There is comfort starting - Stihl calls it Ergo Start. A short, soft pull on the starter cord fires the engine into life.
Model HS81R is intended for cutting back dense wood. The "T" machine is a real trimmer. Both machines are well encased, with no exposed parts. Ayrey tries the "R" version first and then the "T". "You can feel the faster speed," she reports. "The 'T' would be perfect for yew, box and privet."
Despite the difference, we find they both leave a nice finish on overgrown Escallonia. Vibration levels are recorded at 2.3m/s2 and 2.4m/s2 respectively.
Models Stihl HS81 R C-E, HS81 T C-E
Engine 22.7cc two-stroke, 22.7cc two-stroke
Power output 1hp, 1hp
Blades 60cm double-sided, 60cm double-sided
Pitch 38mm cutter, 30mm trimmer
Stroke rate 3,000/min, 5,000/min
Weight 5.6kg, 5.3kg
Fuel tanks 0.46 litres, 0.46 litres
List price (ex VAT) £400, £400
Contact Stihl, 01276 20202
The test was conducted in December so there was no fear of disturbing nesting birds. Conditions were cold with heavy downpours of rain; material cut included an Escallonia hedge.
THE REVIEW PANEL
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Faith Ayrey, gardener, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Graham Bell, senior gardener, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus