Stabilo Bionic Worker Rollerball
A few months ago a friend, who knows I am into pens, asked me what I thought about Stabilo. I must admit he caught me off-guard, I had no previous experience with the brand. Then I saw these with a discount at my local art supply store and could not let the opportunity pass.
The full name of the maker is Schwan-STABILO (which explains the swan logo) and it’s based in Germany. Upon my first inspection I really did not know what to expect. I was not sure about the orange body covered in rubber, I’m used to more subdued designs and colors. But looking closely, several details indicate a higher level of quality than your average discuount rollerball.
First, the rubber is of the high-grade kind and the shape does nicely follow the natural contour of the hand. The barrel and cap elements are all flush in a continuous silhouette, a really organic design. There are no sharp edges to be found but, at the same time, there is a feeling of precision all around. The cap is made of hard plastic, not the rubber of the barrel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the organic shape and color are used even in the inner liner. The clip is on the short side, but very well made, with a nicely finished shape on the inside that will not mark or damage fabric or paper and a good spring that will securely attach the pen to thick materials without problem.
On the barrel the same attention to detail is evident, with a soft rounded bumb in the middle to prevent rotation and a hole that seems to be an artifact of the molding process that shows a perfect alignment between the outter rubber shell and the inner rigid plastic. There are several insertions of translucent plastic along the body, again perfectly flush, that serve as ink windows as well as ink color indicators. The translucent colored plastic treatment is present at the tip and top of the pen too, and I think it helps a lot. You will not be writing with the wrong color by mistake. The cap is securely posted despite the soft surface and seems real happy there. The rubber finish seems to show dirt more than other pens.
When I wrote the first words with the Bionic Worker I was not sure it was using liquid ink, it felt a lot like the 0.7mm Pentel EnerGel to me. The fact that bleed-through is perfectly under control kept that impression for a while, with the only detail that revealed the true nature of the ink being the longer time it takes to dry.
You can see the ink level and, if you look closely, you will find the wick feed:
I’m glad to report that performance is excellent. There is near zero false starts or skipping with the Stabilo. I tend to like wider points and bolder lines, so I like how it writes, but compared to other 05.mm pens, these produce a much wider line. If you prefer a fine point, I’m afraid I did not find a version for you.
I got the 2 color pack in blue and black. The black is not as black as other inks I’m used to. I don’t usually use rollerballs so I will have to compare to the Pilot G2, which offers a more saturated black, as do Sheaffer and Lamy fountain pen inks. It’s more of a nothing-to-write-home-about black like the Parker Quink fountain pen ink. The blue was the real surprise here, with a niche shade that is neither too bright, like the EnerGel blue, nor too dark, like sad and depressing blue you find in the Pilot G2. A more fair comparison would be the Zebra R-301 rollerball, which looks a bit purple and has a much more serious bleed-through.
Overall I like the Stabilo Bionic Worker more than I expected and would happily try other products from the brand. I don’t normally use rollerballs, but this is one I trust and enjoy.
Here is my written sample:
A pic of the back of the paper, the Stabilo is really comparable to the gel inks in this regard:
And here’s the whole gang, casually resting on a rock and tile: