Stihl FSE 60 Electric Grass Trimmer Review

A plug-in strimmer with a great deal of power

Verdict

The Stihl FSE 60 Electric Grass Trimmer is a powerful electric strimmer that does away with the worry of batteries cutting out half-way through a job – as long as you can deal with the cable.

Pros

  • Powerful and strongly built
  • Good width of cut
  • Nicely balanced and easy to use

Cons

  • Fiddly strimmer-cord changing
  • Cable gets in the way

Key Features

  • Delivers up to 7400rpm
  • 153cm curved tube shaft
  • Thermal overload cut-out
  • Tap’n’go trimmer head
  • 350mm cutting diameter
  • 83dB
  • Fixed head

What is the Stihl FSE 60 Electric Grass Trimmer?

The Stihl FSE 60 is a strong electric brush cutter suitable for tough trimming jobs. It has a Tap’n’go thread-type trimmer head, an adjustable loop handle, a flexible drive shaft and cable-strain relief. It’s ideal for lawn edges, path borders and any difficult-to-reach areas.

Related: Oregon ST275 36V Cordless Trimmer review

Stihl FSE 60 Electric Grass Trimmer – Design and features

To assemble the Stihl FSE 60, you pull the protective cap off the drive tube, and push the drive tube into the motor housing as far as the mark on the tube. Secure it with a screw in the motor housing. Next, the loop handle is clipped over the drive tube and secured with a nut and bolt using the Torx key supplied.

The cutting head guard slides over the other end of the drive tube and is secured in place with another nut and bolt, again using the Torx key. Finally, the cutting head is attached to the drive shaft and secured with a large black plastic nut, which you tighten by hand.

The Stihl FSE 60 has a curved-tube design with the motor at the opposite end to the cutting head, so it’s like a petrol-driven strimmer in that respect. However, unlike similar-sized petrol-driven strimmers, it feels well balanced and is therefore comfortable in hand.

Design-wise the FSE 60 is like a petrol-driven strimmer, then, but it’s easier to hold and powered by electricity. The design means that there’s no danger of damp grass getting into the motor and damaging it as you work.

There’s a lot of adjustment on the looped second handle to suit users of varying heights. My 5ft 4in girlfriend found it as easy and well balanced to use as I did at 6ft 5in. The head is fixed, so the Stihl FSE 60 has to be turned upside down for edging and held sideways for some trimming jobs.

Like all Stihl machines, the FSE 60 has a palm-operated safety switch (orange in colour) on top of the handle, and then a finger-operated trigger under the handle to start it. It also has a device on the rear of the motor called a cable-strain relief – over which you hook the power cable to prevent any strain in the area where the power cable enters the motor.

Changing the strimmer cord is fiddly. You start by unscrewing a large plastic nut. Next, remove the entire cutting head and take out the spool. Cut two 3-metre lengths of strimmer cord, and insert the ends of each cord in the spool. Bend the cords back against themselves to form hooks and wind them on. Then you insert the two free ends through the holes in the eyelets on the cutting head before re-inserting the spool into the head.

You reattach the cutting head on to the drive shaft, and then the real challenge begins: there are arrows on the spool and the cutting head that have to be lined up before the securing nut can be inserted.

Putting this nut in is awkward because you have to push it against a spring while screwing it in place. I’m used to working with such machines but even I found this manoeuvre tricky. A pre-wound spool is available as an extra accessory, but you’d still have the problem of fitting it into position. There’s an optional depth wheel for giving the correct ground clearance when edging.

Stihl FSE 60 Electric Grass Trimmer – Handling and performance

The Stihl FSE 60 is a powerful machine, and coped easily with grass, weeds, young brambles and nettles. It even tackled big clumps of nettles, provided I went in gently, starting from the top and working down gradually. Pencil-sized brambles were no problem at all.

Of course, the strimmer cord wore down faster when the machine was made to work this hard on tough and fibrous weeds. The Stihl FSE 60 cut a square metre of lawn grass in 10 seconds, so it works pretty fast.

The bent-tube design means the cutting head isn’t adjustable, so although the makers describe it as ideal for hard-to-reach places, I feel the FSE 60 is more of a heavy-duty, large area strimmer than something you’d use for going round fiddly and confined gardens.

If you want to work along a bank then simply turn it on its side, but if you need to cut the top of a hedge, for example, then you’d have to climb up there and use the machine as if you were at ground level.

For lawn edging you turn the whole machine upside down, but it would be hard to use the Stihl FSE 60 in this way in a tight space. Also, if you have to strim round shrubs or trees planted close together, the electric cable is likely to become a nuisance because it will wind round plants and get caught up.

The Stihl FSE 60 is long enough that you can poke it into fairly inaccessible areas of the garden to cut them, but for really tight manoeuvring it’s simply too big.

The motor is up by your right hand, not down by the cutting head, and this means you can strim damp or dewy grass without any risk of moisture getting into the motor and damaging it. Debris isn’t going to fly in there whilst you’re cutting, either. Also, since the weight isn’t in the cutting head, the machine feels nicely balanced and is easy to use for extended periods.

The Stihl FSE 60 weighs in at 3.9kg, but the excellent balance means that it doesn’t feel that heavy at all.

Noise is rated as 83dB, but the strimmer didn’t sound loud in use. There’s no variable speed – the motor is flat-out all the time, but then this is generally all you need.

The adjustable second handle had a slight down side: if you want to adjust it while working then you have to stop the machine and use a Torx key (supplied in the box. There’s a substantial and robust guard, and an attachment point for a sling.

The Stihl FSE 60 has a useful thermal overload. If you work it too hard then the motor will cut out, and you then have to wait three minutes for it to cool down before you can start it up again. It’s also advisable – as is the case with any corded strimmer – to buy a circuit-breaker and plug it in to your electrical socket before attaching the plug of the Stihl FSE 60. This is because it’s easy to accidentally damage or strim over an electric cable, and while you can occasionally get away with this, there will inevitably be a day when you don’t.

The electric cable is only 10 metres long, so if your garden is average to large then you’re likely to need an extension cable. It is a good, heavy-duty cable.

Why buy the Stihl FSE 60 Electric Grass Trimmer?

The Stihl FSE 60 is easy to use and surprisingly powerful, chewing up thick vegetation with ease. It’s fairly quiet, too, so would be good for a residential area. It would suit an open garden that needs heavy work, and is a tough strimmer that can keep going for more than the half an hour most cordless machines can manage. The design means the Stihl FSE 60 is comfortable to use and can cut damp grass with no risk of damaging the motor. But, the cable gets in the way and the strimmer cord is fiddly to replace.

Verdict

A powerful corded strimmer for the money, with the same design as a petrol-driven machine – and many of their advantages, too.

Score