Review: Cross Roadster Gel Pen

Cross Roadster, closed

In the past couple of years, I've become far more intimate with my writing tools. The act of putting words on paper has become more of a visceral experience, something that I look forward to doing (as opposed to something I'm forced to do). Given my semi-recent hobby of restoring vintage fountain pens, it isn't hard to guess that I'm usually found with a pen in hand that's more than six decades old, sporting a gold nib, and laying down a beautiful wet layer or Waterman's or Noodler's ink. Frankly, I've grown tired of most modern pen designs which are generally contrived to look like all others or to evoke Star Trek in some way. (Think of the recent crop of G2 lookalikes, for example.) Which is why I'm surprised to declare that one of the pens in my current stable is not a fountain pen at all, but a modern gel roller.

I should preface this by saying that not everybody enjoys writing with a wide-barreled pen. I certainly do, although many of my acquaintance think slimmer is better. I find that a wider pen allows me to write a little looser and doesn't require the firm hold that might aggravate carpal tunnel. Make no mistake: the Cross Roadster is definitely a fat pen, about as fat as most people could comfortably use.

I found the Roadster at my local Staples and fell in love with it right away. It's a thick, fairly stubby pen just under 4.5" long; however, with its cap posted it turns into a meaty 5.75". Vaguely bullet-shaped, with a long brushed chrome cap and a sturdy and beautifully-coloured barrel that's well-rounded at its base, it certainly has a look all its own.

Cross Roadster, closedThe pen seems exceptionally well made. The section (a.k.a., the grip) is fabricated of smooth black PVC-like plastic with silvery stainless steel accents, and it screws easily into a barrel that appears to be made of a rich-hued acrylic. At my local Staples were three variations: black with embedded grey chips, blue swirls, and red and black swirls (a.k.a., "lava"). No two pens at the store had the same pattern, a fact that lent a certain unique quality to each pen. The bottom third of the barrel appears to be solid acrylic, which lends the pen a very strong and substantial feel. No rattles, creaks or flimsiness here. The cap is carefully machined of a brushed chrome and the smooth clip is both firm and elegant. A very minor issue is that one should use a little care to post the cap on the rounded end of the barrel, lest it be a bit loose or perhaps cocked at a slight angle. I'm used to being somewhat delicate with my fountain pens, so this took a few minutes to get used to. The pen feels well-balanced in my hand, with or without the cap.

The design, no doubt, is meant to evoke the roadsters of the Golden Age of automobiles, and there is certainly a classic automotive aesthetic to the pen. (Though, not being a classic car fan, I can't quite put my finger on the exact touches that deliver this.)

An interesting touch to the pen is a small spring embedded in the bottom of the barrel which presses up against the bottom of the ink cartridge. This has the effect of giving the point a slight give and springiness while writing, not unlike a quality set of shock absorbers on a vehicle, and the effect is one of extreme smoothness that isn't effected by every variation in the pressure of your hand.

Speaking of writing, I've very impressed by the Cross gel ink cartridge, which I'm guessing is the same type used for the more popular Cross Ion pens. The point is roughly the same thickness as a G2 0.7mm or a fine nib fountain pen, and the short but wide cartridge seems to hold roughly the same amount of ink as the G2. The supplied ink is a very satisfying black that lays on very wet but dries extremely quickly, usually within a second or two on most papers I experimented with.

The price of $20-25 USD is excellent for the quality of the pen, especially given that its construction is so much better than many pens selling for three times that amount. (Unfortunately I can't find a place online to purchase this -- can anyone find a link?) It's an excellent bargain for anyone who enjoys a wide yet portable pen that exudes both classic style and craftsmanship, and who would prefer the convenience of a gel pen to fountain pens.

Pros: well-constructed; good balance in hand; wide (for hands that like wide); elegant look; quick-drying ink is thick and black; price value is excellent for style of pen.

Cons: not everybody likes a wide pen; a little bulgy in tight pockets; cap can post on the rounded barrel loose or at a slight angle; may not fit thinner pen loops in planners and notebooks; uses gel refills that may not be easy to find.

Verdict: a well-crafted and stylish gel pen that writes beautifully, perfect for those who prefer stockier pens.

Rating: 8.5/10

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That's a nice looking pen. I

That's a nice looking pen. I will have to go to Staples and check it out. I like the wider barrels myself. Though I have horrible chicken scratch writing so unfortunatly I usually have to use fine tip pen otherwise I can't read what I wrote. =8-O

Micalela

Lost in the land of disorganization

None at Staples here.

Went to my Staples yesterday and they don't even carry fine pens any longer! How depressing. Evene tried the Cross store near me, which are few and far between, and they did not have them.

But I was just going to look at it...

Honest. I went to Staples only to look at this pen. Does anyone believe me?

The blue one is absolutely stunning and it does write well. I clipped it the badge chain around my neck so I can show it off today. I also got some more of the eco easy products since I love the paper so much.

Paper and pen and I can face the world today!

Lisa, I am watching you!

Lisa,

I am watching you! :-)

A blue one would be nice. I don't quite get the appeal of the red one.

Uh Ho

One of my real life friends (the one who told me about this site) has found me (hi Twila, I'll show you the pen in writer's group). At least my husband doesn't read here just how obsessed I am with paper and pen stuff. Of course, he does get to see it in action. BTW, my dh and I get an allowance. He saves his up and buys wireless weather stations and guitars. I spend all mine immediately on office supplies and books, but it is all equal so I'm guilt free.

The Staples I went to didn't have any red pens, only the blue and black/white. I don't think they photograph anywhere near as nice as they look. They have a 3-D effect as they are turned. I also like how well it fits in the palm of my hand. I've had it for just over 24 hours and am still in love.

Roadster Pen

As soon as I leave the office I am heading to Staples although I can't find this pen on their website or even on the Cross website! I love the retro look of it.

Office Max, too

Just had to run by the grown-up pen aisle while shopping for back-to-school items. The blue one and the black one was at our local Office Max.

Based on this review I said,

Based on this review I said, 'Oh, what the heck?' and bought a blue one. It's no fountain pen, but it's certainly the best gel pen I've used in terms of smoothness and ease of writing.

I found it very comfortable to write with and with width of the grip makes it comfortable for me to use -- I have mild carpal tunnel.

-----
"In some situations you need to ask yourself 'WWRD?' What would Riggins do in a situation?"
Landry Clarke -- Friday Night Lights

WWRD

Actually WWRD stands for 'What would Reagan Do" - It's a bumper sticker on Ebay. -- jack

I lost confidence with Cross gel pens

I have 3 Cross gel pens - a Cross Ion and 2 Cross Matrix pens.

The quality of the Cross gel refill is good. The problem is it does not last long.

In my experience, the gel refill stops writing just a little over the half way mark. This happened to me 3 times.

I like the design of Cross gel pens. But I feel they are not a good buy.

I wouldn't recommend the Cross gel refills. Although I'm not sure if Cross pens accepts other types of refills.

Online link for Cross Roadster?

Has anyone managed to find a place to buy this elusive pen online? I've received a few emails now looking for a link, and wondered if anybody else had any luck.

all my best,
dj

Google says "no" (to me)

one eBay seller (larryc3413) with a 20-pack of refills for sale, but no retailers.
-----------------------------------
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Google is not your friend?

Heh. Sorry. Had to say it.... ;-)

dj

Google is still my friend, but

does not always tell me what I want to hear.
;)
-----------------------------------
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Cross Roadster online

The refills are for sale at www (dot) blankjournalist (dot) com.

However, they seem to be using eBay as their sales system. So they might be the same people ygor found.

Yup. Same guy.

He lists a black and a blue roadster pen - $39.99 Buy-It-Now price, $4.99 shipping. Claims they retail for $80

You folks that have found them -- what did y'all pay ?
-----------------------------------
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Staples had 'em

Yesterday - back-to-school zoo day - in blue only for $21.99.

Got mine at Staples too

For 21.99. I like the pen, but never would have forked over $80 for it. Ebay is full of sharks.

Roadster price

$39.99? $80? Ouch!

Nope, regular price here in the Yellowknife Staples was about $25 Canadian (so about $23 USD, give or take). And if it's that price in the Northwest Territories (Canadian subarctic), I can assure you it's cheaper elsewhere.

I've tried contacting Cross regarding the pen and the ability to buy it online, but no response yet.

dj

Yielded to temptation....

I went to our local Office Depot and was disappointed they did not have the Roadster. This weekend we went to Clovis (near Fresno, CA) to visit grandchildren -- and I took the opportunity to go to my favoriate Office Max there. Low and behold, there they were, dangling as tempting as any of Eden's fruit.

While I was in the store, my cousin came to my daughter's house looking for me... said my daughter, "he's gone to get yet another new pen." How did she know? I hadn't told her the object of my trip. I think my addiction is not as secret as I thought. When I came back to her house, my cousin asked, "so, did you get the pen?.

I have not been a gel fan, but I do like this pen very much. I like its heff, its feel, and its ink lines.

My only regret is that I purchased only one.

The Passionate Pilgrim
-- Excellence through Simplicity

color?

What color did you get? The Stables near me didn't have the red, so I've not seen that one in person.

I really don't think any of us hide our addiction as well as we think. At least with pens we have and use them for years. Not like my chocolate addiction :-(

Black barrel

At the store I was in they only had blue and black, no red -- not that I would have been tempted to buy a red barrel (I did not see any red ink).

I have been using it daily, fits snuggly in my (very old) Levenger notebook (fits 3-3/4 x 6-3/4 page)... its stubby design was an attaction, regular pen sizes extend below the bottom of the binder and seem to catch on everything. And as I have gotten older, I find a fatter pen more comfortable to write with.

I agree with the comment elsewhere that it is no fountain pen. But I have not yet found one with a short enough body to fit my planner.

The Passionate Pilgrim
-- Excellence through Simplicity

Wierd

For some reason (being from Northern Virginia has to have something to do with it) when I see this thing in red I think of cicadas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada

Dunno why, just do. Must be the shape of the capped pen.

Red, like lava

Cicadas? Definitely would not have drawn that conclusion, but then again, I don't think I've ever seen them in real life.

The red body actually reminds me of lava, and of the classic celluloid and casein swirls of many fountain pens of the golden age. As you turn it, the partially translucent acrylic patterns catch the light in very interesting ways.

dj

Not A T Cross

I am having trouble finding the pen. Ebay has listings for $39.95 but it is listed as a Crossman Cross Roadster. This is not the old traditional A T Cross that most people think of. I find almost nothing when I google the pen. I wanted to buy it online given your very interesting review (thank you). Has anyone found it online? --jack

Well balanced pen

Grip of the pen is pretty awesome, exceptionally smooth. I paid $21.99 at Staples in Forest Hills NY 11375 (1-718-268-3660) 10/23/2008

roadster

This pen is incredible,it fits my hand like a glove and my written words actually look like they've been written by an adult.
Beautiful pen both in appearance and function.

Cross Roadster

I have found several of these pens, and ink, being sold on EBAY for around $30.00. Thank you for your fine analysis. I believe I will purchase one!

Agreed

I was really pleased to see that other folks are as fond of this pen as I am. I was randomly poking around my local office max over the summer to find a decent pen to use with the moleskine notebooks I had recently picked up. I was taken by the looks of the roadster pen, but not particularly optimistic about the functionality of the pen, so I hedged my bets and grabbed a more traditional parker ballpoint.

In fairly short order, I decided that the Roadster was easily the best pen I have ever used. I have very large hands, and I am also a Southpaw. Issues with ink drying, and small barrels have always plagued me. This pen has been a great solution to both problems.

It's a very satisfying pen to write with. It the quality and comfort of this pen significantly surpass that of a Mont Blanc I received as a gift (at thrice the price of the roadster) I do concur with a previous poster's complaint that the Cross gel refills seem to run out at about 50% Given their expense, this is a legitimate concern. I have noticed that I can sometimes "write through" the pen's premature expiration... and it will magically revive itself. It's a little irritating, but not too bad.

I came across this post while googling for a replacement for my original roadster, which I sadly seem to have "lost" at work. I had been dismayed at the scarcity of information regarding this pen, even at Cross's website.

The sharks at Ebay charging $30+ for this pen, and claiming it retails for $80 should be ashamed of themselves. I was lucky to find additional blue and black barreled pens at Office Max in Minneapolis Minnesota for the MSRP of $22.00 (US) I did have to go to two different Office Max stores to find the black barrel (my favorite) A salesperson at the first store mentioned that this pen has been very popular (I picked up 4 total myself)

FWIW, I was not able to locate the pen at 3 Staples stores in Chicago. Office Max may be a better bet. The salesperson also mentioned that they can be ordered in the store (can't find on their website either)

Hope that's useful,

Zach