Pen Type| Retractable Ballpoint
Ink Type| Erasable
EE Score| 7/10
I didn’t exactly set out to obtain these pens. The two pens I do have came as a bonus in a couple packs of Pilot G2s. I had seen the Frixion before in the demo stations of office supply stores, and I thought it was interesting, but I’ve never been much for erasable pens. However, since I do have a couple now, I thought I’d go through reviewing them to make up my own mind.
What I Like
Erasable pens aren’t exactly a new thing; they were developed in the 1980s, which is also when they were most popular. Erasable pens are mechanically the same thing as any other given ballpoint, but they hold a special sort of ink which is essentially very thin, pigmented rubber cement. This doesn’t soak into the paper; rather, the trace sits on top of the sheet, like pencil lead. This ink can thus be rubbed off the sheet so long as it hasn’t fully set.
The Frixion’s innovation isn’t its ink (which disappears under high heat); it is its eraser. You see, with a lead pencil, the trace is comprised of slippery graphite powder. Erasing this material means not only removing the trace from the page but also attaching it to something else. Typically this something else is the crumbs left by a rubber eraser. Rubber erasers are familiar, and are often used in erasable pens, whose ink requires similar removal. But their crumbly nature isn’t really needed for disappearing ink traces. Pilot has realized this. The Frixion’s eraser, as such, is a nub of plastic with similar composition as the grip (they might be the same material, but I’m not sure of that). This produces the titular friction (and heat) to remove the trace, but doesn’t break down like a typical eraser. This is nice.
The ink itself is good, free-flowing and bright. The colors are slightly duller than that in the G2s they came with, but still pretty vibrant, especially the red. It erases quite well, both with the Frixion nub, and with a normal eraser.
What I Don’t Like
The Frixion is retractable, which is fine, but the mechanism is a bit odd. Since the nub on the back end of the pen needs to be solid and steady to be used as an eraser, the role of activating the mechanism falls to the clip. The user pushes the clip down to extend the pen, and pushes the clip down again to release the mechanism and retract it. This is essentially the same as the typical button on the end of a retractable pen, but, when the pen is extended, the clip winds up setting well down the barrel. It’s a rather long clip to begin with, so when writing the clip will often get in the way of the user’s fingers. Also, because it isn’t hard fastened to the barrel, the clip rattles a lot.
Besides this, Pilot made some aesthetic choices that aren’t exactly to my taste. The clip is transparent plastic, even though the rest of the pen is colored to match the ink. There’s also a sort of swirly design just above the grip which I think could be done without. These are very subjective, personal gripes though, so they won’t affect the score.
How I Use It
I typically don’t use colored pens for regular writing. Usually I use them for markup and editing sort of things. These pens are good for that. If I had a black one I might use it for regular writing. As it stands I usually use both pens together, with green and red meaning different things.
Conclusion & Rating
If you’re looking for erasable pens, the Frixion line is worth checking out. The erasing nub really shows the thought Pilot has put into these pens, and, issues with the clip notwithstanding, they’re easy to write with. And they erase better than any colored product, pen or pencil, that I’ve ever used.