What's not to like about this trimmer? It's got performance, is well-balanced, works quietly and it's got convenience - all wrapped into one machine. It's a dream to use on tall or wide hedges and is ideal for those situations where noise has to be kept to a minimum, such as outside classrooms, in residential areas and even on the golf course. We love it.
It uses the same 36V lithium-ion battery that powers three of Stihl's chainsaws, four brushcutters, six of its hedge trimmers, the pruning shears, blower, sweeper and two Viking lawnmowers. It might be worth considering buying a couple of batteries along with the charger, then investing in the tools you need.
The long-reach HLA 65 has a brushless electric motor that is energy efficient and practically maintenance-free. With outstanding efficiency, the battery power is directly translated into pure performance for excellent cutting results. Furthermore, during operation the electronically controlled motor continuously monitors the load and adjusts the engine to maintain a constant speed regardless of load. This one just keeps going - no struggling.
Other key features include the loop handle that allows total freedom of movement and ease of use, even in confined spaces, plus the quick and easy adjustment of the cutter bar. The bar is double-sided to allow vertical and horizontal trimming. Simply pull down the collar to adjust the head up to 115 degs (-45 degs/+70 degs) to suit the application, working vertical and overhead. It can also be folded back on itself to reduce the length to just 1.25m for transport in the back of a utility vehicle or the boot of a car.
Being made by Stihl, the attention to detail shines through on this tool. There is a nicely rounded tip protector to safeguard the end of the blade when working in contact with the ground.
This machine is not only a practical performer, it is comfortable too. The ergonomics and balance are remarkable. "There's plenty of power, it's not very heavy and there is the option of the harness for long periods of use," notes Braund. "The only improvement I can see is to have more adjustment - it's a long way between the steps." Hoare adds: "I like it. It is lightweight - a pleasure to use. The battery clips in easily and it is well protected."
Expect a runtime of up to 140 minutes - and let's be honest, after a couple of hours of hedge trimming you will be ready for a cup of tea.
Although Stihl offers a standard charger for just £30 + VAT, we reckon it is worthwhile investing in the AL 300 Quick Charger. Although it costs £55.83 + VAT, it will power up the AP180 battery to 100 per cent in 70 minutes, or to 80 per cent in 40minutes, compared to 210 minutes required by the standard AL 100 charger.
The HLA 65 can also be used with Stihl's AR 900 backpack battery, giving a runtime of up to 660 minutes.
Blade: 50cm double-sided
Tooth spacing: 33mm
Maximum cutting thickness: 26mm
Stroke rate: 3,000/min
Weight: 3.5kg without battery
Total length: 2.06m open/1.25m folded for transport
Recommended battery: AP180
Sound pressure level: 85dB(A)
Sound power level: 94dB(A)
Vibration level: 3.5m/s2 left and 3.5m/S2 right
List: Price £229.17 body only; AP180 battery £150; AL 300
Quick Charger £55.83 (all prices + VAT)
Tel: Stihl - 01276 20202
Tested This Issue
- Stihl HLA 65
- Makita EH7500W
- Stihl HLA 85
- Makita DUH551Z
- Cobra LRH40E
- Hyundai HYHT36LI
Sam Braund, grounds worker, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus
Keith Hoare, grounds supervisor, Bridgwater College
It is time for the last clip of the year and at Cannington, the land-based studies centre of Bridgwater College in Somerset, the grounds staff are tasked with trimming the cherry laurel hedge alongside the car park of the department of animal management.
Time then to ask grounds worker Sam Braund and supervisor Keith Hoare if they would use a selection of recently introduced hedge trimmers.
As battery technology continues to improve, we have two such models from Stihl, both long-reach units, to tackle the hedge, which is more than 3m high. We also have battery tools from Hyundai and Makita, both being standard format units for regular hedge-cutting work. Another long-reach unit is the electric powered Cobra, supplied by Henton & Chattel, and we have a four-stroke petrol cutter with a massive reach from Makita.
Finally, because Braund loves engines, we have a standard format, petrol engined machine from Makita. Which ones will impress our testers?
Conditions on the day of the test were hot with bright sunshine. The hedge presented a wide range of branch diameters up to 25mm in thickness.