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Stihl RMA 235 Review

A combination of quality build and cutting power make the Stihl RMA 235 the ultimate small cordless lawn mower

Verdict

Small and easy to store, the Stihl RMA 235 is the perfect cordless lawn mower for those with smaller gardens, although it can cope with up to 300m2 of grass. Despite its relatively small size, the RMA 235 has the power and build quality of its bigger brothers, effortlessly and cleanly cutting through grass to keep your lawn in its best condition. A range of batteries and charging options can increase how far you can go and how quickly the lawn mower is ready for action.

Pros

  • Excellent cutting performance
  • Grass catcher bin takes a lot of clippings
  • Folds up neatly for storage

Cons

  • Grass cutting height fiddly to adjust

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £329
  • Cordless lawn mower
  • 1080 x 370 x 1270mm (extended with grass catcher box), 14kg
  • 33cm cutting width
  • 30-litre grass catcher box

For those of us with smaller gardens, it often feels as though we have to overpay for a high-quality lawn mower, or sacrifice cutting power and quality to get a cheaper budget model. The Stihl RMA 235 comfortably straddles both boundaries: it’s a lightweight and compact lawnmower designed for smaller lawns (up to 300m2, but 200m2 and smaller is good, too), with the power and performance of some of Stihl’s larger machines. Well priced and easy to use, it’s the perfect lawn mower for the smaller lawn.

Stihl RMA 235 – What you need to know

  • Cutting performance: A powerful motor can handle long and short grass alike, leaving a clean cut that will keep your lawn in the best condition.
  • Build and features: A robust and light body, this is a tough lawn mower. The handlebars fold down for easy storage.
  • Run time: Tackles up to 200m2 on a single charge, although extra and larger batteries are available to extend cutting time.

Related: Best lawn mower

Stihl RMA 235 Design and Features – Tough and easy to store

It’s easy to spot a Stihl product thanks to the distinctive orange and white design, and the Stihl RMA 235 is no different. As well as having the standard colour scheme, this lawn mower also has Stihl’s usual high build quality with a tough-feeling and robust body. It’s also comparatively light at 14kg.

Stihl’s more expensive lawn mowers have a single arm that folds easily down for storage. The Stihl RMA 235, as a cheaper model, has a more traditional design, with a handle that has to be attached on both sides. Even so, Stihl has put a lot of thought into storage.

Each of the tool-free bolts that holds the arms in place is double-threaded. When you unscrew the bolts, you only undo the nut as far as the first thread, then you can fold the handlebar down and forward. If there was a single thread, then the nut would come off the end, making the job fiddlier. Even so, as the control cable runs up the side of the handlebars, you just need to be careful that you don’t get it caught in the fold.

Once folded, the lawn mower can have the grass-catcher box removed and placed on top. It should mean that the RMA 235 can be placed into a smallish shed, and the carry handle on top makes moving it around easier. There are two height positions for the handlebars, which will suit most people.

Stihl RMA 235 folded for storage

As this is a cordless model, it runs on Stihl’s AK batteries, which also power many of the company’s other tools including the FSA-56 grass trimmer and MSA 120C chainsaw. You can either buy the lawn mower barebones, if you have a battery already, but there are several bundles available, such as with the AK 20 and AL101 charger.

Stihl RMA 235 battery charger

Stihl says that the AL101 takes 150 minutes to charge the battery, although you get 80% charge after 105 minutes. Faster chargers, larger batteries and spare batteries are all available, so you can balance run time and charge time to suit your garden. As a general rule, Stihl recommends the AK 20 battery for gardens of up to 200m2 and the AK 30 for up to 300m2.

Batteries have a charge meter on them: just press the button and a set of LEDs light up to show you how much charge is left. Neatly, when the battery is inserted and the lawn mower’s lid is closed, you can easily see the battery meter.

Stihl RMA 235 battery meter

Stihl, as always, is very safety conscious, so there are several steps you have to go through before you can use the lawn mower. First, you have to have the key inserted, which is kind of like a larger version of a car fuse. If you have inquisitive children around, you can remove the key when the lawn mower is not in use.

Stihl RMA 235 key inserted

Secondly, to start the lawn mower you have to depress the side button and then pull up the main trigger; after that, you can release the side button.

Stihl RMA 235 side button

The RMA 235 has a 33cm cutting width, which is ideal for smaller gardens. Underneath, there’s a single blade. It’s easy to remove for sharpening (make sure you take the battery out first), although you’re probably better off getting your Stihl dealer to take care of this for you. There’s no mulching option for this lawn mower, and you can only collect the grass cuttings in the box at the back.

Stihl RMA 235 blade

Adjustable cutting heights are important on any lawn mower, both to help you tackle different lengths of grass, and to adjust cutting heights for different times of year. There are five marked cutting heights on the lawn mower (25mm to 65mm, so roughly 8mm per step). You have to pull out the lever and move it around to adjust the height of the lawnmower’s frame. It’s a touch fiddly to get right to get past the weight of the lawnmower.

Stihl RMA 235 cutting height

Stihl RMA 235 Performance – Cuts beautifully and stuffs the grass catcher full

I tested the RMA 235 on a variety of grass lengths, from older, more sparse grass, to a recently sown lawn, and a slightly overgrown border. Given the length of the grass in some places, I had to start with a higher cutting height (step 4 on the lawn mower). At this level, the RMA 235 easily cut through the grass, leaving no taller clumps behind.

Stihl RMA 235 path overgrown Stihl RMA 235 path grass high cut

Over the next couple of weeks, I reduced the cutting height down to the lowest setting of 25mm to get the perfect summer cut (for autumn, a longer cut is required). This slow process meant that I got the ideal cutting height, while maintaining the grass quality, leaving a neatly trimmed lawn with that soft and bouncy feel to it.

Stihl RMA 235 grass low cut close up

With regular (twice weekly) mowing, plus watering and feeding, my grass was left in far better state that it’s been in a while: the quality of the lawn mower is hugely important in maintaining a lawn.

At the back of the grass catcher box is a pop-up flap: when it’s up, there’s room in the box; down means that the box is full. The power of the RMA 235 is such that the 30-litre box takes a lot of grass, neatly compacted. In fact, remove the box from the rear and the grass stands up neatly. Regardless of the size of your lawn, the way that grass is compacted means that you’ll need to empty the RMA 235 less than much of the competition.

Stihl RMA 235 grass catcher

Should I buy the Stihl RMA 235?

While at the bottom of Stihl’s range, the RMA 235 is far from what you might call cheap; however, you’re paying for quality. The simple fact is that if you want the best quality lawn, the quality of the cut is hugely important.

For those keen gardeners that take pride in a well-manicured lawn but perhaps don’t have much grass, say in a city garden, the Stihl RMA 235 is the perfect compact cordless lawn mower. Effortlessly dealing with all grass cuts, extremely well built and light enough to manoeuvre easily, this is the best compact lawn mower you can buy, hands down.

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