I've seen some unique pens in my day, but this one takes the cake.
The Spyderco BaliYo pen is one of the strangest contraptions I've come across that also labels itself as a pen. The BaliYo borrows part of its name and most of its functionality from the Balisong knife, or the butterfly knife.
In case you haven't seen one of these knives in action, here's a video of Angelina Jolie demonstrating how it works to Conan O'Brien. If you're interested in seeing more detailed videos of how to operate these fancy knives, there is an endless source of videos on YouTube.
Basically, this pen is made of three main parts: two handle halves and the main pen section. You open it (rather, you can open it) by swinging around one handle or another to the open position. I've tried my best to master the method, but it's just difficult. I prefer the type of pens that have a screw on cap or friction-fit cap. If you're a Balisong expert, this pen is right up your alley.
So, I've covered how to open and close this pen using a series of flicks and swivels in your hand, but how does this pen write? Well, not so great. It appears to be using a fairly generic ballpoint refill that has a hard time starting, skips frequently, and is pretty light on the page. Obviously, the makers of this pen were paying attention to other details of the pen. I didn't provide a full writing sample with this pen because it ran out of ink after writing the name of the pen on the page. Prior to the ink test, I'd only written one page of notes on an A5-sized sheet of paper. The refill is small, but not that small.
The ballpoint refill is controlled by turning the grip of the pen back and forth. It actually has a nice swivel action that feels great. Apart from that, the plastic feel only goes so far.
When writing with the pen, I've never been able to find a comfortable position. If you fold both handles down, the pen is pretty thick and has awkward pieces jutting out from the handles that make it difficult to hold in a writing position. If you don't fold the handles down, they flop back and forth against your hand while you write. I think they were designed to be folded down when writing, so that just means you'll have to get used to the abnormal grip they require.
It's hard to recommend this pen to anyone as a writing instrument. It's fairly obvious when using the pen that the number one design requirement did not involve writing. That being said, if you are a fan of Spyderco or the Balisong knife genre, this could be a fantastic gift or novelty item. It's fun to play with, but just not all that great to write with. In a pinch, it definitely writes, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a writing instrument.