Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB Review

Pros

  • High suction on Turbo mode
  • Two batteries extends run time
  • Great hard floor performance
  • Good carpet cleaning
  • Very quiet in use

Cons

  • Low suction on normal mode
  • Poorly designed 2-in-1 tool

Key Features

  • Review Price: £499.99
  • Cordless, bagless design
  • 0.4l dust bin
  • Two 3Ah batteries
  • Fast charger
  • AllFloor floor head
  • RotationClean filter cleaning
  • Flexible crevice tool
  • 2-in-1 brush tool

What is the Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB?

Top of Bosch’s new cordless stick cleaner range, the Unlimited BCS122GB comes with two 3Ah batteries and a fast charger. That allows it to claim near infinite run time, by charging one battery while you are using the other. With two power modes, excellent filtration and a fully articulating floorhead, it’s certainly a contender.

On Turbo mode, the BCS122GB’s suction power is outstanding, delivering a great clean on hard floors and carpets alike. It’s not perfect though, with lacklustre normal power mode, an easily stopped brush bar and poor 2-in-1 brush tool.

Yet the 18 minutes runtime (nine minutes x 2) on the Turbo mode gives you ample high-power floor cleaning to rival any current mains-powered cleaner.

Related: Best cordless vacuum cleaners

Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB – Design and features

The Unlimited series is part of Bosch’s 18 V Power for All system that shares the same range of 18V lithium-ion power packs between different tools. That covers everything from cordless drills to garden machinery and the BCS122GB cordless stick cleaner.

The theory is that as you are unlikely to be vacuuming and hedge-trimming at the same time, you only need one or two batteries. As the lithium packs are one of the most expensive parts of any cordless appliance, that is a shrewd move. The BCS122GB is supplied with two 18V 3Ah batteries and a seriously fast charger.

This combination allows Bosch to claim ‘unlimited’ runtime for this cleaner. On standard power setting, it will go for an hour, and the charger can power up a battery in 55minutes. With the two batteries, theoretically, you simply won’t run out of power.

The cleaner is the default shape for handheld vacuums with stick cleaner pretensions. It has a rear-mounted pistol grip with trigger operation, a low-slung battery and a compact 0.4l bagless bin. Unlike other well-known handheld cordless cleaners, the BCS122GB’s trigger is a defined on/off switch. One press to start, another to turn off.

On top of the body is the Turbo switch. That might not be as corny as Tesla’s ‘Insane’ power mode, but it seriously ramps up the BCS122GB’s suction. Runtime takes a nosedive accordingly.

Unusually, the BCS122GB has a single filter unit, rather than the multifarious foam, paper, mesh and pleated filters of its rivals. But thanks to Bosch’s very sleek filter design that doesn’t diminish the filtration, and the company claims that a hygienic 99.9% of particles will be captured.

The BCS122GB’s filter has a fine mesh canister with a large pleated filter inside. You can give the inner filter a light clean by turning the red handle on top, known as RotationClean. That causes little paddles on the inside to flick the pleats, knocking out trapped dust.

We first saw this tech on some of Bosch’s mains-powered cleaners and it worked well for both filtration and reducing the filter cleaning chore. It’s not washable though, so we do wonder how its performance will fair over time when particles get permanently lodged in its fibres.

The bin itself takes a little getting used to as it releases from the cleaner by tipping forward and away. Emptying is as simple as pulling out the filter unit and tipping out the contents.

With just a battery and bin attached, the main cleaner body tipped our scales at a nicely light 1.8kg. The handle is well back, giving it a slightly nose-heavy feel, but the battery beneath the handle position counters that to an extent. That is most noticeable when you aim ceiling-wards for cobwebs – the BCS122GB’s weight feels well distributed and doesn’t put too much undue stress on the wrists.

The beefy metal tube and robust floorhead with its own motor do add a weighty feel to the whole ensemble though. Yet as a fully kitted-out stick cleaner, it still manages to keep under the magic 3kg mark. That makes for a cleaner that is both manoeuvrable and easy to cart around the house.

Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB – Accessories

The Unlimited BCS122GB is the top-spec model of the series and comes with a solid, if not fully comprehensive, list of toys.

Its charging dock has more than a hint of industrial power tool about it. It’s purposefully black and is clearly built to withstand builder-scale abuse.

A single charge light illuminates flashing green for charging, green for fully charged and red to signify issues, such as when the battery is too hot to charge. That scenario triggers a pack-cooling mode that fans the battery for up to 20 minutes before charging starts automatically.

The tool roster is no less impressive. The main floorhead is Bosch’s AllFloor HighPower head, featuring a motorised brush bar, a pop-out roller for easy cleaning and a fully articulating neck. It’s not overly wide but it isn’t too large or heavy, so it makes navigating around the room a cinch.

Clip-on tools include a 2-in-1 furniture nozzle with pull-down dusting brush and a bonkers long and very flexible crevice tool. That is ideal for getting down behind radiators, but takes some wielding to accurately pinpoint spots of dust. A good-length metal tube optionally extends reach for all tools. Clips and fittings between tools and tubes are top-notch.

The package is complete with a neat wall mount for the cleaner with tool storage pegs underneath. It is a passive unit, so it won’t charge your cleaner while it is stored – but it’s a neat storage solution.

Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB – Charging and run time

The two batteries supplied with this model are remarkably compact and light for their capacity. For comparison, a lot of budget cordless cleaners come with 1.5Ah or 2Ah batteries that are larger and heavier. The solid capacity promises a whole lot of run time from the cleaner, with the ability to swap out batteries and charge while you are cleaning.

Moreover, the charger is one of the most potent we have ever seen supplied with a vacuum cleaner, punching out 8 amps to make for very fast charging. That sort of charging grunt demands cooling and the dock has its own fan that cools both the charger and battery pack. The upshot of all this serious engineering is the ability to power-up an 18V 3Ah pack in under an hour – around 55 minutes, in our tests.

In constant use, we got single-battery run times a fair bit longer than Bosch’s claims. These ranged from a truly staggering 89 minutes on normal power mode with just a detail tool attached, to a fairly respectable nine minutes on Turbo power mode with the floorhead running. An hour and half of cleaning from a single battery is our new vacuum cleaner runtime record by miles – and you get two batteries. Three hours of vacuuming anyone? No, us neither.

Even using normal power mode with the motorised floorhead we got around an hour’s worth of cleaning. That is truly outstanding run time. Turbo mode with the non-motorised tools delivered around 14 minutes.

However, those huge runtime differences highlight the equally massive difference in suction power between modes, and we think Bosch has got it very wrong here.

While we have no complaints with the power or runtime in Turbo mode, standard mode simply sacrifices too much suction for those long, long runtimes. Given you get two swap-out batteries and a fast charger, it isn’t even necessary. The Bosch comprehensively outruns fixed-battery competitors like Dyson anyway.

As it is, the normal mode provides ineffectively low suction power. It’s of very little use in typical day-to-day household cleaning and I guarantee most users will simply default to the Turbo setting all the time. At which point, nine minutes is not much at all for general floor vacuuming duties. Good job Bosch supplies two batteries.

We would have much rather seen the normal mode offer twice the suction and half the runtime. That would give you about half an hour of ‘normal’ cleaning with the floorhead per battery. As it is, with its two batteries, the Unlimited BCS122GB offers over two hours of not very much at all on normal mode.

Thankfully, because of the two batteries, this Bosch delivers plenty of serious Turbo-mode cleaning runtime. With the fast charger taking 55 minutes, power is not quite unlimited, but you can get a very long way around the house in 18 minutes.

Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB – How noisy is it?

Bosch has done a lot of work on the Unlimited BCS122GB’s high-speed motor, airflow and noise damping – and it’s a real success. This is comfortably one of the quietest stick cleaners we have wielded.

On normal power mode with no tools, this cleaner barely registered 65dB of noise output. That is much quieter than most of its premium cordless competitors and the sound is an inoffensive drone – as opposed to the dentist-drill sound of some.

At 65dB, the BCS122GB competes with some of the market’s best low-noise and ‘silence’ mains cleaners. You won’t disturb the neighbours even during midnight cleaning sorties.

Bump the setting up to the significantly more powerful Turbo mode and the Bosch’s lack of noise is even more impressive. Tipping our dB meter at just 71dB (A-weighted at 1 metre), this cleaner on its highest power mode is as quiet or even quieter than most cordless models on their lowest power setting. Brilliant!

Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB – How does it clean carpets and hard floors?

The Bosch has two power levels, normal and Turbo. To summarise, let’s call these settings ‘poor’ and ‘properly effective’ respectively.

The normal power mode produces very little in the way of suction or airflow, making it suitable for only the lightest dusting duties. Placing a hand over the bare nozzle offers very little pull. That suction spread across the full width of the floorhead feels even less. In this mode, the BCS122GB would lose a sucking contest to a bike pump and drinking straw. For lightest cobweb busting or dusting shelves, it just about suffices. Just.

The Turbo mode is a very, very different story, albeit one you must manually engage every time you switch on. Punch that button on top and the BCS122GB does a Tesla and goes ‘Insane’. Suction and airflow are multiples of the normal power mode, delivering great cleaning ability. Jekyll and Hyde? You bet.

On hard floors the effective floorhead and great Turbo suction drag in loose dust and dirt with ease. The Bosch passed our spilt oats test with flying colours, removing all the oats in a single pass. It removed particles in the grouting groove and didn’t flick or brush anything away from the head. Perfect.

We did give hard floor cleaning a try on the normal mode, but even the great floorhead could not save the day. The lack of suction left oat particles in the shallowest of grouting groove.

Using the floorhead on carpet, the BCS122GB moves around fairly easily in either mode. The articulating head steers accurately with a light twist of the wrist, and the suck-down effect on Turbo mode is noticeable but not overly onerous. On our carpet test that translated into a good clean in just two passes.

Close-to-edge cleaning was very impressive, and even close up, the Turbo mode delivered a decent clean in just this single run. It took a couple of passes to get rid of all the heavier carpet powder particles, but the good suction did well in one pass.

However, all is not completely roses with the floorhead. The motor that rotates the brush bar lacks ‘torque’ driving power. When the Turbo mode suction pulls the head down onto the carpet, the brush bar slows or even stops completely. Lift off a little and it picks up again, only to slow or stop when it bogs down on the carpet.

That is a trait we are much more used to seeing with air-powered ‘turbo’ brushes and it can make cleaning rather frustrating. The floorhead’s cleaning power is great, but the brush bar slowed or stopped far too often on carpet for our liking. Switching to normal power mode stops that happening – but the clean is then fairly poor.

We have little doubt Bosch has specified a lower torque brush bar motor to save power and increase runtime but – like the ineffective normal power mode – it’s a false economy. We would happily trade a couple of minutes of Turbo runtime for a brushbar that cleaned consistently without slowing or stopping. It’s not an issue we have experienced with Bosch’s premium competitors either. That alone lets down an otherwise excellent carpet-cleaning performance.

Unfortunately, the 2-in-1 brush tool continued to let the side down. While the pull-down brush is a good size and has about the right stiffness bristles, it doesn’t stay pulled down. The clip that secures it in place is very flimsy, meaning that every time you put some pressure on the brush, it collapses back onto the tool. The clip got progressively worse as we used the cleaner over a few weeks, rendering the brush pretty much useless, save for the very lightest dusting duties.

Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB – How does it cope with pet hair?

We tackled several areas of mixed Collie and Labrador hair on carpet and hard floors and the Unlimited BCS122GB never failed to deal with the fluffy issue in hand.

On hard floors, you can even get away with the normal power mode as the powered brush bar’s sweeping action makes up for the lack of suction grunt. It is never going to drag hairs in from all sides in this mode, but pet-hair tumbleweed that the floorhead went over ended up in the bin.

Using Turbo mode on our fairly short pile stair carpet, the floorhead offered great pet hair pick-up. The short pile meant the brush bar didn’t slow or stop too often either. Caveats about the brush bar notwithstanding, pet hair pick-up across carpets proved very effective when using Turbo mode.

On the downside, there is no small turbo tool supplied for use on pet beds and upholstery. At the Unlimited BCs122GB’s £500 asking price, that is a serious omission. Most of Bosch’s main competitors at this price range come supplied with a small turbo tool.

Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB – How easy is it to use on stairs?

We used the Unlimited BCs122GB on stairs with both the tube attached and with the floorhead connected directly to the cleaner body. Both worked well and, if you have straight steps, the tube gives extra reach and you can support it with your other hand. For more complex stairs, shortening up the system and using the floorhead directly works well.

The head’s superb articulation allows it to turn into all but the tightest of turning steps, although it remains too large to flip up and do the verticals. For those, we used the triangular upholstery tool, which was effective if not swift.

While being cordless and having a direct floorhead is undoubtedly the ideal scenario for stair cleaning, we again missed having a small turbo tool for these duties. The main floorhead is a little unwieldy and a small tool would have also allowed us to clean the carpeted step verticals.

Should I buy the Bosch Unlimited BCS122GB?

Bosch’s flagship cordless stick vacuum offers sublime cleaning power on Turbo mode and great runtime thanks to its two batteries and fast charger. Yet a number of niggles take the polish off of its performance, particularly considering its premium price.

The normal power mode runs forever but has next to no suction, the Turbo mode suck-down slows the brush bar on deep carpet and the 2-in-1 brush tool simply doesn’t work very well. At £500 we would have also expected a mini turbo tool for pet bed and upholstery cleaning.

At its best, the BCS122GB offers staggering good cordless cleaning. But at this price, we would expect a more polished all-around performance.

Verdict

The Unlimited BCS122GB is supremely powerful, long runtime cordless cleaner, but with caveats that we would not expect at this price.

Score


Score in detail

  • Usability 9
  • Cleaning performance 9
  • Features 8
  • Design 7
  • Value 7

Other

Type Cordless