View Full Version : comparing zero turns

09-08-2001, 02:52 PM
We're moving into a place with 3.26 acres; gently rolling, with a spaced-out collection of trees (no low-hanging branches). I'd love some advice on what kind of mower to get.

MOWER 1: The guy who lives there now has a 60" Keyes ZD max (or something like that) with 60 hours on it, says he'll sell it for $5000. We've talked to a couple dealers around here who say Keyes is terrible, and they won't even work on them.

MOWER 2: Just checked out a Dixon 4516 with a 50" deck, which I like. I can get it new for $4500 from a local dealer who's very enthusiastic about them (he and his staff own them personally).

MOWER 3: ???

I like the idea of a ZTR, and I also want to be able to get the job done in something like 1 1/2 hours. BUT we're on a budget. I've read a lot of good stuff about Toro (among others), but I haven't heard anything specific about these brands. Any thoughts?

edward hedrick
09-08-2001, 09:09 PM
hOW ABOUT A Gravely 260Z was quoted 6600 for new machine.
I own a scag Sthm or 3 wheel 60 " This may be a an alternatiive
to a Z.

09-09-2001, 01:20 AM
If i'm not wrong, I think exmark makes the kees not completly sure.Have you thought about a used ztr mower.It might be a good alt. since this for the home.I guess in the end, demo out every mower poss. then make a choice.Good luck.Also check out the SEARCH BUTTON also.:D

09-09-2001, 03:45 AM
Of choices #1 and #2 I would take the Keyes any day over the Dixon.

Exmark makes the toro Z's and toro puts their deck on it. I run eXmark's and love them. Awesome machine and great factory support. The post about a used ZTR would probably be the best bet. Some others here can probably tell you more about the Keyes than I can. I would suggest you find a used eXmark, Toro, Dixie Chopper, Grasshopper, etc. Since the end of the season is comming up, you might find a good price in the local paper.

Larry Davis
09-09-2001, 11:43 AM
You are on the right track with seriously considering a ZTR. We have 3 1/2 park-like acres that must be kept looking very good and, in the growing season, this requires twice a week mowing. I was using a top brand lawn tractor with a 48" deck and would take me about 5 to 6 hours. About a month ago we bought an eXmark Lazer HP ZTR with a 48" deck and, even though I am still not really good with it (takes a while learning how to properly handle a ZTR), I have already knocked off about 2 hours on my mowing time. If you are planning on living there for years, you will regret it if you do not spend the big bucks for a top quality, commercial grade machine. I did not know anything about ZTR's. So, I took one work day and went looking for commercial lawn companies working to see exactly what they were using. In two hours I found and stopped to talk to 5 companies. Not one of them had a lawn tractor in their arsenal of mowing machinery. 4 of them had nothing but eXmark ZTR's and 1 had nothing but Dixie Choppers. These are both high quality, commercial grade cutting machines designed to give 100's if not 1000's of hours of trouble free running. These two manufactures do not even make units designed for home owner use. I chose the eXmark because our little town has a large dealer and the closest Dixie dealer is about 1 1/2 hours away. If you follow this advice, only talk to commercial outfits that look like they can afford to buy whatever machines they want, not some guy who may be just trying to pick up a few extra bucks on the weekend. Good luck and will be interested in hearing what you end up with.

Eric ELM
09-09-2001, 12:19 PM
Good advice Larry.

You are right about the commercial mowers lasting several thousand hours. With a 60" ZTR, you can mow that 3.5 acres in an hour once you get used to it. You could mow your lawn twice a week for the rest of your life and not put on as many hours as I have on my oldest Dixie Chopper. Not that you need to mow twice a week, but I'm using this as an example.

Larry Davis
09-09-2001, 03:27 PM
You are right Eric. After just a month, I wish I had gone with a 52" or even 60". Maybe next time.

09-10-2001, 12:34 PM
Please read the commercial post "how long to service 1 acre" - commercial cutters vary in their speed, anywhere from 1 acre/hr to over 3 ac/hr. I imagine the lot conditions are the biggest factor, although some machines and operators may be a little better. I just don't want you to buy a 6, 8, even 10 thousand dollar machine and be disappointed that it may take you 3 hr rather than the 1 1/2 you hoped for. Larry Davis' reply was excellent, showing before and after times for two different machines - my results were more dramatic because I went from a bottom of the line 48" mower (10 hours for 5 acres) to a Toro 62" Zmaster (now less than 4 hrs). Comparison of the Exmark and Toro: from other posts, close examination, etc, I believe the frames are almost identical but they have dramatically different decks - Toro's SFS system is designed to get grass in and out fast, grass does not go from one blade to another - this is fast but leaves rather large clippings. Exmark passes the grass from one blade to another and probably chops it up better. The spindles are totally different, also, with Toro using a greasable, tapered roller bearing setup while Exmark uses a sealed ball bearing unit. On the 62" unit, the Toro also has a rather sharp corner on the left side of the deck which I have had some problems gouging on uneven contours - but am getting better and have added the deck lift assist pedal, which is really helping.
The Exmark also has one or two engine choices not available on Toro (like a 23 hp Kawasaki air cooled on the 60") So, it sounds like you have a catch 22; ultimate speed and quality, or stick to the budget - you really have to nail down the budget for better advice from us.

09-10-2001, 01:09 PM
Thanks all for some excellent feedback. For what it's worth, I've been told Kees (I think I spelled it wrong the first time) got bought by Yazoo, which got bought by Husqvarna, and they're not making Kees anymore. I also found the acres-per-hour table on exmark's site a while back; that's been GREAT information.

More information: I looked into Toro, and got quoted $6000 for a 44" Z100. The dealer claims you can mow at 9+ mph, but the Toro website lists a top speed of 8.1 mph. Either way, I think it could get the job done really nicely. (Of course they don't list an MSRP on the Toro website so I don't have much to bargain with.) Gotta talk to the mrs. to finalize the budget, but I think we can swing this.

Another question here: is there a time trade-off, where if I didn't plan to have it for more than 3 yrs or so, I might be better off going with a less expensive and less durable mower? Or are less durable mowers typically fragile from the very start? This is probably tough to answer exactly, but any thoughts would be much appreciated.

09-10-2001, 01:36 PM
I paid $7060 for a 25 hp 62" Toro, this dealer was well below most and he priced the 44" smallest engine at $5400, so I think the $6000 quote is close. If you truly expect to stay 3 years or less, a top-line homeowner may do "OK" but will take twice as much time and the thinner blades will probably require more sharpening and replacements. I totally wore out 3 sets of Murray blades in one year, looks like one set of Toros will last the season (with sharpening several times). Even on a great commercial mower, you may see quite a loss on resale - anyone out there had to sell one with low hours?

09-10-2001, 05:05 PM
Yazoo/Kees is still being made under that name but are owned by Husqvarna. We have two Kees walkbehinds and there great. Only trouble we had was with the kawi on it. I have also heard great things about their ztrs. Dixon is more homeowner so it might work fine for you.

09-10-2001, 05:26 PM
Wait. . .that Kees ZT Max for $5000 with 60 hours looks pretty good - do a search "Husquvarna" on this site and you get lots of input on this machine. I'm pretty sure that machine would be around $7000 or more new. You can also find that machine and some specs at the Husquvarna web site.

09-10-2001, 05:54 PM
I recently purchased a 52" Toro Z100 with 19 hp Kawasaki for 5999 plus tax.

09-10-2001, 11:58 PM
I was in your situation just a few months ago. I am a homeowner that was cutting about 3 acres with a riding mower. It was taking 5 to 6 hours. l looked at a bunch of different mowers, drove all over my area within 60 miles to dealers and used this great resource at lawnsite.
The best information was found right here on lawnsite. I looked at Exmark, Scag, Toro, Gravely, Dixon, Ferris, Kees, CubCadet Commercial, Bobcat, Woods, Walker and Lesco.
What I found out is you really can't go wrong buying a commercial grade mower as a homeowner. Personally the Exmark, Scag, Toro, Gravely and Woods were my finalists.
It seems that the two factors that are most important in the decision are these; 1. make sure that you have a good, honest dealer that you get along with and that will give you good service if you ever need it. 2. get the largest engine and deck (that will fit everywhere you would like to cut) that you can afford, you won't be sorry.
Sure, try and get a good price on whatever you buy. I bought a new Toro Z Master 62" 23hp for $6800 and love it. Almost bought the Gravely 260Z - great ride, but I liked the Toro dealer a bit more. I believe the larger mowers will save you alot more time and will resell better if you ever have to sell.
I wouldn't by a deck less than 60" unless I had to get through gates or something.
That's my two cents.....you will be very happy with a commercial ZTR!

p.s. my 5 to 6 hours of cutting now only takes 1 hr and 20 min.
you gotta love it !:D

09-12-2001, 11:17 AM
All the information has been wonderful. One thing has me totally flummoxed:

* The Toro dealer has told me I could get the Toro Z100, with a 44" deck, and mow at 9.5 mph and get the job done in under an hour. According to the acres-per-hour productivity stats on Exmark's site, this seems about right (9.5 mph * 44" / 120 = 3.48 aph).

* On the "how long to service 1 acre" thread, people seem astounded when someone can do more than 1 acre per hour. This is probably because of additional work like trimming and stuff, right?

Why the huge difference in how fast people can mow? Does it depend THAT much on terrain or type of grass?

09-12-2001, 12:15 PM
Yes! The conditions, obstacles, etc make a huge difference; consider the difference in mowing a football field or a forest with hills, ditches, etc the same size; one could be mowed at 5 acres/hr, the other could be as slow as maybe 1/2 acre/hr.
Actually, I should have just said imagine the difference. . instead of putting in any numbers; this is why we get in these silly arguments about who can mow the fastest.

09-12-2001, 09:34 PM
My yard and the areas that I mow is slightly sloping to flat without alot of obstacles. I do mow around about 12 trees though. But you have to remember that I bought the 62" deck for those reasons, and ExMark shows that size deck (60" on theirs) cutting 5.76 with max. productivity. Toro shows the 62" deck cutting over 6.4 acres. The testing is on a perfectly flat area with no overlapping.
This is what I think, cut the best tested conditions in half and it is more realistic to what the performance would be if half of the areas you are cutting are not flat or slightly sloping. Tim.

09-13-2001, 02:32 PM

I have a few questions/suggestions....

How close and how old is your local Kees dealer that the previous owner purchased it from?
Is that dealer able to still service/transport that mower for you?

That Kees is probably your best deal. Stay away from Dixons.

You cannot mow hardly any lawn at 9.5mph!

Dont get a 44" deck (too small, not enough deck offset)

See if you can purchase this Kees through your mortgage! You'll hardly notice 5K over a couple hundred thou.!

If the Kees doesn't work out, check the phone book for mower shops.

Consider the following mowers:
1] Exmark Lazer 60" 23 Kawi
2] Exmark LazerHp 52" 23 Kawi
3] Toro Z-Master 62"
4] Dixie Chopper 50" Kawi
5] Dixie Chopper 60" Kawi

Most of the above can be had new for approx $8000
Most of the above can be had USED for approx $3500 and still have plenty of life left for approx 60hrs/year (est.).

Good Luck

lee b
09-14-2001, 11:34 PM
I have a Deere ztr, which is the same machine as the zt max Kees. The only difference is the deck. My mower is a great machine, no problems in 250 hours of hard use. For home-owner use the Kees ztr is by far your best option, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

09-15-2001, 09:38 PM
I had a 445 John Deere Lawn Tractor that gave me nothing but problems. Traded it in on the Toro Z Master with 62 in deck and 23 hp Kohler.

Wish I had done it years ago. Toro and Exmark are good machines. The Toro is cheaper in this area and has so far been an excellent mower. I looked them all over and decided on the Toro.

09-16-2001, 10:49 PM
I just purchased an 02 XW2500 in 60inch two weeks ago and can't believe the diff in mowing time as compared to the 20hp-50 lawntractor. I use it for my yard of 3 acres and my mothers 2 acre lawn and on just my yard time went from 5hrs (mowing and triming) to 1 1/2 total. This is a very open except for 12 pine trees lawn and ground speed rather than cut width made the major savings. I originally was gonna buy a 01 xw2503 but when the its was sold I was made an offer I couldn't refuse on the 02 . I know the coolers and stainless are overkill for my application and I should have waited for the Honda but had to act fast as the deal
had a time limit. After using it about 15min I was ready to cut and the only trouble i'm having is backing up straight. Hope the 25hp kohler does alright as I love the cut and the speed. I was afraid of the Scag because of the extra wt. (935 vs 1200 plus) on the lawn in the spring.


08-25-2002, 10:55 AM

You are going through a decesion-making process that is all too familiar to many homeowners who own some acreage. Not only that, your decision is more difficult because you care about purchasing the APPROPRIATE mower for your lawn.

I own three sloped acres also. I have also found myself frozen with indecision regarding which mower to buy. I can tell you this. I first bought a John Deere 445 on the recommendation of a friend and hated it. You will spend six hours cutting that yard of yours without a zero turn. It will not make it up any decent slopes without turfing your lawn. The tires spin around trees if there is any slope at all. Ergo, forget anything other than a ZTR mower. I returned the 445.

Next, I have demo'd the Hustler Z, the Toro 200 series (stay away from the 100 series), the Lesco Z-Two 60" deck and the Exmark Lazer Z with the 23 HP engine and 60" deck. Only the Toro dealer and the Exmark dealer actually left the mower at my home for the day, two days, whatever I needed, to demo. their product. The Toro dealer is closest. But like me, if you are a homeowner and not in the lawn-care business, we don't care as much about "dealer support/turn-around time/etc." We don't want to buy too little or as bad what we consider "too much" mower.

The Lazer Z, with 60", cut my property in a little over an hour and 15 minutes or so. The thought of buying a mower with a 44" deck seems unwise to me. What a huge difference the larger deck makes.

My question regards the "pivoting front axle" that some have mentioned. The Lesco Z-Two has one - - if one front wheelt hits a bump, etc., both don't come off of the ground. And, the pros admit that the ride with this pivoting front axle is much better.

A used ZTR?!?! Good luck. These guys don't turn them loose in good condition for a sweet deal...I have looked for a year and a half. If I could find one for $3,500. I'd buy it.

Good luck, but don't be like me and wait forever to make the decision - - make the decision for one of these great mowers and be happy with it. The ZTR is the only way to go.

08-25-2002, 04:19 PM
Nothing like 11 month later advice!!


Sonnie Parker
09-12-2002, 12:47 PM
WOW, I went through reading all this info and was about to put in my 2 cents worth as well. Never even realized the dates.


Thanks for saving me some time TLS.

09-12-2002, 11:55 PM
Check and see if you have an Excel Hustler dealer close. full list price on a FasTrak w 20hp honda and 54" deck is $5,499. it is a homeowner model but built nearly the same as their commercial mini and full size z. Don't forget - lifetime warr on frame and leading edge of the deck.

Anyhow, check out everything and buy what seems right for you.

09-27-2002, 02:19 PM
That price for the Kees (now Husqvarna) you desribed is excellent given the #of hours on it. Have owned a similar model for one year and remain very pleased. However, IMO it all comes down to the quality of the dealer and whether the warranty will transfer. Go with a dealer you feel you can trust.

10-25-2002, 01:50 PM
I have large site 5.3 acres that I mow with a Toro 255 (25HP Kohler). The site has 42 trees,4 out buildings, house pool and 525 foot of driveway to do. It takes me an hour to trim and about two hours to mow with the ZTR.

Prior to this set up I was mowing with a John Deere 1050 and a 272 (72 inch) grooming mower, triming with a JD 525 42 front mount. Me and the Mrs cold do it (the lawn) in about 3 hours mowing and 1 hour trimming. For leaves I just mow them till they are dust. As far as edging is concerned it gets done about once a year.

I have tried about every combination of mower there is out there and would tell you to buy what the pros use. Find a good dealer, try the machine (ride is important) and get on with reducing your mowing time.

Yes this is a farm which is the only way I could have all of this equipment, farms have to look good as well.