Choose between straight or bent shafts; two-stroke, four-stroke or hybrid engines; displacements from 18cc to 52cc; backpack models and blades or nylon-line trimming heads.
Here we focus on loop-handled machines. Having smallto medium-sized engines, they tend to be light and can out-manoeuvre their bike-handled counterparts on banks. Having a shoulder strap rather than a full harness, loop-handled units also make ideal grab-and-trim machines to follow mowing operations.
Bike-handled brushcutters for use in clearance operations will be covered in a future Buyers' Guide and Kit Tests.
Tested This Week
Efco DS2800S and DS2600 4S
Stihl FSA85 Cordless Grass Trimmer
Bosch ART 26 LI
The Review Panel
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus
Jane Alcock, head gardener, Walled Garden, Cannington Campus
Ian Phipps, grounds mechanic, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus
Loop-handled grass trimmers and brushcutters are indispensable when it comes to trimming up after mowing operations. Whizzing round obstacles and along fence lines, they quickly get the job done. Being lightweight and easily manoeuvred, they are suitable for operations on uneven and sloping ground.
We asked the grounds team at the Cannington Campus of Bridgwater College, to put some new machines through their paces. The kit included three battery-powered units as well as an assortment of two-stroke, four-stroke and hybrid-engined units. The trimmers were used to tidy fence lines, cut grass between trees on the golf course and trim around chipping nets. Conditions on the day were dry, sunny and warm.
Efco DS2800S and DS2600 4S
These two similar-sized trimmers from Italian manufacturer Efco could not be more different.
The DS2800 is from the Universal range. It boasts aluminium housing, a 7mm internal drive shaft, a digital coil with electronic control, high torque and low fuel consumption. It starts easily. It cuts grass. We appreciate the snap cover on the generously proportioned paper filter. But we do not like the vibrations, which were recorded by Efco at 3.5m/s2 (DX) and 3.9m/s2 (SX).
"There's a lot of vibration there," notes Gardner. Alcock confirms that she is disappointed by this, too.
Gardner tries the four-stroke machine for comparison. The DS3600 4S is powered by a bigger Honda engine, so it weighs a bit more. But Gardner is happy with it.
"Completely different beast," he smiles. "It's a good machine. It's easy to start, so easy I almost yanked my arm out of its socket. There's not quite as much power as the two-stroke,but in other respects it is much better."
The manufacturer-recorded vibration levels for this machine are higher than the DS2800S but, oddly, they feel less.
The reduction in unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide, plus the easy starter and greater comfort in use, mean the four-stroke model gets the thumbs-up.
Model: DS2800S/DS3600 4S
Engine: 27cc two-stroke/Honda 25cc four-stroke
Power output: 1kW/0.8kW
Fuel tank: 0.58litres/0.6litres
Vibration: 3.5m/s2 and 3.9m/s2/ 4.5m/s2 and 6m/s2
Cutting head: Two-string head and three-tooth blade
List price: £272.34/£331.91 + VAT
Contact: Emak - 01543 687660
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