STIHL FS70RC-E brushcutter- image: HW
STIHL FS70RC-E brushcutter- image: HW

Brushcutters and line trimmers are essential tools for grounds care workers. Their usefulness is bolstered by a diversity of models offering different configurations, power ratings and attachments.

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.

Tested This Week
Echo SRM-265TESL
Shindaiwa T310XS
Sanli GTS26
Efco DS2800S and DS2600 4S
Stihl FS70RC-E
Stihl FS240C-E
Stihl FSA85 Cordless Grass Trimmer
Bosch ART 26 LI

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.


This is one of a new generation of Stihl machines driven by the high-torque, eco-friendly and fuel efficient Stihl 2-MIX engine. It is packed with user-friendly features.

The starting mechanism appeals to Alcock and Phipps. You would be very unlucky to flood this machine. We tried. We failed.

Starting is in three simple steps: prime the fuel pump, set the choke and pull-start the engine. There's no on/off switch as such. There is a "kill" switch, but after use you flick it to the off position it automatically resets so it is ready for the next start. Setting the choke has to be a conscious decision and it automatically switches itself off when the engine is revved. The pull-start is Stihl's stress-free ErgoStart.

We like the transparent fuel pump and the new head guard. It is more open and gives a great view of what you are trimming.

"It's a great machine, fairly light, nice shape, well built, mechanically sound. This is Stihl quality," says Phipps. "It's easy to use and the controls are comfortable, maybe a bit of vibration, but nothing to concern me. It copes well with growth a bit thicker than it is designed for - it didn't struggle with the very dense material at all."

Engine: 27.2cc Stihl 2-MIX
Power output: 0.9kW
Weight: 4.8kg
Fuel tank: 0.34litres
Cutting head: AutoCut C25-2 double-line easy-refill head
List price: £299 + VAT
Contact: Stihl - 0800 137574 (quoting HWFS)

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