Although Stihl's new range includes a total of eight handy models - four blowers and four vacs, including an entry-level unit and a low-noise version - it is the STIHL BG86 that attracts our attention. And what makes this unit so spectacular is the new anti-vibration system.

The BG86 has all the features you would expect on a professional machine - and more. For starters, it is a no-flood design. Firing up the engine has been simplified to a four- rather than eight-step operation and combined into a single-handed control. All you need do is purge the carburettor, set the choke to full, pull over the machine until it runs and then open the throttle. The switch automatically jumps to idle and you are ready to go.

This model is also equipped with throttle-speed lock for long-term control, and a built-in switch automatically re-sets controls for ignition after breaks in work. "The primer is well sheltered," notes Pinion.

The BG86's performance figures are impressive. It delivers an airflow of 780cu m/h and boasts a maximum airspeed of 85m/s - that's equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. But the vibration figures are equally impressive.

The new anti-vibration system uses four steel springs to effectively isolate the user from engine vibration and resulting in a vibration value of just 1.7m/s2 (a, hv eq). That means the blower can be used throughout the course of an eight-hour day. In fact, it would take more than 17 hours of continual use before the blower reaches the first exposure value (A8) of 2.5m/s2.

"I can't feel any vibration," confirms Blake. "With the old models, your hands would be stinging after a while."

BG86 and the other new models also benefit from lower emissions. Fuel consumption has been reduced - by 25 per cent. Every model comes with a round blower nozzle as standard, which can be adjusted in length to suit the height of the user. In addition, BG86 comes with a flattened jet nozzle and is priced at £250 ex VAT.

Blake sums up: "There are plus points for users and the environment. I like the safety features, they are good for people coming into the industry. I'd say this would be a very useful model for clearing children's playgrounds and tidying up after grounds maintenance operations."

- For more details contact Stihl on 0800 137574 quoting PRSTP.


Dennis Blake, groundsman, Hampshire

Tim Jellis, head groundsman, College of West Anglia

Robert Pinion, groundsman, College of West Anglia

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