View Full Version : Whats a good 21" mower?

master mower
02-14-2004, 03:59 AM
A couple years ago I had a lawn care business with a client base of around 100. Last year I sold it to focus more on college. But this year I am going to get back into the business on a limited basis. I figure that 15 clients wont stress me at all. When I sold my business I also sold my "toys" along with it. Now I need to buy a new mower. I have a couple old lawn-boy push mowers which have held up great, but they arent something I want to rely on. What would you guys recommend to buy as a 21" self-propelled mower goes? I know I probably should bite my lip and buy a commercial one, but with only having 15 lawns I think im safe buying one thats around $500-600. Ones that ive been considering are Honda, Gravely, and Snapper. Ive had great luck with snappers.......I swear snappers are bomb proof, but the bagging chute clogs easily.

02-14-2004, 04:35 AM
As far as 21 inchers goes, I've used only Hondas for the last 12 years. Still have a couple of ten year old 216's running strong. But then again I don't use them as much these days. The only problem I've had with them is they don't seem to mulch all that well and I really don't like to bag grass :)

02-14-2004, 08:34 AM
I've always liked toro's. you could get a homeowner toro cast deck for around that price, or I think the Exmark 21" metro isn't much more and it has basicly the same mower with someof the commercial features. I think they have Honda engines inthem now. You might still find a toro or two wihtthe 2-cycle.

I have an airens 21" now. they call it profesianal but I question that. It was around $700-$800 new. lOnve the Robine engine but hate the tranny (mine has the 3-speed they quit making), and the cut isn't even what I would call great at 2.5"
YOu might look lawnboy, since you've had good luck with them in the past.

02-14-2004, 09:12 AM
Ive been looking at commercial model of the Lawnboy and really like it. The price I got for this machine was $699 with the rear bagger. I really like the 2 cycle motor and the 4 mph speed of the machine and from what Ive seen It has a pretty good cut . So Im of to the dealer to make a final desicion and will let yall know if I buy it or not.

02-14-2004, 09:49 AM
We use Snappers with Robins 2 cycle engines. The suction is great. They have got a little pricey though. Harry

02-14-2004, 10:04 AM
I use a 5hp 21" Honda push with the hydrostatic transmission (9 speeds). Great mower, recommended.

Lawn Dog2001
02-14-2004, 10:46 AM
You know I am just about convinced they dont make a good 21". By they I mean anyone. I have had a commercial Lawn Boy. I thought it was junk. I had a commercial Husqvarna I paid almost $700 for, total junk. I have had various homeowner grade mowers all Junk!!!

I have heard that Exmark and Toro commercial 21"s are fine machines, but I will not pay $1000 for a push mower.

To be honset with you(at the risk of getting laughed at), I have had the best luck with Craftsman mowers. There durable they mulch really well, and craftsman will ship you warranty parts over the phone for free during the warranty period. At the price you can buy one for they are disposable. If it breaks down in a couple of years, throw it away and get another one. You got your $200 out of it.

Last year I picked up a 21" craftsman with a 5.5 Honda engine for $250. Lasted me all season with not one problem. Although I almost never use it, or any other 21"

02-14-2004, 12:18 PM
I use Toro's. Haven't had any problems.


02-14-2004, 12:24 PM
I always keep my eye out out for used commercial Toro 21's with the 2 stroke Suzuki engine. I've had two of mine for almost 6 years, and they still run like new! I can also do the maintenance on them by myself. They require a very minimum amount of work to keep running, and the parts are cheap. The trannies are pretty tough too, I've only had one go out, but that was my fault when I didnt grease it one year. 1k$ for a new one is steep, no doubt, but the way I see it, when they last two or three times as long, it helps spread the cost out to make it worthwhile. :cool:

02-14-2004, 12:28 PM
I might be looking for a cheap 21" this year. I'm looking for something that mulches and has speed. I don't want to pay over $400 though, becasue it will only be used on 2 back yards. Anything more the $400 and I might as well lose the yards.

02-14-2004, 01:05 PM
Toro 2stroke suzuki engine. Great mower, around 950 it is worth every penny if you will be using a 21 extensively. It is a 3 speed self propelled not a push mower.

02-14-2004, 01:16 PM
No question about it for me, I'd say the Snapper 21". Even their SP homeowner models are great for commercial use. I would go with the Ninja mulching setup on it.

David Shaw
02-14-2004, 02:09 PM
I've had 2 Craftsman 21" push mowers. POS I'll never have another. You might laugh at this but right now I have an MTD 21" with the front caster wheels. Bought it at good ole Wal-Mart. The best push mower I've ever used. New last year, starts every time, lays a nice stripe. Bagger kinda sucks though.:eek:

02-14-2004, 02:13 PM
honda or a lawnboy(comm.) are what we use they are low maintance which is very good. if you are mulching i would pick the lawnboy over the honda does a much better job in tall or wet grass

02-14-2004, 02:55 PM
honda baby!!!!!!

02-14-2004, 03:36 PM
Run JD's JX-85 and JX-75 have 5 of them two are back up they are used 5 days a week 10 to 15 yards a day no problems .

02-14-2004, 03:41 PM
We have two Toro Prolines, 5.5hp Kawasaki (4yrs old), and a 5.5hp Suzuki (2yrs old). They are both holding up great and have a nice cut. The Kawasaki has more torque in thick grass,but the Suzuki is less maintance and has plenty of power in most conditions.

Lovell's Lawn Care

02-14-2004, 09:56 PM
I've used the lawn boy commercial, the john deere JX85 and the toro proline 21" with the kawasaki engine. All three are very good with the lawnboy excelling at side discharging, the toro at mulching and the john deere for the best overall cut. I have never tried the Honda hydro unit though they seem to be very highly regarded too. Anyone have experience with the hydro honda 21"?

02-15-2004, 12:22 AM
I would not recommend Snapper. Just my opinion.

Rick Jones
02-15-2004, 01:25 AM
Toro Commercial 21" or Exmark Metro 21". They are both nearly identical and the best, IMO. You're a commercial cutter right? Why not buy a commercial machine?

02-15-2004, 09:28 AM
I just bought a new 21" Exmark Metro on Dec 12 and didn't pay $1000. It was only $974.24 including tax. :cool2: I haven't had a chance to use it yet but bought it then for the tax deduction. What really suprised me about this machine was the weight and the transmission. Its much heavier than I tought it would be and it has three speeds: 1st, 2nd and there's no way you can keep up!

02-15-2004, 09:58 AM
TX Angler , what motor is on that metro 21? BTW good to see there are a few HANK JR fans around!

02-15-2004, 09:58 AM
I bought a Scotts about 4 years ago to find out its an ARIENS. Love the mower. They still sell a varient of it for about 599-649. The casters are great once you get use to them. It mulches great and bags some times too well.

02-15-2004, 10:03 AM
My dealer is selling the proline for around 800. Thought about buying one but for the amount I use one would just as soon keep the money. One day a aweek I load the $160 walmart special on the trailer. Every spring I load up on free parts from the side of the road when the home owners lawn mowers won't start do to bad gas.

02-15-2004, 11:31 AM
Originally posted by Jusmowin
TX Angler , what motor is on that metro 21? BTW good to see there are a few HANK JR fans around!

My 21" Exmark Metro is in my shop but the warranty card says its a M21KASP and there's a Kawasaki 6.0 HP motor on it.

The song was actually sung by the late Warren Zevon (http://www.warrenzevon.com/music/index.htm) on six of his albums. Others have also sung the song: Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, etc. but I'm pretty sure that Warren wrote it.

Song lyrics:

Well, I went home with the waitress
The way I always do
How was I to know
She was with the Russians, too

I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this

I'm the innocent bystander
Somehow I got stuck
Between the rock and the hard place
And I'm down on my luck
And I'm down on my luck
And I'm down on my luck

Now I'm hiding in Honduras
I'm a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns and money
The **** has hit the fan

Send lawyers, guns and money...

Blades of Steel
02-15-2004, 12:57 PM
jd jx 85's too bad they quit building them....

Great mower!!!!!!!!!!!!


02-15-2004, 02:07 PM
What kind of prices are you guys getting on an Exmark Metro 21?

02-15-2004, 05:20 PM
Thanks For the reply TX Angler, I didnt know that about that song so I guess I still learn something new every day! As for the mower Ill have to take a look at that Metro 21 tomorow or the next day when I pick up my new Lazer.

Yard Perfect
02-15-2004, 05:47 PM
I think John Deere's mow the best, but the break down rate is out of site. I switched to Honda, have had no trouble since and the mow is adequate. Go commercial quality or it will cost you in the long run.

02-15-2004, 05:51 PM
I agree with yard perfect re: John Deere, cuts and bags great but little things are constantly going wrong with it. Always minor stuff until last week, can't get the tranny to engage. If I can't get it fixed I suppose I will have a decent push mower :)

02-15-2004, 07:09 PM
I've had good luck with ariens bought a homowner self proppelled for the firts season.Lots of bearings and stuff to wear out.Still it made tons of money for me.Bought a proffecional(robin) one next season still have it as back up,very strong but HEAVY and little hard to start when hot. Now in using a plastic deck honda for 2 years now just put mew rear tires on it and keep the oil changed.hate to sound like as honda rep but Honda is #1. My free advice.I think the hardest thing on a lawnmower is an employee.

Blades of Steel
02-16-2004, 07:53 AM
I have a few friends that cut with the Deers. The problem I see is that they don't read the service manual to adjust things properly. The Blade Brake Clutch and Transmissions need to be adjusted at certain intervals.

The mis conception of taking them on and off the trailer with preventive maintenance after working them all day doesn't work for long. You work yourself hard all day and go home shower, feed yourself and rest. That is your maintenance. Your equipment need the same amount of attention if you plan on it lasting as ong as you expect it too.

I have 2 John Deer JX85's that have been in the field for 3 years each. 1 broken deck due to a ****** using it while my full time guy was out and thats it. I run these mowers over 35 of my small properties a week and they still run like they are new.

Bottom line in my opinion (my not be worth crap to you) Maintenance, Maintenance and more MAINTENANCE!!!!


02-16-2004, 10:26 AM
Hey fella's: In your opinion - is it worth the extra 100 bucks to get the blade brake on the Metro?

Blades of Steel
02-16-2004, 10:30 AM
yes, I think it is. Beats pulling on it everytime you dump it. Your shoulder won't need rotater cuff surgery for at least 2 years after the next time...


02-16-2004, 10:57 AM
the toro proline and exmark are the same mower ..the only difference is the exmark doesnt have the recycler kickers on the mowing deck...if you mulch a lot take that in consideration if you are considering this mower .

i have both the two cycle toro and the exmark with 6 horse 4 cycle.

the toro due to the recycler kicker mulchs a little better ...both are great mowers.

i have one toro proline ive used since 89 still fires up and runs great.

the toro exmark 21's are the best 21's in my opinion

Fareway Lawncare
02-16-2004, 12:32 PM
First thing I do when I get a 21" Proline is remove the mulching kickers. They are just a gimmick IMO. The deck mulches lush turf better w/out the kickers & is easier to scrape.

02-16-2004, 01:22 PM
Originally posted by Lawn Dog2001
You know I am just about convinced they dont make a good 21".
..........I will not pay $1000 for a push mower.

To be honset with you(at the risk of getting laughed at), I have had the best luck with Craftsman mowers. There durable they mulch really well, and craftsman will ship you warranty parts over the phone for free during the warranty period. At the price you can buy one for they are disposable. If it breaks down in a couple of years, throw it away and get another one. You got your $200 out of it.

Lawn dog,
I agree with 100% and we are probably getting laughed at right now, but that's okay. I've said this in a previuos thread where the guys had lengthy arguments about those $1000 push mowers. People spend big $$$$ on stuff they dont really need.

I have 2 Craftsman 21" pushers. The one have 5 seasons and the other 4 seasons of work. The last 2 seasons I have'nt used them that much, but they still work and till today I replaced two rear high wheels ($13 a piece at Walmart) and a starter pull rope on one. As long as the blades are sharp the quality of cut is no different than on a $1000 push mower. And warranty was also a big selling point in my case.

I will not go as far as dumping mine but will try and sell it on a garage sale.
My wife is nagging me for a selfpropelled 21"er this season and I am looking into getting a high wheel 26" mower.

Fareway Lawncare
02-16-2004, 01:50 PM
In lush turf the kickers act as grass build up would. They leave less room for the grass to circulate & this leads to more clumping. In dry, lower growth conditions they may have some benefit but for mulching versatility removing kickers is advisable.

Regardless, I find the Lawnboys to be a better all around mulcher.