Is this opinion based on comparing apples to apples? Again, is this based on apples to apples comparison? Because you and I are at different ends of the spectrum. My first Echo was 12yrs ago and it's still running. I switched to Stihl, 7yrs ago, because an outstanding dealer started carrying them. You can look at my signature list and see everything I have. I'd still be with Stihl, if they were all that. For sure, if you came into my shop and demoed my Stihl FS55 against my Echo 225, you'd have a different opinion. Furthermore, my LCO friend with three crews going left Stihl, as well. I'm glad I listened to him and gave them another look. If it were a proper 2-stroke you wouldn't have to adjust valves. And, adjustments aren't the only thing they need. It's been well-documented they have major issues with their 4-mix valvetrains and customer satisfaction. Otherwise, they would continue moving in 4-mix direction. Sounds like a fuel delivery issue, as in the carb needs cleaned. If you're not frequently using the equipment, you should always mix Sea Foam in with your gas. It's not a bad thing to do that anyway, to keep things cleaned out. Also, you may consider using the premixed 50:1 gas, as it's pure, if you're a less frequent user. I've seen paraffin buildup, within a month of using pump gas. To be fair, only the RM 8500 can compare to that blower. That thing's a beast!