There are lots of good features and all the things you would expect from Stihl: a clear fuel tank; stability for fuelling; good anti- vibration system; and comfortable grippers. But this one doesn't have the Ergo Start system. Without Ergo Start you need to pull the recoil a little bit further but it's still easy to start this machine.
"I like all the Stihl units. They have low vibration and cut really well, although this has the on/off switch in a place where it could get knocked if you weren't careful. I particularly like the blade-tip protection (optional)," concluded Bell.
Although it doesn't weigh more than the 81s, all the testers thought the 86 to be a heavier machine. And being single-sided, this machine doesn't give the user the opportunity to change arms.
The deflectors proved to be handy for scooping material off and, overall, this cutter gave a good finish.
Engine 22.7cc two-stroke
Power output 1hp
Blades 75cm single-sided
Pitch 38mm cutter
Stroke rate 3,000/min
Fuel tank 0.46 litres
List price (ex VAT) £410
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