The Kaweco Sport Classic is a very interesting fountain pen. It is German-made but unlike many "normal" fountain pens, it uses a design that makes it very compact and easy to carry in your pocket. The excellent portability is achieved by making the cap act as part of the barrel when posted. The caveat is that it is quite hard to use the pen without posting the cap, unless you are 10 years old or your hands are very small.
I opted for the Sport Classic transparent demonstrator, because that's how I roll. The Sport Classic range comes in additional opaque bodies such as dark blue, black, dark green and a few others. Additionally, there's another range called Ice Sport with transparent colored caps and sections (the barrel remains clear). Personally I'm not a big fan of colored demonstrators because if I want to use different ink colors they won't always match the color of the pen.
Body and materials
The body is well made and the plastic used is high quality. Kaweco makes the Sport range of fountain pens from other materials, some of them quite exotic. As you move up in price there's the aluminum version (at $70 and up) and even an aluminum-and-carbon fiber version ($100 and up). The Sport Classic is the cheapest, at $21. I got mine even cheaper, back when you could still find them at $14. Let me tell you one thing from the beginning: at $14 this pen is quite a steal. At $21 it is starting to encroach upon Lamy territory. So why aren't they sold at $14 anymore? It seems that Kaweco didn't like retailers to sell them so low so they imposed the $21 price.
The Kaweco Sport pens come with nibs ranging from EF to BB. Mine is a B but that's only because when I bought mine there was no BB option.
The Kaweco Sport's tiny body consists of a round barrel and an 8-faceted cap which, as already mentioned, transforms this into a full-sized pen when posted. The cap also features a golden "Kaweco" logo at the tip. Inside the transparent cap there's a translucent inner cap. The cap itself is a screw-on type.
Some of the Kaweco Sport pens come with gold-plated nibs, while others have rhodium (silver) ones. This is dependent on body color. It seems that the Sport Classic range has golden nibs while the Ice Sport range has rhodium nibs. Transparent demonstrators like mine have the golden nib. Of course, it's not real gold. To be honest I think I would have preferred a silver nib especially since I've noticed some of the gold plating peeling off on the underside of the nib.
One thing that all the Kaweco Sport pens are missing is a clip. This makes them instantly unsuited for clipping to your shirt pocket. If you are worried that the pen might roll off your desk, don't be. It won't fall thanks to the aforementioned faceted cap. If you are hell-bent on clipping this pen, there's an optional and removable clip that you can purchase for about $4. In my opinion they should have included this clip in the pen's price.
Dimensions and weight
So the Kaweco Sport fountain pen starts out compact but extends to full-size with the cap posted. But what are some actual dimensions? Well, I have performed some measurements for you and here they are.
Length capped: 105mm / 4.13in
Length uncapped and un-posted: 102mm / 4in
Length of cap: 70mm / 2.75in
Length of nib: 17mm / 0.67in
Length with cap posted: 134mm / 5.28in
As you can see, the total length of the pen with the cap posted exceeds even that of the TWSBI Diamond 530 (un-posted of course).
As opposed to the TWSBI, the Kaweco Sport Classic is a very light pen. That can be good or bad, depending on your preferences. There's no denying, though, that an all-plastic construction lacking a more complex filling mechanism makes for a very light pen. Unfortunately I don't have a scale to give you some precise numbers.
The Kaweco Sport range is exclusively serviced by short cartridges of the international type. Don't expect any fancy piston or converter mechanism here. All pens come with a blue cartridge. At least I assume so, since mine did. Kaweco's blue is on the light side and nothing special to write home about.
Since I don't like to throw away cartridges, I have reused the original cartridge a few times. On one occasion I used Waterman Havana Brown, which wrote very nicely. On another, I used Noodler's Gruene Cactus Eel which left me rather unsatisfied.
I have come to loathe international cartridges, not just because they have a small capacity but mostly because the opening is very narrow and they are very hard to clean. In addition, ink droplets cling to the inner walls and they are very hard to shake off, essentially causing ink wastage.
Luckily, the Kaweco Sport pens can be easily converted to eyedroppers. I'm not so sure about the aluminum-bodied ones but the plastic pens are a cinch to convert. Simply apply a little silicon grease to the threads and fill the barrel with ink. By my measurements (with water), the barrel can hold exactly 3ml of liquid, which is quite a lot.
Personally I haven't performed the eyedropper conversion on this pen yet but the very next time I ink it up I will attempt it. The reason why I'm a bit reluctant to go the eyedropper route is that I like to change inks often and such a large capacity would require me to use the same color for many weeks since I don't get the chance to write by hand so much.
Nib and feed
As mentioned, the Sport Classic comes with gilded nibs. If the price weren't an indicator you could tell immediately that this isn't real gold (or even gold plating) by the too-intense yellow of the nib.
The nib itself is fairly handsome, with a filigree pattern, and the words "Germany" and "since 1883" stamped on either side of it. There's also a Kaweco logo and a B underneath.
The feed is a very basic plastic affair, with no visible fins. The fins are there though, but they are inside the section.
Both nib and feed are friction-fit inside the section. Unfortunately I haven't taken a picture of them removed but you can pull them out from the section for cleaning. Initially it might be harder to do so because they seem stuck but after the first time it becomes much easier. Putting the two back inside the section is easy. The nib is aligned to the feed by aid of some grooves running on each side of it. As such, it's almost impossible not to align the two exactly. When re-assembling, just push them into the section until they reach a dead stop and you are done.
I have noticed that bold nibs have different characteristics than their fine or medium cousins. A bold nib seems to be more needy in terms of ink supply. While the Kaweco Sport doesn't seem to have ink flow issues (at least not with a cartridge), the choice of ink can affect the writing experience.
Out of the three inks tested so far (Waterman Havana Brown, Noodler's Gruene Cactus Eel, and Kaweco blue), I enjoyed Havana Brown the most.
While the nib is smooth, there's something about it that bothers me a little. The only word I can find for it is "chalky". I can't put my finger on what causes this and it bears further investigation. Suffice to say that the nib doesn't glide across paper as silky smooth as I would like. I have no experience with Kaweco's other nib sizes so it could be a combination of the broad nib, along with the ink, along with the feed. As mentioned, Havana Brown seemed to work best in it.
One other thing that I've noticed is, after cleaning and drying the pen and starting anew, the nib skips a little at the beginning. Once the feed is properly saturated it writes normally. I have attempted to increase the flow by pulling a thin blade through the feed slit that goes underneath the nib. My pen isn't inked right now so I can't determine if the experiment worked.
Oh, I almost forgot. At the beginning of the article I said that the nib tends to lose its plating and this was certainly true in my case. When I removed the nib and feed the first time, there were golden flakes stuck to the feed. I cleaned those the best I could but that's not a good sign.
Overall I still consider the writing experience to be positive. All the signs point towards the pen being partial to certain types of ink but this hypothesis requires a lot more testing. I do enjoy the width of the line drawn by the broad nib. It really brings out the characteristics of a nice shading ink.
The Kaweco Sport Classic is an affordable, nicely built, compact fountain pen with an interesting design which makes it light and portable. It offers some versatility in the ability to be converted to an eyedropper, in which case the ink capacity increases vastly over the standard international cartridge. It writes well, with the caveats mentioned but I believe that for best results it needs to be paired with the right ink. At $14 this pen is a good deal. At $14 including a clip, it becomes a great deal. However, at $21 + $4 for a clip I no longer see the value, and in fact I would much rather prefer a $28 Lamy Safari over the Kaweco Sport. If you go for the aluminum and/or carbon versions, the pricing becomes even more ludicrous. Personally I won't buy another Kaweco Sport unless the price drops but I am very glad I got mine when I had the chance to pay less.
Here's a sample written in Kaweco's own blue ink that comes with the included cartridge, on Rhodia 80g paper.