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.
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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.
Just look at the price. At £132 (£159 including VAT) this is surely a wise investment for the owner of medium-sized gardens? It starts nicely, is easy to use and eliminates the risks associated with cables. But we reckon there may be commercial operators who could benefit from this nifty 26cc trimmer.
Built in China to Sanli UK's specification, the GTS26 is one of a range of four engine-powered brushcutters - the most expensive being a 43cc model with a list price of £190.83 + VAT. The loop-handled version has controls in exactly the right place and is comfortable to use. It also zips through some thick grass along a fence line.
"It's a nice bit of kit. I wouldn't know any difference between using this and some £400 machines," says Phipps. "All markets could consider this machine. You could give it to an operator to use until it stops. It's got a one year professional-use warranty and is backed by spares.
"At £132 you can use it for a season and know it's earned its money. It seems sturdy, though only time will tell how reliable it is."
Engine: Sanli 25.4cc two-stroke
Power output: 0.7kW
Cutting head: Two-string head and three-tooth blade
List price: £132.50 + VAT
Contact: Sanli - 01235 861640
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