I thought I’d post some info here about my first ZTR and my experience so far…might help someone (in a similar situation as myself) looking for their first ZTR mower.
The mower is a 2010 BadBoy MZ48. This mower is from BadBoy’s residential line. It has a 48” fabricated deck (1/8” thick steel according to the specs) with 3 blades that are 16-1/2” long each. There 2 anti-scalp wheels, one on each of the front corners of the deck. The deck has the foot-assist lift. The blades are high lift and are Fusion treated. The frame is fabricated from 2” x 2” steel tubes/rails. The engine is a Briggs Professional Series 26hp V-Twin. The transmission's are the Hydo-Gear EZT’s. There is also a MZ42 which has a 42”, twin blade deck and Briggs Professional Series 21hp single engine.
The other ZTR’s I researched that were roughly within the same price range ($2500 to $3500 approx.) were Toro, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna, Ariens, Gravely, Craftsman, Simplicity, Snapper, Dixon and John Deere. (I also researched Exmark, Dixie Chopper, Scag, Ferris, Bobcat, Woods, Grasshopper and Hustler…but aside from Hustler (Sport), I knew the others were financially out of reach.) I won’t go through what I liked or disliked about each mower I picked from each of the first set of brands (Toro, Cub Cadet...), but I did narrow it down to either the BadBoy MZ’s or the Hustler Sport’s. Common features on both mowers were the steel fabricated decks, foot-assist deck lifts, welded steel frames and higher blade tip speeds. The Sport does have the 2 year complete mower warranty over the MZ 1 year complete mower warranty. 2 little things I liked about the Sport was the cupholder and a designated place for the optional hourmeter. The ‘wheelie bars’ on the Sport, the Honda option engines, the auto park brake system, and an optional mulch kit are other things I liked about the Sport. A Briggs V-Twin for the 48” Sport would be a nice option for some folks (was only available for the 54” Sport).
Before I sat on a MZ, I sat on a Sport at a local dealer and immediately noticed the low seat height and that the control arms would HAVE to be height adjustable for my long legs. I then mowed with a friends brand new Sport (48”, Briggs 21hp single) and again noticed the low seat. I then sat on a MZ48 at a nearby TSC and right away noticed the higher seat height (much more comfortable). The control arms on the MZ would have worked as they were, but I was glad to find out that they were height adjustable. So the seat height won out and I decided to try for a MZ42 for money reasons. But…LS member retrodog (a BadBoy dealer) read about me deciding on a MZ and made me an offer on a MZ48 that made sense to me. I really like the 26hp V-Twin on my mower…not sure how it would compare in actual performance to the Sports smaller displacement Honda V-Twin. Honda builds good engines, but I think if I maintain my Briggs properly, it’ll last me a very, very long time. I also like the engine guard on the MZ over the optional rear engine guard on the Sport (I think it might be standard with the Honda upgrade). Kevin (retrodog) modified a mounting bracket for the optional hourmeter on my mower and I like the clean, factory installed look of it. Also the meter is also a tachometer when the engine is running. I do have to turn my head a little more to read it…but not a big deal to me. I also like that the discharge chute is not on a spring loaded hinge. It’s good for loading on a trailer that might not allow for the chute to be down, or for storing/parking the mower in a smaller space. Also, where it’s safe, to mow with the chute up to spread the clippings better. I would have liked to be able to get a mower with at least the ZT2800 hydros for being able to service them, but my money wouldn’t let that happen. For what I’ll be mowing with my mower, the sealed EZT hydros should be fine for me. I’ll just keep the cooling fans clean and clear of grass etc.
I bought my mower October 9/10 and have since mowed 3 times (different properties) so far and now have 5hrs. (5.4 to be exact…) on it. I’m sure it was the last mows for this season. All I can say is…WOW! This is coming from mowing with my Bolens Briggs I/C 15.5 hp single, 38” twin blade deck, 6 speed lawn tractor. Night and day difference for me. Using the control arms to steer the mower has almost become second nature. I only have about a 1/2 acre of mowable grass in my yard and a country church yard (paid) across the road that might be about 3/4 acre to mow. The extra yard I mowed (to make 3) was our own church yard which is smaller than my house yard. The grass wasn’t very long because of the lack of rain recently. There was some fairly tall Bahia grass in one yard that I tried mowing fairly fast, but had to do a second pass slower. Other than that, the grass wasn’t really long enough to truly see what the mower could do. I’ll have to wait till the Spring to see what kind of a cut I get. As far as maneuverability, I love the zero-turn capabilities! No real wasted ‘maneuvers’ now. I just have to watch how fast I turn/spin as to not tear up the grass in some areas. Since I live in the country, the yards I mow all have ditches. Some of the banks are fairly steep (and I have slid to the bottom a few times
), but if I keep my head in the game and keep the mower nose pointed slightly upward, I do alright. Getting the ditches to look good is something I’ll have to work on with the 48” deck. I know I’ll have to do more trimming with my string trimmer at the ends of the ditches. The 38” deck on my Bolens seems to be more ditch friendly as far as the 10” less goes. I haven’t calculated how much fuel I use per mow, but I do know that the 26hp twin is thirstier than the 15.5hp single! But it’s worth it.
There were a few minor annoyances for me initially, which after the 3 mows don’t bother me. The choke is not separate from the throttle. Even after the engine is warmed up, I still have to push the throttle to the ‘choke’ position to start the engine (then move it back to the high/full throttle notch). I called BadBoy and they said it might need a throttle adjustment. Another LS member has a MZ48 and his does the same thing. It might just be a Briggs thing…I think the Briggs on my Bolens does the same thing. Other than that, the engine runs great. I’m probably just nit-picking…I still would have bought this mower if I knew about the starting deal.
With the tire pressure the same at all corners and the deck at its lowest adjustment at the front and its highest adjustment at the rear, it sits level front to back. I have read and been told that a deck needs to be about 1/8” lower at the front to get the best cut. I’ll have to wait till spring to see if I want to adjust the tire pressures so that the deck is pitched a little lower at the front. I think it’ll be fine the way it is…especially for my mowing. If I had a commercial mower and a mowing business…then I probably would be (more) concerned.
The last thing is with my long legs and lifting the deck on-the-go with the foot pedal. The control arms have to be almost fully upright so I can get my leg up to the foot pedal…but that is fine because if I have to lift the deck on-the-go, it’s because I’m trying to avoid a tree root and I should slow down anyway. This would probably happen with most mowers with the foot-assist for me anyway.
Like I said already, I have gotten over these 3 things already. I have put a fuel shutoff valve in the fuel line for when I’ll run the engine dry of fuel for the winter. One other thing, I’ll probably be installing some lights for when I mismanage my time and get caught trying to finish the last little bit of mowing after dark. Can’t wait till spring!!!
I have other comments and pics in this thread: http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=331844
Here are a few more pics.