CM: Okay, let's do this. A bit of a teardown. Right off the bat you can see on the motor that Makita haven't tried to cut every corner possible, unlike some manufacturers where this is now commonplace. Material codes are visible on a lot of the parts which makes the assessment of suitability easier. The flyout is invaluable reference material....
The two halves of the top shell (1, 13) are a reinforced polymer; polyamide/nylon 6 with 30% glass fibre (PA6-GF30); a tough high quality temp resistant composite which takes a beating. This is a good "standard choice". I've seen routers where the plastics gets cheaped out on, which is a big mistake since they house the top spindle bearing. They could have gone one better with PA66 or something really crazy and overspecified, but we just wouldn't see the difference in anything but the ticket price. By the temps that PA6 starts to turn to spaghetti, you've got bigger problems than spindle runout from a wobbly bearing. This all checks out.
Inside the casing, there's a setup very typical of simple modern electronically-controlled routers. All of the components are compactly seated in an intricately-designed enclosure where everything has its place. An unexpected observation is that the cable strain relief (5) is also PA6-GF30! The "black box" contains the electronic brain of the router potted into a small plastic box. This manages the soft start, speed control and houses the spindle speed sensor also. The white box is a line noise suppression capacitor to prevent the harshness of a brush commutated motor pushing electromagnetic dirt back up into your local mains supply. Absolutely nothing unexpected here. Everything was assembled well until I ran in, screwdrivers blazing....
The power switch is a little cheesy, however it's not expected to be a heavy duty cycle trigger switch or anything like that. Interestingly, the contact rating is being run pretty much on the mark if the tool amperage rating (3.1A@240VAC) is anything to go by. I don't think this is a specific symptom of cutting any corners, but it seems run pretty close to its rating. Not a concern in real terms, especially since these can be swapped out on the dollar. That and the maximum consumption of a tool this size will only ever be at startup or stall. The electronic management will no doubt prevent the tool from getting too greedy on the amps at any one point.
This IS interesting! The end of the router spindle hiding under that blue nub in the centre is probably keyed and fitted with a magnet. As that spins (up to 30,000RPM!) that magnet will induce a current in the small copper coil. These "variable reluctance sensors" aren't a million miles from how a guitar pickup does its thing. The electronics will be monitoring the frequency of this signal in order to know how fast the spindle is moving at any given time. Primarily this will be for the "constant speed electronics"; if the spindle bogs down mid-cut and isn't spinning as fast as the router is set to run, the electronics will push the spindle harder until it reaches the required speed. The electronics can then back off on the juice. Variable reluctance sensors are an interesting alternative to Hall effect sensors, however they do the same thing. Just one for the electronics geeks.
Easing up the sleeve from the main housing reveals the rotor. All of the commutator bars and field windings are epoxied up, plus that magnet at the top of the spindle is revealed. The work that goes into the details of a rotor are usually very telling as to how well the machine will last over time. Cheap out here and everything else sucks also.
The main bearings top and bottom are NSK rubber-sealed bearings. Very standard components with known performance in applications such as this. The armature is ground both fore and aft, similar to how weights are added to car wheels for balance to eliminate vibration at high speeds. Clean good-looking work. The spindle-mounted fan pulls air through the body of the router. Given the large open porting in the base however, I can see this not preventing debris from entering the motor. Definitely a good reason not to use this router inverted, and let's face it....that would be a bit of a high expectation for a palm router!
The bearings are easily replaceable should they get a bit worn and noisy from the constant side-load that routers subject them to. Most Makita spares dealers carry these items, however being standard NSK bearings, any good bearing dealer will have them or direct equivalents such as SKF, etc. If the motor gets a bit noisy, this is good place to look and often the culprit; the nature of ball bearings rather than a product issue.
The area were you really need to be seeing quality is in the rotor and its mounts. These seem adequate enough for a router at this price point, and the router runs smoothly in testament. It sounds fantastic....saying that sounds weird, but it does.
The aluminium casing is cast from high quality Chinesium which seems to be moulded a sintered powder alloy. The castings are machined nicely at the point where components mate (motor housing to the inside of bases, for example). I wouldn't expect any casting to survive heavy abuse (being thrown onto concrete?) and certainly this seems a better quality of casting than most. The metal parts only seem to have been made down to a price where its appropriate, rather than to make them as cheap as feasible. That's definitely the theme around this router.
The overall impression one gets from the teardown is that this is not overbuilt, but certainly hasn't had corners cut here and there simply to provide better return for the shareholders. Everything seems to be as good as it needs to be in order to provide reliable performance, but nothing more. This wasn't a throwaway product designed by committee to bang into a product lineup niche. The fit and finish is precise, and is what you would expect from a tool representing the good side of the Makita brand. In good hands with occasional maintenance, this should go a good distance. The only significant negatives I could support are that airflow through the well-packed upper housing into the motor casing may be a little restrictive. Heat may be an issue with constant use, and like most tools heat is the killer. The other being the light-duty power switch and speed control. Time will tell as to whether those crap out or simply do the job as expected.