Compact chainsets are all the rage amongst the sportive set these days and if you're looking for something a bit special then this super-light unit from KCNC is certainly worth a look. We've had some issues with clicking from the cranks on our set, the source of which we can neither find nor completely cure, though extended fettling has rendered it less of a problem.
KCNC are a Taiwanese based cycle component company whose product range is imported to the UK by Clee Cycles. Ken, the founder of KCNC (see what they have done there?) has a great deal of history and experience in CNC engineering, as does his team, and they manage to produce some unbelievably lightweight kit. Has anyone seen the skeletal v-brakes that KCNC produce for our off road cousins?
This offering, the K-Type RD-1 Compact chainset is precision engineered out of high grade 7075 aluminium for the arms, rings, bolts and spider. The bottom bracket is manufactured out of 7451 Scandium alloy for light weight and longevity. There are high quality stainless steel bearings which can be replaced or upgraded to ceramic for a truly plush ride. The fit is for 68mm English thread bottom bracket shells. The claimed weight of the entire unit is 668g and our scales had it at 11g lighter even than that, well below Dura Ace.
The K-Type had been adorning my Felt AR4 for the last month or so. It is, as with all KCNC stuff, very lightweight and extremely good looking but how does it perform? Initially the fitting was a bit problematic. Instructions were supplied and both myself and a reputable local bike shop had a go at fitting it but the need for washers and adjustments didn’t exactly fill us with confidence for the initial ride out. It was fine, for the first half hour or so, then the clicking started from somewhere in the bowels of the bottom bracket.
So, back to the LBS for some more fettling. Chainset off, BB out, adjustments made, back on it went and I went out for the 215km Barry’s Bristol Ball Buster with Dave. Again, for half an hour to an hour it was fine...
Maybe the LBS and I got it wrong in the way we fitted the BB and cranks but we followed the instructions and after several attempts the problem remains. I wanted these to be as good as they look and at first they are but when the clicking starts all of the good points get a bit lost. When riding along with Dave at the 40km point he said “is that clicking your bike?”, “Yes” I replied, wishing he hadn’t noticed. “That will be your posh chainset then”. “Yes”. More fettling after the ride has resolved the issues to a degree, the noise only becomes noticeable when climbing hard now. This might be due to something we've done, or simply teething troubles gradually resolving themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, the workings of the K Type RD-1 were great. It was smooth, effortless to spin and despite its light weight it was extremely stiff, the only drawback being the noise that it made after 20 miles or so of riding. One thing that was brought up in discussions is that many chainsets like this, made from multiple sections, can experience noise as they 'bed in' but some manufacturers use extremely strong epoxy type glue to bind them together. This means they are strong but with low weight, however if something is a little loose it can be a right pain trying to find it!
For £275 you are getting a very lightweight unit that, when fitted and working as it should, will give you superb performance. Dura Ace pricing may put some off but do take a look and if you have the will to work through and ensure a perfect set up then this chainset should serve you well.
The K-Type RD1 from KCNC has shown me the way with compact chainsets. If you can get it to work for you then this is a beautifully made, plush set up that will have the miles rolling effortlessly by. I will probably stay with a compact unit but may well opt for the ultegra 6700. If this clicks too then I know it is me!
road.cc test report
Make and model: KCNC K-Type compact chainset
Size tested: 50-34, 170mm
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, at times
Would you consider buying the product? I would probably opt for the Ultegra compact 6700 if it were my own money.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, with the above conditions mentioned.
About the tester
Age: 24 Height: 5ft 10 Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: felt ar4 My best bike is: i like my felt and my orbea ora tt bike equally
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, triathlon