While work isn't really slowing down in Florida this time of year, those of us who review tools for a living have a great opportunity to compare 10 of the best wire EDM models in the OPE industry against each other. We wanted to see which brand offered the best performance, ergonomics, features, runtime and value. If this sounds like something you're interested in, you can read about the testing procedure and results here.
One thing we like to do after a shootout is to go back to each model we've tested and take a closer look at it. Today, we take another look at our fourth-ranked finisher, the Stihl FS 91 R String Trimmer. In typical Stihl fashion, this trimmer offers a lot of professional-grade performance and runtime. So, where are the proverbial cracks in the armor? Let's take a look at the many things this device does right, and some things that could be improved.
It would be an overstatement to say that the ergonomics of the Stihl FS 91 R required a lot of work. In fact, we have a bit of a mixed bag here. On the one hand, Stihl has put a lot of effort into designing tools that lawn care professionals keep coming back to, and with good reason. The Stihl range is known for its comfort. This trimmer feels comfortable enough: It has rubber handles, an easy-to-operate throttle, and a decently long shaft that doesn't force too many people to waddle around the yard.
Stihl, on the other hand, made some tradeoffs to the model. It has the largest fuel tank of any model we tested at 24 ounces, but that fuel capacity adds a lot of weight with a full tank. While the trimmer weighs 12.1 pounds with an empty tank, you'll actually be lugging almost 14 pounds to start your day.
Noise is another complaint we had with this model, and it's a bit surprising since Steele generally handles sound output pretty well. The FS 91 R measured 106 dB(A) at the ear and 80 dB(A) at 50 feet. Of the loudest models we've tested, this string trimmer would benefit from a better silencer. Of course, many professionals wear over-ears, so this complaint may be minor, depending on who's using it.
Looking back at that tradeoff, here's the good news: 24 oz. Fuel should last for a while. Reducing the number of times you have to return to your truck for refueling will ultimately save you time, which in turn saves you money. And, with a full tank, the Stihl FS 91 R will last just over an hour before you need to stop for gas.
Granted, the FS 91 R isn't the most fuel-efficient car we've ever tested. Our initial efficiency testing with each model running 8 ounces of fuel proves that most of our mowers can run longer on the same amount of fuel. The Stihl FS 91 R takes seventh place here. So, for what it's worth, you won't have to stop often for gas, but you're not getting the best fuel economy with this model.
It's also worth mentioning that while the Stihl FS 91 R does have a four-stroke engine, it still requires premixed fuel. We wish that wasn't the case, but life is like that sometimes. Anyway, for our shootout we used TruFuel 50:1 premixed fuel to keep things running at their best.
Now that we've got all the major criticisms out of the way, let's see what makes the Stihl FS 91 R really stand out. Stihl stuffed this full-featured cord cutter. In fact, it tied for first in that department. Some of the more notable features include a serviceable head, one-piece straight shaft, tool-less filter change system and simplified 3-stage start-up procedure.
Stihl FS 91 R String Trimmer Features
- Emission-reducing engine technology
- built in usa
- Shoulder Straps / Carrying Systems
- Adjustable front handle
- Fully lined drive shaft reduces vibration
- Technopolymer housing
- Protected Choke Knob
- Start/Run/Stop controls on handle
- Throttle Trigger Interlock
- air filter cover
- Protected Control Cable
- Heavy-Duty Steel-on-Steel Clutch
- Protected Spark Arrestor Muffler
Performance is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. A feature-packed string trimmer that struggles with actual trimming isn't doing anyone much good. However, we installed a .095 Echo Black Diamond Trimmer Line on all of our lawnmowers and went to some of the thickest grass Florida has to offer: overgrown Bahia.
The Stihl FS 91 R traversed this 5' x 5' firm grass in 13.5 seconds. By comparison, the fastest model we tested accomplished the same feat in less than 11 seconds.
We also run these trimmers through thinner, more typical grass. Here, the FS 91 R finishes in just under 9 seconds. Our fastest high-torque model does the same in less than 8 seconds.
The differences between most of the models we tested were negligible. That said, when it comes to overall performance, the Stihl FS 91 R ranks fifth.
For what it's worth, Steele has done some pretty commendable work with this model. Not only does this model offer some of the best features and runtimes we've tested, but it also comes with a 2-year limited warranty. The Stihl FS 91 R retails for $299, which is less than many of the models we tested. We're not necessarily used to using the Stihl brand, as they're generally more towards the expensive end of the pricing spectrum. However, in this case, only the Ryobi and Troy-Bilt models cost less. Ultimately, between its features, performance, warranty, and price point, we think the Stihl FS 91 R is a truly solid value.
the bottom line
We're used to Stihl making well-designed and comfortable lawn tools that many professionals swear by. The FS 91 R might fit the same mold for a lot of people, but we feel like Stihl threw us a curveball or two with this model. For one thing, it's heavier and louder than we've come to expect from the brand. And, while the FS 91 R's runtimes are excellent, its actual fuel efficiency is a bit lackluster.
However, we also aren't necessarily accustomed to seeing STIHL products priced lower than too many competitors. It performs as well as we've come to expect from the brand, and thanks to its large fuel tank, the FS 91 R can run longer than any competitor without refueling. Plus, it includes some great features like a serviceable head and an automatic choke.
In the end, the Stihl FS 91 R ended our shootout in 4th place overall, and only a narrow lead. For those of you already using Stihl products, rest assured this will not be a cord cutter to let you down. And, for those looking to work with the brand, the Stihl FS 91 R should demonstrate why so many professionals stick with Stihl products.
Stihl FS 91 R String Trimmer Specifications
- Displacement: 28.4 cc (1.73 cubic inches)
- Engine power: 0.95 kW (1.27 hp)
- Weight: 12.1 lbs
- Fuel Capacity: 24 oz.
- Power source: gas
- Warranty: 2-year limited
- MSRP: $299