bruce ... Yes, I'm not very concerned about the mulching function. I am willing to be surprised to see it work when conditions are tough in a few weeks. But, I'm pretty well resigned to bag most of the time. I have bought a second bag for this machine, so we can work with two bags. With the old LawnBoy side bag, we worked with two, three, and sometimes four bags. The name of the game is to keep the mower running, stuffing clippings into the bag. At bag change, drop one bag, put on the other that is sitting there. Whether or not this dance is properly orchestrated depends upon my tasks. I try to empty most bags, and so can pick up some of them between trimming, blowing, and when I'm working another mower (sometimes).
I had looked at the Toro Bagger model (not the old LB try at a 4X4). I thought it a bit heavy, and it looks like it cannot do mulching at all, nor any discharge. Sometimes the leaf mulching function in the Fall is important. Also, sometimes, we can use discharge in more scrappy areas. I'm not optimistic about the discharge idea with the Honda HRX, but time will tell. I'm concerned about leaving rows of clippings.
Remember, I have a Toro ProLine 21", with a 5.5hp Sizuki. It is a workhorse, and we use it as a second hand mower. It is heavy, great piece of equipment, great engine, moderately good bagger, not so good mulcher (except in the Fall leaf season with Gator blade). So, the general nature of the Toro machine was not foreign to me.
The switch from bagging to mulch, visa-versa, and "somewhere between" may be better on paper than in reality. I remain open, but an not optimistic. From the little time I've tried it, shutting down the chute means less discharge force. The bag doesn't even fill out from discharge flow into the bag. During heavy conditions, I can foresee any small opening clogging up quickly, turning it into a mulcher anyway. Time will tell us.
Also, I used the mower on seven properties yesterday. On five of them, the mulch function (full closure) was used. This is first pass mowing for us, and clipping count is pretty low. Lawns can be quite uneven in growth at this initial growth spurt. The day was warm and dry. On the last job during the evening, the growth was better than most places during the day. I wanted to open up the chute -- move the knob from mulch to bag. One of my concerns when I first looked at this feature during the Winter -- will this thing just get clogged up (I even investigated the possibility of taking it out). My suspicions were confirmed -- the knob would not move last evening. Debris had built underneath (or wherever) to make the chute movement impossible.
Today, we had rain this morning, and I spent the afternoon in maintenance. I spent time trying to understand why the closure mechanism would not move. I learned the debris build-up underneath prohibited the mechanism from move. After a little time with the scraping knife, the closure was free to move again. I think the lesson learned here is to keep moving that mechanism frequently, only if to exercise it back/forth a time or two to keep things clear.
Yes, turning the mower is a new experience. As noted earlier, the machine seemed a bit cumbersome. But, the different motions of the handles (lifting up on the ground drive bail on the LawnBoy, over against pushing the Honda bail forward) takes some practice. I have learned that when making turns, my left hand stays on the BBC clutch, and the right hand stays on the ground drive. By staying on, I mean keeping it in hand, and USING THE BAIL as a handle. In other words, one can use two hands to handle the machine, one on the BBC, and the other on the ground drive bail. This permits using the ground drive to work for me when making the turn, not just having it return to neutral. Also, I think the traditional three-point turn I use for my w/b and ZTR will work fine on this machine too. I learned to make it the most effective turn on the LawnBoy. It takes a bit if "man-handling," but is the most effective and quickest.
I changed the oil in the GCV today for the first time (about five hours of service). I hate the "turn the mower over" technique. After consulting the manual, I learned it takes only 12.5-13 oz for an oil change. Yes, only 12.5-13 oz! Actually, I measured out 14 oz, and the level was right on the dipstick. There surely isn't much reserve. Apparently, it is not possible to fully drain -- full oil capacity was 18 oz (I think, but a few oz more than a refill).
I also learned today that somebody with an overzealous impact gun put on the blade bolts. One more tale of woe that makes me glad that I don't own one of those things.
I hope these explanations and observations are useful to somebody.