Pen Review: Ensso Aria (When A Bic Stic Won’t Do)

Generally speaking, ballpoint pens are a last option for me. As a lefty, oily ballpoint ink often leaves a trail of residue on the heel of my hand and my writing angle can often cause ballpoint roller balls (the ball suspended in the tip that releases ink) to choke up or skip. Left hand writers push the pen when writing rather than pulling it in the manner that right handed writers write. Even left handed writers who hold their pen in such a way as to write “below the baseline” — in others words, holding their pen in a mirrored position to right handed writers rather than the more awkward looking side-writing or overhand writing (AKA “the hook”) — can face issues with ballpoint and rollerball pens choking or skipping.

Ensso Aria

That said, even lefties need to use a ballpoint every now and again to fill out paperwork in the doctor’s office, sign a slick piece of receipt paper for a credit card purchase, etc.

So sometimes, you just need a ballpoint pen. But who wants to carry a Bic Stic next to your beautiful fountain pens and mechanical pencils? Ensso understands your dilemma so they have created the premium Bic Stic solution: the Aria ($39, available in matte black aluminum or brass).

The packaging is simple and satisfying. The Aria pens come in slim, black cardboard boxes which are easily recyclable. Inside the box is a tube, capped with thick rubber caps which are reusable. Thumbs up on the packaging.

Ensso Aria

Ensso Aria

These pens have beautiful tapered lines and an upscale look but in their heart, beats a Bic Stic refill. Why did they choose to make a high end body for such an inexpensive ballpoint pen? Why do people climb Mount Everest? Because they can. Because it’s a challenge. I think making a ballpoint pen appealing enough to entice a very picky fountain pen user is a suitable challenge.

The refill is friction fit into the barrel and can easily be removed with a pair of pliers. So, if you prefer a different ink color or a different nib width, it’s easy to swap out the refill.

Ensso Aria

On the end of the Aria, there are threads that mean that the cap can be posted and it won’t fall off.

Ensso Aria

The Aria is quite long. It’s 15cm (almost 6″)  long capped, 14.5cm (5.7″) uncapped and 16cm (6.25″) when posted.

The brass model is very heavy. Capped or posted the brass Aria weighs 66gms and 58gms when uncapped. The matte black aluminum model is much lighter at 21gms capped/posted and 20gms uncapped.

I’m including our usual fountain pen weight chart for reference to exactly how heavy the brass Aria is.

Pen Weights

Ensso Aria

I don’t suspect anyone needs an in-depth review of how the Bic refill writes but I wanted to test how the pens felt with the weight of the aluminum and brass.  The Aria pens are narrow, like a ballpoint pen. For me, the brass pen was too heavy. But I have tiny, childlike hands so the weight of the brass and the longer length of the pen caused the brass Aria to be a bit too top heavy in my small hands. For larger normal adult-sized hands, this would probably not be an issue. The aluminum pen is much lighter and I didn’t have issues with the weight balance.

Ensso Aria

Compared to other non-fountain pens in my collection, it’s clear how long the Aria pens are. Shown above, from left to right: Baron Fig Squire, Retro 51 Tornado Popper, and the brass and matte black aluminum Ensso Aria.

Ensso Aria

The Aria is the only of the pens that it capped. The threads keep the caps on tightly. If you’ve had issues with the Schmidt refills leaking in your bag or pocket, the capped Aria may be a reasonable upgrade.

The Aria is a very pretty pen. If we have to have a ballpoint pen, it might as well be one as lovely as the Aria. The price is reasonable too, for a metal machined pen.

Ensso has kindly given us these two pens to give away to TWO lucky giveaway winners.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and let me know which Aria style you like best: brass or matte black aluminum. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.

If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the monkeys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, March 28, 2021. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 5 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Ensso for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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  1. The brass pen looks so beautiful! Actually, either pen would be a lovely addition to my collection!

  2. As a lefty myself, I’m not a fan of too many ballpoints, but the Bic Stic is awfully good. I really like the look of that matte aluminum Ensso.

  3. I love the look and heft of brass and would gladly add it to my collection. As a lefty myself, this is an intriguing possibility for a edc.

  4. Normally I’d go for the matte black, but somehow I’m really drawn to the brass one!

  5. I recently bought a package of Bic Stics at my local CVS — $2.99 for 10 pens! Yes, it’s not in the class of my go-to ballpoint, the JetStream, but it’s a solid performer. I thought it would be handy to have pens scattered about in bedside tables, cars, and other random spots around the house, the Stic will fill that role admirably so that I’m never without access to a pen. I have lots of aluminum pen bodies, so a nice, heavy brass one would be a fun addition.

  6. I quite like the look of the brass pen but I think it would be a bit heavy for me. Thanks to your comprehensive review, the black one would be my choice.

  7. I would pick the black one, the extra weight of the brass worries me (although I would like to try it to see how it feels).

  8. I think I’d have to go with the Black Matte version. The brass one is over 2 ounces!
    Thanks for doing these reviews and drawings!

  9. Any of them. I was showing them to my wife, for her to use as the bic is still one of her favorites, but she just can’t justify the price for herself.

  10. Don’t enter me into the contest; I’m happy with the ball points I have. But why don’t we teach lefties to write from right to left and teach everyone to read in both directions? Almost every parent, elementary school teacher, and librarian learns to read upside and backwards for story time.

  11. I would go for the black aluminum first because of the weight, but the brass sure looks nice.

  12. I’ll get down get to brass tacks here. I like the brass pen first and foremost. I like its luster.

  13. Methinks the brass beauty will be too heavy for me, but the matte black pen will be just right. If ensso were to offer the Aria in matte black with a brass cap, now that would be perfect.

  14. The matte black aluminum is sleek and simple, like me–well sorta–sometimes I can be un-simple. Anyhoo, yeah the black one is for me!

  15. What gorgeous pens! I suppose I like the black one better but would enjoy using either one. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  16. I love the brass look, but it’s way too heavy. The black is pretty cool, it’d be great withan xtra bold black bic refill!

  17. I like the matte black style. It looks like it would go with anything. I am a lefty and write overhanded.

  18. I like the matte black aluminum. It’s a good housing for a workhorse Bic refill. A pen doesn’t need to stand out, it needs to be a workhorse.

  19. How do I choose between the brass and black? The brass is so pretty though. I think that’s my favorite.

  20. These are great! I’ve recently started using BIC Cristal bold points [1.6mm] and the ink and ballpoint are great but the hex barrel is a bit problematic. Putting the refill in a round barrel is a very interesting idea.

  21. Wow, I’m not sure I can pick a favorite; they’re both gorgeous. I love the brass because…brass, but the aluminum one looks so sleek and elegant!

  22. So here’s my comment that actually follows the rules [I know, jeeze Louise]: the matte black turns me on.

  23. That matte black is epic! The brass looks nice, but that weight, umpf that is a heavy pen. I may be heavy, but my pen doesn’t need to be

  24. I like the matte black aluminum. Very sleek. The brass is handsome but I don’t think I would like the weight of it.

  25. Strange and wonderful that someone could come up with a better case for BIC Crystal, but matte black aluminum is it.

  26. I’d have to say the matte black aluminum. At a certain point early in my stationary journey, I was all about the black Bic Crystal. And who really wants a heavy Bic?

  27. I’d have to go with matte black. Sometimes brass smells weird to me. 😛

    Fun fact: I do like Bic Crystals, probably because they were everywhere when I was growing up. And recently, I held in my hands a STERLING SILVER one…the company made them for an anniversary and gave them to executives. Body, cap, AND the little plug in the end were all silver. There was another one with the clear plastic body but a silver cap and plug, too. It was AMAZING.

  28. I’m a little intimidated by your description of the heavy brass pen but intrigued at the same time – out of curiosity I think I would pick that one!

  29. Though I worry a little about the weight, that brass is so pretty!
    I also strangely love cheap ballpoints, so I am not too proud to use a bic

  30. I have child-sized hands too! Black for me. Still kicking myself for not getting in on the kickstarter.

  31. I love this idea. There was another company that tried this a while ago, but they had you use the plastic cap from the disposable pen. I have an enso uno minimalist pen that I just love. I would love the matte black pen, but they are equally as nice. I just bought some onion paper. There is nothing cooler than a crinkly onion paper notebook that has the all the wripples of texture from writing in ballpoint pens.

  32. I like the looks of the black pen. I also like the way it posts, so I don’t have to worry about losing the cap. Thanks for running this give-away for us.

  33. Thank you, Ana for this opportunity. I am always prioritizing the pen opinions of fellow lefties. I would love to have the matte black aluminum to use for sketching. (But then, the brass is really classy!)

  34. Most of my pens are brass. both look nice and smooth and the refill would definitely be exchanged ;D

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