Review: Lamy Pico pen

A few weeks ago I saw this amazing pen design by Lamy, the Pico. I’m a heavy computer user so I don’t do much handwriting, but I do like nice tools so I thought I’d get this. Particularly the small form factor when retracted and the sleek design attracted me.

There are some things about the Pico that nobody is telling you, so I thought I’d write a little review.

The pen is nicely packaged and looks really cool in the shop display. I bought it at €35,- which is pretty steep for a ballpoint pen. You can probably find a cheaper seller but I haven’t seen prices below €30.

Aston Martin also thinks the Lamy Pico looks cool. It is a standard part of the Aston Martin DB9 interior. If you can’t afford an Aston Martin, you can get the Lamy Pico with Aston Martin logo as “replacement part” so you can show off at the bar.

When unpacking the pen you immediately notice the plastic feel and light weight, something you might not expect from a pen that looks like it is made of massive steel. The mechanics of the pen work, but with that same plastic sound and feel. The “stroke” for retracting the pen is rather large and sometimes you have to click twice. Holding the pen in writing position feels strange, because it is “Stubby”. It feels like he writing end of the pen is not tapered enough, blocking your view on the paper.

When I started writing with it, the black ink would not start to flow immediately. It kept doing this, and it became really irritating. Maybe this pen had been in the shop for a very long time, drying out the ink. It gave me a good excuse to buy a blue replacement cartridge because blue stands out when annotating black printed text.

To my dismay, the €2,60 Lamy Pico M22 M replacement cartridge was even worse. The ink does not flow immediately when you start writing, and with this blue cartridge, it stops flowing after 3 words. It actually turns out to be a known problem with these cartridges. If I had only known beforehand. Here you can see some writing with the Lamy Pico compared with a standard Parker Jotter.

You can clearly see in the “T” that the ink did not start to flow immediately. After just a 2 words, the M22 cartridge just gives up. Mind you that this is a new, fresh cartridge. The black cartridge I mentioned  wrote a couple more words before stopping but was worse in starting the ink flow.

In comparison, the good old Parker Jotter immediately starts putting down dark blue ink and stays consistent all throughout the page. The Parker actually sometimes leaves a little blob of ink, which sometimes smudges when you wipe over it with your hand. But it writes, and that is not what we can say for the Pico.

In the couple of days I (tried to) use the Lamy Pico at work, I started noticing scratches on the end cap. These scratches are made by the pen itself, from the retracting motion. You can clearly the scratches on the image on the right. This is after just a week of very mild office use.

Compared to my cheap but very reliable all steel Parker Jotter which has survived many years in my Filofax, has a nice steel feel, a firm “click” and the very reliable Parker replacement cartridges, the expensive plastic unreliable Lamy Pico is no comparison.

The Good

  • Very nice design with a high “cool factor”
  • Fits nicely in your pocket

The Bad

  • Looks metallic but feels plastic
  • Makes it’s own scratches on the end cap
  • Too slippery and feels too “stubby” to be an all-day writing pen.
  • Refills are of very poor quality. Ink will not start to flow, and stops flowing after a few words so you can not even use it to write a complete sentence.
  • Absolutely unusable as reliable pen.

If you are looking for a reliable pen with good looks, don’t buy a Pico. The cartridges are terrible, and will fail you every time.

6 Responses to Review: Lamy Pico pen

  1. timprobert says:

    Good review. Thanks. Shan’t buy one!

  2. I was surprised when I came across your review, mostly because I have a Lamy Pico that I’ve enjoyed using for the last couple of years. I haven’t had any of the problems that you mention. It doesn’t always begin writing immediately, but then again I can’t think of any ballpoint that I’ve had that does. My pico is as reliable as any ballpoint I’ve used, and writes more nicely. I like the shape and feel of it. The retractability is great – quiet with no audible “click” when opening or closing, and great for keeping in my pocket while never having to keep track of a cap. So for what it’s worth, that’s been my experience with the Lamy Pico. I can’t speak to the refills, because I haven’t needed to replace my ink cartridge yet.

  3. Franco says:

    I’ve the same pen and the same problems with the blue cartridges refills, I tryed to replace it several times but with the same results; it stops flowing after a short time writting. I’don’t use this pen anymore because it doesn’t write when needed,……..

  4. John Hubbard says:

    I’ve had the retraction mechanism fail on two pens. Sent them back to Germany and got free replacements, which also failed. However, I really like them, and I bought a third, which I’ve had for two years now with no problems.

  5. m says:

    Well – I got an Aston that came with this pen. It is the fourth “secret button” in the bottom row on the center console. Has no letters (all other buttons are made of glass and have letterings). It’s a hoot to tell folks that this is the eject feature. “Press and hold down for 3 seconds, then let go”, and – out comes a Lamy, a so-so Kugelschreiber.

    Cheers – M

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