The 5600 is a well-balanced machine and it also sits well for fuelling. It has a full cast-aluminium gearbox and has bearings - not just bushes - at the top and bottom of the crank. The handle is fixed.
We like the starting mechanism. Once the engine has fired into life, a touch of the throttle is enough to take off the choke. You are not going to over-choke this one. However, we think that both the choke and primer are a bit exposed.
"It's not a bad machine," says Ayrey. "It cuts well and that is the overriding factor. It's a straightforward, easy-to-use machine and the controls are simple."
The 7610 is another back-to-basics no-nonsense hedgetrimmer. It has the same type of 24.5cc engine, cast-aluminium gearbox, pre-primer bulb and automatic switch-off choke as the 5600 but it comes with a 75cm single-sided blade so it can be used only in one direction. It cuts well and is lightweight.
Bell says: "I would be happy to use it all day, although there are a few too many wires on show for my liking - they are bound to catch in a hedge like this Escallonia. The unit just needs a little more casing."
Models Makita HTR5600, Makita HTR 7610
Engine 24.5cc two-stroke, 24.5cc two-stroke
Power output 1.18hp, 1.18hp
Blades 56cm double-sided, 75cm single-sided
Weight 5.1kg, 5.4kg
Fuel tanks 0.61 litres, 0.61 litres
List price (ex VAT) £370 with cover and tools, £390 with
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