A Fair Shake: The Field Notes Bic Clic

A little shorter review this week because there’s a new member of the household who demands our full attention! Meet FLAPJACK! He’s our 9-week old Silky Terrier whose middle name should be Houdini. He scaled his playpen on day two, and is keeping us on our toes. We love him to bits.

Flapjack (9 weeks)

NOW, for the review…

Field Notes branded Bic Clic

My latest package from Field Notes included one of the Field Notes branded Bic Clic pens. As I was about to reflexively toss it into a mug of pens, it dawned on me that I’ve never spent much time writing with one. I give them away, I have them lying around, I stuff them into pen cups, but I don’t write with them. It was about time to give this retractable blast from the past a fair shake.

Bic Clic (Made in Mexico)

I spent a day using this pen only— an unheard of feat! (Sometimes I change pens in the middle of a sentence. No lie.)

It turns out, there are a lot of things I like about this pen. It feels comfortable in hand— nice taper, easy to grip. I’m smitten by the retro look and simple Field Notes branding. The clip, with its embossed Bic branding, is perfectly adequate. The knock functions reliably and with a solid sounding “click” (thus the name). The refill FEELS smooth and is not draggy. It’s easy to carry and inexpensive, which means it’s a good candidate for a “take it everywhere” pen. Lose one? Not a big deal.

Bic Clic knock

There is, though, one flaw. And for me, it’s the fatal flaw.

Bic Clic refill

The refill is merely adequate— just as it’s always been. There’s a lot of white space in the line, and the “black” ink is a blah gray. The line is not rich or solid— two things that I demand from my ballpoints. Since discovering the uni-ball Jetstream and the like, that’s pretty much the standard by which I gauge all other ballpoints. The Bic Clic, despite the attributes of its simple and iconic pen body, just doesn’t deliver a memorable writing experience.

Ink comparison
Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 refill vs. Bic Clic’s refill

Oh, how I’d love an ink upgrade in these pens!

Errand pen
A good errand pen

I posted a comment on the Field Nuts Facebook page asking if folks regularly use these pens and the answers were plentiful and varied. Some people love them, others don’t. Some use them for work all day long, while others leave them in their car or purse as an “emergency” pen.

Because I do love the Field Notes branding and the pen’s easy-to-throw-in-pocket form factor, I’m going to make a point of using these pens a little more, if only when I’m running errands and might have to jot something down. And maybe I’ll set a few free in the world— in a bookstore or coffee shop. I think that’s what these pens are best at— spreading a little Field Notes love.

Do YOU love and use the Field Notes Bic Clic, or, like me, do they cause you to reach for something better? Do you know of a refill hack that elevates this pen’s writing performance?

Be sure to let me know.

25 thoughts on “A Fair Shake: The Field Notes Bic Clic

  1. I would reach for the Bic Clic before the Schmidt. I run my hand through the ink of the Schmidt as I am writing, and it just gets all over my hands & smears on the page. I prefer my EF Kaweco AL Sport or brass Liliput for a pen but, as a ferpectionist, I rather use a mechanical pencil that I can erase. Unfortunately, in a laboratory notebook, pencils are not allowed. Then I use a 0.38 Uni Signo DX.

  2. He’s a little heartbreaker, he is.

    Not really a fan of faint ink either, but I grew up using Bic Cristals and never really got out of the habit, though I use all kinds of other pens as well. One thing that used to put me off Bic Clics was point wobble. Do you find yours wobbles? Totally agree Field Notes branding is rad.

  3. After reading Anna’s omnibus refill post on The Well Appointed Desk, I’m wondering if any other, better, refills could be modded to work in the FN pens.

  4. The BIC clic pens are great for sketching. You can get nice sensitive lines from it so you can get light light areas and deep darks by adding additional layers of line. The Schmidt easy flow is so much better though. I’ve tried stuffing every refill I own and hacking all kinds of others to fit into these. No go.

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  6. Have you tried the BIC Easy Glide refills? These have made my Clics much more enjoyable to use and last as long as any others I’ve tried. My main complaint with the pen is that the barrel tip breaks, leaving the refill tip exposed. I’ve owned one or more Clics since they came out in the 1960s or 1970s.

  7. I am now going to send you into a wonderful land known as… “The $ (Dollar) Tree”.

    Yes, a magical place filled with Mexican candy and off-brand cookies — the cheapest party supplies ever! — and, currently, two-packs of the pen called the “Papermate InkJoy 100 RT”, whose 1.0 mm cartridge will fit the Classic Bic Clic *perfectly* (including the Field Notes version)… *if* you carefully snip a very small bit off the back end. (Measure against the cartridge that came with your Bic Classic — measure twice, cut once.)

    A big fat, juicy, thick, *dark* black ink. (So juicy, it doesn’t dry instantly.)

    Plus, it skips a bit when you first start writing with it each time. It is a ballpoint after all. Nothing much to be done about that.

    And. Two for a $1. What’s to lose?

    You’re welcome.


  8. P.S.

    *NOTE* To use the cartridge from the InkJoy in your Bic Classic you will need to use the *spring” from the InkJoy as well! (The original Bic spring will be too long.)

    Happy hacking! 🙂

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  10. In my desk I have found two white BIC Clic Mexico balloints with gold holder and click push. Very nice but the ink has dried out completely. I have never encountered a BIC drying out before, even after decades of non use, so it was abit of a let down. This has happened to me even with Parker ballpoints, which I would have sworn never drying out. A very sad experience.

  11. The Bic Clic was introduced to the consumer in 1968. An early glossy magazine ad shows a curvaceous, swim suit clad woman holding a Bic Clic. I think it retailed for .59. Kind of pricey for a plastic barreled pen in 1968. I have recently discovered a metal barreled, retro retractable ballpoint called the Baoer 37. I believe the parent manufacturer is Jinhao of China. These pens are neat. There are three colors. Black with silver trim. Brushed stainless with silver trim. And, Brushed stainless with gold trim. They use any brand of g2 cartridges. That’d be the size that fits the Parker Jotter. They can be purchased on ebay for approximately $1.50 on average and some sellers include shipping in their price. (Usually, no greater than .50) It will take a while to get to you, but it was worth the wait for me. Also, Kikkerland makes a replica of the Bic Clic in plastic and or metal. Those can also be found on ebay. Happy writing!

  12. EVERY random time I pick up a branded (or not) Bic Clic I instantly enjoy using it. The pen feels better in my hand than most any other pen, and I like the retro look. It slim and low profile. The ink just seems normal- not horrible- but literally no different than any other regular cheap ballpoint pen, and I tend to end up using cheap ballpoints more than any other type. Definitely trying to keep re-filling my Bic Clics, but it’s a pain to find the re-fills.

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