STIHL FSA85 Cordless Grass Trimmer

STIHL FSA85 Cordless Grass Trimmer - image: HW
STIHL FSA85 Cordless Grass Trimmer - 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.

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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.

STIHL FSA85 Cordless Grass Trimmer

No cables, no emissions, no servicing, light in weight and low in vibration, this is Stihl's first grass trimmer and, with hedge trimmer, chainsaw and blower, brings the total cordless range to four.

All the tools are powered from the same lithium ion battery, so you only need to buy one battery to run all four. If you are busy, however, you will probably need two batteries - one in use and one on charge.

The battery pack can be charged several hundred times with no significant loss of capacity, we are told. Trigger time is approximately 50 minutes, depending on the density of vegetation being cut.

"It's very light, well balanced and easy to use," says Phipps. "And it's quiet." At 165cm long, the trimmer is also comfortable to use.

The build is tough. We like the easy-refill AutoCut C line head. It gives a 350mm diameter cutting circle and zips through grass. We are also pleased to see a spacer bar.

Weight: 4.5kg
Cutting head: AutoCut C4-2 double line head
Vibration: Left 1.4m/s2 & right 0.8m/s2
List price: £307.50 + VAT (RRP) for trimmer, battery and AL300
quick charger
Contact: Stihl - 0800 137574 (quoting HWFS)

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