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Old 05-04-2010, 12:26 AM
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dwost dwost is offline
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Ariens Pro21 Review

Some of you may be aware from a couple of my other posts that I picked up a 21 this spring for my son to learn the ropes on. I finally got around to snapping some pics and thought I'd write up a quick review as this may help others that are in the market for a new 21. I'll start off by saying there is some good and also some bad with this mower. I'll detail that in a bit.

As with everything else I buy I did a fair amount of research. I looked at the typical contenders from Snapper, Toro, and Honda. They all had some great options but again for true commercial I was easily pushing a grand. The Snapper was the best priced and I've owned one before so I know they are quality (had it for many years till the engine blew) I was and still am not a huge fan of their drive system so I continued the search.

I also had a great past experience with Ariens/Gravely products and decided to see what new products they offered. I owned one of the SW21 models about 8 years ago which to my surprise still hasn't changed in the last 15 years or so! I always had great results both mulching and bagging but again, was never wild about their disc drive system. I also wanted to step up to something commercial but couldn't justify spending over $1K on something that would only be used for trimming. I did, however, want to find something of quality, under $800 that mulched and bagged well. I stumbled upon the Pro21 on their site but could find very little information about the mower anywhere online. I could only find a youtube vid of one driving around a yard, that was about it. After looking at it on the Ariens site I was immediately impressed with the shortlist of goodies it included such as steel wheels with dual ball bearings, solid axles, Kawi motor, 3 in 1 functionality and it included all three parts, 14ga deck, curved lip on the underside of the deck, and a revamped gear drive which is totally different than any of their other mowers. The downfall was there is no BBC option only zone and it weighs in at a hefty 125#. Since I'm only transporting this to our office and for use around the house the weight wasn't a huge issue but for some I understand this may rule out this model. After some searching online I found it for $799 shipped from one of our sponsors on here, wisesales.com. I decided to pull the trigger and ordered one up.

Now onto the issues. It looked as if they had it in stock but after a couple calls to them they found out that Ariens had to BUILD the mower? I was a little shocked considering it was early spring and one would assume they were ready for the season. This must not have been the case because mine took an extra 2 weeks of production time to get it built. This was a bit frustrating but the folks at Wise were very helpful and responsive which made it a bit easier. Finally it showed up and I unpacked the beast. First impression was this thing is built like a tank. I lifted it out of the box and it weighs all of #125 for sure. I assembled the handle, installed the mulch plug and filled the engine with oil and gas. At this point issue #2 became apparent. I pushed the mower around and immediately noticed that both wheels (front & rear) on the right side were BENT and not rolling straight. It caused the mower to wobble and after inspection noticed it was actually the welds on the wheel were faulty and the rubber was put on crooked. At this point I was starting to get a bit pissed. I not only waited longer than expected, this thing was just built and contained faulty parts that to anyone assembling it should have noticed this at the factory.

My next call in the AM was to their warranty department. After a short discussion with a very nice gentleman, I explained my situation, the issue with the build time and that I needed to get this resolved ASAP. He tried to get me to take it to a dealer but after some discussion and being that it was only the wheels needing replaced, he just took down the parts I needed and shipped them out to me. Very good customer service for sure. Had the new parts in a couple days. I go to replace the wheels and here is where I run into issue #3. The front one they sent was perfect, the NEW rear wheel they sent was ALSO BENT. At this point I became very disappointed. A second call to warranty and again they promptly sent me another replacement rear wheel. Finally at the end of last week I received the second rear wheel and while it's not 100% true it's damn close. I'm still disappointed in their quality control, especially on a "commercial" product but they took care of me no questions asked. The mower now rolls straight and I'm happy. I honestly think they were rushing to get these built and out the door to their dealers. They have made some major changes to the height adjustments on the front making them much easier to change. I think they may have been behind the ball on the 2010 models, who knows. Once the wheel issue was sorted I started it up and began giving it a test. The Kawi engine was a bit of a bear to get going as it seemed to have an issue with fuel delivery. I've heard this is fairly common and after a little working the governor by hand the gas started flowing and now it starts with very little effort on the first pull.

Now that the issues and the "bad" is out of the way I'll move onto the good. First off the motor makes great power. I've cut through some fairly heavy growth with it in mulch mode and it powers through it without issue. The mulching results are very good. I've been cutting with it at 3" and it leaves no stragglers and absolutely no clippings. Even when cutting 1-3" of new growth, the clippings are almost non existent. This is exactly the same result I used to have with my old SW21 so the deck design still works great. I've also stuck on the deflector and gave the side discharge a shot. Again, great results with even disbursement. I've not tried the bagger but will post up an update once I give it a shot. I absolutely love how easy it is to switch from bag to mulch simply by inserting the mulch plug (pictures to follow) The side discharge cover is held on with two bolts and with the addition of wing nuts(thanks to me) it now takes all of 30 seconds to switch to that mode too. Very good design overall. At this point I see no reason to buy the extra mulch kit baffle they make as it works great as is. I may also stick on a gator blade and see how that works. It comes with a wavy mulch blade stock.

The drive mechanism on this mower is AWESOME, plain and simple. There is absolutely zero slipping even on steep hills. Both wheels are driven and speed is adjusted by how much you depress the engagement lever. For anyone running in rough terrain, the weight combined with this drive system is quite good to keep the mower planted. I mowed a steep embankment around a retention pond in my back yard and it motored through it and maintained traction.

Conclusion:

All-in-all I think this is one of the best "commercial" buys on the market. I do hope they get the quality control issues sorted out but it's built like a tank. Weight may be an issue but if one is OK with the extra lbs I think this would be a great addition to anyone's arsenal of equipment. I'm still not sure why more LCO's don't give these mowers a shot, they are very good especially at the $800 price point. That's about it for the introductory review, now onto some pictures. I snapped them on my phone so apologies on the quality but you'll get the idea.











__________________
2008 Bad Boy Lightning 26hp/60in
- Powerchute w/custom in-grip switch
- Hella fog lights
- Custom striping roller
- Pingel fuel filter
- Custom FIMCO boomless spray rig

1989 John Deer 1070 Compact Tractor - 40hp/4WD
- 70 series loader
- 506 rotary mower
- box scraper
- 84" plow w/full hydo
- ballast box
- aux lights

1993 John Deere Gator 6x4
- HD Field Trax tires
- brush/fender guards
- hydraulic dump bed w/storage and bed cover
- 2" receiver hitch
- HD front suspension
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  #2  
Old 05-04-2010, 12:40 AM
GLlawncare GLlawncare is offline
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Nice review, thanks for taking the time to write it!
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  #3  
Old 05-04-2010, 08:03 AM
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dwost dwost is offline
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Huron, Ohio
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No problem, this site has given me so much great info it's the least I can do to post up my findings
__________________
2008 Bad Boy Lightning 26hp/60in
- Powerchute w/custom in-grip switch
- Hella fog lights
- Custom striping roller
- Pingel fuel filter
- Custom FIMCO boomless spray rig

1989 John Deer 1070 Compact Tractor - 40hp/4WD
- 70 series loader
- 506 rotary mower
- box scraper
- 84" plow w/full hydo
- ballast box
- aux lights

1993 John Deere Gator 6x4
- HD Field Trax tires
- brush/fender guards
- hydraulic dump bed w/storage and bed cover
- 2" receiver hitch
- HD front suspension
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  #4  
Old 05-04-2010, 08:13 AM
NORTHMAN NORTHMAN is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: NJ
Posts: 304
dowst,your one of the guys that I've come to depend on for your thorough research and well thought out opinions.I'm following yours and tallimeca advice and picking a Gravely Pro-21XD in a week or two.Thank you.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:02 AM
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W.L.M. W.L.M. is offline
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Posts: 525
How is the speed? Meaning on flat on ground does the self propel give a good quick pace or are you left wanting to push it faster?
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  #6  
Old 05-04-2010, 10:05 AM
zman2307 zman2307 is offline
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Location: OR
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All your issues wouldn't have been had you purchased it from a good servicing dealer, whose job is to check for manufacturing defects and make sure the product is ready to go. Where was Wise Sales in all of this?
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:37 AM
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dwost dwost is offline
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Location: Huron, Ohio
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Ground speed is good. I believe about 4mph. You can easily adjust the engine up a few RPM's and gain another mph or so which would put you at a light jog if that's your thing.

As for the issues, you are correct. I purchased it online and that is one of the chances you take. I'm sure I could have gone through Wise but that is one more step and additional down time that I didn't want to wait for. It was clearly a simple mfg issue/oversight and I went strait to the source. As stated, all is well now.
__________________
2008 Bad Boy Lightning 26hp/60in
- Powerchute w/custom in-grip switch
- Hella fog lights
- Custom striping roller
- Pingel fuel filter
- Custom FIMCO boomless spray rig

1989 John Deer 1070 Compact Tractor - 40hp/4WD
- 70 series loader
- 506 rotary mower
- box scraper
- 84" plow w/full hydo
- ballast box
- aux lights

1993 John Deere Gator 6x4
- HD Field Trax tires
- brush/fender guards
- hydraulic dump bed w/storage and bed cover
- 2" receiver hitch
- HD front suspension
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  #8  
Old 05-04-2010, 10:44 AM
zman2307 zman2307 is offline
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Location: OR
Posts: 328
Just a simple point- had you bought from a local servicing dealer, you wouldn't have had the issues to begin with.
Posted via Mobile Device
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:23 AM
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dwost dwost is offline
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Location: Huron, Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zman2307 View Post
Just a simple point- had you bought from a local servicing dealer, you wouldn't have had the issues to begin with.
Posted via Mobile Device
Again true and I agree, but the issue on wheels would still have been there, it would have been the dealer instead of me dealing with the warranty repair. I was just simply posting up my findings. The OEM mfg obviously got a bad shipment of wheels and it was not caught in the initial QC review.
__________________
2008 Bad Boy Lightning 26hp/60in
- Powerchute w/custom in-grip switch
- Hella fog lights
- Custom striping roller
- Pingel fuel filter
- Custom FIMCO boomless spray rig

1989 John Deer 1070 Compact Tractor - 40hp/4WD
- 70 series loader
- 506 rotary mower
- box scraper
- 84" plow w/full hydo
- ballast box
- aux lights

1993 John Deere Gator 6x4
- HD Field Trax tires
- brush/fender guards
- hydraulic dump bed w/storage and bed cover
- 2" receiver hitch
- HD front suspension
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  #10  
Old 05-04-2010, 12:52 PM
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Alan0354 Alan0354 is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: San Jose, Ca.
Posts: 4,458
If the factory don't have stock and need 2 weeks to build the mower, what make you think the dealer can do any better. Both my dealers don't stock Ariens and has to order it as needed. They are not going to order in front of you. You pay, they order in their convience and you still get stuck with 2 weeks!!!

I can never understand people keep saying dealer is the way to go when SO MANY people have issues with bad dealers. If you have a known good dealer, you are lucky. A lot of people like me got burn by dealers. I was just on another forum read complain about a dealer refuse warranty on a SRM265 4 days after they sold it!!!!
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