Trimmer reviews / questions

troverman

LawnSite Member
Location
NH
Bought a Stihl KM131R Kombi two years ago, with a broom, sidewalk edger, bed edger, and articulated hedge trimmer attachment...plus the trimmer head attachment.
I really don't care for it. I thought Stihl products were bulletproof and had a good reputation. The throttle seems to be "all or nothing" with very little feathering ability. This unit is heavy...it does have good power but not as good as some other units in the weight class. It vibrates a lot. The trimmer attachment is horrible...very small string capacity in the head, and re-stringing is not easy. What do you guys think of this unit? Overall, my favorite attachment is probably the hedge trimmer, it seems to be high quality.

My primary trimmer choices are the Husqvarna 535LS and Husqvarna 525L units. The 535 is heavy, but has significantly better power than the KM131R, and you can easily feather the throttle. Fuel consumption is about the same for both. The 525L is very lightweight (9.7lbs) and has good power for that weight. Both Husky trimmers have the rubber mounted throttle / handles, and have less vibration. I've had excellent luck with these models, just ordered an additional one of each. I never do precise 2-stroke oil/gas mixing either...just guestimate and use hardware store brand oil. Never any trouble.

I've also run Honda, and still have 2-3 in my fleet. My opinion on the Honda is that it is high quality, very easy to start, exceptional fuel economy, no smoke, etc. The downside? Lacking power and too heavy. I've got two of the 25cc models and one of the 35cc models. In fact, one is actually a Husqvarna 324LDX split-shaft with the Honda 25cc engine. I use it as a trimmer (works great) and a power broom (lighter than the Stihl but a bit underpowered).

What do you guys thing? I do a lot of heavy grass / field trimming and so the 535-class trimmers are necessary. Anything out there better? Also, any lighter-weight professional level trimmers better than the 525L models?
 

mgfunaro

LawnSite Member
Location
Yonkers, NY
I agree fully with your observations. I have stihl KM-90 with various attachments (trimmer, paddle broom, saw, hedge clipper, tiller), husky 525LS, husky 535LS, and echo SRM-225 trimmers.

The kombi motors are fundamentally flawed IMO. I wish I could switch over to a Husky 525 or 535 powerhead for my kombi attachment. The unit I have is a pain to start (have changed out carb, tuned etc), and as you're noting there is virtually no throttle...it's like an electric trimmer w "on" and "off" only and little in between. I got excited when the KM-91, 111, and 131 came out thinking that they had improved this issue, but they have not and the changes are apparently mostly cosmetic. I cannot imagine having one of those motors on a full time trimmer. As you are noting, the stihl head is pretty junky and doesn't hold a lot of line.

The husky 525 and 535 are real winners IMO. The anti-vibe is great, and they tune and run like a conventional two stroke. The husky heads are also great and hold a lot of line.

The only trimmer to maybe keep an eye out for in the larger trimmer class would be an FS-250. I had both the FS-250 and 535LS for a period of time. I ended up selling the FS-250 to a friend. The FS 250 was arguably a better unit (lighter, equal power, faster spool up/acceleration), however the 535 was more comfortable and I liked the trimmer head more so I kept it and sold the FS 250.

Echo has some new trimmers out including some which have factory advertised cutting swaths of 20" (SRM 3020T). The speedfeed head is also pretty convenient and durable with quick reloads.
 

Doc8406

LawnSite Fanatic
I had the 131 last year, used it for about a month, then sold it. Heavy, only a wfo throttle. I sold it and don’t regret doing so. The lil SRM-225 has been a champ. Just ordered a new Echo 2320T
 
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troverman

LawnSite Member
Location
NH
I just bought another 535 from my dealer yesterday. For the money, they are great.

IAs for the Stihl KM131R...I had tons of trouble getting it to start after about two weeks of ownership. Took it back to the dealer, they had it for two weeks and kept claiming they were waiting on a "backordered" part which they never could tell me when it would come it. I finally called Stihl directly, and to their credit about an hour later the dealer called me and said they had a brand new power head they would be giving me as a replacement. That new one has started better, but I hate the all or nothing throttle. I've also had trouble with the Kombi attachment shafts falling out of the tubes...
 

Wobbles

LawnSite Member
I love my km131r (i've got 5 of them). I find it feathers great and the weight doesn't bother me. Never had any early maintenance issues or anything that would make me think they weren't reliable. Change the head to a speedfeed 450 head. The standard head stihl come with are rubbish. Also i dont often switch the tools, i just like the kombi function so that if one breaks down I dont need to have two of every unit. Much rather have a few powerheads then backups of every single unit. But if i was switching the tools every single job, i could see the plastice sleeves wearing out real quick.

Although in saying that. The only other trimmers i've had are a fs55 when i first started. and i got the fs94r which i hate as it got f all power. If theres any other brands that have the same power and you think are better then the 131r then please share. I just havent had the opportunity to use any others.
 
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troverman

LawnSite Member
Location
NH
If you compared the throttle functionality of the KM131R to any Husqvarna trimmer with an X-Torq engine (most of their Pro level trimmers), you'd see the ability to feather on the Stihl is downright awful.
 

Wobbles

LawnSite Member
Looking at the husqvarna website, the only trimmer comparable in power is the 535LK which is slightly heavier with slightly more power. The model below that is comparable to fs111r with the same weight as the km131r.

So just on paper it doesnt look like a good contender to compete with the km131r. Maybe i should look at the other brands and see if i can get a demo. But just looking off the husqvarna website the stihl is holding strong as the priority pick.


Edit:
Just looked at echo and honda. Echo only has power equivalent to the fs111r and the honda 35cc trimmer was 2.6lbs heavier. So winner still falls with stihl for me.
 
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hort101

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
S.E. New England
Echo has some new trimmers out including some which have factory advertised cutting swaths of 20" (SRM 3020T). The speedfeed head is also pretty convenient and durable with quick reloads.
This is the echo 31 cc trimmer
Echo used to list as a brushcutter with string trimmer attachment
Saw it stock with trimmer head last week:weightlifter:
 
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troverman

LawnSite Member
Location
NH
Looking at the husqvarna website, the only trimmer comparable in power is the 535LK which is slightly heavier with slightly more power. The model below that is comparable to fs111r with the same weight as the km131r.

So just on paper it doesnt look like a good contender to compete with the km131r. Maybe i should look at the other brands and see if i can get a demo. But just looking off the husqvarna website the stihl is holding strong as the priority pick.


Edit:

Just looked at echo and honda. Echo only has power equivalent to the fs111r and the honda 35cc trimmer was 2.6lbs heavier. So winner still falls with stihl for me.

The Husqvarna 535L is vastly superior to the KM131R in terms of performance...I own both. Since we are only talking a couple of horsepower in these trimmers, a seemingly small advantage in power is actually quite significant. The 535 might weigh slightly more, and that is also important, but when dealing with very tall and thick grass, I'm always willing to take a weight penalty in exchange for better progress.

I'm not trying to hate on the KM131R, but it vibrates a lot more than the Husqvarna, has less power, has a pretty poor throttle control system, etc.
 

Wobbles

LawnSite Member
Maybe the 535L is worth a demo. I just know that i definitely dont need any more power then the 131r. So looking at the specs.. i feel like 535L has extra stats that i dont need at the expense of more weight that i dont want. If anything, i'd be willing to sacrifice a bit of power if it ment it was lighter. Unfortunately the only thing that fits that criteria is the 94r or equivalent. and i know first hand how under powered they are and i didnt like it at all.

The next option to test would be the 111r but they weigh exactly the same as the 131r so it makes no sense why you wouldnt just opt for the 131r. Maybe the 535L runs so well that its worth the weight increase. Not sure. But i'd be interested to test it.

I just know that as far as weight to power ratio goes. the 131r seems to be the best fit.
 

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