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View Full Version : Zero Turn or Riding Mower?


thuiskens1
05-30-2010, 12:36 PM
I suppose I am in the same boat as many homeowners who have 1-2 acres of lawn opting to cut it themselves. What to buy, ZTR or riding mower. I am located in Florida and have St. Augustine grass. I think I'm experiencing data download. I have considered the following ZTR's:
Hustler Sport 48" B&S 21 $3,400.00
Hustler Fastrak 48" Kaw 19HP $5,000.00
EXmark Quest 48" 22HP B&S ELS for $4,300.00
SCAG Freedom Z 48" 20Hp B&S ELS $4,800.00

My initial quest was to find a residential ZTR under $2,800.00; big box store models. After some research, I have now made a quantum leap into $4,000.00 -$5,500.00 machines. The models listed above are higher end residential mowers. I don't think I can justify another $1,000.00 -$2,000.00 for true commercial grade based on my 40-50 hours per year of use. I have 1.25 acres and my lawn is in good shape. Would I be as well served with a mid range quality riding mower? I have looked at the John Deere 175 and 300 series. They range in price from $2,800.00 - $3,600.00. While cut quality is important, reliability is critical. I'd hate to spend this kind of money and start having issues in 4-5 years when the warranty expires..I live close to all the dealers with the models listed..Any comments will be appreciated. Thank you.

MS_SURVEYOR
05-30-2010, 01:41 PM
I went from a lawn tractor to a ztr last year. My wife and I researched and looked, and looked, and researched, and looked for near 6 months before we made a decision. That's a whole lot of land surveys for us to spend that much money.:dizzy: But we both felt we made the best choice getting a ztr for us. I mow a little more grass. A lot rougher grass and grounds. Almost tractor territory. We went with a commercial mower. Back to your choice. Not a bad looking list of mowers. The only flag I see is the Briggs engine. I'm a long time Briggs owner, but my research told me they are weaker, and have shorter lifespans than other engines.

You may want to look at this line of mowers also,

http://www.deere.com/en_US/ProductCatalog/HO/servlet/com.deere.u90785.cce.productcatalog.view.servlets.ProdCatProduct?pNbr=SKU22566&tM=HO&link=enav

I'll say this. A ztr will save you planty of mowing time. It'll cut your time by almost 1/2, with a good quality mow in that St. Augustine grass. I love mowing St. Augustine grass. I have Bahia, my mother in law has St. Augustine grass.

My mother in law's St. Augustine grass after mowing with my Bad Boy Pup.

http://i649.photobucket.com/albums/uu216/MS-SURVEYOR/June-12-2009018.jpg

Hey! Things break! I don't think ztr's break any more than lawn tractors.

Good Luck!

:drinkup:

thuiskens1
05-30-2010, 03:23 PM
In trying to compare like priced machines, I visited TSC and looked at the Bad Boy MZ 26 HP B&S/48" $3,499.00..Looks well built.. Again, Briggs engine.. While I don't want to be completely fixated on price, to get out of the entry level engine and transmission, you move to commercial grade equipment. Regarding the John Deere, many folks criticize the stamped deck. I would guess that with my residential application it would be fine for years..
MS Surveyor, Thank you for your reply!

2001FZ1
05-30-2010, 04:19 PM
Don't count out a mower just because of the Briggs motor. For a home owner like yourself, the B&S ELS will last a long time. If you were doing it for a living, a B&S Vanguard would be the way to go. Since the ELS came out a few years ago, they have made improvements to the air intake system and reliability has gone up.

I was looking at a few specs on the machines you listed. Look at the weight difference. The Hustler Fastrak and Scag weigh over 150lbs more than the others. Kinda makes you wonder why? Where is the extra steel? Will this weight provide extra traction or not?

One thing to consider with these entry level commercial models (high end residential) is that they will probably last 20 years. Spread that $5000 out over 20 years and its not too bad.

Larry Overcash
05-30-2010, 05:20 PM
I agree, you should buy a commercial grade mower. Don't go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy one. Spend the money once and you'll be happy.

Grubrunner
05-30-2010, 09:21 PM
I recently switched to a ZTR from years of owning Riding Mowers.

I've owned Craftsmans, John Deeres, TroyBuilts and Husqvarna over the course of the last 16 years or so. Most I gave away to family members and some I scrapped. While they all cut good-to-very good, none of them comes close to a ZTR in ALL areas.

And like many have stated: save your money and wait until you can afford a commercial grade ZTR..... it's so worth it!

Once you own/ride/cut with a ZTR, you'll wonder how on God's good earth you ever did without it.

Good luck!

2001FZ1
05-30-2010, 10:21 PM
I've owned Craftsmans, John Deeres, TroyBuilts and Husqvarna over the course of the last 16 years or so. Most I gave away to family members and some I scrapped. While they all cut good-to-very good, none of them comes close to a ZTR in ALL areas.!

My Simplicity Broadmoor was 16yrs old when I traded it in on the Scag. Still got $750 on trade too. I thought about buying another one but it was going to be $4,000 for the Broadmoor or another 1,200 for the Scag. 68 trees in the yard and I had to have the ZTR. That old Simplicity did cut better than what i have now. I think it has to do with the fee floating deck that follows the ground instead of riding above it.

Specop_007
05-30-2010, 11:21 PM
Heres my thoughts on the subject, worth exactly what you paid for it... :D

I'm getting a Hustler Sport 42" with the Honda motor. I absolutely dont see the deck or frames wearing out on these machines (These being good ZTR's). The weak link to me seems to be the motor. Sure the B&S is a decent motor but I would expect it to be the first thing to start giving me fits. Hydrostatic units are nothing new, so even a sealed unit such as the EZT hydro I expect to get a heck of a long life out of. I would expect the motor to fail before the EZT unit.

So thats what I'm getting. a "commercial" deck/frame and motor with a "semi commercial" hydro. The Sport is far cheaper than about any other high quality ZTR mower. Anything under this price point has a stamped deck I really am not too keen on and anything over this price point is a noticeable increase in price. Theres no bloody way I'm spending $4,500 or more to cut my grass.

That said I dont make 200,000 a year, so even the Sport is a significant investment for me. If I were a few paygrades higher than what I am now I'd probably spring for a Fastrak 48" and be a happy camper. However I'm fully convinced the Sport is going to be all of the machine I need and more.

MS_SURVEYOR
05-30-2010, 11:43 PM
Heres my thoughts on the subject, worth exactly what you paid for it... :D

I'm getting a Hustler Sport 42" with the Honda motor. I absolutely dont see the deck or frames wearing out on these machines (These being good ZTR's). The weak link to me seems to be the motor. Sure the B&S is a decent motor but I would expect it to be the first thing to start giving me fits. Hydrostatic units are nothing new, so even a sealed unit such as the EZT hydro I expect to get a heck of a long life out of. I would expect the motor to fail before the EZT unit.

So thats what I'm getting. a "commercial" deck/frame and motor with a "semi commercial" hydro. The Sport is far cheaper than about any other high quality ZTR mower. Anything under this price point has a stamped deck I really am not too keen on and anything over this price point is a noticeable increase in price. Theres no bloody way I'm spending $4,500 or more to cut my grass.

That said I dont make 200,000 a year, so even the Sport is a significant investment for me. If I were a few paygrades higher than what I am now I'd probably spring for a Fastrak 48" and be a happy camper. However I'm fully convinced the Sport is going to be all of the machine I need and more.

:rolleyes:

That's one way to look at it! Good Luck!

:drinkup:

thomasglenn
06-01-2010, 03:29 PM
I've also owned several brands of the tractor type mowers, bought my first ZTR this season, I can't see ever going back. For the first time in 20 years I can get on the mower without cussing and kicking for 10 minutes. I don't know why I didn't get one sooner, I've spent far more money on more foolish things. I have always hated cutting grass, until this year I would have rather gone to the dentist than cut grass, not any more. It's almost fun on a ztr.

bigjoedo
06-02-2010, 12:58 PM
thuiskens1,

I did a lot of research an bought a Hustler Sport 42". As stated by others, it is a commercial deck and frame with Residential engine and EZT Hyrodstats. If you are only mowing your own lawn it should last years. It is a big investment for home use, imo.

LarryF
06-03-2010, 12:47 PM
I've also owned several brands of the tractor type mowers, bought my first ZTR this season, I can't see ever going back. For the first time in 20 years I can get on the mower without cussing and kicking for 10 minutes. I don't know why I didn't get one sooner,............. It's almost fun on a ztr.

I believe that most homeowners who have switched from a lawn tractor to a ZTR feel this way, especially if it's a commercial quality unit. In my mind it's money well spent no matter what it cost. Once in a while you will see a post by someone who still thinks a lawn tractor is good enough or even better, but there can't be many.

billyed
06-03-2010, 01:33 PM
The exmark quest has the ZT 2800 hydros. You can change the fluid and filter. $900 more but I was quoted 4K on one. If you could get it for that then it's only $600 more and you get bigger rear tires, 20 vs 18 and the better hydros.

rtharris
06-03-2010, 05:09 PM
I own a bad boy mz4800 48 in heavy fabribated deck26hp briggs els mows as well as any other ztr period 3499 at tsc i dont expect to buy another for 20 yrs try one u cant beat the value
Posted via Mobile Device

thuiskens1
06-04-2010, 06:54 PM
Thank you all very much..I am going to buy a ZTR. I'm still weighing my options regarding which one. I think I've put more thought into this than my last 3 cars. I looked mostly at the high end residential models. I pretty much just walked by the commercial units. My next quest will be investigating the lower end commercial models. Thank you again.

nmurph
06-04-2010, 11:26 PM
i would check on CL for a good, low-hour, commercial ztr. that said, most of the major manufacturers make mowers which will serve a HO well and last many years.

jkingrph
06-05-2010, 01:00 PM
Now I at the point where I prefer the Kawasaki engines, but don't knock the Briggs.

Back in 1980 I bought a Sears lawn tractor(Murray) with a 11hp Briggs, splash lubed, no oil filter, with a 36"deck. I had a lot of ditch to mow, and went lengthwise in both directions which I have heard is not really good for those engines. I ran it 11 years, problems with spindles, and transaxle finally gave out but never had one minutes trouble out of that little engine.

The only thing I did was change the oil every couple of months, not very many hours between changes but it kept it going.

The newer engines look good and I think if you maintain one well it should last.

xoffers
06-11-2010, 09:36 AM
I'm new to this but here in vermont with pine needles,poor top soil and shade, a nice lawn is difficult to grow leaving a thin base in many spots. I almost went with the ztr but was warned it may tear up my lawn more, tried one out in some of the tighter spots and while it was fast and fun the I really had to spin around slowly otherwise tires would tear up my lawn, this is something that need to be considered based on where you live

997Gene
06-14-2010, 01:24 PM
I'm new to this but here in vermont with pine needles,poor top soil and shade, a nice lawn is difficult to grow leaving a thin base in many spots. I almost went with the ztr but was warned it may tear up my lawn more, tried one out in some of the tighter spots and while it was fast and fun the I really had to spin around slowly otherwise tires would tear up my lawn, this is something that need to be considered based on where you live

Leaving marks is all in how you use the machine, no doubt you can spin around a pole in one quick shot but you will tear up the turf. Tighter circles require more of a three point approach. One learns pretty quickly what will leave a mark and what wont. Even so, it is still light years faster than any tractor. Having had my first ztr for a year now, I will never mow with anything else again. It cut my cutting time nearly in half.:clapping:

JDExmark
06-15-2010, 02:40 PM
lawn tractors are tractors first and lawn mowers second... have never understood the logic behind buying one with the primary objective being cutting grass

Specop_007
06-15-2010, 02:46 PM
lawn tractors are tractors first and lawn mowers second... have never understood the logic behind buying one with the primary objective being cutting grass

I suspect a big driving factor is the fact a ZTR runs, on average, twice what a lawn tractor does if not more. Thats a huge jump in price for your residential mower.

tdr6874
06-15-2010, 04:22 PM
i went through the same thing a few years back...and opted for

http://international.husqvarna.com/node1556.aspx?pid=5343

only one tranny to maintain, deck sits out front to see what you cut and goes under bushes and low limbs easier, deck has great mulching on st augustine and is quick for a rider (i know there are alot faster) the frame is tubular steel not stamped steel...and a few others....they run about 4k or so but it is one other thing to consider...its not a true ztr but comes about 4 inch from complete..not a big box buy, had to order from dealer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0cdk9MsVhA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBTu2JF_WjY&feature=related

MS_SURVEYOR
06-15-2010, 06:40 PM
i went through the same thing a few years back...and opted for

http://international.husqvarna.com/node1556.aspx?pid=5343

only one tranny to maintain, deck sits out front to see what you cut and goes under bushes and low limbs easier, deck has great mulching on st augustine and is quick for a rider (i know there are alot faster) the frame is tubular steel not stamped steel...and a few others....they run about 4k or so but it is one other thing to consider...its not a true ztr but comes about 4 inch from complete..not a big box buy, had to order from dealer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0cdk9MsVhA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBTu2JF_WjY&feature=related

That's a pretty cool rig. You say about 4k? What size engine and deck did you get?

tdr6874
06-15-2010, 07:05 PM
41 inch deck 3 blades...15.5 or 16 kohler pro....

JDExmark
06-16-2010, 07:52 AM
nice rig there....i'd opted for that before a lawn tractor any day as its sole purpose is mowing...looks like a good choice

most of my neighbors have lawn tractors...you see them going around in circles real slowly and making 3 point turns in awkward places all the time...they are just not a good choice if you have lots of obstacles...like most suburban yards in my area do

i think people get all excited about the "toy" aspect of those machines...and don't open up to other options like ZTR or even commercial walk behinds.

i ended up with Exmark commerical walk behind - belt driven. 48" for 2800 on a closeout

i had just priced a husqvarna lawn tractor at 2K plus 500 for bagging system...and although it was cool machine...it could hold up in comparison to commercial walk behind for cut performance

JDExmark
06-16-2010, 07:53 AM
correction...the husqvarna couldn't hold up in comparison to the exmark

coughlin47
06-16-2010, 10:09 AM
lawn tractors are tractors first and lawn mowers second... have never understood the logic behind buying one with the primary objective being cutting grass
Good point. When we built our house over 20 years ago, we also decided to put in our own lawn and save over $4K (2+ acres). My intent was to buy a tractor to pull around the York rake, haul stones,dirt, etc. I bough an MTD tractor (happened to also have a deck with blades :) ) and my feeling was that if lasted just long enough for me to get the lawn project done, then I'm ahead of the game. Think I paid $1500 at the time. Well, despite the torture I gave that machine, it lasted and lasted over the years, and I was able to cut the grass. That machine lasted 18 years and all I did was basic maintenance and didn't have any major problems with it. A few years ago, I purchased another tractor (Husqvarna, 18HP) as I was also looking for something to haul around brush, etc (after 20 plus years, trees are falling down :( ). Now, finally, after all these years I'm looking for a 'mower' - that purchase will have to wait until after the new year as I just spent a bunch of $$$ for a new home for all my equipment ..... a 12 by 24 high side minibarn with 9 ft garage door. My intent is to have the two units, each of which has it's own purpose. Unless one has the place to store the equipment, one multi-purpose tractor/mower makes sense for most homeowners.

Capemay Eagle
06-16-2010, 05:55 PM
I have read through a few post and I can give you a little info. I have owned a Hustler 42" minifastrak for 3 years now and I love the machine and have had 0 problems. For 1-2 acres, this is the perfect machine. I started using the Meg Mo blades this summer and they are working out really well. I owned a riding mower prior to this machine and I can cut my yard in half the time of the riding mower. I am contemplating selling this machine for a larger Fastrak and the only reason is for the upgraded bagging/collection system. I have several oaks in my yard and fall cleanups are brutal. I could use a better collection system. This is the ONLY reason I would give up the Mini.

06LTNox
06-17-2010, 10:29 AM
I had been using a donated rider when we finished our new house. As soon as we had the funds we picked up a Deere ZTR and it has cut my time in half.

I had looked at the traditional lawn tractor but since I knew that we would be getting a compact utility tractor in a few years I decided to pick up something built to mow, and not something the has mowing as one of the jobs it can do.

So it boils down to rather you want to spend less time mowing, or do you want a mower that will do other stuff as well?