I recently stumbled across these BIC Disposable Fountain Pens (here via Amazon or here via Staples) which were new to me, so I decided to grab some and see how they performed. I’m also always looking to add to our list of beginner fountain pens because I think some of these more inexpensive fountain pens are a great way for people to get started and see if they might like the experience.
As you can see from the photos here, the all plastic cap and body of the BIC Disposable Fountain Pens are adorned with silver and black graphics. The side of the pen has a clear window that allows you to see how much ink you have left, and the clip has a fairly sturdy feeling plastic clip. The plastic grip section on these pens have a visible feed which I’ve always been fond of ever since I was in grade school and saw it for the first time on the Pilot V7.
The steel nib that you see pictured above is a pretty basic no frills nib that doesn’t offer any flex, but this is not a knock on the pen, its just what is to be expected from a disposable fountain pen. The nib doesn’t have any BIC branding, manufacturing information, or the actual nib size (medium in this case) printed on it.
Although the rear view of the nib is just as no frills as the front, I thought it still warranted a close up picture so you can see the details of it and the feed for yourself.
Sticking with the theme of looking at the back of things, lets take a look at the back of the package where the “Disposable medium point – no messy refills!” language caught my attention. This is just a personal issue of mine, but I find disposable fountain pens to be nothing more than a entry level test, or minimal use item for those instances when you don’t want to carry a “real” fountain pen with you for whatever reason. The two things that bug me here are the fact that we are OK with adding more plastic waste to landfills under the guise of convenience here plus the misleading “no messy refills” statement that I feel is only something that a company would opine on if they have zero interest in really promoting the use of fountain pens outside of the realm of disposable ones. I’ve always found that the stereotype of fountain pens being messy a bit misleading, so its not surprising to see it used here to try and draw in people that have possibly not used one before. Sure, I’ve had my own instances where I made a mess when refilling a fountain pen, but its a rare instance that can usually be avoided with a bit more care or attention. Bottom line though is that most fountain pens are not “messy” anyway if one takes their time and is careful when refilling. I think this language just goes to further the myth that using a fountain pen is going to result in a pen that leaks everywhere and causes you to get ink all over your hands and clothes when its time to refill or change ink. Anyway, lets get back to the pen review itself now that you have allowed me to vent a bit.
Even with a low end steel nib, one would expect to see some sort of relative consistency when it came to the writing performance. As you can see from this writing sample though, in both instances where I wrote the same line of text, the width of the line put down by two identical pens was visibly noticeable. The bottom line from pen #2 was much thinner and skipped a bit as compared to the first line from pen #1, even though both came from the same package of pens with medium nibs. In addition to the significantly different width of the line that was put down, I have to say that the ink itself was quite weak looking. Its one thing to load up your fountain pen with a nice gray ink, but that is much much different from just having a watered down looking black ink which is what you get with the BIC Disposable Fountain Pen.
One last thing that I saw in many of the reviews on Amazon was the recurring theme of the caps eventually breaking and not staying on. Although I didn’t have the pens long enough to do extensive testing, I did simulate removal of the cap and posting it on top of the pen 500 times with no ill effects other than the smudging and scratching of the painted on design of the body of the pen. After 500 simulations I still wasn’t confident with my test due to the number of complaints I saw about the cracking and breaking caps, so I tried another 100 simulations for a total of 600 times of removing a posting the cap but still didn’t see or feel any indication of a problem here. Now that isn’t to say it will never happen, but I can say that after a fairly decent and robust series of tests I personally didn’t have the same experience as many others did. At the end of the day, I’d recommend the Pilot Varsity (via Amazon) over the BIC Disposable Fountain Pen if you are truly interested in trying out a fountain pen for the first time, or if you just want something quick and easy for those times when you don’t want to break out your favorite fountain pen.