After planning to write a post on each of these pens separately, I came to the conclusion it would probably be best to combine the two. Although each was purchased for slightly different reasons, I often use them interchangeably, despite one being a rollerball and the other a fountain pen.
As you will see from the images, I am talking about the Kaweco Classic Sport Rollerball (Black), and the Kaweco Ice Sport Fountain Pen (Green; M Nib). I’ve had both of these pens in regular use for quite some time, with the Classic Sport approximately 12 months old, and the Ice Sport around half that, after a kind member of my family made good on one of my Wish List items last Christmas.
Both pens were purchased (or wish-listed) because they represent great value for money, and German manufacturer Kaweco has quite a good name in pen circles.
My purchase of the Classic Sport Rollerball was made after hearing the Kaweco name mentioned on The Pen Addict podcast, when the episode numbers were still in their 30’s (and orange T-shirts with episode 100 hashtags were unheard of). I believe at the time my intended use suited the Classic Sport rollerball a little more closely, being a compact, easy to carry pen which would write on most paper types without any problems.
My interest in the Ice Sport soon followed after seeing the attractiveness of the Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen line, which in my opinion is even more impressive after the introduction of the new stone washed models. This of course warranted a test run of the Kaweco nib, conveniently achievable at a far lower price point with an Ice Sport model.
After writing many thousands of words with each, I still love both these pens. Here’s why.
Look and feel
If you have not seen a Kaweco pen of this type before, the compact (read short) design is immediately apparent. I was at work when the Classic Sport arrived by post, and still remember my wife calling me and advising it was “very small”, and checking “are you sure that is what you ordered?” Having never had one in my hand at that point either, I was a little concerned, however once I posted the cap and gave it a test run, it was clearly perfect for its intended use.
I love the design of the Kaweco range, and although these lower end models (currently AUD$37.95 for the Sport Classic and AUD$39.95 for the Ice Sport; see links above) have bodies manufactured of plastic, they do not feel cheap in any way. The octagonal shape of the cap and resulting ridges prevent the pen rolling off a desk if used without the clip, which is exactly how I use the Classic Sport (as you can see by the accompanying photos, with the exception of one to demonstrate how it looks with the clip). When capped, these pens measure 10.5cm in length, however when the cap is posted (as intended for writing), the length is a much more writing friendly 13.3cm. Both pens are also quite light at around 10 grams, as you’d expect given the size and construction material. A nice touch on both is the screw-on cap, which in my opinion adds a little more quality to the overall feel.
The Ice Sport has a transparent plastic body with the grip available in a variety of colours, matching the transparent, coloured cap (mine being green). A silver metal clip, markings, cap inlay and stainless steel iridium tipped nib complete the picture. The Classic Sport, is available in basic solid colour bodies with matching cap, gold coloured clip, cap inlay and markings.
My preference for an EDC (Everyday Carry) type pen is probably the silver (see also the recently introduced Skyline series), as gold in my mind represents a more conservative, classic accessory rather than a rough and tumble “in my pocket” type of one. Perhaps a little silly, however I would feel strange mowing the lawn in a gold watch too. Just me I guess.
Performance and Use
Both pens perform extremely well for their intended purpose. As mentioned above, each was purchased for slightly different reasons, though are often used in much the same circumstances.
Interestingly, both have turned into equally useful EDC type pens, and if I am entirely honest, the Ice Sport gets a little more use, despite it being a fountain pen. More often than not I carry a single pen on my lunch break, usually in conjunction with a Field Notes or some other form of notebook, and it is here a pen of this size really fits the bill. Although the pen goes equally well in my shirt or side pocket, I often find myself turning over the pen in my hand while walking. I simply like the feel of these pens in my hand. There is something comforting in having the familiar feel of the ridges and shape of either Kaweco in my palm. Again, just me I expect, and again, perhaps a little silly. When carried with other pens, it is generally in a Nock Co Hightower, along with two Field Notes, some index cards and more often than not few other folded notes.
As far as writing performance goes, I have no complaints with either pen. The Classic Sport rollerball has seen many refills, and currently contains a Retro 51 rollerball refill, providing a lovely, consistent deep blue line. The standard Kaweco rollerball that ships inside the pen also performed extremely well from what I recall, and I believe fitted a little more snugly, as there is a small amount of play in the current set-up. Not irritating enough to discourage me from using it however something to be mindful of if you are considering one of these models. It is only through ease of access to a pen store near my office that I have migrated to a Retro 51 refill.
The medium nib of the Ice Sport is fantastic. Having heard and read opinions that the medium nib is probably the least impressive compared with the B or F, I am obviously looking forward to trying out those sizes in the future. As far as the current stainless steel M nib is concerned, ink is laid down well, with no skipping or drag, and if kept capped, will start on the first stroke just about every time. Although probably at its best on my Rhodia Dot Pad, this pen sees most of its use in my Field Notes, and does almost as well there. Admittedly with the seasonal releases of the Field Notes colours editions this will not always be the case, however in the County Fair edition I am currently using there are no problems, and from what I have read, should be safe with the Shelterwood I have coming up next.
Refills for the Ice Sport are standard international cartridges, with Montblanc Irish Green in my current model (yes, matching the green cap and grip). The clear body is a nice touch, keeping the ink visible through the barrel for a nice effect, while providing a visual reference as to the amount of ink remaining. A squeeze converter is available for use with bottled inks at a very reasonable AUD$3.95 from Paper Trader, though for my use case, leaving it as a cartridge refill currently suits my needs.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoy using both of these pens, and using them often. The Classic Sport fits into my day to day office desk pen rotation, however both make the cut equally well as the pen I carry when out and about. If I had to choose between them, I’d probably go with the Ice Sport, simply because I do enjoy writing with a fountain pen, however depending upon what and where you will be writing, a fountain pen may not always be the best choice. If that is the case, the Classic Sport makes a compelling case as the pen you pick up or carry with you.
For a quality, well designed, functional pen that writes really well and is fantastic value for money, either (or both) of these offerings from Kaweco will fit the bill nicely.
~ PD.Follow @petedenison