At the time of writing this, the BIC Matic was the last ever pencil reviewed on Pencil Revolution. In one of those pencil coincidences that seem to strike me, around about that time (mid 2006) I was thinking how I should stop mucking about and do a review of the BIC Matic, seeing how it was a pencil that I used quite a lot. Well, the Pencil Revolution review put that thought on hold, until now that is. Let me explain my use of the BIC Matic. In the good old days at my work if you went to the stationery supplies cupboard for a mechanical pencil you were treated to a Pentel P205, 7 or 9. Fantastic. But you know, expense budgets always seem to get tightened, and so Pentel became the much less satisfactory Sakura 125, and then the BIC Matic Classic. So, my pencil cup at work has plenty of BIC Matics in it, and somehow they migrate to my pencil cup at home. It just sort of happens; I’m not deliberately stealing them. Maybe it’s some kind of natural dispersal mechanism? Anyway, all said and done, I use the BIC Matic quite frequently and BIC are a super-power in the field of writing instruments so it’s rather remiss of me to have not done this review earlier on.
A few retailers seem to market this pencil as part of the BIC 10km series, i.e. the ballpoint pen or pencil will write a line 10km long. Some also categorise the BIC Matic as disposable. For example, from one online retailer, “This 10K disposable mechanical pencil contains three 0.7mm leads & will write for 10 kilometres”. I don’t really like the concept of disposable mechanical pencils, it just seems gratuitously wasteful to me. Without any real evidence to base this on, I don’t think BIC exactly discourage the disposable concept - after all it keeps sales ticking over. I must admit to being continually amazed at the number of people in my workplace who believe this pencil is disposable and non-refillable. Despite my office going through boxloads of these pencils, apparently I am the only person who has ever asked for lead refills, and they had to be bought in as a special order item.
The transparent main body of the pencil is hexagonal, presumably in imitation of woodcase pencils. The black front section is round in cross-section and tapers to a short fixed lead sleeve.“Pencil #2” is printed on the pocket clip and on packaging to help push the idea that this is a standard pencil. A wooden #2, just made from plastic. The pocket clip is a rather cheap attachment which always seems likely to break but then generally does seem to last the distance. It is at best, acceptable, as a pocket clip. The eraser is a waste. Well, it does sort of erase, but not very well, and it ends up looking grubby. It appears to be one of those PVC-free type compounds. For me, its only purpose is plugging the hole to the lead chamber. Rather unusually this pencil comes loaded with three 90mm long leads. BIC claim “Each pencil contains 3 full-length HB #2 leads, which outlasts normal wood-cased pencils! This pencil is never dull and never needs sharpening.” Most of us would struggle to find 90mm leads but there’s no problem refilling it with normal 60mm leads. I only ever see the 0.7mm lead version, but apparently there is a 0.5mm version as well. As you would expect the lead mechanism is a push top ratchet, ten clicks will get you a whopping 13mm of 0.7mm lead. Strangely though there is some variability – I said 13mm but it varies anywhere from 10 to 14mm. That’s with the same pencil. Most unusual.Photo: 90mm and 60mm leads
The ones in my part of the world seem to all have “Mexico” moulded into the pocket clip, but according to the review on Pencil Revolution they are made in several other countries.
There’s not really much more I want to say about this mechanical pencil, so maybe I should re-categorise this as a mini-review or something. Clearly the BIC Matic Classic is a pure commodity item, priced to compete for and win all those office supplies contracts. As such, you can’t really expect too much from it, but on the other hand it is a BIC so you do expect it to actually do a pretty good job. Overall then, for the price that your boss paid, BIC gave value for money. My only gripe with this pencil is that after a while the lead mechanism starts to lose its grip. By that I mean if you push down reasonably firmly the lead starts to slide back up into the body. This can sometimes become so pronounced that the pencil becomes unusable.
Amongst other things, the BICworld website has this to say about the BIC Matic Classic
#1 Selling Mechanical Pencil in the US
This product is available in:Europe, Near and Middle East, North America, Central America, Oceania, South America, Africa and Asia
(Hmmm, where’s missing?)
- Best Points – Well, it doesn’t cost your boss much to buy a boxful.
- Not So Good Points – The lead sliding back inside under pressure.
- Price Range – Economy.
Dimensions – Length 150mm, width 8mm across the hexagon flats. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.