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BIC® Triumph™ 537R Rollerball

01/14/2011

For the most part I tend to shun pens made by Bic. To me the name signifies cheap, throwaway pens, ashy ink and lackluster styling. Bic pens are usually the ones bored receptionists and cashiers palm around for in order to get customers to sign slips and hustle them out of their faces so they can go back to visiting with coworkers or playing Minesweeper. Bic pens are the Toostie Rolls of pens; they are always the last item left in the cup. Even if there appear to be no other pens around somehow there is always a sad Bic stick pen missing its cap or if it still has a cap, the cap is chewed beyond recognition. After remarking how all the pens around have gone ghost, the receptionist or cashier will say, “Ah, I found one,” after either spotting one on the floor or at the back of junk drawer within arms reach of the desk. You will be handed this pen and will spend a few seconds – you will not get back on your deathbed -swirly swirling before the damn thing springs forth with the ink and you can scrawl your signature. Or maybe that’s just me…In addition to all that jazz, Bic pens are also the pens of last resort, often found in places where one usually only makes pen purchases under duress: gas stations, liquor stores and UPS shipping retail outlets.

Thar she blows!

But I had a coupon! A coupon for $2 off a set of Bic pens and I cannot resist the lure of a coupon, even on a item I probably wouldn’t otherwise purchase. So armed with my $2 coupon burning a hole in my pocket I ventured out to the world’s saddest Kmart, because I wanted to be indoors and walking around in a place I was certain not to feel compelled to spend any money. Granted, most Kmarts are pretty sad, but this particular store still bears early 90s signage and is in the same strip-mall-in-decline housing the long ago shuttered Ames and the dive bar where I like to get my karaoke on.

The Bic pens seemed to be sequestered from other pens as though the merchandiser was sensitive to the fact that customers wouldn’t be inclined to select their products if other options were available. I immediately picked up BIC® Triumph™ 537R Rollerball because it was the first one that didn’t make me scoff and the pens were on sale for $2.99. That’s right: $.99 + tax was all Bic was getting from me!

Now the BIC® Triumph™ 537R Rollerball is not unfamiliar to me. I have used the ink cartridge to extend the life of my beloved Roseart SRX 770 before allowing the pen barrel to finally retire to the box-o-pens I keep meaning to sort through.

Bic has really tried to step up the design for this pen and that is to be commended. It looks far classier than anything else from their stable of cheap, Office Coordinator-friendly products and probably won’t be the pen handed to you when you need to sign the register slip. The mixture of matte black and shiny chrome barrel styling is attractive, but a little busy. This gives the impression the pen is trying a tad too hard to evoke sophistication. The pen design favors one of my biggest pen pet peeves as it relates to barrels and caps: the cap is wider than the barrel. The pen, when capped, appears as though you’ve got the wrong one on. I’m sure there is some legitimate reasoning behind it, but it irks me just the same.

It’s a good thing the pen performs beautifully, because the barrel leaves a lot to be desired. I was surprised how nicely this pen wrote, because the last thing I tend to associate with Bic is high quality writing performance. The ink was a good consistency and did not skip, feather or smear. If the pen had different barrel styling I would probably be inclined to place it in heavy rotation. So if you’re not hung up about barrel styling the way I am this would be a great pen to add to your collection. Despite being somewhat pricey for a Bic, it strikes an impressive blow to their dingy, but well deserved reputation for mediocre writing instruments.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/14/2011 2:09 pm

    Zomg this is the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks. Bic stick pens (and their crapmates PaperMate) are definitely the Tootsie Rolls of the pen world! Though I think Bic has it over PaperMates in two important aspects: they have that see-through thing going (and may I mention that Bic totally missed the boat in not coming up with a Tronalicious version?) and they can be taken apart (or used whole) for a number of creative applications.

  2. 01/14/2011 2:28 pm

    Oh and about the wide cap… wasn’t that once considered stylish? I’m thinking of pens like the Parker Big Red here.

  3. 01/14/2011 5:08 pm

    The only complaint I have about these, after using a few at work for several weeks, is that the threading on the barrel is easily stripped; apparently the stress of capping and recapping has caused my blue one to come apart every time I open it, so the cartridge and point part has to be screwed back into the barrel, but if I torque it just a tiny bit too much it comes apart again.

  4. 01/14/2011 11:32 pm

    @Shieldmaiden – I noticed that originally when I was hacking these pens to extend the life of my SRX 770 Grip. I was hoping this problem was something that would corrected, because it’s brimming with disaster potential for pockets and bags.

  5. 01/14/2011 11:33 pm

    @Redlami – I think Bic is more valuable a spit-ball delivery device than pen, with the exception of their 4-1 multipen, which is a classic.

  6. unscrambled permalink
    01/14/2011 11:57 pm

    @ Sheildmaiden:

    I had that happen to both of mine in the 2-pack I bought awhile ago (coupon victim).

    This made me conclude: middling.

    Though, I’d rather eat a tootsie roll than a starlight mint. Feh.

  7. 01/15/2011 12:47 am

    @unscrambled – HAHAHAH! Zing. I love it.

  8. Howardpenjersey permalink
    01/16/2011 11:00 pm

    Did anyone try the retractable model available at Staples (‘exclusively’, the sign said). Bought em on sale; medium point; too busy barrel with a so so grip. A little bit of skipping when writing as well. They are in my ‘go ahead, take it’ pen cup.

  9. 01/19/2011 6:31 pm

    @Howardpenjersey – I haven’t tried it yet, but that’s a bummer because they aren’t cheap pens, even if they behave that way.

  10. Jay permalink
    01/25/2011 1:20 pm

    Schneider really makes great pens! So if you really want a good piece of advice, check out the “Slider Memo” it’s just the hallelujah of rollerballs 😉

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