As we move through February the days may be getting longer but the temperature still shows no signs of improving. It’s probably too early to start thinking about mowing the lawn but there’s still plenty to be getting on with in the garden. You may need to blow away the last of the fallen leaves or possibly clear away the brambles and trim your hedges, it might be time to prune back those branches that were shook loose during the numerous storms we’ve endured over the last few months.
Whatever jobs your garden has in store for you chances are you’re going to need some machinery to make life easier – a blower for the leaves, a brushcutter for the brambles, a hedgecutter for the hedges, a polesaw for those precarious limbs… the list goes on and the cost stacks up.
If only there was some fantastic tool that could do all of these jobs from a single power unit. Thankfully, there is. Or rather, there are - Multi-Tool Systems.
There are many different multi-tool systems from a range of manufacturers all with their own unique qualities that set them apart from their competition.
To help you decide on the right multi-tool for you and your garden we have taken a few examples of the systems available to talk you through. Whether you’re a professional landscaper or a keen home gardener (or even a reluctant home gardener!) we’ve got the right tools for your job.
Stihl’s Kombi system is by far the most popular unit that we stock and I’d even venture to say it’s probably the most popular option on the market for professionals and hobbyists alike. The reason for the Kombi system’s enduring popularity is the degree of options available from Stihl. Most manufacturers tend to offer only two choices of power unit: a smaller, cheaper domestic option and a more powerful professional quality unit. With Stihl there are four different power units available (technically five if you include the bike handle option on the top end model) two of which are aimed at the domestic market in addition two pro-quality machines.
The two smaller units: the KM56 RC-E and the KM94 RC-E will be more than sufficient for most people’s needs with the KM94 being the popular choice domestically and professionally as it is lighter and more powerful than the KM56. Both units feature Stihl’s “ErgoStart” technology ensuring these machines will be easy to start even on those frosty February mornings. The KM94 also features ECOSPEED power control which allows the user to regulate the power sent to the attachments improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions when using attachments which require less power for optimal operation.
The larger units; the KM 131 R and the KM 111 R are aimed towards the professional market offering increased power, a larger fuel tank and simplified start/stop switch. Whereas the smaller units come with the ErgoStart technology the larger units feature Stihl’s patented 4-Mix engine – a four-stroke engine which runs on a petrol/oil two-stroke mix thereby combining the benefits of both two and four stroke engines. The 4-Mix engines offer ample power, significantly increased torque whilst producing lower emissions and running more quietly. These engines are also incredibly light and easy to start making them the ideal choice for anybody who would be using these for a prolonged time.
In addition to the KM 131 R, Stihl also offer the KM 131 which is essentially the same machine with the addition of a bike handle in place of the conventional loop handle. This provides the user with a greater degree of control and accuracy when using ground-based attachments such as the brushcutter, pick tine and bristle brush. This does however preclude the use of the hedgecutter and pole pruner attachments so it is important that you give consideration to any attachments you may potentially wish to use in the future before deciding on a power unit.
As many of you will be aware, Stihl also offer a very popular range of cordless lithium-ion battery tools. Capitalising on the joint successes of the Kombi Range and their Cordless Range, Stihl will soon be releasing their new Cordless Kombi Tool, the KMA 130R; a powerful cordless Kombi engine with high torque, low weight and zero operational emissions. Offering three power levels for energy efficient work in whole host of settings and applications. The KMA 130R uses the same AP batteries as the existing cordless range and also uses the same attachments as the existing two-stroke Kombi range which means if you’re thinking of moving from your current Kombi system to the cordless range you won’t have to buy all new attachments, which is nice.
Stihl anticipate that the KMA 130 R will be released Spring 2018 so watch this space for updates nearer the time!
Honda don’t really do 2-stroke and their Versatool engines are no exception. Honda offers two options in terms of power units; the 25cc UMC 425 E and the UMC 435 E with a 35cc engine. Both units are powered by Honda’s nimble 4-stroke motor which delivers solid, reliable power with cleaner emissions than equivalent 2-stroke engines.
These 4-stroke engines are ideal for anybody looking to avoid the rigmarole of mixing 2-stroke; simply fill up with petrol, pull the cord and away you go (do remember to check your oil level though). Unlike 2-stroke engines there’s no need to let the engine warm up before it reaches its peak performance – this ensures that you’re not wasting any fuel, effectively reducing your emissions and saving you money.
Comfort and durability are the main focus with Honda’s VersaTools. Take the two-part anti-vibration clutch block for example – which displaces tremors from the engine with a vibration absorber. Reduced vibrations from the engine results in a much smoother, more comfortable operation of the machine which is great news for anybody looking to use one of these professionally as it means you can work for longer without having to take a break. Honda’s engines are the lightest and most compact of their type, and incredibly easy to start because of a super-light flywheel.
Honda’s Versatools push out high torque at a low rpm as the six-splined transmission shaft maximises torque and with the use of the same non-contact sealing bearings as used by NASA, the Versatool attachments have a longer lifetime.
It’s clear also that Honda have enormous confidence in their products as evidenced by their industry leading Five-year domestic warranty (one-year professional). If Honda are confident in the longevity of their products then you can be too, safe in the knowledge that should something unforeseen go wrong, Honda will be there with the service and support of their dealers (that’s us, by the way) to get your machine back up and running. What’s more - The warranty is reliable too; it maintains the same value throughout the cover period – meaning the last day of cover is exactly the same as the first. A reliable service for a reliable machine – what more could you want?
We mentioned earlier in this post that Stihl will soon be releasing a battery version of their Kombi System. The benefits of a battery powered machine are numerous and include (but are not limited to) the low running cost, low noise pollution and low emissions produced however some people may have a few concerns regarding battery products, chief among these concerns are doubts regarding the battery life or if the power produced can be comparable to that of a 2-stroke machine. Thankfully somebody has already put those fears to bed by producing a fantastic battery powered multi-tool with ample power and plenty of battery life for domestic and professional jobs alike.
Regular readers of our blog page will be aware that we’re very fond of EGO’s products so it will come as no surprise to find that we’re quite enamoured with the latest addition to the EGO range. Leading from the front as always EGO have been producing their multi-tool system since 2017 and the positive reviews have been flooding in ever since.
From the smooth and powerful high-efficiency brushless motor to the solid steel drive shaft the EGO multi-tool has been designed with durability in mind and with a 5-year tool warranty to rival Honda’s it’s clear that EGO too are confident in the longevity of their tools.
Different attachments will of course require differing levels of power for optimum operation, a combination of the variable speed trigger and the two-speed range selector ensures that the operator is working efficiently regardless of the task at hand.
A lightweight, well balanced tool, EGO’s multi-tool sits snuggly in the user’s hands with the adjustable loop handle and over the shoulder strap distributing the weight of the machine comfortably. The straightforward and easy to use attachments fit to the power unit with a simple yet secure coupling mechanism which make changing attachments easy without compromising the integrity of the machine.
The EGO Multi-tool power unit is available as a kit with a selection of attachments (as pictured) which helps to keep overall costs down; even when you factor in the cost of the battery and charger (and even a spare battery) this setup still works out being cheaper than equivalent setups from Stihl or Honda. Couple this with the low running costs (no fuel or servicing costs!) and the EGO multi-tool really does workout as excellent value for money.