AL Sport, AL the time

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The first fountain pen I bought was a navy blue Kaweco Sport Chess, which, with its EF nib, instantly became my favorite go-to pen. I loved it so much that when I lost the body of the pen, I bought a replacement immediately. I still love it so much that when I saw that the Goulet Pen Co. had put its AL Sports on close-out sale, I jumped out of bed, bleary-eyed at 5am, to place an order before they sold out. Fifteen minutes later I was back in bed and looking forward to the arrival of this beauty.

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And a beauty it is. Its dimensions are the same as the classic Sport, but it’s a touch heavier and its furnishings are chrome-plated rather than the admittedly garish faux gold of the classic model. Like the rest of the Sports, it comes without a clip to keep the cost down. Clips are available for $3 to $4 depending on where you shop; if you check EBay, you might even find the new “N” clip — “N” for “nostalgia,” apparently. For the record: the design of this pen dates back to the original Sport that was first manufactured in the ’30s.

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And now that it’s made out of aluminum, one of these pens might last you another 90+ years (though the anodized finish will eventually scuff and scratch if you use it well). Far from being slick and cold and impersonal, the aluminum body has a matte finish that gives it a friendly, rough feel, and it quickly warms to your hand. I didn’t expect that, nor the sense of solidness and security that the weight imparts.

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I also didn’t expect to be disappointed — for a second time – by the M nib. It, like the nib on my Student, has a very narrow sweet spot, and if you don’t hold it at exactly the right angle, it skips at nearly every opening stroke. (In the writing sample for this post, I went back and touched up skips, unlike that of my Student review.) What I thought to excuse as an anomaly in my Student seems more like an inherent quality to Kaweco’s M nib. Now, I deliberately avoided the B and BB nibs because I’ve heard they cause problems, but I thought I’d dodge that bullet with the M. Apparently not.

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So it looks like I’ll be shopping out my AL Sport to a nibmeister before I can start singing its praises. It’s a real shame and a big disappointment because I’ve been looking forward to owning an AL Sport for a while. I’m just glad I didn’t pay full price for it. But you know what? As much of a bummer this M nib is, it’s incredibly easy to swap out nibs on the Sports, so if I’m too lazy (and/or broke) to get it to a nibmeister, I can perform a pretty quick fix for $10.50 at JetPens.

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5 thoughts on “AL Sport, AL the time

  1. jamerelbe says:

    Hi Olivia, I have a similar story to yours: had found a local (Australian) supplier of Kaweco pens, who were selling the Classic Sport for AU$25, including clip – but procrastinated because they only had Medium nibs. So I hesitated… and earlier this year Kaweco switched distributors in Australia and doubled the price on their entire product line. Yes, doubled. Then added a further premium on top for their higher-end pens.

    Then, joy of joys, I found another local supplier who still had old stock at the old price – so I purchased several (never know when you might need a gift to give away!), plus a black AL-Sport for AU$60 (at the time, ~US$55)! It arrived with a B nib, rather than the advertised M – but it was remaindered stock, and I wasn’t going to kick up a stink. The pen really is a beauty to look at, and feels great to write with.

    I ended up with 3 Kaweco Sports pens of my own – plus one I gifted to my 12 y.o. son – and my experience, as I say, has been similar to yours. Almost uniformly the nibs (whether labelled ‘F’ or ‘M’ or ‘B’) lay a fairly medium-ish line. I find them relatively smooth, but the ink flow is less than generous. Ordering a couple of EF nibs from JetPens has helped – sort of: the line laid down by my clear Classic is now thinner (and more to my liking in that regard), but the ink colours all become desaturated on the page. The one ‘highlight’ of all this was purchasing a 1.1mm stub nib, chrome-coloured, to swap into my AL-Sport. With Noodler’s X-Feather, it’s lusciously generous with ink and writes beautifully.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to write an essay! It’s just that… well… I really like these Kaweco pens, but have not found their stock nibs to provide the kind of writing experience I want. Hope you get yours sorted out – and on to enjoying the rest of the pen!

    p.s. Enjoying dropping in on website – thanks for the work you put in!

    • Thanks for the long comment (and sorry for the delayed response)! I’m so attached to my Sports, far too much to write them off (no pun intended) because of a tricky nib or two. I know I’m going to keep buying them! It just means we have to get a little creative and customize them ourselves, which is an enjoyable challenge all on its own.

      Side note — any idea why the Kaweco line doubled in price in Australia? That’s wild.

      • jamerelbe says:

        Hi, thanks for replying – like you, I really like my Kaweco Sports pens, so I’m a little at a loss: with the exception of the stub nib on my AL Sport, I just find them to write too wide (with Fine / Medium nibs), and/or a little too dry (especially with the EF I purchased from JetPens). Having bought spare nib and feed assemblies, I’m now starting to think about hacking the feed of one pen – on the grounds that I have a spare if it all goes wrong! – and seeing if that makes a difference.

        In relation to Kaweco pricing, I spoke to a couple of retailers, and they both gave me the same answer: on one hand, the old distributor had been winding down operations for some time, and had been slack about raising prices – so an adjustment was long overdue. That much I can believe – allowing for exchange rate, the Classic Sport pens were a few dollars cheaper here than in the US, and that’s pretty unusual!

        However, when the new distributor took over, the cost for a wider range of pens and nib options was a MASSIVE price hike – far more than was justified. I don’t believe it’s the retail stores’ fault – they were genuinely apologetic. It’s a decision made, either by Kaweco in Germany or (more likely?) a rapacious distributor in Australia. It’s not that uncommon, sadly – we seem to have no trouble getting lower-end (ballpoint and gel) pens available on the Australian market at prices comparable to the US, but when it comes to ‘luxury’ items, the distributors seem to think we’re a bunch of fools…

        All the best with your Kaweco – keep us posted, if you do decide to make (or commission) any modifications? Cheers!

  2. I have a green Ice Sport (M) and one of the new mint Skylines (BB) and found both to write pretty dry. The nibs themselves seemed okay, though, so I wonder if it isn’t the feed that’s the problem. I actually pulled the nib/feed on the Skyline and deepened the channel on the latter with a razor blade, and it seemed to help. I haven’t used the Ice Sport in ages because of its mehness. I definitely *want* to love these pens, but the amount of tinkering required does bug me.

    • I’ve had a couple of recommendations to “customize” the feed by deepening the channel, so I’m not surprised by your fix. I have yet to take a blade to any of my Sports, but personally I’m intrigued by “tinkering.” You seem pretty confident about doing your own work, though!

      Out of all the Sports, the Ice is one that I probably will never buy, purely because they’ve always looked so cheap to me. Usually I love demonstrators but this particular model just isn’t my thing.

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