I am bringing in to the ring an incredible threesome of gel pens.
Pelikan Soft Gel, Pilot Super Gel and no name brand Forster.
Cold start test.After a long period of sitting on the shelf. It is the first test because I had to get them started.
Pelikan, Pilot Super Gel 0.5 had no problem starting right away. Pilot 0.7 had some issues and Forster needed convincing.
Line width and saturation.I am testing only general purpose writing colors (blue, black)
Black color, test between Pilot 0.7 and Pelikan. I can say that Pelikan produces a hair skinnier line (the size is not advertised) and it seems to be a little less saturated compared to Pilot 0.7 mm
BleedingI tested all this on cheap copy machine paper, because it is most likely to use this pens in an office environment where this kind of paper is the norm.
No surprise the thinner the point less bleedthrough.
Worst performance order:
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 black. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 blue. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.5 blue. It has decent performance and can be used
On the same place Pelikan Soft Gel and Forster with very little bleedthrough.
The best in class is the Pilot, which has a grip section with smooth circles spaced closely. It is comfortable and you can use the pen for long hours
Comfort and ergonomics
Second is the Pelikan with a rubber insert. It is at the same level with the plastic body. It feels good but I do not think offers to many benefits.
Last is the Forster which has the grip identical with the rest of the barrel just a bit thicker. It is not uncomfortable to use but for sure they cut some corners to be able to produce them for cheap. It has a sharper edge if you're gripping the pen close to the lead.
Writing experienceThe writing is the most important aspect of the pen after all. I can say that all right ok, but my opinion is that Pelikan is the smoothest. Pilot has a bad feel to it, it's like the ball is wobbling inside, it does not seem a quality assembly. And this aspect is true to all of the tested Pilots. Even the Forster felt better to me.
QualityForster is cheaply made, the cap is not as secure as the other. Also, the clip cannot be used as if you pull it slides out of the cap. This is not valid for all the ones I have only for the blue color. But it shows that the quality control and the design are not the best.
ValueThis is a very interesting section. Because I don't think it is a surprise to anybody that the quality on a cheap no-name brand is lower compared to Pilot or even Pelikan.
But the real question is a cheap product a good value to the customer. Well, it can be a very good value sometimes.
In this case, I think you get 90% of the quality for a lot less money
It's not the most scientific test you can make but sometimes you need to simplify the process and admit that your mileage might vary.
How long will the pen write depends on the level of ink inside. Of course, other factors influence the mileage, like the line thickness, reservoir diameter, and ink viscosity. So the 0.5 pens will last longer than 0.7.
But to compare the pens (0.5) without writing until the pen is out of ink I measured the ink inside. I assumed the diameter and viscosity of the gel holder are similar so I did not take this into consideration while doing the measurements. Pelikan and Forster do not say the line thickness but I consider them to be a 0.5 as they are very close to the Pilot in width.
In this situation, Forster is cheaper by a mile. It holds less ink but it is cheaper between 2 and 4 times than Pelikan and Pilot. That in my book is called a good deal. But there is a catch. The ink levels between my Forster pens vary a bit. One of them has 1.5 cm less than the one I measured. Another one is 0.9 cm less. So this is not very consistent. But even if I would redo the test, and I would use the one with the smallest amount of ink the test will still look great. The Pelikan would hold ~ + 30% more ink but still costs 2.67 times more. The Pilot would hold around + 20% more ink and would still cost more than 4 times as much. So you can buy for each 2 Pelikans 5 Forsters, And for each Pilot 4 Forsters.
Annoying is the fact that not all pens are filled up as they should be, and again this is the lack of quality control with this ones.
All discomforts aside they are good value. Pelikan is the second on the list and Pilot get the disappointing 3rd place as the product is very expensive, and the writing experience is not as good as the cheaper products tested.