Reemco Sidewinder II Review
The Reemco Sidewinder II is the “updated” version of the infamous Sidewinder I, a product mainstay for the original Reemco company back in the early 80’s. This “new and improved” version increases the functionality over the original. Frankly, I’m not exactly sure what that means since the Sidewinder, in any version, seems like a tool in search of an actual job. The ﬂashy packaging claims this to be an “autonomous lawn edging product”, but lists “many other uses”. The Sidewinder II is sort of a strange cross between Frankenstein and a Roomba.
NOTE: This was an April Fool’s post from 2013
Reemco Sidewinder Circular Saw Edger Features
Under the hood, this machine is powered by a “high tension, planetary spring”. It manages a whopping 120 ft-lbs of torque at a head-scratching 7500 RPMs in “Edger” mode. Kick this baby up to “Trenching” mode, and you’re looking at over 9000 RPMs, easily cutting through most any stubborn root system in its path (not to mention gas lines, plumbing lines, etc.). It weighs in at just over 3-1/2 lbs and uses a standard 7-1/4 inch blade. Curiously, there’s a “power saving” mode on the selector switch, but we’ve yet to determine its use. (Inquiries to the manufacturer were never returned, and there’s no mention of it in the sparse, two-page owner’s manual).
The SW II is advertised as needing “minimal assembly”, but be warned, our experience took us about 2 hours with a skilled technician and also involved a specialized torque wrench (included) that takes a little getting used to. The most concerning aspect of this process involves attaching the blade itself. Tightening it too much risks splitting the plastic anchor which holds the blade securely to the main housing, but attaching it too loosely risks the blade suddenly becoming a spinning projectile that could do some serious damage.
Editor’s Disclaimer: As a precaution, the review staff was not present on the ground during the testing phase, but opted to witness the results from the third story balcony adjacent to the test area. We’re pleased to report there were no injuries.
Included in the Reemco Sidewinder Kit
The basic blade kit comes with a serrated “edging” blade, a four tooth “trenching” blade and a “stonecutter”. Really, though, the SW II seems to be nothing more than a battery-powered circular saw on steroids that you unleash on your lawn. The ability to cut through concrete, gravel and just about anything you put in front of it may prove useful if you’re daring enough to try. The manufacturer makes a feeble attempt at safety by providing a snap-on blade guard for “manual use”, but we quickly discovered that it snapped off moments after attempting our ﬁrst cut, thus rendering it nearly useless for anything other than “autonomous” use.
And I use that word generously.
One of the main selling points of the SWII is the so-called “hands-free guidance system”. This is apparently designed to navigate the edger across your lawn with the “precision of a surgeon’s scalpel” (interesting choice of words), leaving you with a “pristine” lawn. We’re not sure if the prototype we received was still in its “beta” version, but I will say, this edger was anything but autonomous. Aside from draining the two AA batteries (not included) in under 5 minutes with the guidance system activated, the best result we could manage was a straight cut along our test driveway for no more than ten or twelve feet before the edger decided, quite arbitrarily, to start cutting random circles in the grass. Now, this may not be a big deal if you’re wanting to carve out a new ﬂower bed, but I can only imagine the look on a homeowner’s face when he or she comes out of their house to see their front lawn looking like a piece of Swiss cheese.
At the end of the day, it seems the Sidewinder II is an accident waiting to happen. Or maybe it already has and we just don’t know about it yet. It falls well short of its intended feature claims. It may, in fact, be nothing less than a great way to lose a few digits if you’re unfortunate enough to get caught anywhere in the immediate vicinity while it’s in operation. The only good news I have to report is that I’m told that the SWII is still awaiting “government approval” before going to market. This despite an overzealous ad campaign featured on their website. If ever there was a time, this is one instance where government regulation is our friend.
If you’re bold enough—order yours here