Makita’s Pro-Focused String Trimmer Balances Power and Runtime
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
- Excellent top-end speed for quickly clearing grass
- Super quiet, particularly in Low speed
- More runtime-focused compared to running the XRU18 at full throttle
- Shoulder strap included
- No siginificant drawbacks
Makita XRU15 String Trimmer Design
Power Source and Motor
Like the XRU18, the Makita XRU15 runs on 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 18V users don’t need to buy new batteries. New users making the switch gain access to a really deep 18V line that covers both power tools and OPE.
The Makita XRU15 string trimmer features an outer rotor brushless motor that 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.
15-inch Cutting Diameter
The Makita XRU15 string trimmer features a 15-inch cutting swath that’s right in the middle for what we like to see. While we enjoy the 17-inch diameter on the XRU18, the 15-inch cut on this model helps the trimmer gain some significant runtime.
The XRU15 comes with .080-inch twisted quiet line that gives you the best runtime. You can bump that up to 0.095-inch if you need more line mass. The head can handle higher, but you’ll significantly reduce your runtime with it and Makita didn’t dial in the motor for that load.
Makita’s string trimmers use a head guard that allows for a high level of visibility. The narrower design makes it easy to see asyou trim and edge, though you might get more grass on you while you work.
Weight and Balance
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. Like most higher voltage systems, a lot of the weight sits at the back end of the trimmer.
To help, the XRU15 comes with a shoulder strap and attachment point. Wearing a shoulder strap pretty much eliminates any weight and balance concerns altogether. Since the attachment point rests on a free-swiveling plastic ring, you don’t get tangled when you turn the trimmer over for edging.
Makita XRU18 18V X2 String Trimmer Performance
This trimmer features three speed settings that make it a little more versatile than standard two-speed 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 in 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.
It’s strong but doesn’t have the full power of the XRU18. That model has 30cc gas power equivalency, while this feels closer to 25cc power.
Automatic Torque Drive
In addition to the three speed settings you have available, the Makita XRU15 battery-powered 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 includes 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. It’s merely an untangling feature and won’t run full-time in reverse.
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. If you’re willing to work at a lower speed or with the automatic mode, it gets even better. You can even double that number by using Makita’s Backpack Power Supply.
One of the real pleasures of working with the XRU15 revolves around its low noise. Without any actual numbers, 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 got our SPL meter out to test 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.
Makita XRU15 Battery-Powered String Trimmer Price
As a bare tool, the Makita XRU15 String Trimmer retails for $269. For the kit, which includes two 5.0Ah batteries and a charger, you’re looking at $389. In any direction you choose to go, Makita offers a 3-year warranty on the tool, batteries, and charger.
The Bottom Line
The Makita XRU15 string trimmer takes the features of the muscular XRU18 and turns it into a lighter, leaner, endurance-focused version that balances speed and power well while keeping a premium feel. What you give up in power, you gain in runtime and lower noise along with a lower price tag. Overall, it’s an excellent all-around model that suits the needs of professional lawn care crews and homeowners who are looking to trade in their gas engines for battery power.
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)