Review of Staedtler Noris Ergosoft HB.


This review comes from Stewart C. Russell of Scruss fame, to whom we owe many thanks.

Material: Unknown (cedar or pine?).
Shape: Triangular with rounded edges.
Finish: Black and Yellow stripes, rubbery body.
Ferrule: Red-capped end.
Eraser: None.
Core: Quality Staedtler HB.
Markings: Made in Germany; Staedtler Noris Ergosoft; HB.
Packaging: Varies.
Origin: Made in Germany.
Availability: Increasingly limited, formerly at Office Depot in the US.

A new school year was always heralded by a couple of Staedtler Noris pencils in my pencil case. It was good to be reunited with this old favourite in its new form.

It’s one of the recent crop of triangular (well, a Reuleaux triangle, at least) cross section, like the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 and the Ticonderoga Tri-Write. Like most European pencils, it lacks an eraser, so it has a much better balance in the hand than the erasered Tri-Write.

A bit of thought has gone into the Ergosoft. Firstly, it’s got a little panel to write your name on. Since the pencil is three-sided, it’s actually large and flat enough to write legibly on. Its other design feature is its matte, non-slip grip. This feels very good from new; how it wears, however, I’ll get to later.

I mostly write with pencils, so I’m always looking for a good HB stick. The Ergosoft’s lead is very smooth, and the wood case is of high quality. While it keeps its point tolerably well, it makes quite a dark line, and does need sharpening slightly more often than I’d like. I’d say it’s softer than both the Tri-Write and Grip 2001 HB.

While the Ergosoft’s coating is great when new, it does begin to suffer from a sort of “dread skin disease”, peeling back into waxy little clumps. This wouldn’t be so bad if the coating didn’t include the printing on the wood case; after a while, the markings wear off. I’d expect more from Staedtler, even though it’s only an aesthetic issue. Once the non-slip coating has worn off, the pencil has a pleasant satin finish, but doesn’t look very classy.

Staedtler also make a larger Ergosoft Beginner’s Pencil (EAN 40 07817 153017, Art. Nr. 153). This uses a thick soft graphite core, around a B/#1 grade. It’s too soft and wide a line for my handwriting, but if you have a bold hand, you might like it. The wood case on the Beginner isn’t of the same quality as the standard Ergosoft; the ones I’ve seen have some voids and tough spots, so don’t take to the blade nearly as well. A beginner’s pencil that doesn’t roll off the desk has to be a good thing. I often wonder why they’re traditionally round?

The Ergosoft is a more finished pencil than the Triplus Slim (previously reviewed). It has a rounded cap where the Triplus has bare wood, and a finer-grained wood is used for the case.

Ergosofts are extremely hard to find. I’ve only found them in one stationery store (Midoco, in Toronto, at Bloor & Bathurst — a real pencil paradise). I do wonder if the pencil hasn’t been discontinued; then again, the usual range of pencils you can find in shops is very limited.

I still like the Ergosoft, despite its skin condition. It has the distinctive Noris wasp stripes that stand out on the most cluttered desk, and just maybe stop people pilfering it. If you can find them, and prefer a pencil without an eraser, the Ergosoft is a good write.

[Text and images, SCR. Used with permission.]

12 Comments

  1. I got a bunch a couple of years ago at the local Office Depot, which no longer carries them. I haven’t had the skin come off, but it does get awfully dirty. I’m thinking using pencil points in my case my help somewhat.

  2. Shane

    I can’t handle a triangular grip. They provide so much less freedom in writing with the perfect facet of the exposed lead. I’d be interested in hearing others’ reasons why/how they cope and even prefer triangular.

  3. Frank C.

    Thanks for the link to the order page–I just ordered some.

    I don’t necessarily prefer a triangular grip, but I don’t find them uncomfortable, either. I’ve never had a problem finding the correct side to write with that exposes the sharpest part of the exposed lead. The Grip 2001 is one of my favorite pencils because it writes extremely well; the triangular grip is a bonus but not the most important part of the pencil.

  4. humdog

    i love the ergosofts and i wish i could buy them…i, too, got a bunch at office depot then one day they just DISAPPEARED…gave them to my piano coach also, he liked them alot. right now, though, i am having a good time with the california republic golden bear 2B. i like the palomino with eraser kinda sorta. i mean the pencil is great but there is something about the way the eraser fits on the end of the pencil that is not quite fall-in-love-with happymaking. i think it is the gold stripe. i think if the eraser thingie covered the gold stripe then it would be happier. but the golden bear is absolutely lovely. palomino lead is better, but who dreamed of a regular pencil at reasonable price (40 for what 5 bucks or so)that writes so DARK??

  5. I love this pencils as I have used them since I was a child growing up in Europe! Thank god in my profession I do travel to Europe alot and always make sure to bring a bunch back with me! They are still my favorite to compose and pencil in fingerings on sheet music.

  6. Ramya

    Hey, I need these and have been looking for them. I am in the US. Its not available at Staples. Dono whee to get tem! Pls help

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