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pole hedge trimmer: kombi vs. dedicated

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by jkilov, Jun 3, 2014.


Which articulating hedge trimmer is more practical?

  1. Dedicated pole hedge trimmer

    12 vote(s)
  2. Kombi motor + hedge trimmer attachment

    13 vote(s)
  1. jkilov

    jkilov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MS
    Messages: 1,415

    My hedge trimming business is growing and I'm about to add a pole unit but can't decide whether to take a dedicated unit or a split-shaft alternative.

    My main concern with the kombi is the weight and coupler position where the grip would be. Some manufacturers state the kombi version to be a full pound heavier than a dedicated unit. On the other hand I like the space saving feature of the split-shaft.

    Can any of you fellow owners chime in and share their opinion on which is better?
  2. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,463

    I have the Kombi and 1 extension. It does what I need it too do, however I don't use everyday. They offer a fiberglass extension tube that's lighter. I don't really know how many tubes you could add and still use the machine, Im sure with hedge clippers 1 tube is my limit, but I think I could handle anther tube with the saw.
  3. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,744

    I don't use my kombi hedge trimmer professionally (only around my house), so consider that when weighing my advice:

    I've seen comments here that the Kombi is a bit long. Stihl only sells the hedge trimmer with a long shaft, and many people prefer a shorter shaft when using the trimmer all day long. If you're only using the pole trimmer when you need to reach (and using a conventional trimmer the rest of the day), perhaps that is not an issue. In theory, you could get a shorter shaft from your dealer, and put it on the gearbox (I've thought about that, but never bothered).

    One advantage to the Kombi is you can use an extension. The extension is really best suited to the pole pruner, because you use that mostly in a near vertical orientation. The hedge trimmer isn't so upright in use, and on an extension, it can be a real bear to handle, but nothing else allows me to shape the top of my holly tree from the ground.
    Because of this, if you're considering using an extension with the hedge trimmer kombi, I strongly suggest you spend the extra dough on the carbon fiber version.

    As for Kombi vs gearbox (single long shaft), the Kombi coupler only adds a few ounces to the whole deal. The weight different is not significant, and cannot be felt.
  4. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,744

    Exactly. I think that with two extensions, the hedge trimmer's own weight might bend the shaft if bounced around. That's not to say that putting together a super long reach hedge trimmer is impossible, if you have the need, and the money. The hedge trimmer gearbox will fit on the same shaft as the extendable shaft pole pruner. That's got a LOT of reach.

    Here's something else to consider. There is another kombi tool that is almost exactly the same. They call it a power scythe. It is just the hedge trimmer, but with a shorter blade, so it weighs a whole lot less.
  5. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,496

    Easy lift harness might help
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,463

    The trimmers I have you can change the angle of them. Its a job with 1 extension, I don't think it would be safe with 2 extensions.

    I think the saw would ok with 2 extensions, Ive never tried it, but 1 extension is no big deal.
  7. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,744

    Good points, and your experience sounds exactly like mine.
    The adjustable angle is more expensive, but absolutely worth it IMHO. I hardly ever use it set straight.
  8. jkilov

    jkilov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MS
    Messages: 1,415

    For the record I'm considering both Stihl and Shindaiwa hedgers. Not that other brands weren't good, it's just that I have better dealer support for these two.

    Stihl's box looks tougher but Shindy's a bit lighter, any suggestions in this area?
  9. jkilov

    jkilov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MS
    Messages: 1,415

    OK so I had a chance to look at 4 hedgers this week: Stihl, Shindy, Husky and Maruyama. The dealers were very helpful and allowed me to try the units out.

    There seem to be two types of gearboxes in articulating hedge trimmers, one is good, the other not. The first type has 4 gears and a bulky "pipe stub" housing whilst the other has 6 gears and a lower profile.

    Case in point with Maruyama: since I already have their 40" unit which I am super pleased with, my expectations were high. The demo unit was a dedicated pole hedger with the familiar 22.5 cc engine (which is great). It comes with the bulky 4 gear box and let me explain why these boxes suck. Each pair of pinion gears is a reducing drive, that is a small input bevel and a larger output with more teeth.

    The problem is the larger gears result in a bulky and heavy housing, and more importantly a higher twisting force (torque) on the articulating joint. To overcome this, the angle adjusting mechanism has to be stronger, a lot stronger. In the case of Maruyama, to adjust the blade angle, you need to: 1. stop the engine, 2. loosen a large knob, 3. lock the gears with a small lever, 4. adjust the angle with the handle 5. line up the teeth on the joints, 6. tighten the knob and 7. release the locking lever... horrible

    A similar issue with Husqvarna's 327LD, which is a split-shaft trimmer with a hedger attachment. Again the box is bulky and the adjustment only marginally better. Here you have to undo a winged nut, the blades then annoyingly want to fold down, you adjust the angle (handle) and tighten the nut so squeeze the joint solid. Better but still not impressed.

    Stihl on the other hand (HL100K) is quite good. The box has 6 gears, 4 (1:1) to get the power to the head and a final reduction set with lobes to drive the blades. Because the articulating joint is not a reducing drive, the torque going through it is small, thus the adjustment mechanism can be lighter and more user friendly. No knobs here, just pull a sleeve, adjust the angle and let the pin slide back, simple. By appearance Stihl's box seems to be the toughest of the bunch, but also felt the heaviest.

    And finally the M254 Shindaiwa with hedger attachment. Like the Stihl it's a 6 gear box with final reduction drive and really low profile. I like the adjustment on these the most, since it can be done one-handed (unlike the HL100K). I don't think it's as sturdy as Stihl, but it felt the lightest and should be a winner in terms of productivity.

    Overall I'm getting either Stihl or Shindy, but Maruyama (at least for me) was a big disappointment.
  10. Pressedun

    Pressedun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 44,413

    The Stihl Kombis are amazing pieces, have 3 of them. 2 90's and 1 130, go with the 130 if you plan on getting the pole saw or bed redefiner attachment.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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