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.