When we first introduced the DeWalt FlexVolt OPE line, it begged the question of who it’s targeting as a user base. DeWalt confirms that their 40V platform is their focus for commercial landscaping and lawn care crews. They also tell us that FlexVolt is their homeowner line – but think Prosumer with some land to care for rather than the average DIYer. The DeWalt FlexVolt String Trimmer is first up in our look at the line.
What’s curious is the battery platform itself. DeWalt FlexVolt tools are clearly targeting Pro users trying to completely cut the cord on the jobsite. But turn around and the FlexVolt OPE line is for the homeowner.
I’m working under the impression that DeWalt’s development of FlexVolt handed them a more powerful battery platform at 60V. Why limit yourself to 20V Max when you’ve got a higher voltage that allows you to avoid confusion with the commercial 40V Max line?
That’s my thinking, anyway. Still, there are some real benefits here. Being on the FlexVolt battery platform means the DeWalt FlexVolt String Trimmer and its colleagues use batteries that power both 20V Max and FlexVolt tools. Since there’s a good chance you’re not a DeWalt first timer if you’re jumping into the line, it complements the Pro tools you have and possibly opens up the FlexVolt line for you.
But we’re here to talk about a string trimmer, not battery platform theory…
The DeWalt FlexVolt String Trimmer has a split shaft design that makes packaging and shipping easier. You don’t need any tools to put it together, though you will need to loosen 4 bolts if an adjustment to the guide handle is in your future. The split shaft design doesn’t open up attachments, though.
The tool itself is long, standing about as tall as me at 74 inches. To help balance out the weight of the 60V, 3.0 AH battery, the motor is down at the trimmer head. This offers a more direct connection to the spool rather than losing energy by turning a long rod inside the shaft.
One nice touch is a protective foot below the battery housing. Like we see on the blower, it allows you to set the trimmer on the ground without setting the battery and wiring in the dirt and cuttings.
Holding the string trimmer by the guide handle, there’s a backward lean thanks to the weight of the battery. Normally that’s a bad thing for an OPE tool that needs to be down to work. But when you put your trigger hand on the grip, it becomes a very neutral balance that I find easy to work with.
The trigger handle offers a secure grip. I’d like to see DeWalt’s hand-contouring handle from their drills and drivers, but it’s comfortable enough with the overmold. The trigger mechanism requires you to push down to defeat the safety before pulling up on the trigger. Of the string trimmer trigger safeties currently out there, this is the one I prefer thanks to the ease of operation.
The guide handle is a standard D-shape that gives you plenty of gripping options if you want to turn it to edge. I don’t find this to be as natural a balance as I’d like, so I leave the edging to the edger. The handle itself has a nice thick rubber overmold that’s substantial enough to really absorb vibration but has a solid core so it’s not too rubbery.
The trimmer weighs in at 12 pounds. It doesn’t feel like it’s that heavy thanks to the neutral balance, but there are lighter options available.
Like most string trimmers in this class, there are two speeds available. The difference is DeWalt gives you 5600 RPM in low and 6600 RPM in high. You can legitimately do the majority of your trimming in low without compromise and turn to high for only the high, thick stuff.
In both speeds, I was pleased to find very little vibration. This was an issue our Pros noted on the 40V Max model during our best string trimmer head-to-head review. With neutral balance, little vibration, and plenty of power for grass cutting, trimming has been a breeze.
Like the defunct 40V Max model, the DeWalt FlexVolt String Trimmer give you 15 inches of cutting swath. Prespooled with square 0.080″ line, it does very well for property maintenance. I’d go ahead and use that line up before making the change to 0.095″ rather than switching immediately.
If 15 inches is too much for some reason, you can flip the cutter around and bring it closer to 13 inches. I don’t know why you’d want to since there’s power to spare, but you can.
The cutting guard is a bit small for my liking. Be sure to pay attention to the direction of rotation to push the grass away from you. You’ll probably want to wear long pants so your legs aren’t exposed.
There’s not much help in the line change department. You’ll need to wind both lines separately, but there are holding slots to help keep it from going nuts while you’re putting the head back together.
The Bottom Line
I realize that the DeWalt FlexVolt String Trimmer is technically the homeowner model, but I prefer it over the 40V Max model targeting commercial crews. Granted, I’m not mowing 20 lawns a day, so that might change if I offer to trim the whole neighborhood next weekend. With solid ergonomics, power to spare, and very little vibration, it’s a great experience for the lithium-ion category.
The trimmer could use some help in the weight department, but that’s mainly due to the heavy FlexVolt battery. I’m not sure there’s much more that can be done there. I’d like to see some sort of Speed-Feed style head down the road. With that and a wider guard, I think we’ll be looking at a very fine string trimmer. As it stands, I really enjoy using it – I just need to wear jeans or work pants rather than shorts. That’s a sacrifice since it’s 95 degrees in the shade here today.
On the cost side, the kit with a 3.0AH FlexVolt battery (20V Max, 9.0 AH equivalent) comes at a darn fine price considering it comes with a $199 battery pack.
DeWalt FlexVolt String Trimmer Key Features
- Gear drive design powers through tough overgrowth
- High-efficiency brushless motor maximizes run time and motor life
- 15″ cutting swath with 0.080″ line (also accepts 0.095″)
- Variable speed trigger with Hi/Lo speed control for added power or extended run time
- Lightweight and ergonomic design maximizes control and minimizes stress on your arms
- Designed to withstand everyday heavy-duty usage
DeWalt FlexVolt String Trimmer Specifications
- Model: DeWalt DCST970X1
- System: FlexVolt 60V MAX
- Power Source: Lithium Ion
- Amp Hour: 3.0 Ah
- RPM: 0-5,600/ 0-6,600 RPM
- Batteries Included: 1
- Cutting Swath: 15″
- Feed Type: Bump feed
- Line Diameter: 0.080/.095″
- Weight: 12 lbs
- Includes: 60V MAX 3Ah Lithium-Ion Battery, Charger, Auxiliary handle, 0.080″ prewound in the spool
- Warranty: 3 years limited
- Price: $299