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For Those Still Worried by the Negative Reviews
on February 26, 2012
In short, don't be. Most of the relatively small percentage of negative reviews on this mixer fall into one of three explainable categories, so if you're considering it, follow along:
The most worrisome category of complaints about this mixer involves a very small number of stories about the food-grade grease that lubricates the internal bearings leaking out of the mixer and into the food-bowl. Although reported in only a tiny percentage of reviews, this was probably the one complaint that worried me the most, simply because if true, let's just say it: it's disgusting.
The first thing to keep in mind in evaluating this complaint is that EVERY electric mixer requires lubricated bearings. Changing models or brands won't change that, and although there may be design differences that make the possibility somewhat different across various models, it's just going to always be there to some degree on every mixer. It's pointless to waste time, in other words, worrying about something that is going to be a possibility on ANYTHING you can possibly buy. So that's the first category.
The second category category of complaints has to do with the mixer dying somehow, either arriving dead or dying quickly. It seems a lot of these complaints are dated from 2007-2009, so maybe there really *was* something going on, but those seem to have tapered off. For the rest, I can only say that speed matters: 2=LOW for dough, 4=MED for batter, and 6=HIGH for creaming. Speeds 8 and 10 are ONLY for whipping air into cream or egg whites with the wire whisk. Anything faster than 2 for kneading dough and you're literally playing with fire.
I can say this with the authority that only comes from wrecking a lot of motors. The quickest way to burn out an appliance is to exceed the available power with the requested load, so the number one way to kill a mixer is to simply add a large quantity of sticky dough and then crank up the dough hook while saying "if 2 is good, then 4 is better and 10 is best." Turning up the speed increases the load, leaving the motor with no reserve capacity as the dough gets tougher. The result is easy to predict.
The second way to kill an electric motor, surprisingly (and you won't be warned about this one by the manual) is to use it with an extension cord, especially a light-duty one. This is the appliance equivalent of running a race while breathing through a straw. You don't run your stove that way, you don't run your refrigerator that way, and you shouldn't run your mixer that way, either. Even WITH the recommended amount of dough, and AT the recommended speed (2), you can still kill it this way. (Please see the comments on this review if you're interested in more discussion on this).
Anyone who is unaware of either of these points will naturally and understandably blame the mixer when it starts smoking and burns out. I'm certainly not saying one of these types of abuse explains every single case of mixer failure--there have to be SOME manufacturing defects--but I'd be willing to bet one of these two things explains 8 out of 10 of them. If you really do need a mixer for large quantities of dough every day, then please invest in a commercial-grade mixer like a two- to four-thousand dollar Hobart mixer, where the designers KNOW the duty-requirements you have in mind. You shouldn't try to haul two tons of rock with a half-ton pickup truck all day and expect it to last, nor should you make the equivalent mistake with a mixer.
The remaining category of complaints seems to be some version of the beaters hitting the bowl. This is a simple adjustment that has been covered elsewhere, but if you missed it, all you need to do is place a dime in the bowl and use the adjustment screw (in the crook of the tip-up hinge) to lower or raise the flat beater until it moves the dime just 1/4 to 1/2 inch on each sweep. This is only end-user adjustment you'll ever need to make, and it likely solves the entirety of the remaining category of complaints I read about.
I decided to take a chance on this mixer despite the negative reviews, after thinking it through in this way, and I'm very happy with it so far (and wow, is it ever better than the old Sunbeam stand mixer I had for ages!) If it ever quits or I change my mind about it, I'll let you know; otherwise, the deal on Amazon is as good as you'll find. (UPDATE: That last comment was made back when this mixer was selling for $229, but the price has risen dramatically since then. The rest of my review still stands...)