This unit has a five-stage rotating handle, which is activated by pulling a lever. It locks at 45 degs and 90 degs either side of 0. That means a comfortable working position can be achieved irrespective of the work angle. Full spring mounting reduces vibration.
The testers confirm that this is a comfortable machine to use and is well balanced for its size and power. The weight - including the double-sided 76cm blade - is 6kg.
We find that this model cuts the Escallonia well, leaving a neat cut even on the thicker wood. But we think the best bit is the blade brake. As soon as the operator lets go of the trigger, for any reason, the blade stops.
"This is a brilliant feature," declares Bell. "After a lot of hedgetrimming your arms do begin to ache. The blade brake is an excellent feature if fatigue sets in without you being aware of it. In the event of you dropping your arms, the blade has stopped before it hits you."
There is plenty of power available from the HTB7600. Our only problem with it seemed to be exposure of the trigger-locking mechanism. "I caught it a couple of times when I didn't mean to do so," admitted Ayrey.
Engine 28.3cc two-stroke
Power output 1.14hp
Blades 76cm double-sided
Fuel tank 0.5 litres
List price (ex VAT) £410 with blade cover, screwdriver and tool kit
Contact Makita (UK), 01908 211678
The test was conducted in December so there was no fear of disturbing nesting birds. Conditions were cold with heavy downpours of rain; material cut included an Escallonia hedge.
THE REVIEW PANEL
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Faith Ayrey, gardener, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Graham Bell, senior gardener, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus