I have what you might call a love/hate relationship with outdoor power tools. No, that’s not actually true. To be honest, I just plain hate most of them. Makita may have me rethinking that position with its new LXT 18V X2 Outdoor Power Equipment lineup and the Makita Cordless String Trimmer. Gas-powered mowers, string trimmers and especially leaf blowers and chainsaws are loud, finicky, smelly and generally all-around annoying. I have a chainsaw that I have seriously considered using today, not to trim trees, but for target practice. Makita recently sent us several of their new cordless outdoor power equipment products, including the Makita Cordless String Trimmer we’ll be reviewing here today.
A number of years ago, electric yard tools began to emerge. They were sad little creatures, anemic and under-powered, dragging a tangle of extension cord in their pitiful wake. Then came the advent of cordless alternatives, and things started to look up. Things really started to get interesting when cordless technology took big leaps forward with Lithium-Ion batteries and brushless motors.
In the last year, I’ve really started re-thinking some of these tools. I would never have considered using a gas-powered leaf blower, but these new, cordless models are just so…versatile! Now when I go out to do yard work, nothing makes me happier than seeing my gas tools sitting unused in the garage. The gas chainsaw sits on the shelf, with a temporary reprieve from the firing squad.
Makita – From the Jobsite to the Yard
Makita is a company that has been an innovator in cordless tools since day one, and the dual-battery “X2” lineup continues that tradition (see Phil’s excellent writeup on the Makita X2 circular saw). The latest additions to the X2 family venture into the realm of yard maintenance, which is a fairly recent departure, at least in terms of cordless battery-operated tools, for the power tool giant that has focused on pro-quality construction gear. One of the recent releases is their latest interpretation of the string trimmer, but this time the Makita Cordless String Trimmer powers up with two times the 18 volt action.
Unboxing the Makita Cordless String Trimmer – X2 the Fun!
The 69” straight-shaft trimmer comes partially assembled, with minimal work required to get it ready to work. It comes with a single Allen wrench and no other tools are required. The trimmer head goes on easily, and my only complaint is the clumsy location of the tightening screw on the loop handle. There is no room to swing the Allen wrench, which means lots of fiddling. Minor complaint, but an easily adjustable handle would make this more versatile for multiple users.
The trimmer features a brushless direct-drive motor in the head. You might think that this would make it front-heavy, but once the dual 18V Lithium-Ion batteries are installed at the aft of the unit and the loop handle location is adjusted to your liking, the balance is good. The combined 36V output gives plenty of power for light to moderately heavy trimming.
Cordless Performance with Strings (Trimmers) Attached
The Makita Cordless String Trimmer handles very nicely and performed well on its maiden voyage. The 2-speed options add extra control. This allows you to extend the run-time if you are in lighter conditions or go for more power for thicker grass and a faster cut. Running full-out around my farm, I got about a half hour of full out, high-speed cutting. Low speed maxes out at 5000 rpm, high at 6500. The soft-touch buttons are easy to push and controls include power, high and low settings, a battery level indicator and a nifty reverse feature that runs the unit backward for a couple of revolutions to untangle the head when you get stuck in thick grass.
The unit is very ergonomic; the palm-activated safety switch and trigger arrangement are super comfortable and easy to hold onto for an extended period. The string head that comes with the unit is easy to take on and off and load, and the standard spindle allows the use of other, after-market cutting heads.
That all sounds good, right? But let me add this… it is QUIET! Wow. I’m blown away by how quiet this tool is. I can’t imagine that this type of high-quality, low volume tool is not going to be the next big thing for residential and commercial maintenance, both with pros and weekend warriors.
The Makita Cordless String Trimmer X2 Advantage
Why has Makita gone to this relatively unique 2-battery setup when other companies are just making bigger and bigger batteries? Makita has staked their reputation with tradesmen and serious tool enthusiasts on their 18V LXT platform. There are a plethora of great tools from Makita that all share the same interchangeable power supplies. Why not put those batteries to wider use? You can use two of your 18V batteries in a string trimmer, but you couldn’t use a 36V battery in your drill. It’s all about versatility!
Stay tuned for upcoming reviews on the X2 leaf blower and chainsaw, when I’ll write a little more about the technology behind the dual-battery system. The dual battery charger and Makita’s Lithium technology both deserve a little more attention, and I’ll get to that next time.
You can find the tool-only version of the 18V X2 (36V) LXT® Lithium?Ion Brushless Cordless String Trimmer (XRU07Z) for about $220 online.