As if polishing gemstones born from the earth’s crust, Shimano see their role as one of continuous improvement, constantly reﬁning components.
Whereas just a few years ago ready-made compact chainsets were a rarity, often requiring a customised selection of separate components, we now ﬁnd ourselves spoilt for choice.
This non-series FC-R600 adds nuance to a family of cranksets bracketed by Sora at one end of the affordable price scale and Tiagra at the other. They share the same ‘melt-forged’ process, which requires a little extra material than cold forging, and have the broader shouldered appearance to show for it.
This works nicely with Shimano’s recent aesthetic direction, characterised by large expanses of exposed aluminium highlighted by faceted surfaces.
What distinguishes this particular chainset is the exceptionally rigid outer chainring. Rather than a cookie cutter stamp of two-dimensional sheet metal, the 3D design found on Dura-Ace has trickled down to provide exceptional lateral rigidity.
It beneﬁts from a subtle box-section structure achieved through substantial machining of the inboard surfaces while retaining ﬁve out of six sides of the ‘box’. Enhanced by the usual well placed pins and ramps, with nine- and 10-speed compatibility, the result is guaranteed reliable shifting even by the most ham-ﬁsted.
No perceptible ﬂex was evident in our 175mm arm test model (170mm also available), and with a respectable weight of 855g, thanks to an alloy inner ring and integrated alloy spindle, there are no penalties to owning this excellent crank. It does require a separate bottom bracket.