Yes, two-cycle engines make more power per displacement and weight unit than four-cycle engines, which makes them engines of choice for go-fast go-karts, small motorcycles, and most handheld yard tools like string trimmers and blowers. But truthfully, they’re a mess. Besides forcing you to keep a separate gas can around the garage just for the two-cycle’s gas-oil mix, they’re also finicky as hell and not much fun to work on. (Okay, I’ll admit that I’m parroting my dad here. He did a lot of small engine repair and he hated ’em. I’ve been of the throw-it-away-when-it-quits camp, which is embarrassing.)
That’s why these four-cycle models from Ryobi caught my eye. They offer wheeled trimmers and edgers in the line, too, but it’s easy to find those from other sources with a nice Briggs and Stratton on top. But the four-cycle blowers and string trimmers just seem like a great idea.
The Ryobi site doesn’t say a whole lot about power or other features, but c’mon — do we really care how much torque or HP a string trimmer makes? It chops weeds, right? It’s not exactly light at 9.1 lbs., but that doesn’t sound too bad, especially if you (like me) would just use it once a week or so. (I’m guessing that pros will want to stick with the two-cycles.)
They call the pictured model a “power head” because it’s designed to work with all the Ryobi Expandi-it attachments, including a whole bunch of different-shaped trimmers ends, a cultivator, a pruner, a brush cutter, and even a hedge trimmer. They also offer a straight up curved-shaft model.
The power head pictured above runs $150 at Home Depot right now, and I actually spotted a refurbished model on Google shopping for sale at just $80. Expect to pay around $50-$80 for various attachments, with the more unusual ones on the top end of the pricing.