Makita’s Pro-Focused String Trimmer Impresses
It wasn’t too long ago that we got the chance to test out Makita’s top-of-the-line XRU18 String Trimmer. In that review, we had a hard time finding too many things wrong with the trimmer, particularly from a power perspective. But, if we could make a critique about it, it would be that all that power did come at the expense of some runtime. Now, we’ve got our hands on the Makita XRU15 String Trimmer, a model with a smaller diameter cutting swath. This Pro-focused model seems to carry a nice balance between power and a more dialed-in runtime.
- 3 speeds, including Automatic Torque Drive and Reverse modes
- Super quiet, particularly in Low speed
- Runtime is much improved from the XRU18
- Included 0.080″ line is pretty lightweight for Pro applications (you can reload it with line up to 0.110″)
- Really back-heavy, though this is not an issue with a shoulder strap
RecommendationThe Makita XRU15 String Trimmer is basically the little brother of the beefy XRU18 model, but moves the motor to the head. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the 17-inch trimmer in terms of power, but it has almost the exact same feature set. However, what you give up in power with the XRU18, you gain in runtime, less noise, and a significant price reduction with the XRU15. Though Pros will likely swap out the included 0.080″ line, the manual indicates that you can swap out the line and the head for other models.
Like the XRU18, the Makita XRU15 runs off of two 18V LXT batteries. This is one of the benefits of the Makita 36V platform. The 18V X2 system provides 36V power, but existing Makita users don’t need to buy new batteries. Also, new users gain access to a really deep 18V line that covers both power tools and OPE.
The Makita XRU15 features an outer rotor brushless motor that direct-drives the cutting head. This motor design takes the weight away from the back of the tool, and its efficiency gains add remarkably little weight to the front. This outer rotor design, according to Makita, helps them increase power and torque compared to a more common inner rotor brushless motor.
Three Different Speed Settings
This trimmer features the three speed settings that we’ve become accustomed to with Pro models. Set to the Low mode, the XRU15 churns out 3,500 RPM. The Medium setting cranks out 5,300 RPM. High gives you up to 6,500 RPM.
This adjustability feels particularly helpful as you come upon the more fragile elements of your landscaping. For instance, we found that on the High setting we were gouging out the soft concrete “brick” borders around some shrubs. Dropping the trimmer into Low slowed down the trimming process, but spared this delicate boundary.
While the Low setting works great for these more delicate areas, High lets you shred through those wide-open spaces quickly…and without remorse. This is another way of saying that the Makita XRU15 has some serious torque. St. Augustine grass has a way of encroaching on driveways and sidewalks pretty quickly with its thick, stalky runners. Where you might have to put in some time with a lesser trimmer to get through these stalks, the XRU15 rips right through them with torque that you can feel.
Automatic Torque Drive
In addition to the three speed settings you have available, the Makita XRU15 String Trimmer also includes an Automatic Torque Drive setting that senses the current load and automatically shifts the trimmer RPM to the ideal spot for a balance between runtime and power. For consistent stretches of trimming that don’t require setting adjustments, this mode might be your best bet for maximizing efficiency. It works so well, we started trusting it to naturally adapt the speed as needed.
Makita also included a Reverse rotation function. Inevitably, patches of overgrowth or vine work will find a way to wrap around your trimmer head (we’re looking at you, sawgrass). Rather than stopping production to bend over and untangle the mess, you can engage the Reverse function. It reverses the trimmer head for a couple of seconds, letting you quickly pull it free from the tangle.
15-inch Cutting Swath and Trimmer Guard
The Makita XRU15 string trimmer features a 15-inch cutting swath that falls into that middle ground that we like to see for Pro string trimmers. While we might enjoy the 17-inch diameter on the XRU18, the 15-inch cut on this model helps the trimmer gain some significant runtime.
The XRU15 also includes .080″ twisted quiet line. While the trimmer does barely register above a whisper, this is a gauge that you won’t generally find Pros using. It’s thinner and requires more frequent restringing over the .105″ that we typically see on gas models. Even 0.095″ is more typical on Pro-focused battery-powered trimmers. Makita likely chose this gauge to increase battery efficiency.
Fortunately, you can load up to 0.110″ line on the stock head. Makita uses (and advertises that they use) an industry-standard M10x1.25 LH spindle. This means that technically you can swap out the head for other models if you like. There are many to choose from that will allow for anything from .095″ line to fixed-length Pro line. Realize, however, that larger line potentially decreases both rotational speed and run-time.
Makita’s string trimmers use a head guard that allows for a high level of visibility. Pros may like an even narrower guard, but it has good sightlines when pivoting the trimmer for edging.
So, we’ve talked a bit about the measures Makita has taken to extend the runtime of the XRU15, but how does this translate to hard data? With the outer rotor brushless motor, slightly smaller cutting diameter, and .080″ trimmer string, we expected some solid runtime. We got it.
Using the kitted 5.0Ah batteries, and running at full speed under no load, we clocked the Makita XRU15 at a solid 40 minutes. This is a marked improvement over the 13 minutes we got out of the larger XRU18. At 40 minutes, we can see this being a viable option for Pro work with some spare batteries. You can even double that number by using Makita’s Backpack Power Supply .
The Makita XRU15, with the kitted 5.0Ah batteries attached, weighs 10.4 pounds. In and of itself, this number feels very reasonable, particularly for a trimmer that cranks out the power. The downside, however, is that most of the weight sits at the back end of the trimmer.
Even with the dual-battery 18V X2 system that Makita has adopted, weight feel similar to other OPE products. Keep in mind that when you jump to single battery solutions at 36V and higher platforms, you deal with larger, heavier batteries.
To help, the XRU15 comes with a shoulder strap and attachment point. Wearing a shoulder strap pretty much eliminates the weight and balance issue altogether. Also, since the attachment point rests on a free-swiveling plastic ring, you don’t get tangled when turning the trimmer over for edging.
One of the real pleasures of working with the XRU15 revolved around its low noise. Without any testing, it seemed like one of the quieter models we’d worked with. A combination of the twisted quiet line, RPM, and speed comes together to make a quiet product. We looked at some actual numbers to validate our suspicions.
We measured sound output from the Makita XRU15 string trimmer in each of its three speed settings from the operator’s ear. In High, this trimmer hummed along at 83 dBA—a bit quieter than even the XRU18. In Medium, we measured 78 dBA. Finally, at Low speed, the Makita registered just 66 dBA. For a point of reference , this level is only a bit noisier than a conversation at normal speaking volume.
As a bare tool, the Makita XRU15 String Trimmer retails for $269 . However, for the kit, which includes two 5.0Ah batteries and charger, you’re only looking at $389 . Plus, at the time of this writing, the kit qualifies for the Makita Rule the Outdoors promotion, which gets you a couple of free batteries.
In any direction you choose to go, Makita offers a 3-year warranty on the tool, batteries, and charger.Shop Acme Shop Amazon
The Makita XRU15 String Trimmer is basically the little brother of the beefy XRU18 model. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the 17-inch trimmer in terms of power, but it has almost the exact same features. However, what you give up in power with the XRU18, you gain in runtime, less noise, and a significant price reduction with the XRU15. Though Pros will likely swap out the 0.080″ line, perhaps this smaller model is the better choice for lawncare Pros who need to rely on a trimmer for consistent, all-day use.
Makita String Trimmer Specs
- Model: Makita XRU15
- Motor: Outer rotor brushless
- Cutting swath: 15 in.
- Speed (no load): 3,500/5,300/6,500 RPM
- Arbor shaft: M10 x 1.25 LH
- Length: 69-1/4 in.
- Weight: 10.4 lbs. (with batteries)
- Warranty: 3-year limited warranty on tool, battery, and charger
- Price: $389 (kitted with 4 batteries for a limited time)