable of colors in their 1.4 mm Profile pens which includes an orange much too light for any normal use (although it comes in handy for making light, pleasant-looking marks in a dictionary or Bible, for instance). The Bic 1.6 mm blue is my only complaint since it is a very dark, businesslike, serious blue while I prefer a brighter more cheerful blue, as the Papermate 1.4 mm does provide. Overall I prefer the Bic 1.6 width, though, to the 1.4. One reason I did not buy before now is that I thought the width difference between the 1.4 Papermate (which I own a set in all its colors) and 1.6 Bic would be too small to notice. The difference, however, is immediately apparent and satisfies very well the purpose for which I use these wide ballpoints which is to provide the boldness of a gel or rollerball while still retaining all the qualities and advantages of a ballpoint such as not running or disappearing when wet and fast drying. That is another thing that surprised me - the Papermate 1.4 mm inks do not dry quickly. You cannot touch your writing for 3-5 seconds after applying without smearing. I expected the Bic 1.6 mm to be worse, if anything, in that respect simply because a greater volume of ink is being laid down. But I found all these Bic 1.6 colors to dry very very fast. As soon as you write you can brush your hand over your word and there is no smearing. The Bic 1.6's also seem to glide smoother than the Papermate 1.4 mm. There are minor blobs once in a while but they don't seem to mar the overall look to any great extent, maybe because the line itself is just so wide that the blob is not that much larger than the line it's a part of, as a percentage. Checking around on the web tonight I was happy to find there are exceptionally good prices on certain colors of Bic 1.6 mm if you look around. For instance, Walmart sells bundled double 12-packs (so 24-count) of either blue or black for $2.38. That's exactly 10 cents each. The price I paid today for my 8-color set of 24 pens is about 27 cents each and I haven't seen those sets much cheaper anywhere so far. Refills are available on the Bic website for the retractable version (mine is the stick version, as is the type reviewed on this blog, which is not refillable) for 50 cents each.

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  8. Just a couple more things. All these Bic 1.6 mm stick pens have transparent barrels but the black, blue, red, and green also have transparent ink reservoirs so remaining ink level is always visible. Purple, pink, turquoise, and lime's ink reservoirs are opaque white so remaining ink level is not visible on them. A striking thing about the pens, and the first thing I noticed, is their extremely light weight. Also, they do give off a definite early 60's vibe. As Randall says above: "I for one associate them with my childhood; ... Caps, barrels, stamped logo -- it all screams "Bic!!"

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  9. Thanks for this review. I was searching for a bold green and purple. I have all the reds blues and blacks I could ever use but my work requires these odd green and purple. I will give a packet of these a shot (If I can find any in australia) and save my money rather than buying the papermate (Reading above comment)

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  10. Been using mine for a couple weeks now and the blue and black at least are getting really globby and leaking ink all over everything. This hasn;t happened to anyone else??

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  11. I love dark blue ink, always; I have to use dark pink or dark red for work...I prefer dark pink. I only care for blue and pink colors! I wish they sell it, individually! My childhood pens were fountain pen... Since ball point pens were very expensive in Vietnam from 1975 thru 1990 ! I own a Parker fountain pen for diary, and prayers!

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  12. I have to agree. This is the best pen I've ever used at any price.

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  13. Am using it and i love working with it.

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  14. I just love these pens,esp,the purple ones for my daily work.But,they don't come in packs of twelve :(

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  15. Great review - thanks! It was bittersweet though as I cannot find the red and green ones in Europe. (Funny how Bic is French and many of the products are not available in France!!) Anyway, I have 6 out of the 8 so I guess it's not bad :) But just to say, there IS a 1.2 mm nib - it's the Bic cristal "soft" these come in the usual 4 colours and come in a transparent blue casing. One nice added feature is the tip is also the color of the ink and the side logo is also matching ink color - I would add a photo if I could !!

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  16. I like bics but all of these 1.6mm I bought(over 30) leak likr a sive.They were going to my sisters grade 3 class but had to toss the lot.two thumbs down

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  17. The bic 1.6mm just leak all the time

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  18. These are the best pens ever made!

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  19. These might not be the best ballpoint ink pens ever, but where the intersection meets with disposable pens they are the best. I've never had a pen that is a better color of green ink. It's such a bright Kelly Green, almost Emerald Green, and it writes so smooth on any paper you put the point to. I'll never go back to using regular Cristal pens after having tried the 1.6mm points.

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