Hybrid OPE: Makita Couple Shaft Power Head – Gas and Battery
Battery and gas power are not equal – and that can be a good thing. Each has pros and cons. The Makita Couple Shaft Power Head System covers all of both bases. Basically, the system includes two different power heads – one electric and one 4-stroke gas power head – as well as a whole slew of different, interchangeable attachments. By providing a platform where the customer can pick and choose the fuel type, power head, and attachments that best suit their needs, Makita looks to present a great value and versatility for homeowners and professionals alike.
Editor’s Note: This article originally published on September 10, 2018.
Makita Couple Shaft Power Heads and Accessories
Here, Makita presents two options, the first being the EX2650LH. This power head option houses a 25.4 cc, multi-position 4-stroke engine. It incorporates the brand’s MM4 technology, which results in lower noise, improved fuel economy, reduced exhaust, and easier startup. Plus, it avoids the annoying pitfalls of a 2-cycle engine’s need for premixing oil and gas.
The other power head option is Makita’s XUX01Z 18V X2 LXT Lithium-Ion brushless motor. Two 18V batteries combine to bring 36V worth of instant torque and runtime to all your landscaping applications. This power head, with batteries attached, weighs more than a pound less than its gas-powered counterpart. Whether for environmental sensitivity or out of necessity, this power head can meet your needs without gas.
Both engines connect to a series of interchangeable attachments via a lever-style locking system. Users won’t need a separate tool to switch out attachments, as the process for changing out attachments is as simple as pushing in a locking button and giving the lever a 3/4 turn.
As of right now, we have eight available attachments for the Makita Couple Shaft System:
- Brush Cutter Couple Shaft Attachment (EM400MP)
- String Trimmer Couple Shaft Attachment (EM405MP)
- Articulating Hedge Trimmer Couple Shaft Attachment (EN401MP)
- Curved String Trimmer Couple Shaft Attachment (ER400MP)
- Cultivator Couple Shaft Attachment (KR400MP)
- Pole Saw Couple Shaft Attachment (EY401MP)
- Shaft Extension Couple Shaft Attachment (LE400MP)
- Edger Couple Shaft Attachment (EE400MP)
EX2650LH MM4 4-Stroke Couple Shaft Power Head
Some thoughtful features of this Makita set it apart from other comparable brand’s models. My favorite feature is the multi-position lubrication system that allows the engine to be at any angle without harming the engine, i.e. burning oil. The MM4 technology also allows for mechanical automatic engine decompression. Admittedly, that term probably sounds like gibberish, but basically, it means that the engine starts up quickly and easily.
- Quick release couple shaft attachment for use with multiple attachments
- Heavy-duty, dual stage air filter with large sealing areas is replaceable and easily accessible
- Powerful fuel efficient 25.4 cc, 4-stroke commercial duty engine
- Compact design with less weight
- Oil filling port and drain plug are easily accessible with oil level view window for easy checking and replacing of oil
- Steel drive shaft for less vibration and longer equipment life
- Easily adjustable handle configuration for improved balance
- Translucent fuel tank with large opening for easier refueling
XUX01Z 18V X2 LXT Li-Ion Couple Shaft Power Head
The electric Makita Couple Shaft power head comes with a pretty strong feature set. Obviously, since the motor here is electric, starting up is nearly immediate. It has 3 variable speed settings, as well as a reverse setting. I found this extremely helpful in trimming applications, and when I’d bind up the pole saw. Conversely, while the overheat warning and auto-off feature will help with saving the motor life, I found it annoying the few times I encountered it (admittedly, it’s less annoying than burning out a motor).
- Brushless motor delivers up to 9,700 RPM for faster cutting
- 3-speed options (Low: 5,700, Medium: 8,200, High: 9,700 RPM) allow the operator to match speed to application
- Lever style lock system allows for quick tool-less installation and replacement of attachments
- Electronic Torque Control turns the motor off if rotation speed suddenly slows down or stops
- Variable speed trigger switch for controlled cutting speed
- Overheat warning system turns on indicator light and is engineered to automatically stop the motor
- Extreme Protection Technology is engineered for improved dust and water resistance for operation in harsh job site conditions
MM4 Gas Power Head
Holding the EX2650LH, I noted the overall ease and natural feel with my right hand on the throttle grip and left on the D-handle. The safety and throttle feel like a natural fit, like an extension of your hand.
The lock-off lever (or safety) is mounted on top of the handle and is depressed by the palm of your hand as you grip the throttle. Makita has mounted the I-O lever on the left side of the throttle grip, making it easy to reach with your thumb when you need to kill the engine.
The flexible grip between the D-handle and throttle grip seems like it may not hold up because of how soft and pliable it is. While time will tell how rugged the grip is, the softness did make the grip more useful, especially when using it with the pole saw attachment.
Further, the EX2650LX feels very balanced, and with a full tank of gas, it still only weighs in at a mere 11.6 lbs. Of course, that weight doesn’t include an attachment, but for a 4-stroke engine, it’s pretty lightweight.
Cordless Power Head
The Makita Couple Shaft power head system stays consistent between the gas and cordless models because holding the XUX01Z felt much like holding the gas power head.
The safety and throttle fit naturally into the hand. The small control panel is mounted on top of the handle, putting the power and reverse buttons within reach and in easy view during operation.
As with the gas power head, this unit also has a flexible grip between the D-handle and trigger handle. Continuing the similarities, attachments are locked in place by the same button and ¾ turn lever.
One of the more impressive qualities of the Makita Couple Shaft Power Head System revolves around both power heads’ fuel efficiency. They both run for longer than I really expected.
As for the EX2650LH, it’s almost as if the engine just sips at the gas. It just kept going and going! After using the tiller, pole saw and trimmer attachments for fifteen minutes each, there was still a ¼ tank of fuel left. As a matter of fact, when we ran it through our runtime test, the EX2650LH managed a full-tank runtime of 54:41.
Similarly, with the XUX01Z, I trimmed a medium sized yard (15 minutes), took down a small forest with the pole saw (45 minutes), tilled a small flower bed (10 minutes), and brush cut an entire yard including saplings (15 minutes), and the batteries still showed 50%! That is some incredible runtime. A backup set of batteries would certainly be needed in some instances, but for the average user, this thing will go and go before it needs recharging.
I really like the EX2650LH. Where many 4-cycle motors feel sluggish and heavy, Makita’s 4-stroke power head excels in power and efficiency. Startup is easy, intuitive, and reliable. It cranks out enough RPM to get through thick and thin while trimming, brush cutting, and pole sawing. I appreciate the torque the EX2650LH produces, which makes itself evident especially while using the cultivator attachment. All around, this is a great power head that can handle anything I’ll likely throw at it.
Similarly, the XUX01Z performs well too. The startup and ramp-up to full power and torque is near immediate, and just what I need when I’m trimming saplings and pole sawing branches. The power delivery feels smooth and consistent, just like every cut I make with this power head. As could be expected, the only tool it didn’t perform well on was the cultivator. The tines would get caught in a root or rock and the controls would save the motor rather than push through. This is where the gas power head was necessary to get the job done.
Whether using batter or gas power, the brush cutter attachment worked like a champ. I took it to a wooded lot in Tennessee, and then to another in the mountains of Georgia. Small trees, vines, and weeds were no match on the wooded lot, and the saplings in Georgia didn’t stand a chance. The 17” cutting swath and larger guard made it safe and easy to cut through the brush.
Curved and Straight String Trimmer
Both the curved and straight string trimmers translated the drive of either power head efficiently to the grass at hand. Both have a 17” cutting swath. The straight shaft is 36” in length and has a smaller guard to provide better visibility. The curved shaft attachment is 31” and the guard has a bit more width. Using the middle of the three settings on the XUX01, both attachments had no trouble mowing down a lot of grass. Both feature a bump-feed line delivery system.
The cultivator attachment looks simple enough, but don’t let its looks fool you. I’ve had friends explain how the cheaply-built tiller attachments can disintegrate the first time you try to use them.
This attachment is far better; it is built tough. I first tested it in the mountains of north Georgia. Roots, thick clay, and rocks were no match for the Makita Couple Shaft Cultivator…at least while I had it attached to the gas power head.
The battery-powered head shut down a few times, which it is supposed to do when it “feels” the head bind up. While this feature saves the motor from burning up, it won’t necessarily help you get the flower bed tilled. For heavy-duty tilling, you’ll probably want to pair this with the MM4 power head.
Overall, the attachment performed as expected, and the build quality looks designed to last.
The pole saw attachment and extension were, by far, the most impressive attachments to use with the battery power head. The action felt quick and efficient, and from an RPM perspective, the electric motor seemed more than capable. Pushing on the throttle brought immediate cutting power with very little lag. I used it to trim up a half dozen neglected trees that were obstructing the lake view of a widow trying to sell her home. After 45 minutes, the saw went through about 40 branches ranging from 1″-8″ in diameter.
With the gas power head, the RPMs were there, but it took a little more time to build up to speed. It also needed a little time to recover from a catch or bind-up. The tool performed as expected though, cutting through anything I put it to.
No matter the power head, the extension was a great add-on. At 2.5 lbs, it is light enough that it doesn’t impede reaching overhead over and over again. And, the weight is a small price to pay for 42” more reach.
Part of the value surrounding the Makita Couple Shaft Power Head System comes down to its highly a la carte, customizable setup; you can buy the head you’d prefer and only the attachments that you need. You won’t need to pick up a brand new tool for every job around the lawn, which means that you’ll save space in the garage or tool shed as well.
The EX2650LH power head retails for right around $330, which puts it in the midrange of what you’d expect for a comparable 4-cycle machine. The build quality and the materials used feel durable, and while the warranty for this product is only 12 months, we suspect you won’t need it.
As a bare tool, you can purchase the XUX01Z power head for right around $230, which is great if you’re already on the Makita 18V platform. If you’re not, we found the tool kitted with 2 batteries, a charger, and a string trimmer attachment for around $420.
The Bottom Line
The Makita Couple Shaft system is versatile and easy to use. I can swap out attachments quickly, and because there are many to choose from, I can find one for just about any landscaping application. Makita has done a great job of engineering both the gas and the battery-powered heads, both of which exhibit exceptional runtimes and power. Everything about the system feels durable, and I look forward to years of use with this system.
Makita Couple Shaft Power Head System Specs
EX2650LH MM4 4-Stroke Power Head
- Engine Displacement (cc): 25.4 cc
- Engine (HP): 1.1
- Fuel Type: Unleaded gas
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 20.3 oz.
- Runtime on 8 oz. Fuel: 20:46 (min:sec)
- Crank Case Capacity: 2.7 oz.
- Dry Weight: 10 lbs.
- Blade Configuration: Single-sided
- Power Type: 4-stroke gas
- Shipping Weight: 15 lbs.
- Warranty: 1-year
- MSRP: ~$330
XUX01Z 18V X2 LXT Brushless Power Head
- No Load Speed: 9,700/8,200/5,700 RPM
- Battery: 2X 18V LXT Lithium-Ion
- Overall Length: 39-3/4″
- Net Weight (with batteries): 9.8 lbs.
- Warranty: 1-year
- MSRP: ~$230 (bare tool), or ~$420 (kit)
For more information about the Makita Couple Shaft Power Head System, check out Makitatools.com.