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Welcome to the STIHL USA Blog

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review of the STIHL MS 201 T

By Mark Chisholm

This blog post originally appeared on Mark Chisholm's blog Treebuzz. View the original article here


"Hi gang. Recently STIHL announced that it was phasing out the MS 200 T and replacing it with the new MS 201 T. I have been questioned about this by fellow arborists regularly, so I figured that I would share my thoughts to everyone here.

As an arborist I depend heavily on the quality of my tools and the MS 200 T has been at the core of my chain saw arsenal. It is a fantastic saw. It’s dependable, powerful and seems to me to be virtually indestructible. So I have to admit to being a bit skeptical about the introduction of a saw to replace it.

I have had a great working relationship with STIHL over the years, and they provided me an MS 201 T and asked me to take it for a test drive and give my honest opinion on how it performed. I have used the saw now for over a year. I had some performance issues at first, and took it in to my dealer who made some adjustments and I have to say that once I got use to the differences I have been happy with it.

The first thing I noticed was that the sound and feel of the MS 201 T was different. It actually sounds quieter and has less vibration. My first impression was that the saw had less power. Turns out the 201 actually has more horsepower and power in the cut than the older model.

According to STIHL the MS 201 T uses stratified engine design to deliver improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. The emissions issue is a big deal because the outdoor power equipment industry, like the automotive industry, sees increasingly tight regulations in the area of emissions and has to comply with government standards. The stratified engine sounds somewhat quieter than the traditional engine design and add to that a low tone muffler and the different and lower level of sound makes sense. This also comes with a benefit that I like a lot which is 70% less emissions. Another benefit I noticed is that the new saw seemed to use less fuel. According to STIHL the MS 201 T is actually 20% more fuel efficient than older models.

I also wondered about the revs of the saw as I was making the cut. I wasn’t getting that “scream”. STIHL informed me that while the MS 201 T has the same engine displacement as the 200, it actually produces more horsepower. It does, however, use a new ignition system controlled by a microprocessor to automatically set ignition timing precisely for the demands of the engine. What this means is we operators won’t be able to over speed the engine when it is in a no-load condition or if we get a bad batch of fuel or have excessive leaning of the fuel-air ratio. STIHL did this because the older generation of saw engines were susceptible to “red lining” in these types of situations. That could result in damage to internal parts and some expensive repairs.

I know that other arborists have commented on this particular change and they want to adjust the carburetor to get the engine to sound like older models. According to STIHL you should avoid this since it actually reduces the power output and causes the ignition system to revert to “safe mode” until the carburetor is adjusted back to the optimum fuel mixture.

I definitely support the philosophy of not fixing something if it isn’t broken. But in this case government regulations made it necessary for STIHL to change the saw technology, so I understand why they did it. Overall I would say that like most things STIHL does they developed the new saw to deliver a better product for the customer (me included) while complying with government regulations. I am also sure that it will keep evolving and improving over time. You can get more info about the MS 201 T on their website at http://www.stihlusa.com/products/chain-saws/in-tree-saws/ms201t/"
About Mark Chisholm:
One part acrobat, one part expert rope climber, one part tree physiologist, and several parts competitor and thrill seeker, Mark Chisholm is a third-generation arborist with his family-owned Aspen Tree Expert Company in New Jersey. His expertise in tree care has made him a sought after consultant and industry spokesperson for the world of arboriculture, and he regularly travels the globe to consult with international arborist associations.

Chisholm has won 19 International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) New Jersey Chapter Tree Climbing Championship most recently in 2011 and conquered the ISA International Tree Climbing World Championship on three occasions, most recently in 2010. 

Get more information and information from Mark here.