The ubiquitous Bic Cristal. The pen that instantly pops into your head when you hear the name Bic. If you asked a dozen people to describe a pen, this is the pen they would likely detail for you. Millions of students diligently take notes with these pens every year. Well, either that, or if they were like me in school, the pen was put to less academic uses.
The Cristal was the first pen produced by Bic and at this point has likely been produced in the billions. For a simple, long lasting and inexpensive pen, it is hard to beat. You can get a bag of these pens for only a few dollars.
That cheapness does come at a cost, so to speak, and in several ways. The polystyrene plastic is brittle, and it is a rare pen, in my experience, that survives until the ink is all used up. If you, like me, tend to throw your pens into a backpack haphazardly, the Bic Cristal can, and likely will, break. It’s usually not catastrophic. I do not recall the last time I had a Bic pen leak. But even under the best of circumstances, the plastic is easily scratched.
Of course, if you are using a Bic Cristal, odds are style was not your first consideration. If a cracked or scratched pen barrel is not an issue, they do live up to their reputation for longevity. The slogan on the bag, “Writes the first time, every time!” does ring true. And the second time… And the third time…
I am not a fan of disposable pens, by any means. It astonishes me every time I read in the media just how much plastic gets thrown away in the average year. However, Bic’s webpage for the Bic Cristal does note the following:
French ecolabel NF Environnement (NF 400) for the refillable model (in 50-box, sold on catalogue or at stationers)
This suggests that refillable Bic Cristals are out there, I just have never seen one. Which is unfortunate since, while I’m not a fan of the actual pen barrel, the reliability of the ball point and ink cartridge are excellent. So if you do like the simplicity of the pen, and have managed to keep it intact, be aware that somewhere out there you should be able to find refills. If you find a source, I would love to know.
So is this a pen worth purchasing? The costs say yes. They are very inexpensive and reliable. But if you are rough on pens, be glad they come in bags of 10, as you will likely break a few of them.