Monday, April 09, 2007

Pentel Flex Fit II PW35 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel Flex Fit II PW35 Mechanical Pencil Review

The Pentel Flex Fit II is one of those mechanical pencils that I inherently don’t like. It’s that big ugly bulbous rubber grip thing. Yuck! But it’s a Pentel, so I feel obliged to own one and to put my prejudices aside and try to give it a fair go.

Well lets get my prejudices out of the way first. I mean aesthetically there’s the big grip thing, and it’s a rubber grip thing, then there’s the barcode printed straight on the body, the monstrous clear angular document clip, the whole thing is just yuck, yuck, blah! (That’s an official technical reviewing term.) But, they have also tried to do “something”, with the spiralling silver swirl pattern printed on the body to tie in with the twisting flex fit grip. OK, lets not dwell on it, move on. This is actually a vanishing point type pencil, like the Pentel Graphgear 1000 or the Pilot Vanishing Point mechanical pencils. You press down on the top of the document clip and the spring loaded system retracts the tip section back up inside the body for travel and pocket safety. Being a document clip rather than just a pocket clip means you can get quite a thick stack of paper under the clip. You simply push down on the top cap to extend out the writing tip. It is quite a good positive action. The tip actually seems quite rigid and fixed when extended out, surprisingly more so than the aforementioned much more expensive Graphgear 1000 and Vanishing Point.

Being a vanishing point type pencil, the Flex Fit II is obviously a push top ratchet lead advance mechanism. My pencil is the 0.5mm version. There is only a relatively short lead advance per click. I suppose at some stage I will have to start objectively measuring lead advances – how many clicks to get 10mm of lead out or something like that. Returning the lead into the sleeve is a little tricky. You push down and hold the top cap like normal, but the lead is still held quite firmly and you have to give it more of a push than normal to slide the lead back up inside the sleeve. The lead sleeve has a very short straight length at its end, but it’s clearly a writing sleeve, not suitable for draughting.

There is a small eraser under the top cap, about 4mm diameter x 21mm long. You could probably get about 60% effective usage out of the length.

Pentel advertise the Flex Fit II as having their “Lead Maximiser” technology. They claim it means fewer jams and less lead breakage. There is no mention of actually using more of the length of the stick of lead, which is what the terminology “Lead Maximiser” implied to me. In fact, it only utilises about ¾ of a standard 60mm stick of lead, basically the same as most other pencil mechanisms. I can’t really comment on “fewer jams and less breakage” because I don’t really have any problems with jams or breakage when using Pentel pencils and good quality leads. To be honest this all smells of marketing hoo-ha to me. Fixing a non-existent problem.

Finally then, the main event, the ‘Flex Fit’ grip. Arrrgggh. Sorry, just had to say that to release some pent up feelings about it. So, it looks shocking. A huge big white semi-transparent lump of some silicon sort of stuff. It is about 16mm in diameter and has 3 long depressions in it, running lengthwise from top to bottom, which sort of turn into a triangular shaped grip. There are also some tiny little slightly raised dots inside the depressions. The actual material itself of the grip is not particularly “grippy”, in fact it was almost a little slippery at first but this did change with use. It does have a little “give” to it, so it feels slightly soft, and the roughened surface effects give some added grip. All this isn’t especially inspiring, but it gets better. You can twist the lower end of the grip, with the top staying fixed, so you are spiralling the depressions around the barrel. Somewhat to my surprise, this actually works, and things suddenly get a whole lot better. You can twist the grip to the left or right, and being able to customise the amount of twist really does make a significant difference to how it feels in the hand. Personally I found a small twist to the right suited me best - maybe 15 degrees, note the non-alignment of the red lines in the photo of the grip. This meant the depressions basically lined up with my fingers as a right handed writer. Bizarrely a slightly lesser twist to the left was also fairly suitable!

OK, I’m just not a fan of rubber grips, and of big bulbous grips either, so I’m never going to rave over something like the Flex Fit II, but I’ve got to admit this customisable idea is certainly one worth bringing to market, and I’m sure many will find it eminently suitable for them. If I was forced to use a pencil with a rubber grip, then at the moment, I’d choose this one. That’s pretty high praise, coming from me.
  • Best Points – the customisable flex fit grip.
  • Not So Good Points – the looks.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 146mm, diameter 16mm at grip section, 10mm at main body. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eew thats a horrible pencil!

Anonymous said...

one of the best pencil's I ever held...

Anonymous said...

I have to say that anyone who says this is a bad pencil has never used it. I found this pencil in my organoc chemistry class two years ago. A friend of mine had one and when I saw hers I asked "Is that a pen or a pencil"? She told me it was the best pencil she had ever had.
I am a science major and only write in pencil and I had almost all but given up on mechanical pencils because I press pretty hard when I write, and with other mechanical pencils the graphite would always break.
I must say that in the two years I have been using this pencil (yes the same one I originally bought twoyears ago) while writing the graphite has not snapped on me once.
If you unscrew the top end of the pencil you will see that it has this mechanosm that gives a little "play" to the graphite as you write, allowing for less breakage.
So I guess thats how it saves graphite. It doesn'y use the entire piece (3/4 of it is a good estimate) but of that 3/4 you use every mm.
The grip is a bit ugly but I don't pick a pencil on it's form I go for the function. It makes long hours of writing equations very comfertable, and the trwisting motion really does help with the ergonomics of the whole thing.
(I know my spelling is horrible.....thats why I major in sciences not english)
Anyway I am so crazy about ths pencil that I actually sat down and wrote almost a page about it, so for a busy med school student you know it must be good!!!

Anonymous said...

It's actually a superb pencil. I do illustration for advertising and medical illustration in pencil and then refine my work in Photoshop or Painter. This pencil is fantastic for drawing, incredibly comfortable in my hand. Thin pencil, thin grips are actually not as good for writing or drawing, as the hand works harder for control. It's just that people grow up used to thin pens and pencils. Give it a try and you'll see that this is a great writing or drawing instrument.

MJD said...

I much prefer the grip on the original than this new silicon like stuff pentel threw on their last few redesigns. That said since the original is quite good, people who like that type of grip will probably love it.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this pencil! I have been using it for a year and a half and if anyone steals it from desk, they know they will die! You people complaining are loco in la cabesa!

Anonymous said...

You guys have entirely too much time on your hands! IT IS A PENCIL!! WOW!!!

Anonymous said...

i have the original ive never really tried it out though

Anonymous said...

Anyone knows where can I buy rotring mechanical pencils in the DC area?
Thanks,

J
jmlemma@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

THIS PENCIL IS AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWSOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

YEAH WHAT HE SAID DUDES!

Anonymous said...

I am a Math grad student, so I have used many mechanical pencils in my day, and I know a good thing when I see it. I bought like 10 of these, because I know that whenever a manufacturer makes a great pencil or pen, they immediately stop making it and replace it with some cheap p.o.s., so it will not be available for long. Buy it while you can.

dodgemannfs said...

Just a question Dave, What "setting" (number of click to the left or the right) do you keep yours at?

dodgemannfs said...

Never mind that I see that you already said that in the review

Time Waster said...

This pencil is sooo weird looking I had to pick some up yep I bought 10 of em =) on clerance
They might come in handy for drawing but maybe not. The joke might be on me.

Time Waster said...

HEH I got these in the mail today I thought the grip was going to be more like a Boob implant =)
They dont' work very well for drawing but they are excellent for writing I plan on writing some not so serious fiction.

dodgemannfs said...

Look Dave a Pentel Flex Fit II balloint pen!!!
https://www.pentelstore.com/index.php?grp=639&osCsid=2aaa02c269646e2c6e405c6941c81261

kiwi-d said...

Well since thats an ink stick I can safely look without being overwhelmed by purchasing urges.

Anonymous said...

When you have had carpal tunnel syndrome - the FlexIt actually helps out ALOT due to the fact that you don't have such a small, tight grip on the pencil. Take it from someone who has been to the point when she could NOT even grip a pen/pencil - the FlexIt is great............

GolemdX said...

I only have a Pentel Flex Fit. Not the IInd one.

It's exactly the same except the pattern is a bit different, and the grip is NOT transparent, and doesn't twist.

I guess that's the good points gone bad. I liked my other Pentel pencil better anyways.

Anonymous said...

It's quite an amazing mechanical pencil for me, because for illustrations, a highly maneuvrable yet comfortable grip is really mandatory, and Flexfit line of mechanical pencils really ace it.

Although I would say if the generation I of flexfit had more durable rubber I would have preferred that, it just felt...more right when I illustrated with it.

2nd_astronaut said...

Uhhh, brave to review this ugly thing... Maybe this one is good for people with carpal tunnel syndrome, but the rest get eye cancer;-) Well, maybe with some weird coloring of the shaft like leopard pattern or neon colors the pencil would get so ugly, that it becomes kewl again.

Anonymous said...

does anybody know if this is better then the original flexfit? plz email me bak ur opinion! jnhspctr@gmail.com thanks

Anonymous said...

where can i buy this

Anonymous said...

Man, this pencil rocks! I also have a PaperMate PhD Multi that I can't live without. Hard to get refills for its pen side though.

Anonymous said...

Kiwi-d,

From where's the "Stretching" photo? CD? VHS? Book?

Do you know of a plain shot of that cover?

Thanks!

Kiwi-d said...

It is a book cover. Sorry, I think it has since been thrown out so can't give you any details of author, etc.

Anonymous said...

That was great help, Kiwi-d!

The book is "Stretching" by Bob and Jean Anderson.

Thanks again!

Vikram said...

I use the original Flexfit-I got it in 5th grade, and have used it ever since. Not exclusively, though; iut has a triangular grip rather than the customizable one here. However, it is a great pencil and will last the distance. I am now in 10th grade and it is still in perfect working condition. Recommended!

Anonymous said...

Pentel also produces the "Tranxition" [Pentel's spelling, not a typo]. This model is just like the Flexfit II except it has a Dr. Grip style grip instead of the adjustable grip. The grip is flush with the barrel.

The tranxition provides a less obtrusive view of the writing point at the expense of lack of grip adjustability.

Bob S.

Anonymous said...

pretty great product, just that the tip comes off easily after a while of use

Anonymous said...

Awesome pencil, I got the blue one on stationary arts

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where to get one in Canada?

Flo said...

Love this mechanical pencil. I bought it in my first year of university and used it for 5 years.
Writing is very smooth for me, with good quality lead, which was important to me.
The biggest positive point for me is that the rubber grip is really nice to hold. I tend to clench my pencils/pens quite strongly and with the rubber grip on this Pencil it really helped to be able to write for 3hours straight.

I just lost it and am on the hunt for a new mechanical pencil, im seriously considering getting another one, though i am also interested in some of the Pilot ones. I own a Pilot Spark, shaker, which i also enjoy using.

Anonymous said...

i like the zebra m-402

440SuperCommando said...

I bought this model when I was in 7th grade. The best pencil grip I ever experienced, I must say. Fighter-Jet maneuvre capability, Rolls-Royce grip comfort that I can write 5 hours straight with it, all this for just $3, if you compare it to the likes of Rotring, Faber-Castell or Staedtler. Very impressive. I will absolutely recommend it for high quality long-duration work.