Business Class: Pilot FriXion Biz Erasable Gel Pen

This Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Biz Gel Pen was provided by JetPens for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way other than being able to keep the pen. This review reflects my experience with the FriXion Biz.
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Pilot FriXion pens
A FriXion sampler

I’ve been purchasing Pilot FriXion erasable gel pens since the their introduction in 2008. The first model I purchased had ink that was a bit washed out and a barrel design that looked an awful lot like Mike Tyson’s face tattoo. It’s fair to say that I wasn’t exactly blown away by that pen. But despite this iffy first impression, I’ve stuck with the line, and have sampled many iterations of FriXion pens. It’s a product that keeps me coming back for more.

Pilot FriXion Biz

Over the years, the barrels have become more refined and the ink a bit richer in color. I always have a few FriXion pens stashed around my home and office. It’s one product that I’ve consistently used for the last six years, so Pilot must be doing something right.

Refill comparison: 0.5 mm vs. 0.7 mm
Refill comparison: 0.5 mm vs. 0.7 mm

When this Pilot Frixion Biz Gel Pen arrived from JetPens, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I was perfectly happy with my plastic barrel FriXion pens, but this newest version IS really good looking. The pen, as received, was loaded with a 0.5 mm black refill and I have to say that the line wasn’t as dark as I like, and even seemed a bit lighter other 0.5 mm FriXion refills I’ve used. To remedy this, I went to my treasure chest of refills and popped in a 0.7 mm black refill. What a difference. Since that swap, I’m having a hard time putting this pen down.

The 0.7 mm refill lays down a visibly wet (yet quick drying) line that’s a solid black— much better than that wimpy 2008 ink. The writing experience is super smooth. I’d even go so far as to call it “fun.”

Disassembled Pilt FriXion Biz

The metallic pen body is a gorgeous blue, and has a well-balanced heft. Weighing about 24 g (vs. 11.5 g for the plastic retractable model), the pen feels substantial— a definite upgrade from that lightweight “tattoed” first pen. I’ve been throwing the Biz in my purse for the past few weeks, and have it out on my desk all day, but the body has yet to show a nick or a scratch. It looks brand new despite the fact that I’ve been using the heck out of it AND haven’t babied it at all.

FriXion clip

To deploy the writing tip, just slide the clip down until it clicks into place. Repeat the action to retract the tip. The mechanism works without a hitch.

FriXion spring

When you unscrew the “nosecone” to replace the refill, the little spring STAYS PUT instead of popping out and falling on the floor causing that familiar “did my dog eat a spring?!?!” panic. My dogs and I appreciate that little detail.

Hidden eraser

The “eraser” on the Biz model is hidden under a small screw-on cap that gives the pen its clean look, but also means that you have to unscrew this cap to erase your mistakes, rather than quickly using an already exposed eraser.

Uncapped eraser

In my previous review of the FriXion retractable plastic body pens, I went into considerable detail about how the eraser works. You can review that post HERE. In that review I also note that you’ll want to let the ink dry completely before attempting to erase to avoid smudging. The good news is that the ink dries very fast, so this isn’t much of an issue. Erasures with any FriXion pen are quite clean— a huge leap forward from those awful Papermate “erasable” pens that rubbed away the paper rather than the ink. I use FriXion pens all the time in my planner and daily work and home logs because things are always changing and occasionally I make a mistake (ahem). It’s so satisfying to easily erase ink.

Erasing FriXion ink

That said, because the ink is temperature sensitive [see my “hot car” experiment at the end of that old post]— meaning that it will disappear in hot conditions— this is not a pen to use for official or critical documents. So feel free to use this Biz pen throughout your business day, but be mindful of where you’re using it. Like, don’t sign an important contract or a birth certificate.

You may be wondering, do I want to pay a premium price for the FriXion Biz when I can get a plastic retractable FriXion for $2.50? Well, I look at it this way. You can fly coach or you can fly business class. Both get you to your destination, but for the additonal money you get an upgraded experience. The Biz gives you that FriXion upgrade with its cool metallic colors, matte finish, concealed eraser, and nice heft.

Pilot FriXion Biz

Some days, it’s nice to travel in style.

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The Pilot FriXion Biz is available at JetPens for $33.00, where you get FREE shipping on all orders over $25.00. Thank you to my friends at JetPens for providing this pen for review.

Moods & Options: Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus

Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus
Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus (or Ti, for short)

I regularly prowl Kickstarter for interesting pen projects, and try to get in as early as possible to get an Early Backer Reward. When I saw the write-up and introductory video for the Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus (clunky name, sweet pen) by Chadwick Parker & Joe Huang, a couple of details grabbed me right away. (I just accidentally typed “write away,” which, maybe, is what I SHOULD say.)

#1: Titanium. Titanium through and through- from tip to tail (as long as you don’t count the tip of the refill and the stylus end). I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about titanium when I backed this project, but I knew that this pen would be strong and a bit hefty. Which it is. It sure is.

#2: Bead-blasted finishes. I love a matte finish on a pen, so seeing this pen offered in bead-blasted matte black and matte silver, as well as highly polished chrome (potentially too fingerprinty for me), drew me in a little deeper.

#3: “Most refill friendly pen ever!” Once I read that, I knew I was a goner. The number of refills that fit into this pen is as long as your arm (so to speak), and that was truly intriguing to me. I’m a bit of a fickle pen person, and my pen mood swings wildly from day to day, and sometimes, even within a day (or an hour). Knowing that I could swap in a bunch of my favorite refills (from Pilot’s Frixion, G2, and Hi-Tec-C Cavalier gel refills, to the hybrid ink Jetstream, and even a Montblanc Fineliner) meant that one pen body would last through my many pen mood swings.

#4: Bonus–> Stylus! I’m on some sort of iDevice a million times a day and having a great stylus sounded awesome, if only as a way to cut down on smudgy, fingerprinty screens. And if I could use it to draw and jot “handwritten” digital notes on my iPhone and iPad, all the better.

So I backed the project, and waited a few months while Chadwick & Joe updated us throughout the entire pen manufacturing process. Their dedication and unwillingness to settle for anything but a superior product became evident as they documented their progress and even fessed up to the occasional hiccup. The project was delayed a bit when they noticed that caps and bodies bead-blasted in different machines were not perfectly color-matched, which caused them to refine the process to correct the problem. “Good enough” is not good enough for this team.

So the pen arrived a little bit late, but who cares? The Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus delivers, which is all that matters.

The pen came loaded with a Pilot G2 0.5 mm refill, but I swapped in a Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier 0.4 mm refill and wrote away. Then I decided I wanted to try a Pilot G2 0.38 mm refill, and that fits perfectly and writes great, too.

Ti G2 0.38 mm refill writing sample
Pilot G2 0.38 mm refill in use

The clip is sturdy (titanium, too!) and just flexible enough to clip the pen to your pocket. I’ve been doing this for weeks without an issue. The branding is super-subtle- just a a small, boxed Ti on the clip.

Ti clip
Ti clip and branding

Here’s a peak at the stylus, which, by the way, is the best stylus that I’ve used to date. Not too squooshy, not too stiff, and very responsive. I love the pen almost as much for the stylus end as I do for the pen end. Should you not WANT a stylus, the stylus can be replaced with a flat end cap, but really, why would you want to do that?!

Stylus
Just right

Here are a couple of shots of the pen posted and unposted…

Posted pen

Unposted

With the cap posted, the pen is WAY too long for me, so I always use it unposted. Not an issue for me, but something to keep in mind.

The “grip” area features three grooves, but quite honestly, I can’t really feel them when I hold the barrel. Personally, I don’t find the barrel to be slippery, but, again, something to consider.

Ti grip area
Ti’s grip

It’s getting late so let’s sum up…

Pros:
Titanium
Hefty! (38 g, when loaded with refill)
Excellent stylus
Choice of finishes…matte AND polished
Wide, wide range of compatible refills
Sturdy clip

Cons:
Very long when posted
Ummm…nothing else, in my opinion.

Want one? Even though the Kickstarter campaign is over, they’re now available at bigidesign (as are the aluminum and pint-sized counterparts). This is not a sponsored post. Chadwick and Joe only know me as Backer # whatever. I’m just really impressed with this pen.

Finally a pen that has as many refill options as I have pen moods. And THAT’S saying something.

New Math: The Pilot FriXion Ball 3 Metal 3 Color Gel Multi Pen in Gradation Blue

When does 1+1+1 = 1? When you’re using the new 3-color FriXion Multi Pen from Pilot.

Pilot FriXion Multi Pen

Pilot FriXion Multi Pen (0.5 mm) in Gradation Blue

I’ve reviewed the Frixion pens before. (Remember the “hot car” experiment?) Around the time I posted that review, I asked Pilot, via Twitter, if they’d ever thought about making a FriXion multi pen. So maybe I nudged them towards this latest Frixion incarnation? Or more likely, it was already in the works. In any case, it’s here, JetPens carries it, and I ordered it. I seem to be a sucker for all things FriXion.

Pilot FriXion test drive
FriXion Multi Pen vs. retractable single pens

Looking closely at the sample, it appears that the black gel ink in the multi pen is a touch lighter than the black from the retractable single pen. And that’s really my only knock on this pen. The blue is strong, the red just a little less so, and the black definitely leans towards gray. Because the ink erases so cleanly (see the previous review for details on this feature), I’m willing to concede a bit on the darkness of the black ink. But if you require a pitch black ink, you’d better pass on this pen.

The eraser uses friction (FriXion!) to create heat to “erase” the specially formulated gel ink. If you’re like me, you spend the month of December writing lists, lists, and more lists. And correcting those lists. And color-coding those lists. Now you can do it all with one erasable pen.

FriXion eraser
FriXion eraser

The grip is rubberized and firm, and makes for easy handling. No slippage! The metal body, in Gradation Blue, fades from royal blue above the grip, to teal at the eraser end. It’s a novel, eye-catching look.

The best thing, though, is that I’m carrying one pen instead of three. With the FriXion Multi Pen, 1+1+1 really does equal 1.

1+1+1 = 1
New math

That’s one equation I don’t need to erase.

Celebrate with the red, black, & blue: Pilot FriXion pens…AND a giveaway!


Pilot Frixion Retractables, 0.7 mm

The retractable Pilot FriXion pens are wonderful, but that wasn’t always the case. I first tried the FriXion pens years ago (capped version, weird tribalesque design on the barrel) and was, quite honestly, seriously underwhelmed. They erased well enough (yay!), but the ink was dreadfully washed out looking (boo!). Despite the novelty of being able to erase ink, the Frixions were quickly set aside.

THEN- a new generation of FriXion pens was born, and they truly are new and improved. The ink colors are stronger, especially the blue and red which are super. The black is much darker than the original washy gray, but isn’t super dark. Very nice, though. Take a look–


FriXion black


FriXion blue


FriXion red

The tips of these pens absolutely GLIDE across paper. They are a blast to write with. I use the pens for everyday writing but especially for writing in my Planner Pad and scribbling to-do lists in my Field Notes. A bit OCD, I hate cross-outs, so when plans and priorities change, being able to neatly erase INK is a big plus.

But how DO they erase? Let me show you–


Erased swatches


Erased letters

If you erase very soon after writing, the erasure is not as complete and clean as if you wait just a bit, but it’s still quite good.


Eraser ends

In reality, the ink is not actually erased (in the normal sense), but the “friction” (friXion, get it?!) made during the erasing action creates heat which makes the ink disappear. Which leads to one point of caution- DON’T LEAVE your notes/journals written with Frixion pens in a hot car! I’ve heard stories from distraught folks whose notes disappeared! (Hmmmm…may have to experiment with this! Be right back…I’m putting a page of notes in my car to see what happens.)

I’m back. Will report my findings later on.

After a little hiccup with my phone last week (lost all of my bookmarks for a bit…eek!), I decided to make sure that I have old school HARD COPIES of my address book and calendar, and I plan to use the FriXion pens to fill those out. Addresses & phone #’s change, as do commitments and appointments. I can erase and update without CROSSING OUT. A dream come true. (Okay, maybe a small dream, but a dream nonetheless.)


LOVE my Field Notes…but that’s another post!


Homemade Field Notes myCAL (used the 0.5 mm pens here)

I’ve also started dabbling with sketchnoting, and the FriXion line is PERFECT for this because I erase A LOT.

HAZWOPER training sketchnote

I’m certainly glad that I gave the Pilot FriXion pens a second chance because they are fun to write with, the ink colors are MUCH stronger, and the erasable feature is just too cool.


FriXion grips


FriXion clips & branding


Super smooth tips

So, this Fourth of July, think about celebrating with the RED, BLACK, and BLUE…FriXion pens, that is. These pens truly do deserve fireworks, and you can celebrate your independence from cross-outs!

Now for THE GIVEAWAY! Thanks to the fine folks at JetPens, I have a lovely little set of all three FriXions reviewed here to award to one lucky commenter. Here’s the scoop:

Leave a comment on this entry by 11:59 pm Sunday July 8th.
Each comment will be assigned a number (Comment #1 = 1, etc.).
The winning comment will be selected via random number generator on the evening of Monday July 9th and posted on this blog.

Stuff to remember:
ONE ENTRY per person, please.
USA only, at this time. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Happy Fourth of July, and good luck!

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Edited to add RESULTS OF THE HOT CAR TEST:
[Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.]

The page BEFORE it was placed in a hot (mid 80′s outdoor temp) car for approximately three hours…

After three hours in a hot car, the page looked like this…

You’d be screwed if these were your chemistry notes! Or WOULD you be?

Here’s the page immediately after it was removed from the car…

Looks like the writing is starting to return.

And here it is after spending a little time (1/2 hour or so) in the freezer…

Mostly back! Phew! Your chemistry notes are safe, after all!

Despite the return o’ the writing, I’d still be careful using this pen for critical notes, if there’s a chance that the paper or notebook could be left in a hot car. Why take chances?

Thus endeth this afternoon’s Frixion experiment. You may now return to your lawn chairs.