Review by: j_ung, 2005-04-11
REVIEW BY MICHAEL REARDON. SUBMITTED BY J_UNG.
[b]Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this equipment provided it free of charge to RC.com and RC.com then provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his or her review. This company does not currently advertise on RC.com.[/b]
Too many years ago, I placed my first bolt. A crusty climber had decided it was time
to teach this young gun about fear, and it worked. High up on the slick granite of
Tahquitz, my feet were pasted on ridiculous smears, forced into readjusting every
time my hammer smacked into the drill I held steady in my hand. Salted sweat stung my
eyes as the sun cooked my skin. A wet thump and fierce pain connected every nerve in
my body from where the hammer struck my wrist. Thirty feet later the rope caught me
near Crusty. I was winded, but thrilled beyond belief.
There are few things in life more exhilarating than putting up a route on lead.
Committing to the unknown, preparing for any contingency and tossing all
sensibilities out the window because let's face facts - there's always an easier way
up. It is a challenge that few are willing to take on, but the reward? A lifetime of
memories. I'd have more memories, but five pound hammer blows to the wrist get
painful after a while, not to mention the subsequent falls...
But, then cordless drills came along and made life simpler for those willing to
head into the unknown.
Bosch (http://www.boschtools.com), the largest power tool and accessory manufacturer
in the world, helps the memories continue with greater ease thanks to their SDS-Plus
24-volt Cordless Rotary Hammer Drill.
Doctors had previously banned this natural blonde from any mechanical items involving
sharp instruments, but upon arrival the blue beast literally shined from within its
case, beckoning me to play. I called a couple friends and 15 minutes later, the
battery was charged and we were ready to bolt everything in our path.
The first thing we noticed was the tool-free bit function. This allows for
single-handed drill bit changing by simply pressing the bit into place until an
audible click signifies that it's locked. Removing the bit is just as easy, with a
mild press of the collar. The trigger is extremely sensitive and goes from zero to
rippin' in less than two seconds. It weighs a relatively light 9.2 pounds, and
contains all metal gears with a standard 3-year warranty. At a list price of $936
(though I found it for $499.95 on several websites) that includes two batteries and a
depth gauge, the SDS-Plus is $100 cheaper than it's big brother and has the extra
advantage of using a battery system that is interchangeable with other common Bosch
The hammer mode is what impresses me most. Many drills operate with basic rotation
that bites into the material it is placed against, thereby drilling a hole. The
denser the material, the harder one has to press to get the drill to bite. If on
rappel, the danger level is similar to golf and this is not an issue. But when on
lead, balance and insecurity may not allow the necessary pressure to get the drill to
bite. Bosch makes this easier on the leader, for when the SDS-Plus is in Hammer mode,
it literally pounds the drill bit in while rotating. At maximum speed, it provides
4,400 beats per minute while spinning at 1,200 rpm! With a sharp bit, even the
hardest granite gets a placement for a bolt in less than two minutes.
My friends and I also tested the battery life based on how many bolt holes we could
drill per charge. We drilled each hole with a half-inch bit, to a depth of five
1. Sandstone: 18
2. Volcanic Bracia: 14
3. Welded Tuft: 14
4. Quartz Monzonite: 12
5. Granite: 11
6. 16-year old Foundation Cement: 23
7. Neighbor's Walkway Tiles: 72
In all, my only complaint for the SDS-Plus is that while drilling on lead, the single
trigger position makes it difficult to properly grasp the drill and press at the same
time, particularly with the elongated 1/2" bit. When placing bolts on rappel,
this will never be a problem, but there are still those that hunger for adventure on
lead. Having a second trigger function on the side would help resolve this, and even
possibly encourage others to find those memories of their own.
All in all, Bosch again proves itself to be the leader in quality and craftsmanship.
And for the handful of bolts that this team will continue to place, they will be done
with a Bosch in hand.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rockclimbing.com doesn't advocate bolting or not bolting, power drilling or hand drilling, drilling on lead, on aid or on rappel, or dilling in any medium, from wilderness areas to roadcuts to your neighbors front walk in any way shape or form. Your ethics are for you to decide, not us.