Rotring Side Knock Mechanical Pencil ReviewHere’s an unusual one for you, the Rotring Side Knock mechanical pencil.
First off, I’m not really sure of its current status. The ballpoint pen in black with chrome trims is available on the Newell Rubbermaid (1) B2B (business to business) website for corporate non-retail customers, i.e. corporate promotional sales. A small number of B2B and retail websites also have the BP and/or MP in polished or matt chrome. Overall though it has a rather scarce presence on the web, and really appears to be part of Rotrings corporate customer offering rather than their retail offering.
Second I’m not sure of its relationship to the Rotring 900 Side Knock. I don’t have one of those but it would appear to use the same mechanism so I would guess it’s internally the same, just a different body.
Third, it’s a Rotring but it doesn’t have a Rot Ring (Red Ring). [As an aside, how about you German speakers suggest some suitable names for Rotring-less Rotrings.] Some websites do though show the Side Knock with a red ring. Even the Newell Rubbermaid website has images with and without the red ring. I also found it described as the Rotring Side Knock by Parker!
Fourth, an indication of country of origin is conspicuously absent. That “side knock” terminology is suspiciously Japanese, so I’d suspect it is another one of the many Japanese manufactured Rotrings. I wonder, do Rotring actually make any mechanical pencils themselves these days?
Right then, enough of what I don’t know, let’s get on with the review. On the one hand the Side Knock in matt chrome is a fairly plain looking mechanical pencil. It doesn’t have any trims or other embellishments that stand out. On the other hand it has classical lines and the metallic look is not unattractive, just a bit plain. When you pick the Side Knock up, that metallic look certainly combines with the weight (25 grams) to send a clear message that this is a writing instrument of substance.
The Side Knock is a general writing pencil. The matt chrome body is smooth, so the grip is not fantastic, but not too bad for a pencil without any specific grip zone or enhancements. The short lead sleeve is fixed so it’s not pocket safe. There is a small emergency use only eraser – you unscrew the very top section of the body to access it. A bit of a rigmarole quite frankly.
The main feature of the Side Knock is clearly its unusual method of advancing the lead. The actual lead advance mechanism is a standard everyday ratchet mechanism, but the means of activating it is quite unusual. As you can see from the little leaflet below the lead advance mechanism is activated by bending the pencil in the middle. Roughly about 15 degrees. The whole bend in the middle thing seems rather strange and I imagined it all being a bit unnatural, very much a forced pose,
|Rotring Side Knock leaflet|
|Check out the bend|
So, how exactly does bending the body make more lead come out the tip? Well, like I said, the mechanism is a normal everyday one just like in your everyday push top button mechanical pencil. The difference is in the activation. How does it work? In simple terms, inside the body of the mechanical pencil, the rod that would normally be pushed down by the top button has a cap on it which rests against a curved face. As the pencil body is bent to one side the rod slides against the face and is pushed downwards by the curve thus activating the lead advance mechanism just as if a button had been pushed down on the top of the pencil.
Ten bends of the pencil will get you 7mm of the 0.5mm lead. To refill the lead chamber you unscrew the top half of the pencil to reveal the push rod.
Then you pull that metal cap off the rod. Note the lead clearance needle.
In summary then, I didn’t really expect to like this mechanical pencil all that much, but it really surprised me. It is a worthy addition to any collection of writing instruments, and if you have read this far you should go shopping now.
• Best Points – it gets a lot of points for the unusual mechanism.
• Not So Good Points – a touch of colour wouldn’t hurt…like for instance a red ring. Non-retractable lead sleeve.
• Price Range – Mid.
• Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – Hmmmm…difficult. This is a very interesting pencil. OK, I need to go back to the beginning. The main criteria for the Top 5 is, “If I was starting from scratch and could only buy five pencils, would it be one of them?” So, let’s compare it to the existing Top 5. Sharp Kerry is safe, Scribble is safe, Tasche is…not, 925 25 is safe, Accugraph is…not. The buildings on fire, Tasche, Accugraph and Side Knock are on the desk…only got time to grab two…which one gets left behind? Arrrrgghhh, an agonising choice…but…sorry Tasche. So, Ohto Tasche is removed from the Top 5 and replaced by Rotring Side Knock.
Dimensions – Length 135mm, diameter 9mm. Balance point about 60mm up from the tip.
1 – Sanford LP, a company of Newell Rubbermaid of the USA. Sanford's brands include Paper Mate, Parker, Waterman, Rotring, Sensa, Sharpie, Berol and Reynolds