Experts say the two-cycle Stihl FS 56 RC-E Homescaper Series gas trimmer cleanly cuts grass and impressively handles tough weeds and stalks, but excessive vibration is a drawback. Equipped with a 27.2 cc low-emission engine, the 56 RC-E is 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the previous model, according to Stihl. It also features Stihl's low-torque system and semi-automatic choke for easier starts. When rotated 90 degrees, this straight-shaft unit doubles as an edger and uses a dual-line bump feed that advances when tapped on the ground. But at 12.5 pounds, the 56 RC-E is heavier than most gas models including the less expensive Hitachi CG22EASSLP (*Est. $190) .
We found the best reviews of the Stihl 56 RC-E Homescaper Series string trimmer at ConsumerReports.org, where editors rank it in comparison to 21 other gas models, and at Popular Mechanics, where it's rated against five other gas models. ProToolsReview.com provides analysis from hands-on testing.
Editors compare the Stihl 56 RC-E Homescaper Series string trimmer to 21 other gas models and rank it based on criteria such as how neatly it trims grass and edges vertical lines. It's also rated for cutting power, handling and ease of use.
Review: String Trimmers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2011
Editors compare the Stihl 56 RC-E string trimmer to five other gas trimmers and note its "vicious" cut in thorny blackberry stalks. A three-position choke lever, easy pull start-up and fully encased motor represent "careful, fastidious engineering," but persistent vibration keeps the Stihl 56 RC-E from reaching 5-star perfection.
Review: The Best New String Trimmers: Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn
In this single-product review of the Stihl 56 RC-E, editors find start-up a "breeze" and consider the semi-automatic choke a "stroke of genius." This unit's sturdy build quality and powerful ability to slice through heavy grass also impress, as does its ability to trim and edge. But the 56 RC-E's heft and frustrating bump-feed mechanism are drawbacks.
Review: Stihl 56 RC-E String Trimmer Review, Everett Snyder, July 23, 2010