echo srm230 or stihl fs90?

nichodemusMay 21, 2008

I'm trying to choose between purchasing an Echo SRM230 ($270) or a Stihl FS90R ($300). And I need some help with that. I've read pretty much everything I can find about these two models.

I'll be using it about once a week, probably a third of that time will be spent trying to reclaim some buildings and woods from briars, vines, and honeysuckle. So I want to make sure I have enough power and a beefy enough trimmer.

My biggest concern with the Echo is that it has a smaller engine (22.8cc 2-cycle vs Stihl's 28.4cc 4-cycle). Will it make much noticeable difference?

Otherwise, I like the Echo's dealer somewhat better than Stihl's, and the price is better. On the other hand the Stihl has the already mentioned bigger engine, and allows for attachments if I ever need them (wouldn't mind the chainsaw). Any advice would be appreciated.

(I thought I posted this once already, but couldn't find it. So forgive me if I did that.)

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masiman(z7 VA)

I think the FS90 is a stronger machine. I think the 260 would be a closer comparison to the 90.

I think the 90R model has the solid shaft. Get that if you will be doing brushcutter work. The flex shaft can handle it but it won't be as durable as the solid shaft.

That said, the 230 would do okay with what your looking at, but I think the 90R would do better.

Get a good harness, it makes a big difference.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 9:48AM
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ladylake(minnesota)

2 cycle engine have qiute a bit more power per cc than 4 cycle engines and are lighter. Steve

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:47AM
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zootjs(zone 5 MA)

I just got an FS90, after doing similarly exhaustive research. In fact, I could have written your exact post, including the dealer preference!

So far, so good. I have only used the string, so far.

What pushed me towards the Stihl was that the FS90 is the lowest-end model that they recommend for all the heavy-duty attachments. So, it's like a pivot product, entering a quality level that seems more along the lines of pro gear, rather than the more consumer end intended for people who do only light-duty work. While my needs are similar to yours, I've been disappointed with consumer grade gear 100% of the time, and my hope is that this will save me time and aggravation in the long run.

--Jonathan

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 3:29PM
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rmh3481

The Echo unit has a two stroke engine, whereas the Stihl is a hybrid four stroke. On top of this the Echo has a five year consumer warranty.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 3:40PM
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nichodemus

About the engine, are they really comparable (22cc vs 28cc)? I've heard the 4 cycles have more torque, is that true?

@Jonathan: I hear you about the heavy-dutiness of the Stihl. I did notice that the Echo does not have the solid shaft.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 5:05PM
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yungman

From all the posts I read from lawnsite, you should get better reliability with Echo compare to the 4Mix. Go read threads over there. Echo do not publish the power rating, but FS90 is pretty high power.

Echo warrante is much longer. 5 years consummer, 2 year commercial. Echo alway have good reliability. If you compare Echo SRM260 to FS90, that will be a much closer comparison.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 8:24PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

The Stihl 4 mix engine has lower emissions and strong torque but I prefer the two stroke. The hybrid engine still has reliability issues.
There are two schools of thought on solid vs cable shafts.Stihl will not warranty their soft shafts if blades are installed yet Echo claims theirs are better at absorbing shock loads.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:09PM
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nichodemus

Does anybody know what a SRM260 should cost? The dealer had one, it was $360! And an orange engine housing (said something about being a newer version?). But right next to it, was the standard grey one, but I'm not sure what the price was on that one. Maybe it was cheaper. I'm trying to stay at $300...

I've heard of the flex cables rounding out on the end at the blade, happened to an old one I had. But I could see where they would absorb some shock, easier on the engine too.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 8:38AM
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yungman

The SRM260 should be about $300 give and take. The orange are the SRM265, the old SRM260 is not orange.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 1:06AM
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nichodemus

Went back to the Echo dealer, he had the SR260 for $299 (the one I thought was a 260 was actually a 280).

So now I'm deciding between the Echo SRM260 and the Stihl FS90R. Probably leaning toward the Echo b/c of warranty, dealers support, and the reliability of their engines.

But I'm still considering the Stihl b/c of larger engine and attachments.

Any more advice? Ive heard the FS90 runs real smooth. How about the echo, will it vibrate my arms to jello like my old toro did?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 3:02PM
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rmh3481

The only other thing in a trimmer that you should consider is the string head. Echo has a flawless gear head - bump head system. They also make a fully automatic string head or if wrapping string isnt your thing an easy loader head that takes short pieces of line that plug into a locking cam in the head. Echo is the number one selling trimmer in the USA if that helps you decide.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 9:48PM
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nichodemus

Ok. I think I will go get the Echo SRM260 tomorrow, unless something happens or I hear a bunch of really good reasons not to.

Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 8:05PM
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yungman

Good choice!!!! Plenty strong, good review.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 6:22PM
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nichodemus

For the record, I actually ended up buying the SRM261T. I used it over 2 hours the other day, in all sorts of stuff, and it was so smooth and powerful, I couldn't believe it. My old trimmer would have my arms numb from vibration in a half hour.

This new one is already cutting stuff with just using the string that I couldn't do with the blade on my old trimmer, and they have about the same size motors.

So far, I'm very happy with it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 12:51PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Do you have a harness or did you get one?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 4:14PM
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nichodemus

I haven't got the harness yet. This is not the unit with the bicycle grips, it has the D-loop handle. I had a harness with my old trimmer, which was much less balanced than the new one. It didn't help a whole lot, but I may give it a try anyway.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 9:13AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

They seem tricky to get right. It took me about 15 sessions to get it right on my shoulder strap but it is not perfect. I would still like to get a harness but they never have it in stock at my local shop.

To avoid hassles, see if your dealer will fit you up to the harness at his shop with the understanding that if it does not fit right work better than the strap you have, you won't buy it.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 12:03PM
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nichodemus

I thought I would post a follow up now that its been about a year. I have used the Echo SRM261T a LOT, both with the string head and the blade. It has been an excellent machine. First off, the only trouble I've had was the carb needed an adjustment about 6 months in (when I was using it in the winter) and the dealer did that with no problem. It would start, but you couldn't give it any throttle, it would die. Since then, its been fine. They told me to bring it back again this summer, they'd adjust it again.

This thing has massive power and torque. I haven't found much that it won't cut. With the blade I've cut saplings over an inch thick. I think with patience, you could do more than that. It's basically a circular saw blade.

I've cut stuff with the string that surprised me, too. The string head is the best I've ever used, it never jams or kinks up. And it seems to hold a lot of string. Also, it doesn't get weeds caught up all around it like my old one did.

I've used this one for many hours at a time, and the vibration never bothers me. My old one you couldn't really use for more than an hour, it would kill your arms. This unit is very smooth, easy to start too. And I never did get the harness, I've kept the regular d-handle, too.

About the only thing I wish is that I could switch quicker between the string and the blade, I use them both a lot. Its a less than 5 minute job as it is, so not a big problem. Anyway, its a great machine, very recommended!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 10:29AM
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yungman

Too bad they discontinued this model in favor of SRM265 which has a different engine.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 12:04PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Thanks for the update. I'm glad it is a good purchase for you.

My update is that I did get the improved harness. Not the full pro version but the lightweight double shoulder one. It makes a huge difference. Attaching to and removing the trimmer from the harness is simple and secure. Plus it was surprisingly cheap considering it was a Stihl harness. I think less than $20. I figured they would rob me for $40 or $50.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 2:48PM
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