Stihl Rapid Hexa is a new saw chain for chainsaws where the round file has been replaced by a hexagonal (six-edged) one. The cutters then become V-shaped instead of round. The sister-site Skogsforum.se has tested the Hexa chain during the summer 2021. Here is a summary of their impressions.
The Rapid Hexa Saw chain by Stihl
The name “Hexa” refers to the shape of the file that with its six sides forms a hexagon. The upper and lower sides of the file are, however, smooth with no edges. Instead, it´s 2 + 2 sides that together grinds the tooth into a V-shape.
Using a hexagonal file is probably a new way of developing the cutting ability for saw chains. According to Stihl, the chains will stay sharp longer, cut up to 10 % faster and furthermore be easier to sharpen compared to a conventional chain.
Stihl will during 2022 supply the Hexa chain for 1,6 mm 3/8” and for 1,3 mm 3/8”, but only for the Canadian market. Rapid Hexa will complement Rapid Super 1,6 mm chain. That means that users of e.g., Stihl MS 362, 400 and 500i will have the opportunity to try the Hexa chain.
The test by Skogsforum.se
We got access to one Hexa chain during the summer. The testing team was Lars-Erik and Henrik who have done tests for Skogsforum before. The testing saw was a Stihl 500i as the test chain fitted on that saw with an 18” bar.
Lars-Erik and Henrik gives the following remarks on the Hexa chain:
+ Much less aggressive compared to the RS chain
+ At least as good cutting ability as conventional chains
+ Easy to sharpen (after the first attempt)
– Difficult to sharpen the first time, it´s tight between tooth and depth gauge
– A new system requires adjustments in the logging teams when it comes to sharpening
– Feels passive in some angles (but which chain doesn´t?)
The biggest benefit is that the Hexa chain is at least as efficient as the RS chain but cuts smoother. The RS chain is aggressive and sometimes causes bumps in the saw. The Hexa chain shows no such tendencies.
The cutting tests (see film below) shows that the Hexa chain is faster and smoother than the Stihl RS chain. It was not fully comparable as the RS chain that we used was sharpened by hand a few times and the Hexa chain was completely new, factory grinded (which should work in favor of the RS chain). In our tests the Hexa chain was in average approx. 4 % faster.
Lars-Erik could consider switching over to Hexa. It will however take some discipline initially as it could be easy to use a round file when grinding. Furthermore, we don´t know the price for neither the chain nor the files which is an important parameter for a professional logger in such decisions.
Henrik, who has used the Hexa chain most of the two, claims that the Hexa file lasts longer than a round file. Still, it doesn’t last as long as a chain’s lifetime.
Here is a short film from the tests. It turned out to be testing only in birch as that was what was planned for the filming day. The Hexa chain cuts even smoother in softwood.
Film and photos: Skogsforum.se