Review: BIC Gelocity, Gel Ink, 0.7mm


Let’s be real; the BIC Gelocity is pretty much just a re-branding of BIC’s old Velocity Gel pen. However, there are a few differences worth noting. First and foremost, the refill inside the pen seems to have been updated. The ink flow is no longer as inconsistent, and it runs a bit smoother – and wetter – than the old Velocity Gel. But like its predecessor, the Gelocity’s ink still smears quite heavily.

There are also some minor aesthetic updates. The knock has been turned white, the trim is a lighter gray, and the grip is maybe a tiny bit softer. But beyond that, it’s hard to tell the two pens apart.


It’s fair to say that it’s an improvement, albeit a minor one, but there’s nothing here that elevates the Gelocity above other mediocre “premium plastic” pens. It’s fine. It’ll do the job. Still, better options are available.


Review: BIC Bu3 Grip, Ballpoint Ink, 1.0mm


In most aspects the BIC Bu3 Grip is a standard, if not slightly-below-average, ballpoint pen. The ink flow is on the sluggish side, it has a tendency to skip in and out while writing, and there’s more ink blobbing and smearing than one should expect from a $1 pen. On these points alone, I’d hesitate to recommend this pen to anyone, but there’s a little button on the side of the BU3 that pushes it into the “I’d never want to pick this pen up ever again” category.


The button, located near the clip, acts as a retracting mechanism. The tip still ejects by clicking a knock at the top of the pen, like you’d typically expect, but you can only retract the pen’s tip by pushing the button. Why? The Bu3’s packaging states that it’s “for added convenience,” but it really isn’t convenient at all. I’ve seen similar retracting mechanisms that actually do serve some purpose – the Pilot Down Force comes to mind – but the Bu3’s retracting mechanism is, at best, mildly annoying.

Really, I’m having trouble finding good things to say about this pen. The grip is somewhat comfortable, I guess, but that’s hardly redeemable. So, unless you have no other options, my suggestion is to just avoid the BIC Bu3 Grip.

Five Pens to Try – May 2016 Update

This week, Pens and Junk reaches two milestones: 100 posts and 25,000 page views. To many it may be a relatively minor accomplishment, but I thought it worth commemorating with a quick look back. After all, I wrote my original Top Five list after reviewing my first 25 pens back in October of last year, and things have changed a lot since then – keen observers will notice that only one pen has retained its spot on this list.

So, to cut the waffling short, here are the five pens that you should be checking out:

1. For Your Pen Cup: Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

The Pentel Energel is relatively inexpensive, durable, comfortable, and it has an ink that’s both smooth and dark. This is really a great pen to have laying about in your work area, and it comes in a variety of colors and tip sizes. And if you really like this pen, you can get a stainless steel version for under $10.

2. Your “Nice” Pen: Retro 51 Tornado

Retro 1951 Tornado

It’s safe to assume that the Retro 51 Tornado is a mainstay in my collection. Since buying my first one in August of last year, I’ve gotten three more for myself and given a few more as gifts. Tons of different designs are available, and it’s a great option if you’re thinking about upgrading your writing experience. And while many nicer pens go for $100 or more, you can get a Tornado for as little as $20.

3. Your On-The-Move Pen: Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

If you need a compact pen that can write in variety of situations, the Fisher Cap-O-Matic is the way to go. The pressurized Space Pen ink cartridge will write upside-down on wet paper, if you need it to. Though, I still really like my Tombow Airpress, the slim, metal body of the Cap-O-Matic makes it a bit more pocket friendly.

4. Your Everyday Writer: BIC Intensity

Bic Intensity

With its porous-point tip, the BIC Intensity produces crisp lines that will make anybody’s handwriting look better. I almost always have one of these pens at hand. If you can’t find the Intensity, the Sharpie Pen is a great alternative, though it’s slightly less durable.

5. A Pen to Fix Your Mistakes: Pilot Frixion

Pilot Frixion

Let’s face it, most erasable pens on the market are pure garbage. Pilot, on the other hand, has really broken the mould with the heat-activated ink inside the Frixion. The ink comes smooth and dark, and it erases like a dream. If you always wanted to do your math homework in pen, this is for you.

So that’s it. I hope you were able to find something interesting and something new. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at or leave a comment below.

Review: BIC Orange, Ballpoint, 0.8mm


If you pick up a BIC Orange today, it will probably feel very familiar. Introduced in 1961, it isn’t a major departure from its 1950s ballpoint predecessor, the BIC Cristal (the most ubiquitous pen in the world). In comparison, the Orange’s cap is slightly longer, the hexagonal barrel is rounded-off a bit near one end, and, of course, the pen’s barrel is orange instead of clear. The only major difference is that the Orange has a finer point – 0.8mm, as opposed to the 1.0mm of the Cristal.


It’s a reliable and capable pen, and it’s exactly what you’d expect an economy-priced ballpoint to be. Really, there’s nothing notable about the writing experience. Search around the internet, however, and you’ll find that the Orange has its fair share devotees. For example, Lou Antonelli writes fondly of the pen on his blog, This Way to Texas, reminiscing of the time he spent using it as a child, learning to read and write. And if Amazon product reviews are anything to go by, a lot of people seem to share this nostalgia.

Unfortunately, the Orange was discontinued in the U.S. in 2000 due to “changes in market conditions,” according to an e-mail from BIC. However, it is still available pretty much everywhere else in the world. So if you’re an American who finds that the Orange stirs up the old emotions, you can pick up a pack on your next trip to Canada. Otherwise, if you’re just looking for a cheap ballpoint with a finer tip, it’s a lot easier to get your hands on a 0.8mm BIC Round Stic.


Review: BIC Cristal, Ballpoint, 1.0mm


With over 100 billion pens produced since 1950, the BIC Cristal is the most popular – or, at least, most common – pen in the world. It’s the king of the office supply closet and the original economy pen, manufactured and sold worldwide. The Cristal even made it into the Museum of Modern Art for being a classic example of efficient, industrial design. It’s inexpensive and available everywhere, but, in terms of performance, the Cristal is a mixed bag.


It’s a reliable pen that always writes when you pick it up, but the thin, plastic barrel becomes very uncomfortable to hold after writing more than a few sentences. For a ballpoint pen, the ink is nice and dark, but it’s also very sluggish. It often feels like writing with syrup. But for the price – a dozen pens for a couple bucks – it’s difficult to complain too much.

Whether you love it or hate it, the BIC Cristal is an icon that’s here to stay. It’s easy to find a better pen by pending a few extra bucks, but it’s impressive that BIC can deliver a functional product for such a low cost. The Cristal may never be my go-to pen, but it has my respect nevertheless.


Extra Links

  • A history of the BIC Cristal, produced by BIC at the Cristal’s 60th anniversary. It’s an interesting read, especially if you want to see Salvador Dali holding a Cristal.
  • A review at Scribomechanica summarizes the Cristal really well: you can do better with other pens, but that’s not the point. The point is that the Cristal is really inexpensive, yet reliable.
  • The review at The Pen Addict is very positive towards the Cristal, with his primary complaint being the white-space within the lines of ink.