Disclosure: First Components is one of my sponsors, however this is a balanced review
“Overall, I was pleased with the power transfer of these First RT cranks. They performed exceptionally well while training and racing”
First Components’ 950g RT crankset (including the ceramic bottom bracket) performs just as well as the Ultegra SL (my former crankset) but it retails for less than $200US, making for a nicer price point for those riders on a budget but still want quality and performance.
First Components are well known for manufacturing quality head-sets and bottom-brackets, and have just started in the last couple of years to produce cranksets for road bikes. It appears First Components are doing well with their new foray, this year launching another two new cranksets – CT compact crankset and the ET triple-crankset in addition to their 2009 RT crankset series. This product review is focused on evaluating the First RT Crankset.
First Components believe that their cranksets are of the same grade as the Shimano Ultegra cranksets. The weight is only marginally heavier at 820g (30g heavier than Shimano) or including the ceramic bottom bracket they weigh in at 950g. The RT Cranks use the same Hollowglide technology (a hollow, wide profile outer chain ring that helps save weight and improves stiffness for efficient power transfer and improved shifting).
I got the RT Cranks and ceramic bottom bracket in the post was pleasantly surprised that I could install the cranks and bottom bracket on my own without outside help. I am not too mechanically inclined, but I do have the right tools (from Super B) to install the simple two-piece crank set! It did not take me long to make the installation following the directions on the box and I was ready to ride!
- 53/39 Standard chain ring set (but you can choose from others such as 50/34 or 55/42
- B.B. axle integrated crankset
- 950g including ceramic bottom bracket
- 7050 alloy crankarms
- 100% CNC 7075 alloy chainrings
- Flexibility on color scheme – currently available in black/red combination
First Components on their website say:
“Strength: Take statistics of hardness, electrical conductivity and crystal as the standard to reinforce the strength on integrated forging 7050 crankarm and imported european aluminum 7075 100% CNC chainrings for highest performance.”
“Smoothness: With six points index shifting up design of the chainring will provide faster, smoother and precise shifting transfer of your bike.”
“Speed: Unique design of lower pressure angle that reduces the load of chainrings, making transmission smoother, increasing chain longitivity and the enlargement of the width of the bottom curve for adapting changes of different chain distance and increasing transmission efficiency by 15%.
Marketing slogan: CLASSIC, GRACEFUL, PERFECT. FIRST Components is proud of being a leading bicycle parts manufacturer in Taiwan. With more than 25 years experiences in head parts and bottom bracket parts, the well-known “FIRST” brand provides not only superior quality and efficiency but also competitive prices and prompt delivery.
While testing the new cranks on my Orbea Opal road bike over several months, I noticed that the paint-work rubbed off in places but apart from this minor issue the cranks passed my testing quite comprehensively. As a sprinter with high power, I can place a heavy load on my cranks to propel the bike forward so stiffness for me was paramount. I found that the First Components RT Cranks were extremely stiff and responded well to my sprinting. I had mostly only used the Orbea Opal during training rides, so I decided to see how it would perform under a race situation in a local Shanghai race. I was impressed. My one minute power for that race was the highest this year at 670 watts and during some intermediate sprints I was generating a peak of over 1,400watts and averaging close to 1200 watts for 20seconds. I did not notice any unusual flex in the cranks while putting out the big power numbers, it was all concentrated in propelling my bicycle forward in the most efficient way possible.
I found that these cranks climbed very well, without any noticeable flex and the pedal threading is very good. The crank-set is compatible with most 9-10 speed chains and during my several months training using this crank-set, I did notice improved and faster shifting. I also felt the shifting also put less load on the chain which lives up to First Components claim of improving transmission efficiency by 15%.
As a sprinter that demands reliable equipment and minimal flex, I found that the RT Cranks exceeded my expectations in terms of performance and value for money. I also noticed that the chain ring bolts never need adjusting and there was none of the annoying squeaking noises. The ceramic bottom bracket ran smoothly and the cranks spin more freely than my Shimano Ultegra’s. Once First Components solve the issue of paint wearing off, the crank-sets will be great for both racing and training. Bottom-line, I feel these cranks and chain-rings are very smooth to ride on, however they do not have the same “image” that is associated with other brand-names such as Campagnolo or Shimano (the two Giants in the industry). I do believe that with persistence and continued innovation in terms of aesthetics – will go along way to selling these cranks. First Components do have the function in place and perhaps could try to lower the weight so that they are on par with the lightest cranks in the market.
Please note, that my website will provide product reviews from time to time. This is to support my sponsors that have supported me. So thanks for reading. I’ll be heading to Taiwan on Thursday for the Tour de Formosa – which I will participate in representing New Zealand. There will be other Deaf Cyclists from all over the world to compete in the seven day race that circumnavigates the island. I will be bringing you the action via my website as well as on the cyclingnewsasia website.