This is my fourth weed whip I have owned in about 10 years, not counting the Black and Decker we reviewed. First was a Craftsman that lasted about a year before it broke. Then I had two Homelites. Both were great and lasted a long time. In fact, the second Homelite still works, but I figured I would give the Ryobi a try since it was a four cycle and I could use different attachments.
Since this is a four cycle, you don’t have to mix gas and oil. The gas goes in one compartment and the oil goes in another compartment. This is great for me because that means I can throw away my one gas can that is mixed and now just have one gas can. I don’t mind two cycles and don’t mind mixing gas, but if I can run everything just off gas and free up some space, why not? The coolest part of this trimmer is I can expand. So if I want to use this as an edger, I just buy the attachment and now I can have an edger which runs off the same unit. Again, this allows me to free up space since I can donate my old edger.
The unit I have been testing is the RY34446 which is a straight shaft and comes with a 3 year warranty. Out of the box it was easy to set up. The oil is included, even with a paper funnel. I installed the gas, oil and attached the handle and I was set to go. After priming the unit, I pulled the string and it started right up. I have to say the balance is very good and the power is more than enough to do what I need. I don’t live on a farm or next to a forest, so most of my use is trimming around trees, a fence and a deck. So for my needs this trimmer is great and has been good the 15 times I have used it so far. However I do have some reservations on this trimmer.
While I like everything about the trimmer, the gas compartment is poorly designed. Most of the trimmers or other tools have a clear or white gas container so you can see how much gas is left. For some reason the Ryobi uses a brown gas container so I have no idea how much gas is left in the unit. I always have to open the top to see how much gas is left. I know that’s not hard, but this could have been prevented and just made my life easier. When I look at other pictures of this unit, I do see some with a clear gas container. So maybe mine was supposed to be clear. Which brings me to the point of quality control. If my unit was supposed to be clear and it slipped through quality control people, what else slipped through that wasn’t as easy to see. The reason I bring this up is because we see a lot of people having problems with the engine on these units, not everyone, but enough to call attention to this issue. Check out Home Depot. By looking at all these reviews, it seems like a crap shoot to me. Good news is Ryobi and Home Depot are great about backing up any problems and putting the customer first.
I am not sure how the internal gears work and what material they are made of, but hopefully they are built to last, which I would think they are. Changing the head from a trimmer to an edger is a piece of cake. A friend of mine bought a Craftsman, which has the same concept. I did notice one thing I liked about the Craftsman. When you are not using an attachment, there is a cap that covers the end of the shaft which prevents dirt getting inside, plus it has a hanger so you can hang it on the wall. The Ryobi doesn’t have this option.
All in all I am very pleased with my unit. Powerful and love the option of changing heads. The balance is nice and it starts up every time, so far. My only concern is seeing so many people having problems with the engine. I just hope Ryobi isn’t going through the same thing Craftsman did back in early 2000 where Craftsman had many problems with their quality control of their gas engines and outdoor power equipment.