A professional saw ideal for felling, the CS-550 features a powerful 54.1cc long-stroke engine with remarkable torque. Features include clutch-related oil pump, side-adjust chain tensioner, a newly designed air-cleaner system with a split back plate for cleaner airflow to the carburettor, digital-controlled CDI, semi-automatic decompression for ease of starting, adjustable automatic oiler and automatic choke with automatic fast idle.
Add to that the fact that the new crankcase design and guide bar cover provide maximum dust discharge and continued power torque, and this promises to give a good performance. In addition, in the event of it needing attention in the field, everything is straightforward and fixable without costing hours of frustration. But it also looks "old-school", as our testers report.
"Both this and the bigger CS-620SX feel like they need refinement - especially the choke and on/off switch," says Hunt. "They are lacking something.
"Put these saws in front of a student and they would pick up the Stihl because they would perceive the Echo as old technology, simply because of its looks," he suggests. But? "I am very impressed with the price and the warranty," he adds.
Ford agrees. "It's a rugged saw but with the CS-550 you have to say to it 'come on, let's go'," he notes.
"But as a tree surgeon I am always concerned about the price and Echo is cost-effective. If it was looked after, it would last a long time."
Power output 2.49kW
Bar lengths 18in (45cm), 20in (50cm)
Weight 6kg (excluding bar and fuel)
Power-to-weight ratio 2.41kg/kW
Saw chain pitch: 3/8in
Guide bar gauge: 0.058in
Fuel tank capacity: 0.53 litres
List price: £499.17 + VAT (with 18in bar)
Tel: Echo Power Tools - 0800 597 7777
Tested This Issue
Stihl MS 261 C-M
Echo CS-280TES and CS-360TES
Stihl MSA 160 T
Makita Twin 18V LXT
The Review Panel
Matthew Ford, arboricuture trainer and assessor, Derby College, Broomfield Hall Campus
Simon Hunt, arboriculture lecturer, Derby College, Broomfield Hall Campus - Lantra and NPTC assessor
Driven by legislation regarding emissions, noise, vibration and safety as well as market forces such as price, chainsaws are constantly evolving. In this test we look at the newest models of rearand top-handled saws from three of the top brands.
Full of technology, the Stihl MS 621 C-M is the saw that reportedly looks after itself when it comes to tuning. Echo brings us the new CS-550 and CS-620SX. Our testers decide which they like the best. Makita offers the EA3500S and EA6100P - a hobby and a professional saw - one of which "has it" and one of which does not.
For climbing arborists we look at recently introduced top-handled models from all three companies. Two from Echo are petrol-driven. But there are times when a petrol-engined chainsaw is that little bit too noisy. So in this test we have also included the latest battery top-handled models from Stihl and Makita. Are they just gimmicks or will they do the job? Our testers decide.
The test was carried out by our review panel in the Wild Wood at the Broomfield Hall Campus of Derby College. The college offers level 2 national diplomas in arboriculture as well as a range of NPTC short courses. On the day of the test, the weather was dry, hot and sunny.