This is the second tool from the Ryobi ONE+ 18v cordless system we have reviewed. This means we can use the same battery and charger, previously used with the Ryobi Brushless ONE+ Drill, to power the Ryobi ONE+ 18V Cordless Hedge Trimmer (model no. OHT1855R), which retails at just £99.99 (body only). We are going to see whether the system, which won high praise in the former review, proves itself with a tool that necessitates a more continuous use of high power.
Design and Build Quality
Ryobi have the knack of making very solid and robust equipment, with this cordless hedge trimmer being no exception. It has a good strong see-through safety guard behind the handle, and the handle can be rotated to allow for easier control of the 55cm laser-cut trimming blade. An unusual feature of this trimmer is the inclusion of something Ryobi call a Hedge Sweep, which is a plastic shield attachment designed to remove debris as you cut across the tops of hedges. Another design feature is the fact that the blade will saw through larger branches. The cordless motor is driven by a 5.Ah 18v Lithium+ battery that easily clips in place under the handle and gives the 3.5kg hedge trimmer (with battery) a good balance when held.
Once the charged battery is in place and you take hold of the back handle and wrap-around front handle the blade starts to work immediately; this is because both handles have pull-levers that have to be worked in tandem to start the motor. This is great and makes usage easy, but be sure the blade is well away from anything or anybody before clasping both handles at once as there is no separate thumb lock! The motor and battery set-up, power the cutting blade very well and it is easy to sweep across hedges, trimming and cutting away with great dexterity. Control and handling is very precise and there is much less hassle with no wires and plugs or petrol to worry about. The motor is fairly quiet and the blades continue to power through the task in hand at a solid rate until the battery is flattened, which means around an hour of running time with no loss of power due to the high performance of our Lithium+ battery. A very good thing about the Ryobi ONE+ batteries is their four LED battery level indicator lights, so you know the state of the battery while you are working. When trimming across the tops of hedges with the Hedge Sweep in place on the cutting blade, it both catches some of the debris allowing you to remove it, and also pushes debris over the edge of the hedge, removing the annoyance of cut leaves turning brown on your hedge.
The handle of this Ryobi hedge trimmer can easily be rotated 45 degrees and 90 degrees in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, locking safely in place and allowing for comfortable cutting where tilting the handle itself is awkward. In addition to this the wrap-around handle's pull switch follows right around the handle, which allows you to hold the side of the handle and still engage the switch to drive the motor.
A feature which really helps when bringing hedges back into shape that have been allowed to overgrow a little, is the fact that the blade has been designed to saw through thicker branches that cannot be cut between the blade gap of 22mm. This is an excellent feature and really does work. We find it saves having to use lopping shears, and keeps the work of trimming fast and even.
Battery and Charging
The Ryobi 5.Ah Lithium+ 18v battery (RB18L50 @ £99.99) offers excellent runtime for this hedge trimmer. We gained just shy of an hour from our more demanding usage and it charges from empty in around two and a half hours. There are four LED battery level indicators on the battery itself. Other cheaper battery choices are available for the same equipment in the Ryobi ONE+ system. Personally we would stick with the Lithium options in all cases, after alternative battery experiences gained from reviewing the Flymo Sabrecut XT cordless hedge trimmer. Ryobi supply a single fast super charger (BCL14181H @ £39.99) that charges all the Ryobi Nicad, Lithium and Lithium+ 18v batteries.
If you have hedges to trim, then this sturdily manufactured Ryobi ONE+ Hedge Trimmer, offering an impressively powerful cord-free performance, and including a rotating handle, a debris removing attachment and an amazing sawing ability, is definitely up to all hedge trimming jobs in hand.