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Yasutomo Grip 500

Review:

Yes, I’m review a pencil in a pen blog. But the technical design of this mechanical pencil surpasses that of most pens and I just have to share it with the world.

The Yasutomo Grip 500 I own is green and uses 0.7mm lead. Before this, I only used 0.5mm lead. But when I saw it at the store, it looked so cool that I simply did not care that I have to buy a new set of lead for it.

The barrel is made of translucent green (they make other colors too) plastic-y material that has a slight texture and grip. The grip part of it is made out of rubber (I think) and has a texture similar to a tire. The grip is wonderful !!! The rubber they use is comfortable and grips just the right amount. (I hate pens that stick to your fingers.) It’s perfectly parallel to the barrel of the pen (unlike some other pens that curve in or out) and almost the same size as the barrel.

(Small note: The barrel of my pencil is cracked where the screw is. I guess the material is not very strong. However, in everyday use (writing and refilling), there’s no reason to screw or unscrew that part of the pencil (besides curiosity), so I guess it’s fine.)

The clip is made out (what feels like) real metal (unlike some cheap plastic stuff some other pens use) and bends enough so you can actually clip it to something more than 2mm without thinking you are going to break it. I also find out recently, according to their site, that it’s less likely to poke holes in your pocket due to its retractable design (which I’ll talk about in more detail later).

The eraser is neatly hidden under a plastic cap painted to look like metal and is tiny, pink and hard. I never care for the hard erasers because they don’t erase well. You erase 2 letters, then it turns black. So I’m quite happy that they hide this eye sore under the cap. Anyway, in order to refill the lead, you have to (alternate is from tip of pencil – so not so good) remove the cap, then the eraser (plus its metal holder/clamp) to get to the inner barrel. If you actually use up the eraser, then you won’t have much to hold on to when attempting to remove it. So it’s best to not use the eraser. (Personally I prefer using a eraser not attached to my pencil, so this con isn’t really relevant to me.)

The coolest part of the pencil is the retractable “entire tip”. Most mechanical pencils either don’t retract their tip at all or only retract the front-most 1-3mm of the tip. But the Yasutomo Grip 500 retracts the entire tip – all 1.2cm of it (the part of the pencil that starts to curve into the very tip). What does this mean? According to Yasutomo’s site, it prevents poking holes in pockets. But I see something far more useful! Normally, when you finish writing, you retract the lead back into the very tip. Then depending on the design of the mechanical pencil, you might have to retract the very tip (1-3mm) into the pencil. With Grip 500, you simply retract the entire tip and don’t have to move the lead. “Why does it matter”, you ask. Well, let me tell you.

When you start using a (button/ratchet-based) mechanical pencil, you normally push the button (at the end or side depending on your pencil) 1, 2 or 3 times depending on how much your pencil advances the lead and how much you like the lead to stick out of the tip. Sometimes it doesn’t advance enough, sometimes it advances too much. You have to retract the lead and push the button until you get it just right. (Hmm, now that I think about it, it’s entirely possible that I’m the only person that anal about having the lead stick out the right length.) Anyway, with Grip 500, the next time you want to use the pencil, just push the tip out and the lead is where you last left it – at perfect writing length.

The lead advance mechanism is by push the end of the pencil. (Apparently, this is call a ratchet-based pencil according to wikipedia.) Each push produces a crisp sound as expected. The first push advances the entire tip (approx 1.2cm) of the pencil (as described above). The “entire tip” is metal-y and very sturdy. The “very tip” is also metal-y and parallel to the barrel of the pencil (which from what I understood distributes the force better to prevent lead breakage – I write rather lightly in general, so I’m not sure whether it really holds up to the more heavy handed people).

The retracting mechanism is controlled by the push of the clip. Yes, pretty cool 🙂 No more pushing the button and the lead against your desk to retract the lead (or in this case the tip). One push of the clip and there goes the tip. In theory, it seems possible for someone with a big hand to accidentally push the clip while writing. However, in practice, your hand simply do not push the pencil in that direction while writing.

Overall it is a good weight. Not too light that I’m afraid it’s going to flung out of my hand. Not too heavy to tire my hand out.

The balance of the pencil is good. It is a little heavier on the tip so the weight of the tip helps me push on the paper.

It is by far the best mechanical pencil I’ve ever had. Well balanced. Solid construction on the tip and grip. Beautiful translucent barrel and nice metallic touches. It’s a real shame they discontinued it.

Rating: 14/15
Tip/Ink flow N/A
Design/Looks 5/5 (cool looking, novel design)
Grip/Balance/Weight 5/5 (superb grip, great shape, perfect balance and weight)
Construction 4/5 (cracked barrel)
Official Site:

http://www.yasutomo.com/mechanical.htm

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