At first glance, the XCU02Z by Makita stands out from the crowd primarily because of its price. Despite a limited guidebar length of 12 inches, the bare tool version sells for a whopping under $250.
Makita is obviously a respectable brand but that’s the kind of price that you would expect to see on a Stihl or Husqvarna.
So has the Makita team started to go mad or is it actually a good purchase? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for.
I’ve owned countless Makita power tools but I’ll admit that this is my first experience with one of their chainsaws. Given the price, I was hoping for something that looked well made and out of the box, it certainly looks the part. Set up is a breeze thanks to both a user friendly design overall and detailed instructions.
The XCU is powered by two batteries adding up to a total of 36 Volts of power. Given the length of the guidebar, this is a ridiculous amount of power. And that combined with the motor results in a max cutting speed of 1650 FPM.
Unfortunately, while max cutting speed is impressive , the 12 inch guidebar clearly isn’t. Max cutting length is around 10 inches. Potential buyers are therefore very much advised to check around their backyard and make sure that everything they plan on cutting is less than that.
I mention backyard because if you cut trees for a living, you will probably want something longer. 12 inches is low end despite the high end price tag.
In saying that however, it keeps the weight down, the fear factor down and generally increases ease of use.
In other words, if you don’t need longer, why carry it?
Ease of Use
Aside from the impressive cutting speed, this is where the XCU really shines. Cordless electric will always beat gas in this department but Makita appear to have gone out of their way to truly maximize the potential of this category of chainsaw.
For a start, we have the batteries themselves. While expensive, I estimate approximately 3.5 hours continuous use (this includes stopping and moving around etc). Combine this with a 20 minute charge time and you have a tool that batteries are never going to be an issue with.
Then there’s the noise emission which Makita are keen to point out and compare in their product description. 89 decibels is loud but given the power involved well below anything gas powered (and many electric powered).
Weight is also kept to a minimum at 10.1 pounds including batteries. The soft grip top is also designed to keep said weight easy to carry and keep accuracy in check when it matters.
Needless to say, the standard benefits of electric are also present, minimal maintenance (if any), no gas smell/potential risk of fire.
Finally, it’s one of the faster chainsaws out there to cut out when you take your finger off the trigger. Provided you’re practicing proper chainsaw safety techniques, this shouldn’t be a problem but it remains reassuring none the less.
The XCU is a beautifully designed tool that shines in every area except its guidebar length and price. One or both of these “flaws” will be a dealbreaker for many consumers.
The professional arborist will need something longer. And the average homeowner may well balk at under 250 dollar price tag when he/she realizes that batteries aren’t included.
Make the investment however, and you will have in your possession one of the best designed chainsaws for light duty use around the back yard and the occasional storm clean up.