View Full Version : Knee problems might be a problem - need advice on mower to help

10-29-2003, 02:49 PM
Well, I had surgery to repair my left knee and it turns out it was worse than expected. Doc says I have to stop running and lifting weights (legs at least) which I normally do 3-4 days a week. Have to do some biking instead and stick to upper body weight lifting only. If I don't, he says I will need a full knee replacement in 3 years. As it is I have almost no cartilage left in my knee.

Now, the real problem. He suggested ditching the 48" w/b mower for a rider of some sort. I know a ZTR would be the ideal, but I can't afford one this year or next. I mow and landscape part-time in order for my wife to stay home with our 2 boys. I'm a teacher full time. I know I could go with a sulky, but I do mostly small yards (1/4 acre or so) and the engine on my Bobcat w/b is only a 13 hp Honda. Cuts great, but I'm a 230 pound weight lifter. I don't think it's going to be pulling me around and up and down hills all that great. If I'm wrong on that, let me know. So, I figure the only other option is to sell the w/b. I could get about $1200 for it. What could I get that would allow me to sit or stand for that money. Only thing I see is a regular old rider. Anything esle? How much slower will I be with a rider compared to the w/b?

I intend to stay in business one way or another so please make any suggestions that you think may help. Thanks guys.

10-29-2003, 03:15 PM
We're in the same boat; I teach as well so my wife can stay home w/ our kids; and I couldn't do all my accounts with a w-b, I was carrying a ztr and 36" wb for 1/2 the season; then decided to sell the wb and get a good trim mower and rely on teh ztr for the bulk of the work. I pick up a helper a couple of days a week and just go through them.

My opinion:

ztr would be required for the medical reason - then use it to let yourself put on a few new accounts to justify. Remember if the knee goes out, teh rehab-surgery-rehab will be a year or more...then what. Invest in the ztr now so that your career is extended.

10-29-2003, 03:20 PM
Thanks for the reply. Only problem is I don't have the money for a ZTR until after next season most likely. Unless there are some lower cost options out there in the ZTR realm. Any ideas?

10-29-2003, 05:44 PM
I am also in this boat, except i work for Pepsi fulltime. I also have a bad left knee. The thing is my knee feels best when I am walking on a lawn. I would ask the doc how he thinks the knee would do with no running or squats, but keeping the mower.

kickin sum grass
10-29-2003, 06:00 PM
you might be ok with a sulky. I had one on a 14 hp kaw 52" scag and it worked fine and I "was" a bigger man back then beating you by several lbs. Steep hills would the biggest problem but you can jump off and walk up the hill and ride it back down if needed.

10-29-2003, 08:38 PM
Coach.. I also think you'ld be okay with a sulky. I used to use one with a 36" Toro 12hp Kawi. I still have the sulky and have no need for it at this time. It's in good shape but the underside of the seat is a little rusty. You can have it (free) if you would like it. You would need to buy a hitch to mount to your Bobcat.

Is a velke out of the question?

10-29-2003, 09:31 PM
Is the Velke to stand on and the sulky to sit? For some reason I thought they were basically the same thing. What I meant was something to stand on, but I guess sitting could work to. Which still allows the best maneuverability? At least one of my lawns has alot of landscaping to go around and between.

10-29-2003, 10:07 PM
Whatever you do, dont get a stand on mower like a wright or dane, not good on bad knees. What about one of those homeowner toro ztr's. I know it may not last long, but if your only doing lawns part time, maybe it will work for the time being for you. Maybe not, just a thought.

10-29-2003, 10:56 PM

Drop me an e-mail, I've been buying nearly new mowers at used prices off a guy in PA. He buys them from where he can and has a mechanic go through every one before it's sold. This guy is great!
I am just hesitant about putting his e-mail or phone# for the general public , don't want to mess up my relation w/ him. I know he's got a few ztr's now and he's always getting more in.

Good luck

10-29-2003, 11:30 PM
Hortboy - I'm looking for a used hydro W/B and would like to contact you but can't get to your email via your profile. Please contact me @ likestomow@yahoo.com


Rustic Goat
10-30-2003, 01:48 AM
Don't think you'll have any problems using a sulky, it's done pulling larger folks than yourself all the time. It's just a matter of getting used to.
It REALLY makes mowing a LOT less fatiguing.
You can get a sulky in stand or sit versions, don't know details about seated type, never used one. I would wonder about knee clearance when turning, and you are changing your field of vision when sitting, again, I'd think just a matter of getting used to.
As for a standing type, check out one called a Bullrider.
Sulkies are available from many different sources, new usually $300 range, if you do biz on eBay, usually some there, plus freight.

10-30-2003, 07:59 AM
Dear CoachLinz,

Get the book Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. What ever you do, do not get talked into any more surgeries. The bottom line is that most surgeries mess you up more than the initial problem.

I'll save you any more boring testimonial reading except to say I was looking at quiting this business after 6 months with knee and elbow severe pain. Stumbled on this book and did the excercises...all the pain dissappeared and has stayed gone for over a year now.

Amazon.com or even Books a Million has it for around $12.00 to $15.00 I think.


10-31-2003, 05:56 AM
If you don't mind me asking, what happened to your knee? And again, if you don't mind, how old are you? I'm asking because I am kind of in the same situation: I've been walking professionally for over 14yrs. ( I'm a mailman) with a torn acl (which happened 17yrs ago), I've been told by doctors that I can't run or do squats any more, that I would be given a full knee replacement if I weren't so young(I'm 40), and that I should give serious consideration to finding another job. I was just curious as to what your circumstances were. That is why I'm looking to get in the business.

10-31-2003, 08:58 AM
I too have almost no cartilage left in my left knee. College basketball and torn ligaments did me in. While I am not into lawncare full time- my knee does affect my attitude towards mowing. I have a two wheel velke and love it. It is so easy on my knee and it allows me to go faster than I could ever walk. 4th gear vs. 3rd. I'm 6-5 and 215 pounds and my 14 hp drags me around fine.

Sheppard is right about surgery. I've had 4 on the same knee and look at the boat I'm in. When I threw my back out weight lifting my doc wanted me to think about an operation. HECK NO I told him- roughly $1500 later in chiropractic visits I have no pain and no scars. So the way I figure- I'm still ahead since surgery costs a lot more than $1500. Alternative medicine is definitely something I'll consider before the knife from now on.

So if the ZTR doesn't work for your budget try a velke.

10-31-2003, 09:16 AM
CoachLinz - I was at my dealer yesterday and he said gravley is comming out with a new 34" ZTR. His price was $3499. Since you do small lawns that might be an option and its not too expensive.

Team Gopher
10-31-2003, 09:31 AM
Hi CoachLinz,

Here is a quote (http://server2.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=51570)from Brucec32 that deals with this topic.

"I used velkes and wb's exclusively for about 6 years, then got a lazer. Until I got the rider my knees had gotten so bad that I had to use the handrail to support my weight while trying to get down any steps w/o collapsing. I could walk ok, but couldn't take the weight going downhill. The constant bouncing just took its toll on my knees.

Now, they're mostly recovered. Still get sore when overworked, but when I recently had to use the Velke for a few weeks due to the lazer having problems, the knee problem returned.

No brainer for me. I use the ZTR when possible, and the wb's when necessary and no more.

For short stints, a wb/velke or stander would be fine. But it's pretty obvious that you expend more energy standing than sitting, which eventually takes it's toll on your energy levels."

Tx Firefighter
10-31-2003, 10:18 AM
Here's my take on it.

I've had knee surgery to repair torn ACL. I still get some pain sometimes. I have a 36 inch Scag with 12.5 Kawasaki. I figured I'd get a sulky to save my knees. After using the sulky for a few weeks, my knee pain got worse. The sulky requires you to twist back and forth when turning. It made my pain worse.

So, I got a ZTR. No more problems obviously. I still use my WB with sulky, but not enough to aggravate the knee.

I guess my point is, don't expect the sulky to eliminate your knee issues. You're going to have to get a Z to fix the problem. My full time job is Firefighter, so if my knees get too bad, I'm out of a job. I had to either get out of this business or get a Z no matter what. Most dealers can set you up with financing to get a 48 inch Z for a couple of hundred a month. Once you use the Z, you'll see that they do earn their keep, and quick. I became so much more productive, that I was able to take on about 50% more work load.

10-31-2003, 11:24 AM
Bad knee here too. My doc is supposed to be one of the best in the country. He gave me a series of shots of Hyalgen, which is derived from rooster combs. 5 shots in 5 weeks. Man, it was like heaven.

Anyway, I have a Scag ZTR and riding beats walking any day. BUT, I tend to stretch my legs out straight when I'm mowing. This puts a backward stress on my knee, which makes it hurt. So if you get a ZTR, watch how you ride.

Have you considered a Stander?