TESTED THIS WEEK
Stihl Backpack FR480C-F
Makita BBC 231U RD
Makita EBH 341U
Echo SRM-510ES and SRM-335ES
Efco DS4200T and DS2600 4S?
Husqvarna 345Rx and 143RII
Solo 142 and 137
THE REVIEW PANEL
- Mark Creber, senior head gardener, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Brookwood Military Cemetery.
- Brendon Gardiner, skilled maintenance craftsman, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Brookwood Military Cemetery
- Danny Walrond, skilled maintenance craftsman, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Brookwood Military Cemetery
What would we do without the brushcutter or nylon-line trimmer? Whether you need to mow steep slopes, reduce dense vegetation, take out the rogue saplings or simply trim around the trees, there is a model to suit.
In this review we look at the latest machines from six manufacturers. There is a backpack model and units with either bike or loop handles. We have two-stroke machines, hybrid engines and four-stroke units. We also have a commercial cordless model.
Testing the equipment is a team of gardeners at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. The day started dull and cold but became warm and sunny during the morning. Grass in an area of woodland was tackled with all the machines.
Fitted with Stihl's 4-MIX engine, the FS130 fuels up and behaves like a two-stroke but sounds more like a four-stroke - or a V8, according to Creber. It has a 36.3cc engine, giving 1.4kW output, but the team prefers the backpack.
"It's a nice weight and well balanced, vibrations are low, the handles adjust easily and it's comfortable. It just doesn't seem to have guts for all-day work," says Walrond. Creber also comments on a "lack of power" but notices that the emissions are not as annoying as those from a two-stroke.
What the team does like, however, is the mowing head. "The way the line just feeds in - it's a very good idea, so easy and convenient," says Walrond.
Engine: 36.3cc Stihl 4-MIX
Power output: 1.4kW (1.9hp)
Weight: 5.9kg (excluding cutting tool, guard and fuel)
Handle design: Bike (loop handle available)
Standard heads: AutoCut C25-2 mowing head and metal blade?
List price ex VAT: £560?
Contact: Stihl on 0800 137574