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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pen Review - Kaweco Classic Sport!

Get ready for another mega review, packed with photos, details, and writing samples!

The spotlight is turned towards the Kaweco Classic Sport today. I've got a lot to say about it: some good, and some critiques. Stay tuned for the full review!

The Kaweco Classic Sport has earned itself a formidable 77/100 rating.


Price: $25.00, give or take depending on the retailer.
Body Material: Plastic with designs.
Nib Material: 23k Gold-plated Steel, iridium tip.
Nib Size: Extra-fine, Fine, Medium, or Broad - I got a broad of course. :)
Cap Type: Screw-cap, postable
Filling Mechanism: Standard international short cartridges. Can also be converted to an eyedropper.
Overall Weight: 10g (0.35oz)
Cap Weight: 4g (0.14oz)
Body Weight: 6g (0.21oz)
Overall Length (capped): 105mm (4.13in)
Overall Length (posted): 132mm (5.2in)
Body Length: 100mm (3.14in)
Cap Length: 70mm (2.76in)
Cap Diameter (no clip): 14mm (0.55in)
Cap Diameter (with clip): 18.0mm (0.70in)
Body Diameter: 11mm (0.43in)
Nib Length: 17mm (0.67in)

The Good:

  • Pen posts very securely - much more so than I had expected.
  • Can be converted to an eyedropper, if the user wishes to have more ink capacity (like me).
  • Very inexpensive - a good value for dollar.
  • Flow is very good and consistent for an eyedropper - I'm impressed.
The Bad:
  • Plastic feels a little cheap.
  • No type of instruction pamphlet or guide of any sort in the packaging.
The ugly:
  • Nib and feed were so badly misaligned out-of-the-box, I couldn't even write with the pen.
  • Pen had some rounded inner tine issues, commonly referred to as "baby-bottom" skipping.

The Kaweco Classic Sport is a really great pen for the price. It is hindered however in my opinion by a lack of quality control on the manufactures part, and a little (keeping the price in mind) lack of attention to detail. I feel this pen is missing the final "polish" that could make it an incredible pen, much like the TWSBI 540.

Still, for what you pay, I can highly recommend this as a very suitable everyday pocket pen. At the current price, you won't be afraid to take it with you anywhere, and while it feels a little cheap, it seems very sturdy to me, as there's really nothing to break on it.

Read on for the details!

The Kaweco sport is somewhat lacking in design. Not in a bad way, but you might say it's a bit of a "blank-slate". There's not a whole lot to catch the eye here. Nonetheless, the design is efficient, and well thought. It gets bonus points for that.

Were the design falls short is when you begin to see the places where the manufacture cut corners in the design to maintain the low price point. The most noticeable flaw would be the large amount of highly visible injection molding lines. At this price point, I'm not about to complain about these, but I'm saying they do detract from the design.

To define the look of the Kaweco Sport in words, I would call quirky, in a good way. It is not an elegant pen, and it's not a "cool" pen. It's a functional pen, with a highly unique design.

The faceted cap prevents the pen from rolling off of any surface which it's placed on. I really like this feature, and Kaweco's implementation of it is superb.

The two outstanding design elements are the text-logo, and the top "jewel". The top jewel does appear to be metal, as far as I can tell. My one quibble with their top-logo, is that it looks rather "slapped together", and not very professional. This is purely my opinion of course, but I think it doesn't look extremely well thought out.

Overall I find the pen pleasing to my eye. The blue color I chose is just right, with a very slight hint of purple. The pen looks industrious, and ready for work.

 I won't spend a lot of time on the box but: I really like the design of the box. It's not fancy at all, and probably costs a few cents to make. Still, it looks surprisingly classy with it's gold swirls over matte-black.

The sides of the box has the Kaweco website imprinted on it, but otherwise is the exact same as the front/back.

The box comes with no type of instructions, or even a cheesy advertising pamphlet - it's totally empty. I honestly would've liked a little piece of paper, with some sort of description on it. Right now you might mistake it for an unkown Chinese pen. A cheap 1-cent paper with Kaweco's "mission statement", and some info on the pen would've been a great touch.

All things considered, I feel good giving the Kaweco sport a 19/25 in design.

Some may like the design more than others, and while it's not going to be a favorite of mine, I think it's a very nice looking pen. It is a good design, and because it's so functional (we'll get to this later), I can easily overlook the small flaws in it's design. Could it be improved? Yes. Is it plenty good enough? Yes. :)

As usual (I say this every time, and probably always will :), this is the most subjective-to-the-user part of the review. This is all based on personal preference, but since I'm a fairly average person, I'll share my opinions and thoughts.

The Kaweco Classic Sport is a small pen. However it is not the smallest of pocket pens. This is to me, a disadvantage it has. For a pocket pen, I find it rather large. With the cap posted, it is just a tad longer than an un-posted TWSBI 540. Basically, this is a pocket pen that extends to a full size pen. In fact, I can actually comfortable use this pen, without posting the cap! Now, this is partially due to how I hold my pens (I actually do have fairly large hands), but still, my point is well made: I think Kaweco could have made this pen a tad smaller. I know I would like it that way.

The weight of the pen is light, partly contributing to it feeling a bit cheap. It is not too light though, and the lightness of the pen lends itself perfectly for being a pocket pen. It's simply there, not offensive or bothersome in any way. One might say it's quite perfectly weighted, in that you don't even notice you're holding it or carrying it. For actually writing with the pen, I personally could do with a little more substance. Overall though, the weight is great.

The thickness of the grip is a tad thin for me, again, not uncomfortably so, but thicker would definitely be nice. Still, most users will find it just fine for their use of the pen, especially seeing as this pen is not particularly marketed as a pen for long writing sessions.

Posted, that Kaweco Sport is not just a good sized writing instrument, but a full-sized one.

I personally feel that the body could be shortened a good inch, and the cap a half inch or so. This would make it smaller to carry, yet still well sized for use. As it is now, the length capped is a bit long for what I'd like in my pockets.

The pen is actually comfortable for me to use un-posted.

Posted, it is a very good size, and is more than I really need.

Overall, I would personally give the Kaweco Sport a 17/25 in weight/size.

It definitely works for me, and works well, but I feel it could be improved upon. Again, this is for my hand really, and may not match your experience with the pen. To each his/her own, and this applies largely to size and weight in fountain pens.

Time to dive into the important stuff - how does this pen work? Let me tell you:

Firstly, the Kaweco Sport is definitely a functionality-based pen. As I said earlier, it's not much of a looker, and it certainly isn't made to be luxurious. It's what I'd call a service/duty pen. Made to be used, handle slight abuse, and be thoroughly enjoyed!

And it definitely excels at functionality. To name a few of my favorite features:

1) This tiny little knurled knob at the end gives a good grip for capping and uncapping the pen ,while remaining very inconspicuous.

2) I love how the faceted cap keeps it from rolling around. Makes it easy to photograph too. :)
3) The pen posts very nicely - very deep, so I feel like there's not fear of the cap falling off.

Now, there are a few functionality elements that I do not like. Here's a list:
  • Probably the inexpensive plastic used in it's construction - I can already see a ring of scratches on the body, where the cap spins while uncapping the pen.
  • The faceted cap only keeps the pen from rolling if it's posted, or capped. If you leave the cap off, this pen loves to roll.
Those quibbles aside, this pen functions quite well, and I haven't yet into a situation where it has failed me.

Filling system: This pen fills via a cartridge, or can be converted to an eyedropper. I believe there is a certain type of converter that fits it, but it's an aftermarket affair, and not something I'm personally interested in looking into.

I've gone the eyedropper route, and have had 0 problems so far. For an eyedropper, this pen has performed extremely well, exceeding my standards. I have not had one flow problem, ink drip, or any other such nonsense that my other ED pens (a lot more expensive ones!) have given me. Also, I've used no o-ring, or silicone to seal the threads, and yet it hasn't leaked a drop. Most impressive Kaweco!

On the whole, I'd say this pen is worthy of a 21/25 in functionality!

It has exceeded my expectation for an ED filler, and overall it's performance is impressive for a $25.00 pen. This is definitely one of this pen strong points, which is good, because as a pocket pen I think this functionality-based-build is crucial.

The nib:
Like I always say, when it comes down to it, the nib is what really matters. My experience with the Kaweco Sports nib has been horrible, and amazing. Let's dive right in and see why:

Out of the box: Out of the box, I must sadly say that this was the worst nib I've ever seen. Why? Because it was so out-of-alignment, I couldn't even write with it! Take a look for yourself:

Be sure to click on this and the next picture for a zoomed in view.

This feed was twisted to the side, and was looking really ugly.

Now, lucky for me and Kaweco, I popped those buggers out and had them realigned in about 30 seconds. Not a huge deal, but this should not have been overlooked. Made the presentation pretty bad when I uncapped it for the first time and saw this. :| And someone without prior experience (a lot of prior experience in my case), may not be able to this as easily, or at all.

Now, once the nib was realigned: Much better. Fairly smooth, decent flow (a tad dry), but it was skipping. Here's a writing sample with the skipping problem:

The long horizontal line took three tries to write. The area below, with the multiple up/down lines should have no gaps in it. All the places where it's missing a line, or there's half a line, is a skip.

I found this nib pretty decent, but it skipped fairly often on the start of my words. I will say this in the pens defense: This seems to be a very common problem with pens under $35.00 or so. This pen, my Noodlers Flex pen, Many Chinese pens including some Jinhaos - I see it extremely often in these lower-priced pens.

Now for round three - after a good 5 minute Tyler-Tuning: That's more like it! This nib had great potential, and it just took a little prodding to bring it out. I have now been enjoying an extremely smooth, non-skippy, 7/10 wetness nib for the last few days. Just how I like it. :) Here's a new sample:

As you can see - no skipping!
And near the bottom, the back of the nib writes a nice XF line for those situations where a B is to big, and you don't have time to pull out another pen (or don't have one with you). I did smooth the back of mine up a bit, but it was still a perfectly usable "duo-point" right out of the box. Very nice extra touch. :)

The nib has some nice, basic designs on it. A few flourishes near the end, and the Kaweco logo in the middle. Nothing amazing, but it's nice enough so it doesn't look too plain.

Here's the feed - pretty basic, with no fins. Oddly, it seems to work extremely well with the normally picky eyedropper filling system.

As of now, with my tuning enhancement, it's what I'd call "an amazing nib".

My thoughts on the nib are, just as I said: horrible, and great. This nib had amazing potential, right out of the box. It just needed some gentle help to realize that potential. Here's what I'd do to make this nib better:
  • Get the alignment right at the factory!
  • Learn how to make a smooth B nib, without giving it rounded inner tines (AKA - baby bottom skipping).
  • Please offer the nib in a silver-colored option!

All things said and done, this is now one of my favorite nibs. I imagine, like most pens, the nibs are simply hit or miss. Also, and maybe I'm just paranoid, but: I sometimes get the feeling that people always send me their worst nibs, since they know I can fix them easily enough anyways. :)

Bearing this in mind, and the fact that I most likely just got a lemon, I'll give this nib a 20/25.

This nib deserves to be great, and now that it is, it's a pleasure to use. I think I just got a lemon, so I really don't want to slam on this nib to much. Overall the Kaweco nib is a very nice nib, and with minimal tweaking, it's an amazing nib. Here's my recommendation: buy your Kaweco from a retailer/re-seller who tests all their nibs first. That way, you'll be sure to have a more pleasant experience than I did. :)

While the Kaweco Calssic Sport may not be winning any prizes for best pen of the year, it holds it own in my pen case as an inexpensive, always-ready-to-serve, duty pen. For this reason alone, I greatly enjoy it's company, and find myself reaching for it pretty often. If I need to grab a pen and head outside to do something, this one usually gets chosen. It's pretty rugged, and at it's price, I never fear for it's life.

While my overall rating my seem rather low, I consider it impressive for a pen of this price. Most pens in this price range will not make it past the 59/100 mark, and thus never get farther than "Not bad, but not good".

For this pen to exceed my expectations, and win itself a rating almost worthy of the "Great" category, is definitely something unique. When I first got this pen, I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical about it's performance. But now that I've had a chance to use it, I've come to respect it's potential, and usefulness for it what it's worth.

For the low price of admission, I would highly recommend this pen if any of the below descriptions fit you:
  • Traveling journaler who doesn't want a high maintenance pen 
  • Working at a "heavy-duty" job but you still need a FP
  • Afraid that your co-workers might snatch your more expensive pens at the office
  • You like pocket pens
There are lots more reasons to, but those are the main roles I see this pen filling, and it does considerably well at them given it's price of only $25.00 give or take.

Mine was purchased from the Goulet Pen Company, who I highly recommend. Though I will say, be sure to ask them to check the nib first on yours, if you order one from them. :)

And that there wraps up my review of the Kaweco Classic Sport! I truly hope you enjoyed this review! Please do me a huge favor, and leave me a comment with your thoughts on the pen, and the review. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Lastly, if you'd be so kind, consider subscribing to the blog. It keeps me motivated to keep on posting, and it keeps you updated so you never miss a good one! If you're already subscribed, why not share this post with a friend and spread the fountain-pen-fun!

Have a great day everybody - and keep a watch out for the Kaweco Sport VS. Stipula Passporto comparison. It's gonna be good. :)

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