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Winning design from the past, lacking quality in the present
on January 12, 2012
This is a detailed review for KitchenAid Custom Stand Mixer 325 Watts model KSM120MC (the model is not stamped on the mixer or at least not visible so you should write it down in case you want to buy compatible accessories at a later date).
Clearance needed on countertop (approximate measures): width base 21cm (8.25in), height with head up 45cm (17.75in) and with head down 35.5cm (14in), depth 33cm (13in) and depth with head down (towards the back) 40cm (16in). Such measurements are useful when you don't know if the mixer will fit on the countertop because you have lights underneath cabinets. It's very heavy (seems to be metal painted metallic chrome) so after you place it you're not going to move it around much. It has small rubber feet to protect the countertop, insure stability and diminish vibrations.
It comes with 1 year warranty. Proper registration seems to be needed in case of product recall, proof of purchase for insurance loss, etc but it's not clear if it's needed for warranty. The product registration must be completed and mailed (it's not pre-stamped and it's not online) and it's a good idea to do it anyway for your peace of mind.
Mixer comes with a guide with instructions and a few recipes. The guide is also available online on Kitchenaid site at "product literature" in pdf format.
The brochure with compatible attachments included by KitchenAid doesn't bother to mention this model. Looks like KSM110 may have similar attachments with KSM120MC but I'm not sure.
There are 3 attachments included in the box and none of them is marked with a model number so it's not easy to know what to replace it with. In the box :
- Wire whip made from metal. Magnet sticks to it so it's not stainless steel. Manufacturer recommends to wash manually.
- C dough hook from coated metal; dishwasher safe. Mine came with a chip in the white coating. I'm not sure what is the metal underneath, magnet did not stick to it. From some reviews I understand that it's going to leave flakes in food in about 2 years or so, so you have to handle carefully and replace it periodically.
- Flat beater coated and dishwasher safe. It is made out of the same material as the C dough. My beater came with air bubbles in the coating so I expect the coating to chip soon.
If you want you can purchase from some KitchenAid dealer a burnished metal flat beater and a burnished C dough but they are not dishwasher safe and they must be washed quickly and not soaked in water with detergent because they oxidize and produce a black film that ends up in food. From reviews I understand it's easy to forget to wash them fast so you'll probably end up buying a replacement. There are no stainless steel attachments and don't expect to see any soon (coated metal and burnished metal attachment get destroyed periodically and the manufacturer makes money from replacements)!
For those who don't want to scrape the bowl and are interested to replace the flat beater: there's a coated metal Flex Edge Beater (from KitchenAid). An alternative is the plastic Beater Blade from New Metro Design (from reviews looks like model KA-TH, KA-TH PRO or KA-THR (red) may fit but only after some adjustment in height and that's inconvenient if you want to alternate attachments with KitchenAid originals; reviews say it works very well and mixes faster but it cracks at the shaft but the producers offer good customer service) - they are all for sale from Amazon.ca. There's also SideSwipe - a plastic coated metal beater with plastic teeth (that break), it's a bit more difficult to clean and it has unreliable customer service.
A good thing about KitchenAid mixers is you can purchase various attachments that fit in the front hole on the head: the food grinder seems to be popular for grinding meat (add to it "Fruit and Vegetable Strainer Parts" and you can puree fruits), slicer/shredder, pasta roller, grain mill, ice cream maker, etc.
And now my experience with this mixer: I purchased it on Jan 03 with CND$185 and received it 2-3 days later. Even with this discounted price (meanwhile it became $ 215) I returned it several days later for full refund because faulty/low quality coating on beaters and mechanical problems (the transmission inside the head was working improperly - you could hear a clunking noise, especially at lower speeds, with or without the beater attached). I expected better quality from a new KitchenAid! I have also noticed the slider for the locking down mechanism starting slowly to glide to the position 'unlocked' while the mixer was vibrating from mixing dough with the C dough hook (it can glide because it's an easy line; it's no "Z" shape or any extra locks to keep it in place). The bowl becomes very hard to unscrew after mixing dough. There's no handle on the head to help moving the head up and down. There's very little to no effort to improve the old winning design with elements from other mixers made by competition and the quality control is bad. I am returning at the moment at my hand mixer and if I buy a KitchenAid in the future I'm going to choose a refurbished cheap one and put some money aside for change parts and accessories. Or maybe a different brand is better.
The only good part is that when I contacted Amazon (via web page form) I was answered quickly (30 days after shipping they handle all the complains, not KitchenAid). I was able to print their return label and ship the mixer back for free from the local postal office. Amazon promised to reimburse the full price soon. The customer service was very good (I'm impressed by that considering that nobody at Amazon did anything when I wrote to them last year to change a photo displayed with the wrong product description).
Hope my review helps!