Riders vs. Walkbehinds...my experience after one season
I had this posted in my thread on the "Pictures" forum, but thought it would be worth posting here as well...
After running primarily riders for the past 10 years we made the switch from Exmark Lazers to the Exmark Turf Tracers. Our Lazers had 31hp Briggs engines with 60" decks. Our Turf Tracers have 20hp Kohler with 60" decks & velkes. It has been an interesting experience. I could ramble on for quite a while about this. I'll list a few of the Pros & Cons...
Cons of the Turf Tracers
-Bagging capabilities is the biggest crutch of the machines. Spring & Fall cleanups would be pretty tough with the minimal bagging capabilities of the Turf Tracers. We still own 2 Lazers that we used only in the Spring & Fall, this worked out well for us. Bagging the heavy wet grass in the spring was tough with the Turf Tracers, but it's tough with any mower at that time of the year.
-Employee complaints. Our employees were resisting the change. They had been sitting down for years on the Lazers & now had to stand on velkes. They're not paying the fuel & maintenance bills, so their complaining didn't get them very far. It was only for a few weeks and then they got used to the new routine and things have been fine since.
-Ground speed is slower (pro & con). This is good because the machine travels a bit slower than a Lazer so operators can't do as much damage when turning. It is a con when having to travel far distances back to the truck in a condo complex for example, the Lazer could move quicker in those situations.
-Grass in mulch etc. We would not bag at times and we were dealing with grass being blown in mulch beds, or on houses if our crews were not careful with what they were doing. We never had to deal with this when running the Lazers.
Pros of the Turf Tracers
-Significantly less customer complaints about turf damage. In previous years we would get approximately one call per week complaining about turf damage, divots etc. With the Turf Tracers we received maybe 3 calls all season about turf damage. We actually received compliments/feedback from customers about the lack of wear & tear on their lawns this season.
-SIGNIFICANT fuel savings. We were saving a very noticeable amount on fuel week to week. That was awesome!
-Lower maintenance costs. Replacement drive tires are $55 instead of $135 for the Lazers. Hydro pumps, spindles etc are all cheaper.
-We bag much less in the summer. We work in a market that contractors typically bag all season for no particular reason, just because everyone else does it. With the Turf Tracers we found we were not running baggers in the dry summer months and that helped speed up our production rates.
-No expensive Ultra Vacs to rebuild or cloth catcher bags to replace. This goes back to the lower maintenance costs.
-We could comfortably carry 3 Turf Tracers in our trailer instead of just 2 Lazers. Plus they weigh much less, so we are pulling less weight in our trailers.
-Turf Tracers could mow over wet, soft lawns much better. After a heavy rain storm, or in the spring, there are always areas in certain lawns that hold water and make the ground very soft. With the Turf Tracers we could pull the velkes off and walk behind the mowers and they would tread very lightly over the soft turf. Our Lazers would've sunk like a ship and made a huge mess (been there all too many times)
To sum it all up....We will continue running Turf Tracers and we will also keep our Lazers for spring & fall cleanups only. For us, the pros far out weigh the cons.
If anyone is serious about making the switch and would like to talk about it further you can contact me directly and I would be happy to discuss this further.