The uni-ball AIR and the missing flex 7


An unusual post for Bleistift: not pencils and not fountain pens, either.
Last week I saw the uni-ball AIR for the first time. I was in a WH Smith’s store, a chain of stationery stores in the UK. What grabbed my attention was the fact that it was being advertised as writing like a fountain pen, i.e. pressing down more should produce a wider line.

I was tempted, but a pack of two was £5.99 and a pack of three was £6.99. I didn’t really want to buy more than one of this pen for this prize, in case I don’t like them.

At home I then found a place where I could order them for £1.99, including postage. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that there’s a medium and a broad version of this pen. I bought the broad one by mistake.

Well, at least for the broad version the advertised flex effect isn’t very strong on most paper, have a look at my video, where I compare it to a Pelikan F nib.

The paper used in the video is Banditapple‘s new 4G paper.

The flex properties of this pen might be disappointing, but it is still a nice pen to write with.

A close up of the uni-ball Air

A close up of the uni-ball AIR

Since I made the video I noticed that Tesco had a lot of stationery offers.

Stationery offers in Tesco

Stationery offers in Tesco

I bought a pack of 12 uni-ball pens for £12, hoping the uni-ball AIR pens would be medium, not broad (the pack wasn’t marked) and that the medium pens have more flex, but unfortunately it turned out that the AIR pens in this pack were also broad.

12 pens for £12

12 pens for £12


You can read more about this pen at Clicky Post and Office Supply Geek.


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7 thoughts on “The uni-ball AIR and the missing flex

  • Sapphire

    I should have thought the effect to be more pronounced with a broad tip. More pressure pushes the ball deeper into the paper so more of it is in contact with the surface and the line gets broader, but only as far as that part of the ball that protrudes from the socket. You can get a similar effect with an ordinary ballpoint for the same reason, though the whole line is weaker. It’s one reason why ball type pens, gel, water or oil based seem to write better if there is a bit of “give” to the writing surface.
    Even a rounded tip on a pencil will react in a similar way to varying pressure.

  • Shangching

    It is interesting that the pen is marketed very similarly to Fisher Space pen that can write from any angle. Coincidentally, its look also reminds me of the Pentel Rolling Writing that also claims to write like a fountain pen (it does not write anything like a fountain pen. In fact, it was one of the first pens I have used in the US that had driven me to hold on any Japanese gel pens I had brought with me). Perhaps I will pick one up to try later!

  • Matthias

    Thank you very much for your comments.

    Sapphire, I have also observed a similar effect with pencils, like you say. I assume they did try to maximise this effect with this pen or they wouldn’t advertise this pen in this way (at lest here in the UK). I hope to get my hands on a medium version of this pen to compare the effect.

    Shangching, I haven’t heard of the Pentel Rolling pens. Despite your disappointment I am tempted to try these out, just because of the way they are advertised. Which is your favourite gel pen?

  • Shangching

    Here is Pentel Rolling Writer: https://www.amazon.com/Pentel-Rolling-Writer-Millimeter-Cushion/dp/B0013CPYY6 The effects for me resembles the ones done by felt-tipped pen. You almost need to exert a lot of force in order to lay down even amount of ink, probably why I did not like it so much.
    As for my favorite gel pen, there are too many! Interestingly, I do not write as well with a conical tip (Uni Signo DX) versus a needle tip (Hi-Tec-C), even though I like them both. I will enclose an array of gel pens for you to try in the small package I am getting together for you.

  • memm Post author

    Oh, are you trying to convert me to use Gel pens again ;^) I thought I stopped using them for good..
    Thank you very much.

  • Shangching

    Haha, nowadays I am only trying to convert those around me to use analog writing instrument, whether it is ballpoint, gel, pencil, or fountain pen. Gel pens can come in handy, especially when you need to fill out forms (i.e. custom declaration) while out. Also, most gel pen ink is waterproof and less finicky when it comes to paper. To me, gel pens are easier to control than ballpoint. The latter’s ink is a bit too smooth for me so my writing would literally go anywhere.