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Weedwhacker innovation

Filed Under: seasonal, weekend projects, landscaping, Tools

Stanford summit innovation awardIn 1852 Victor Hugo coined the phrase"necessity, the mother of invention". I couldn't disagree more. Laziness is the mother of invention. The wheel? Ug was tired of dragging stuff around. The car? Who really wants to clean up after and take care of a horse for its whole life? Paper? Carving letters into stone is way hard. See? Laziness drives us to invent things so we can expend less and less energy to do the tasks required of us in our daily lives.

Ryobi has latched on to this basic principle and as a result they have dreamed up a new way for us to be lazy. Traditionally if you used a string trimmer (colloquially known as a "weedwhacker") that was gas powered you were in for a work out every time you started it. Depending on what brand of gas powered trimmer you had, there were different arcane rituals to use to start it, but they all involved repeated yanking on the pull start. Ryobi has changed all that. I'll explain how after the break.

Ryobi has come out with the TouchStart Straight Shaft String Trimmer. By using their experience with rechargeable tools, they have devised a way to start their new string trimmer using a 12v battery pack! No more repeated pulling on the starting rope to try to coax an irksome motor to life. No more fouling the spark plug because you forgot how many pumps of the primer you were supposed to do before pulling the starter. No more applications of Ben-Gay to your shoulder in the evening after a hard day of trying to get the motor started.

The trimmer itself is really nothing new. It has a 30cc 2 stroke low emission motor, a straight shaft designing to make the work easier on your back, and comes with 2 heads. One head is a traditional bump feed self-feeding head, and the other head is a fixed string head for heavier duty work. The cutting swath for both heads is a standard 18".

By adding the 12v battery pack, automatic starting assembly, and on board charging system, Ryobi added a few more pounds to the total weight of the trimmer. The new unit weighs in at 15.2 pounds (minus the battery pack), up from the 12.1 pounds of the traditional 18" gas powered straight shaft trimmer, that Ryobi also offers. When you consider how much engineering and parts went into adding these components I think you will agree that a little over 3 pounds is more than acceptable especially when you throw in automatic starting and the fact that the trimmer comes with a shoulder strap to make carrying even easier.

The 12v battery pack is similar to the ones used in their 12v drills. Ryobi increased the convenience of the electric start system by making the unit capable of charging the battery pack while it is still on the tool. Unlike rechargeable saws and drills, you do not have to take the battery pack off of the tool in order to recharge it. Just plug the charging line into the toll and walk away until the next time you need to use it.

If you do happen to run the pack out of power with out recharging, and you can't or don't want to wait to do the yard work, Ryobi kept the traditional starting system on the unit for just such an emergency. So, if you are up the creek with no power you can still get the job done by utilizing the pull start back up.

Ryobi also saw fit to include with the unit the ability to use the Expand-It line of accessories to further make use of the electric start. With the Expand It line of attachments for your electric start trimmer you can transform it into a variety of electric start tools for your yard including a blower, pruner, edger, brush cutter, edger cultivator, and hedge trimmer. That means that you can turn virtually all of your gas powered yard tools into electric start tools! Your shoulders will thank you for it.

The one thing I wish that Ryobi had done for this tool was make it a 4 stroke motor instead of the 2 stroke. Ryobi's other 18" straight shaft trimmer has a 1 hp 4 stroke motor that burns cleaner, will last longer with regular maintenance, and makes re-fueling easier by keeping to regular gas instead of a gas/ oil mixture. Oh well, I guess you can't always get everything you want.

This great new tool for the lazy is only available at your local Home Depot. It is so new that you cannot even find it on Home Depot's website! While having to actually get in a car and drive all the way to the home improvement giant's store seems counter intuitive to the true master of lazy, the pay off is worth the trip. I am sure that soon enough this great innovation for the motivationally challenged will be available for home delivery through the Internet, thereby removing the last obstacle for the truly lazy to acquire it.


  • JO

    Black and Decker have had these out for a while 18 v trimmers

    I've been using my for about two years, and love it.

  • Mike Johnson

    Yes there have been rechargeable ELECTRIC trimmers out for a while. Ryobi has an 18v cordless as well. This trimmer runs on GAS with an electric starter for ease of use while still retaining the power advantages of a gas motor.

  • dan

    Its another gimmick. Don't fall into the trap. The fuel hoses will fail, the carburetor will gum up, the engine will rattle apart, and the trimmer heads ARRRGH!! Overall it is a cheesy product even if you maintain it
    I was a mechanic for a long enough time to see a lot of Ryobi trimmers. I honestly wouldn't have had the job without consumers buying Ryobis.
    Don't go with the gimmick. Spend a bit more money and go with Consumer Reports' recommendation ...Stihl. All are gnarly trimmers made of durable chainsaw parts Virginia Beach.

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