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

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"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/"
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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.


29 comments:

  1. Sorry Stihl but you missed the mark on the 201's. Nowhere near the saw that the 200s were. And you made the oil fill even more inaccessable with gloves on.

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  2. I run classic tree care in kansas city, and I bought one 201 to test I have 6 trimmers and all agree that thing is junk, I had to go buy the last 8 200 Ts left in my area so we would not be left with inferior saws in the years to come, it is equal to the 192 but no where near a 200 T you will soon lose a large share of the commercial trim saw market if improvements are not made, the same goes for the replacement to the 361 with the 362, 362 are no better than 29s sorry but the truth sometimes hurts

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  3. The 201 lacks power it does not cut as good as the 200T. The 200T was a much better saw! This review don't sound that good, a lot of "according to Stihl" statements, not excatly a ringing endorsement. Bottom line 201 is inferior to the 200T, not worth waht it cost.

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  4. I am a certified arborist and own a tree service in the D/FW area. I applaud the fact that you left these honest posts in place. It shows the character of a company that deserves the business I have been bringing for 20 years. All my equipment is Stihl because I can get 2 years daily use from a Stihl product. I have 5 or 6 200t parts saws that will be rebuilt. Even my Stihl supplier warned me not to buy the 201t.

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  5. For a while i've wanted to buy a 201 to try. I curretly own four 200ts and I hunt Craigslist weekly for more. The 192 I mistakingly picked up to finish a job is a TERRIBLE saw. The fact that the high end topping saw can be compared to the entry level, all plastic, power assisted handsaw that is the 192 has put the 201 to the bottom of my list. I am so sick of these emissions laws that have made it so difficult to find quality saws and power tools. Please for the love of god, continue making a professional saw that is not emissions regulated so I'm not left looking at what other brands are offering.

    If you'd like to think that I'm unqualified to state my opinion, I have spent 12-15,000$ on stihl tools in the past three years. I feel that diehard stihl customers like myself are the ones you should be most interested in satisfying.

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  6. We appreciate the comments being made here, and value the opinions and feedback that is being provided. We know that you are passionate about your equipment; we want you to be. Please know that we take this very seriously and do pay attention to what you have to say. That has been part of the STIHL way since 1926.

    Emission regulation is a fact of life, but that does not change our commitment to producing quality equipment that delivers the performance you want and need. Most fans of STIHL know that when there are issues with our equipment we address them, and that we are constantly working to improve our products. We also only sell our equipment through servicing dealers so that STIHL customers can get advice, repairs and service when they need it.

    We are open to constructive criticism, and even negative comments, that’s why we leave this discussion area open. However we have fans of all sorts, including young ones, so we will remove posts that contain inappropriate language or violate the terms of use of this site. We appreciate your understanding and look to earn your loyalty every day.

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    1. have you explored the possibility of making emission control an option. Here in Canada we are not as limited by emission regulations, so why are we having to suffer what users are recognizing as an 'inferior' saw.

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  7. My 201 has gotten more powerfull the more use it gets. I like it and don't miss the scream of the old 200's.

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  8. Simple fact, when big government and pardon the pun, "treehuggers" get involved vehicles AND power tools suffer! Give us good old fashioned tools to do the job!

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  9. Gotta agree with Mark! I have plenty of time on the 201T. Its quiet, powerful, dependable, and cuts effortlessly. The added fuel efficiency and exhaust gaurd is a bonus. The added exhaust prevents melted climbing and rain gear. Our crew rolls out with 12 saws, all Stihl; 3-200Ts, 2-201Ts, 250, 361, 362, 2-460s, and 2-660s. The dependability of hese saws saves on body aches and time loss.

    Unless you own a crane, whats better in a tree than a 201T?

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  10. We appreciate your feedback. We look forward to earning the right to keep your business and wish you all the best.

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  11. I am a Certified Arborist here in Orlando ,I am 47 and have been doing tree work since 1980 . Our company has been exclusively loyal to the Stihl brand since we started. The beauty of the 020's and 200's was interchangeability of parts. We NEVER throw out anything ,we keep all saws for parts . The last time I counted I have 42 020 and 200 saws in various stages of being parted out and or being short blocked and still can put back to work. NOW I basically have all these saws that are in effect "obsolete" and things such as top handle assembly, fuel tanks ,mufflers ect....that can not be used on the next generation saw.Dont even get me started about changing the bar nut size. So we will continue to rebuild our old saws,search pawn shops,Craigslist or wherever we can find deals on used 020's and 200's. Remember if it ain't broke don't try and fix it

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  12. I own a stihl ms200t and a 201t ive had the 201 for over 6 months and honestly it is basically at this point gonna deter me from buying any new stihl chain saws at the moment i have a ms660 ms440 ms361 ms200t ms201t the thing is terrible and i feel that i am not as safe in a tree because i can not make as fast of a cut that i would like and i think that stihl should give us back some of our money on this one because i refuse to even use the thing up in the tree time is money and I'll choose the 200t until the things shot honestly feel bad to post this because of been a die hard stihl customer for years but if somethings not done soon i will be switching companies sorry still
    capiross tree service leechburg pa

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  13. Heard the 201 had a lot of promise when it was first announced. Too bad that saw didn't live up to par with its predecessor. Still, those spare parts can be of some use...

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  14. I'm sorry for my ignorance, but can this be used on cutting steel?

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  15. Katherine, chain saws are only designed to cut wood.

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  16. Mary: We respect your opinion. Did want to check though that you had taken the saw to your dealer to have it checked. There are some adjustments that they will make to improve the performance of the saw.

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  17. Has anyone else had any troubles with the Top handle breaking. We have had three of our 5 201Ts crack and break in the same spot at the bottom end of the top handle. As far as i know, this is a non replaceable part and basically makes a good saw unusable. Pretty disapointing. HAs anyone else had this happen, or did we just purchase a bad batch of saws at some stage.

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    1. There have been some reports of this. Please take your saws to your dealer and have them check them and make the necessary repairs.

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  18. I just bought a MS201T without having a chance to use it jet. The dealer told me that one was the latest 2014 model and it has been modded. Which mods have been done and what improvement. Is this mods noticeable externally or just carburetor parts?

    B/Regards

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  19. About two weeks ago I purchased the MS 201 C-E & MS 261. First of all, I never tried the MS 200 as mention above so I can't compare the two models 201 vs. 200. To me the Pros & Cons of the 201. The Pros of the 201 saw its light weight and I thought it cut well overall. I was trimming up a maple tree for maybe 45 mins. Some what of a hard wood. I was using a 14 inch bar. I did noticed when I hit the triger full throttle it almost took 2 seconds to start the chain a couple of times it was like the saw wanted to stall out. At first I thought maybe the chain is to tight but I checked the chain and bar and it seemed just right. Once the chain got moving it cut fine. After using the saw for about 30 mins it run out of gas. I was a little disappointed because I felt like it should be better on fuel but given this was the first time using the saw. I realize maybe some minor adjustments might need to done if you will say fine tuning. Overall, I'm pleased with purchase of MS 201. The price is costly for a little saw given the fact the MS 261 is cheaper. I did use the MS 261 to finish the job now that is a saw. I only used if for about 10 mins or so but it ran very nicely.

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  20. Thanks for your comments. Appreciate the feedback

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  21. I am also a certified arborist and own my tree service for the last 16 years in south MS. I own 1 ms 201, 5 ms 200, 2 ms 361, 2 440 mag, 2 460 mag, 2 660, 1 880, 5 ht 101, 2 ht 75, 1 bg 86, 4 bg 85. The last two powers tools purchased were ms 201, bg 86 there is feature enhancements. Professionals will keep looking for better tools to get the jobs done faster. Sometimes you have to build your own tools.One last comment when i purchased my ms 201 i was follow out the dealers store by an older gentleman that asked me did i really just pay $668.00 for that chain saw,i proudly said yes sir i have 5 more just like this one and there worth it, he shook his head in disbelief. We can now buy non-enthanol gasoline. brian.pelton@att.net

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  22. I have run both the 200t and 201t the only dislike about the 201t I have is how long it takes to warm up but once it warms up it preforms identically to the 200t if not better. just don't touch the carb and have it tuned for lean drop off by a Stihl trained professional. and it will be on of the best performing top handle you have ever used. By the way I have been a Stihl mechanic for over 20 years.

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  23. I'm in agreement with most reviews I've read so far...the ms201t is just not up to par with its predecessors the 020t and ms200t. I own a tree removal business in CA and I can tell you what I did: Echo has come out with cs355t..Echo's answer to the Stihl 201t. They're $459 vs $729 for the 201t. So I bought 2 of the 355t's. They cut with as much power as the 201t, the engines run great, light and easy to use up in a tree, on off switch in a good place etc. Here's the dilemma: the frame of the 355t by Echo is flimsy. I continue to break the handle, the cover over the wiring falls off both saws and my fingers got tangled to the point I simply glued them down. Problems with the oilers on both saws. Stihl 201t has a very inferior engine but the frame is very stout. Very soon I'm going to be buying 2 more climbing saws, as most commercial cutters will agree is their most important saw. To tell you the truth...I hate buying either saw. But when you throw in the mix that the Echo is app $300 cheaper than the hugely overpriced Stihl 201t...I'll buy 2 more of them and just deal with it. It's a shame it's come down to this. I don't buy inferior saws to save money. I buy superior saws to make money. I'd never have even dreamed one day I'd be buying an Echo over a Stihl. Stihl Corp better be enjoying the profits from the 201t because in the end it will cost them more than they're making. I have talked to at least 3 different Stihl dealers and each of them noted that the 201t is not up to the task and even a Stihl rep told me over the phone he was very much aware through feedback that the 201t needed improvements. My advice to Stihl: stop blaming it all on gov't regs and fix the problem.

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  24. Clay, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We take your comments, and all the others that have been posted, very seriously. We know that your saw is a key tool in your business and please be assured that we review the performance of our equipment on a regular basis and make adjustments to ensure that our customers receive the quality and dependability that are the foundation of our brand.

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    1. Then stop hiring mouthpieces like the Chisholm guy at the top of the page to brag on your saws. He's obviously on your payroll. And then put the money you paid him into actually fixing what's wrong with the 201t. I bought 2 of the 201t's out here in CA and each of them was a huge pain in the butt. I could go into detail but the end run is what I said in my review: I never dreamed I'd see the day when I'd buy an Echo over a Stihl. Thanks to the MS201t I have now done just that.

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  25. Clay, while it is true that we sponsor Mark, we do not pay him to schill for us, and his opinions are his own. We respect his professionalism and honesty. We respect yours as well and as you are having issues with your saws we would hope that you have already contacted your dealer or our customer service department as there are specific remedies already in place. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with us. We regret that you are having these issues and hope we can earn back your business.

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  26. I cannot get a real person at 1-800-GOSTIHL so this will have to do. In my 1st post I stated it's time to buy 2 more climbing saws. Husqvarna is not even in the mix. Maybe they should be though. You said specific remedies are already in place, I suppose that is an acknowledgement on Stihl's part that the MS201t has issues with reliability. I'm 59 years old, hopefully these will be the last 2 climbing saws I ever need. It's do I buy 2 more Echo cs355t's and have the frame, handle, oiler, everything but the engine give me problems and many return trips to the shop...or do I buy 2 more Stihl ms200t's and have a great and sturdy saw but with continuous engine problems? I've talked to a few guys that also have tree removal biz's, and the general concensus is that most are not that enthused with the ms200t. One question is why did Stihl even stop manufacturing the ms200t in the first place? Do you know of any way a guy might purchase 2 of them from Stihl? On ebay they're going for $1500 and $1600 new...way too much. I keep thinking there's got to be a way to get a couple new ms200t's. I'd buy 2 of them blindfolded and know straight up that I've got the best climbing saw on the world market today. I guarantee you that I give my customers every penny of what they're paying for. I want them to call me back through the years. And they do. I've got to make it off repeat customers and recommends. I'd never make it just from new customers alone. But there's just something about paying cash as I always do to a dealer and walking out the door and then nothing but problems with the product. In all honesty they get kind of tired of seeing me coming back for yet another repair. And I get tired of them taking my money for an inferior product. Like I said...if I could get through to your 1-800 # in Virginia Beach, I wouldn't be writing all this. My biggest question is there any way to pull a rabbit out of a hat and buy myself 2 brand new ms200t's? I'm not going to pay $1600 for one on ebay or anywhere else. That's like buying a bologna sandwich for $25. Taste pretty darn good but I ain't gonna pay that much for it. Clay Brown Tree Service CA Lic # 820074.

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