Some outdoor gear doesn’t seem quite convinced that it’s up to its designated job, and string trimmers are occasionally among them. Sure, such models might seem as careful as you want to be around your flowerbed and precise with that line you want down the edge of your lawn. But those tall weeds in your property’s nether regions? Those require a string trimmer that knows what it’s about, something like the Troy-Bilt Powered by Core, Model TB4200.
That name is a mouthful, but there’s a reason. Core Outdoor Power, back in 2011, was a spanking-new company with a cordless technology that used multilayered circuit boards and magnets instead of commodity motors with wire windings and steel armatures.
When the company’s CGT400 string trimmer came out in 2012, it was revolutionary, a cordless product that rivaled gas-powered trimmers. But it was actually too powerful—one slightly wrong move, and you scalped beyond bare earth. It wasn’t what you’d expect from a battery-powered model, to say the least. A leaf blower and hedge trimmer followed. Fast-forward to last year, when MTD Products, maker of Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt and several other outdoor-gear brands, bought up the company. You can go to Lowe’s this year to check out the TB4200 and two other products that use the same 40-volt battery. But be warned: They don’t come cheap.
The straight-shaft TB4200 sells for $279 with the trimmer, one 40V lithium-ion battery and a charger. The sibling products, the Model TB4400 hedge trimmer and Model TB4300 leaf blower, cost the same. All three, however, come in B versions (for barebones) without the battery and charger, for $100 less apiece; the barebones string trimmer, for example, is the Model TB4200B. More introductions are expected.
The battery slides in at the opposite end from the cutting head, and there’s no way to insert it improperly and screw things up. Pressing its charge-meter button lights up to four indicators showing you the battery’s remaining power. And while you’re running the trimmer, you can’t miss the onboard power meter. The trimmer defaults to Eco Mode (a feature Core Outdoor Power’s original CGT400 lacked), but you can press the boost button for incrementally more muscle.
To run the trimmer, you release the throttle lockout and press the throttle control, which lets you vary speed. For more line, you bump the cutting head with the trimmer at high speed. The recommended line is 0.095-inch, but you can use line as light as 0.080. And installing new line is a snap.
Taking it for a Spin
We tried out the TB4200 in a variety of applications: slightly overgrown grass, the line of lawn-meets-asphalt and myriad dense weeds, including a pervasive onslaught of ground elder, also called goutweed and lots of other names—some unprintable. At straight grass trimming, it ran smoothly and cleanly. The trimmer’s weight, about 12 pounds, is nearly as much as the typical straight-shaft gas trimmer, but it’s well balanced. Even in a narrow space between some tiger lilies and a stone wall, a light touch on the throttle trimmed only as intended. And while nowhere in the manual does Troy-Bilt claim that the trimmer is suitable for edging, we somehow managed to etch out a line.
It’s in the dense weeds that the TB4200 truly makes its name, for it tore through the goutweed as if it were personal, and that was in Eco Mode. In the Boost Modes, it showed even more oomph—though of course weeds of that species will need cutting back a couple more seasons till it takes the hint. Over an hour, stop and go, the trimmer’s 4-amp-hour battery held out till the job was done. It recharged in well under an hour, roughly at the claimed 45 minutes.
The Troy-Bilt Core, Model TB4200, weighs more than you might want, making it most suitable for either short trimming sessions or longer tasks by someone in very good shape. And the barebones version, sans battery and charger, costs what the typical cordless-electric string trimmer does with a battery. But when you see what this trimmer can do, particularly in the rough, you might be willing to shrug off both concerns—particularly if you’re interested in the other Troy-Bilt Core tools as well.