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Kaweco Ice Sport, From Hate To Grudging Respect



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jabberwock11

When I first saw the Kaweco Sport my inital impression was something along the lines of, 'who would pay so much for something so cheap looking?' I disliked everything about the design and could not see myself paying $25 for a half pint pen made of plastic that doesn't even come with a clip. There was no way that the Kaweco Sport cost much to make, so the $25 price tag struck me as extremely unreasonable. Eventually I began to see the need for a smaller, more portable pen...and of course the Kaweco Sport was one of my few options. That was when I discovered the Ice Sport. The Ice Sport may look less substantial than the Classic or the Skyline, but something about the design really attracted me. The readily available italic nibs made it difficult for me to completely discount the Kaweco as an option, but the design still bugged me. While searching for other viable options the Ice Sport kept creeping into my mind, growing in my brain like a virus. Eventually I broke down and purchased an Ice Sport in green with a 1.1 nib, "nostalgia" clip, and squeeze converter...total cost $44.50 (with free shipping). I had just spent nearly $50 on a pen that a few months ago I wouldn't have thought twice about, all because I needed a small, reliable pen that looked nice and had an italic nib.

 

When the pen arrived I was a little underwhelmed, but I already knew that I was not crazy about the design, the real test would be performance. I switched out the fine nib for the italic, cleaned and dried the pen, popped in the provided Kaweco blue cartridge, and gave it a go. After a week of use I decided that I had made a huge mistake. The pen was a lot lighter than I was used to, the ink flow was inconsistent at best, and even though the squeeze converter worked its performance was less than desirable. I switched feeds (which helped a bit), adjusted the tines, tried various inks...and still ended up with less than desirable results. Eventually something clicked. I don't know if it was an adjustment, letting the pen sit and dry out for a while, or something else, but the pen just began to work properly. After having my Kaweco Ice Sport for more than three months it is now writing like a champ, I have figured out how to best use the squeeze converter, and I have become used to the light weight. Had this been a less expensive pen I might have shelved it and moved on, but thanks to a determination to give this pen as much of a chance as possible I eventually pulled through. Here are my thoughts now that my pen actually works as it should:

 

DESIGN (2/5): I like the compactness and octagonal cap. I love the Nostalgia clip (which I had to buy separately) and chrome cap button, the chrome accents lend a little bit of class to the pen. The screw on cap and slip on posting are excellent design choices. These are all good design points, but they are also where my good feelings toward the design of this pen end. I still think that the pen is ugly (albeit so ugly that it's kind of cool). When capped the pen has more play than I find acceptable, I can easily rock it from side to side in spite of being screwed down. I also really dislike how lightweight the pen is, it just does not feel substantial. The inconsistent ink flow is a big issue that I attribute to poor feed design (after much research I have discovered that I am far from the only person to come to this conclusion). With a slightly longer barrel this pen could have used a better converter, but as it stands the only options are a less than stellar converter, short cartridges, or a less than perfect eyedropper conversion (and I do not trust eyedropper pens). Overall the design flaws just can not be canceled out by the positives.

 

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NIB (4/5): Kaweco nibs are made by Bock, they look great and perform beautifully. The nib and feed are friction fit and is easy to change out, which is always a plus in my book. I really like the fine nib, but the italic nib is the one that I use most often. The italic nib is nice and smooth and provides a very crisp line without any issues (when the ink flow is not spotty). My only issue with the nib is that the line tends to be a bit thick and is probably the thickest "1.1" nib that I own.

 

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PERFORMANCE (4/5): In spite of the less than stellar design and issues with ink flow, when this pen works properly it works really well. The compact design, crisp nib, and sturdy clip makes this my pen of choice when I am out and about. It does what I need it to do and does not take up much space. Once I got used to the weight I found the pen comfortable to use, even when using it for longer passages.

 

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VALUE (2/5): $25 for a half sized plastic pen, really? A converter that is not provided with the pen and normally holds less ink than a short cartridge? AND THE CLIP IS EXTRA? I may have come around to this pen, but I can't say that it is a good value with a straight face. A pen is worth whatever you are willing to pay for it, but just because you are willing to pay the price does not mean that it is a good value. I think that the Sport (even without considering the extra cost of the relatively well priced italic nib) is overpriced. I think that the aluminum version is even more of a price gouge. It took me months of debating and researching before I was willing to shell out for the Ice Sport, and even then I was still pretty hesitant. This is not a value pen, but that is not why most folks buy it and as long as you know what you're getting into then you will not be disappointed.

 

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OVERALL (3/5): This is a pen that was hard for me to love. It took quite a lot of adjustment, experimentation, and the pen growing on me in a slow fungus-like manner before I was happy about owning a Kaweco Ice Sport. Had the pen worked well from the get go, I would probably have a higher overall opinion of this pen, but it didn't. I am currently happy with the pen, but the long road that I had to travel to get here was too much for me to be able to give the Kaweco Ice Sport a higher rating. I am certain that this pen cost only a small fraction of its retail price to make and the fact that the clip and converter are extra just adds to this manufacturing cost/profit formula. In the end, I am happy with the pen and gladly to use it on a regular basis, but I am not certain that I would have bought this pen had I known how much it would take for me to like it.

 

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I have this same pen, without clip and with M nib. I, too, found its performance underwhelming at first and it sat idle for a long time 'til I got more daring after hacking the feeds of cheap pens with a razor blade and gave it a try on the Kaweco. And now it's great!

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jabberwock11

I've seen threads about deepening the channels of the feed with a razor blade. I almost went this route, but then my pen started to work properly without the cutting. It seems to me that a slight adjustment in Kaweco's feed design would make this a much more reliable and usable pen, especially in regards to the italic nibs.

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Great review. I still consider my first Kaweco Classic Sport to be ugly pen but it has amazing nib that writes like a dream. It's smooth, wet and offers generous flow. On the other hand I have three other Sports (2x Skyline, 1 x AL) and they all had problems with the nibs (baby-bottom). I find it disturbing that many well established companies (Pelikan, Lamy, Kaweco) rest on their laurels allow such quality issues. It's discouraging especially for new and potential FP users who are adviced to get Lamy Safari / Kaweco Sport / Pelikan M200 and they get pen with scratchy nib.

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