Bad Boy mower ( my opinion, and thoughts on them )

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Rons Rightway Lawncare, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. Rons Rightway Lawncare

    Rons Rightway Lawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,163

    Two days ago I got a chance to demo a new BB lightning for half a days worth of cutting.

    In my area there is several dealers that apparently sell the BB line of mowers, but one dealer ( STI Turf Care ) is a large dealer and they have been selling BB's for a few years.

    I never bothered to even look at one till about 2 weeks ago. I had to run up to Turf care to pick up a bearing for my Scag Wildcat, while waiting for my turn at the parts desk I was browsing the floor looking at new mowers, and they had a pair of badboy mowers parked next to the sales desk.

    First thing that caught my eye on the BB was the suspension. My Scag rides rough, there is no suspension and the run flat tires in the front are hard and the rear tires are fairly stiff too. I have several yards that aren't in the best shape and needless to say I take alot of abuse riding around on a stiff mower. The idea behind getting a mower with true suspension really appeals to me.

    so I quickly look over the BB, and didn't see anything that turned me off. The price was right too, the 60 inch lightning they had, had a 7499$ price tag with a free 500$ gas card as a incentive. I have never paid more than 7500$ for a mower, and the last 5 or so ZTR's I have bought over the years all were between 7000-7500$ so the price is something I am comfortable with, but what makes the price more appealing is that most of the big brand mowers have jumped up to 8500-9500$ for a comparable mower.

    So anyway, I got my bearings and fixed my scag and forgot about the Badboy till last week. I got to thinking about the bad boy and the suspension and how much I would love to have a smoother ride. So I surfed the hell out of the net trying to learn as much as possible about the mower. And to be fair and honest, I didn't learn that much. The Bad Boy website doesn't have enough info on the mowers in my opinion, and searching on this site typically turned up positive comments from the few dealers that sell BB that also post here and negative comments from several ignorant people, comments such as the BB is ugly, or the company hasn't been around long enough for a good track record, etc....

    So I went back to the dealership last Saturday and spent a while just going over the machine, visually inspecting it. I was impressed. I honestly didn't notice anything that looked cheesy, underbuilt, poorly designed, etc.... The shop was closing so there was no time to fire up the mower and drive it outside for me to ride it around in the parking lot, so I asked them to set up a demo for me asap that I wanted to buy one, and if it worked as good as it looked I was already sold.

    So fast forward to this past Wednesday, I finally got a chance to demo the mower. STI's field salesman brought the mower to me and let me have it for several hours. I used it to cut about 13 yards, and each yard had different turf conditions, some flat... some hilly... some nice fescue... some fescue mixed with bermuda.... some fescue mixed with all kinds of stringy weeds.... And also noteworthy was we had thunderstorms Tuesday evening so the ground was not soaking wet, but wasn't dry and dusty either.

    So getting to the nitty gritty here with my story, I demoed the unit, and here is what I found.


    First off I didn't notice this in the store, but noticed it on the demo... There are two design screw ups that stand out right away. First, the parking brake when fully on is too tall, the seats left arm rest hits the top of the brake lever and I see this causing damage in no time to the arm rest. Secondly, the choke knob is on the right side of the mower, beside the seat, and it does not stay on by itself. And the key start is also on the right side, so it takes two hands to start the engine, one to hold the choke on and one to turn the key to start.

    Another issue is the electric deck lift. The lift moves fairly fast and it is not very hard, but it is difficult to stop the deck at a specific height. Also there is no hard stop you can pre select that will allow you to set the height to say 3.5 inches and allow you to raise the deck to clear a curb or stump and then lower back to the 3.5 inches fast and easy.... with this electric lift, once you lift the deck you would have to stop mowing and look down at the height indicator as you lower the deck and stop at the height you desire or else you could easily end up cutting lower than you wanted to. Having the electric lift was nice, but the mower needs some kind of mechanical means of pre selecting cutting height, and probably also should have a standard foot lift pedal to help you quickly and easily lift and lower the deck to allow you to "float" the deck over stumps and so on.

    Another issue was the seat height. It is really high! Especially coming from my Scag Wildcat, which has one of the lowest seat heights on the market. The tallness of the BB seat was only a problem for two reasons, one I couldn't get under some trees I can ride under on the scag and then loading the mower in my trailer, I had to really duck my head to avoid hitting it on the roof as I stepped up and off the machine inside the trailer since the seat and foot platform was significantly higher than my scag.

    Last issue was the tires too easily ripped up turf as I went around trees and made turns. Any ZTR mower will put a hurting on the turf as you make turns and go around stuff, but the tires on this Bad Boy were the worst at digging into the dirt and ripping up grass. To be fair, I demo'ed a Everride mower twice last year and it had simular tires and it too ripped up the turf far too easily. Maybe a change over to different tires would help.

    The front casters did not like to easily change direction. When backing up they would stay in the same position they were in when going forward for quite a while then if they turned around it would be sudden and most of the time the tires would dig a small divot into the turf. I did not have the time to lift the front end of the mower to check to see if the front casters were over tightened and were hard to turn... That may have been why this was happening, The salesman told me after the demo that he felt the weight of the caster assembly itself with the suspension was the reason the casters resisted castering.


    The machine was smooth riding. But I do have to say that I did not see the front forks suspension move one bit. I think the rubber donuts up there are too stiff to be of much use. I feel like the rear suspension is moving somewhat, helping smooth out the ride, but overall the main thing that makes this mower ride smooth is the suspension seat. I confirmed this by changing the setting on the seat to the lowest weight setting and this basically bottomed out the seat, and once bottomed out the ride was only a little better than my scag. Eitherway though, as a package, the machine did have a smoother ride.

    One thing about the suspension though, is the left side of the front caster forks would too easily rub against stuff as you try to mow close to fence posts and walls, trees, etc... If the caster didn't have the rubber shocks I don't think it would rub at all, but with the shocks it did rub. Seeing how I never saw the front suspension move I think I would rather have the non suspension front end. I would want to keep the rear suspension though.

    The machine is fast. When at full throttle ( governer was set at about 3250 rpms when the machine was dropped off to me, but I reset the governer to 3600 rpms to see if it cut better and handled better with the additional rpms, and it did! ) and you push the levers full forward or full reverse, this machine goes extremely fast for a mower. Too fast to cut in my opinion but if you need to transport the mower under it's own power, this speed would help save you time.

    The deck did not scalp the lawn in areas my scag would have scalped on. I think this is mainly due to the wheels being closer to the width of the deck where my scags wheels are not nearly as wide as the mowers deck.


    The cut was acceptable, but not as good as my scag. It didn't seem to discharge as far as the scag and it didn't seem to have as much wind coming out of the deck as the scag. I tryed laying down some strips with it, and if I followed existing strips in the yard it did good, but laying down new strips with it... it did lay some down, but they weren't as deep looking as the scags would have been. A couple things that did impress me about the cut was the mower had very little to no blowout in the front of the deck and the mower could cut almost as good going backwards as going forward, no other commercial mower I have used will leave a acceptable look if mowed in reverse, the bad boy did. All in all I would say that the mower has a acceptable cut and would satisfy most people.

    I measured with a tape measure and the true blade height was not the same as indicated height on the height indicator... It was off anywhere from 1/4 of a inch to over 1/2 a inch. To be fair my Scag is off a solid 1/2 inch at all settings, just would be nice to have a indicator that shows the true height.

    Handling overall the mower just felt bulky to me. Bear in mind that my Scag Wildcat is like a small sportscar compared to most big zero turns, so someone coming off a Scag Turf Tiger or a Big Exmark or Hustler probably won't feel the Bad Boy is bulky, but for me it just felt too bulky and oversized for cutting typical residential " Charlotte cookie cutter neighborhood" yards. To be fair, I have used the Turf tiger for several days earlier this year and it too felt too big and bulky, but not as bulky as the bad boy, probably cause the seat is lower on the scag TT. The flipside to the bulky feeling is The bad boy is a fast, smooth mower and I think it would be in it's prime element on larger, open properties.

    This mower had a 26 horse liquid cooled Kawasaki on it, and it felt like it had enough power. The engine would slightly bog - according to the tach/ hourmeter it would loose roughly 200 rpms when it would "bog" - if you were cutting and went up a semi steep hill or really pushed the sticks forward quickly.

    All in all I think it is a good machine. It is certainly alot of machine for the price. I think I would demo both the non suspension version of the lightning ( but with a suspension seat ) and the suspension version, and I am willing to bet that the non suspension version rides nearly as smooth, and this mower would be even cheaper and would probably be the better one to get. I feel that from what I saw, the mower should be a good solid mower, built well and easy to work on too. There were some faults, and design goof ups ( like the parking brake and choke knob placement and the deck height/lift lack of pre set height settings ) But all mowers have a few examples of weird engineering and or design issues.

    I think the mower is certainly a equal mower to other big brand mowers. It is certainly worth your consideration if your shopping for a new mower. It appeared to be extremely well built, yet easy to work on.

    Ultimately I decided to pass on purchasing one for now. I would want to demo the non suspensed version, and overall the bulky feeling of the mower was my biggest turn off. If I were using this mower to mow wide open areas I would have bought it, but I use my mower to mow small residential lawns, lawns most would probably use a 48-52 inch stander or walk behind on, not a 61 inch rider... and the Wildcat is about as big of a unit as I want to run on these properties, and the Bad boy feels noticably larger, even thought it probably isn't much bigger or heavier on paper.

    I would reccomend a Bad Boy to others and would say overall I liked it.
  2. Razorblades

    Razorblades LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

    That was a well thought out, nonbiased objective review. Good job! Razorblades.
  3. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 7,053

    I have to admit you had to spend some time typing all your thought's like that. It's to bad it was about a BB mower. :D j/k.... well, maybe. :laugh:
  4. tb8100

    tb8100 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from TX
    Posts: 1,627

    Thanks for a good, non-biased review! Those are few and far between these days. A couple of thoughts though (all out of order):

    *The seat height feels much higher than it actually is. The reason being is the Lightning is 8" shorter in length than the Wildcat, so the seat position in relation to the front is different. On the Lightning, the seat has also been scooted up a bit to boot. Lastly, I'm guessing your Wildcat has the non-suspension seat, which is 2"-3" lower in overall height compared to the Michigan seat. A fair comparison would be of the Wildcat with the suspension seat vs the Lightning. There would be a difference of maybe 1" in seat height if you put this seat on your Wildcat.

    *Just curious, what information were you looking for that Bad Boy's site didn't have? It has all the tech specs. The only thing I wish they would do is put pictures and videos of the cut on the site, but how many people would take the pictures seriously coming from a biased source. I think maybe some closeup pix of the site would be in order. Keep in mind the company is reading this site as are numerous dealers. Any areas of improvement will be brought up immediately by the dealers browsing this site or if nothing else at the next dealer meeting in October.

    *The choke knob issue would be a Kawasaki issue, but if I were Bad Boy, I would modify it in some way. All my Kawasaki units are that way, but my Vanguard and Kohler units aren't. Personally, I would like to see Bad Boy go with a lever choke like Scag, but I don't know if that will happen.

    *The height toggle takes a little getting used to. The actuator is really solid and I've never had to replace one. I will agree that it's not as precise as a standard foot assist with a pin. However, with a little use, you get it down easily. I think it would be nice if Bad Boy refined this feature to where you could pin the desired height and use the toggle to adjust it to this position. Also if the foot assist had a transport position, that would be nice too.

    *I also agree on the indicated height as opposed to actual cutting height issue. It would be nice if mowers actually reflected their actual cutting height, but unfortunately, I can't think of a single mower that has an accurate height indicator.

    Some good discussion here. I like hearing input on these mowers and I will see that it's passed onto folks up at Bad Boy in case they don't see this thread. :waving:
  5. J&R Landscaping

    J&R Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,096

    Nice Review! I was curious about that 26hp l/c kawasaki on a 61" platform.
  6. Rons Rightway Lawncare

    Rons Rightway Lawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,163

    When I speak of seat height, I am not talking about the height of the seat to the rest of the mower, say the floorpan... but the height overall in relation to the ground that seemed much higher with the BB. And that isn't always a bad thing, it is just that I am used to a very low seat height, and sitting up that tall had me in branches on the trees I could easily duck under while on the scag.

    The site could have had more pictures of the machines, and a better break down of the pricing, especially the pricing of each mower with each engine option. I have spent very little time on other companies websites so I can not say it was better or worse than any other mower companies site.

    The choke knob would not be a issue if it was in a different location where you didn't need both hands on one side of the machine to get it started. Move the choke to the left side and problem is solved. The parking brake location was more of a issue in my opinion. It seemed to be very poorly thought out to have it that close to the arm rest. Elsewise everything else on the mower seemed thought out and well done, and I do look at things the average guy wouldn't look at, such as how things are secured, choice of hardware, wire and hose routing, etc...

    Long story I don't have the time to tell, but short version is I put my wildcat up for sale before demo'ing the badboy, and I had myself sure that I would like the badboy and buy it. I took a deposit for my mower on Tuesday and after deciding wednesday I was going to pass on the badboy, I was in a dilema on should I try to back out of the sale on my mower or make good on the sale and have to buy something else. Ultimately I decided to make good on my word and sell my mower - the buyer really... REALLY wants my mower! - and I decided to just stick with scag, so I bought another " Wildcat ".... Only the one I bought is really a new TigerCub with a 61 inch deck and a 23 horse Vanguard engine. My dealer is a friend of mine and he got me a good deal on it, 6999$ out the door and part of the deal is were swapping out the stock scag seat for a Scag suspension seat. Dealer swears by the vanguard engines, and even though alot of people here are horsepower junkies, I remember my first Bobcat ZTR 61 rider, and it had a 20 horse Kohler and it never seemed underpowered to me. This is my 3rd Scag, 2 were Tiger cubs and 1 was the wildcat, all with 61 inch decks. It is interesting to see how even though the mower is basically the same, they update and improve things each year.
  7. Happy Frog

    Happy Frog LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,224

    That was a nice review.
    The foot assist pedal option is a must for jumping curbs and get the deck back were it was set. I am sure you would have liked the mower much better with it. There is also a preselect stop switch available.
    I don't know about the parking brake lever, mine does not rub on the seat arm rest...
    It is true that those tires are hard on the turf. I wonder which ones are the best in that regard.
    Because of its design, you will not "see" the front wheel suspension move but it is in fact very active. Chocs are absorbed through "flexing" rather than by "compression" of the rubber pads and it is why it is hard to "see" them working.
    Like it was pointed out, the Michigan seat is higher by design to the regular seat and using a Michigan seat on your Scag would put you almost as high as you were on the Bad Boy.
  8. Rons Rightway Lawncare

    Rons Rightway Lawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,163

    The pre select switch bad boy is offering will allow the deck to lower to one height and no lower. This is fine if all your lawns are mowed at the same height, but I mow some as low as 2.5 inches and others as much as 4.5 inches. I don't have time to go under the mower with tools to relocate the stop switch. Again, they should work in a adjustable stop like nearly all other commercial mowers have.

    I did fine that I didn't need to lift the deck much at all once lowered and cutting, the wide wheel track on the mower helped keep scalping to a minimum and I did not need to float the deck much if at all. And yes I agree, the OPTIONAL foot assit would have helped and been nice, but still would prefer a true height lock setting.

    Does your parking brake lever when fully on, standing vertical, not come close to the left arm rest on your seat? The mower I demo'ed, if your sitting in the seat with the seat slightly compressed, the arm rest is sitting on the brake lever, making full contact with it.

    I spoke with someone at Bad Boy manufactoring and he told me before the demo that the front suspension is set extremely firm to prevent from the front end of the mower doing a nose dive of sorts and scalping if the operator were to suddenly stop the mower while moving forward. From what he said and my observations, there is not much the front suspension system is doing, not on typical yards and typical use anyway. I think that if I were to get a Bad boy, I would get it with normal front forks to eliminate the width of the front casters ( I kept hitting things with them cause they are so wide compaired to normal casters ) the higher weight and I believe normal casters might be stronger since they aren't held together with bolts like the suspended versions are.

    As for seat height do me a favor, measure how high the seat base is on your mower, by base I mean the part that the seat itself bolts to. How high is that from the ground measured on a level surface. I will measure my scag and post it later tonight. Bottom line is there is more than a few inches of difference in height, I would guess 8-12 inches minimum.

    Like I said though, they seemed to be good mowers, they had some neat features and all in all it was a workable machine.

    Tires.... the tires the Scag comes with are Carlise turf savers 24x12x12 and they will rip turf too, but far far far less easily as the Maxxis tires the Bad Boy and Everrides have on them.
  9. tb8100

    tb8100 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from TX
    Posts: 1,627

    I sell Bad Boy and Scag side-by-side. There is not an 8-12" difference. I will try to post pictures and measurements up today.

    The Bad Boys comes with various tires. They're all very similar, but sometimes they have Maxxis Pro Tech and sometimes they have Carlisle Turf Masters. Most of the time they have Turf Masters, but it just varies. My Scags all have Turf Masters. Most if not all of the Maxxis tires I've seen don't have square shoulders. I wonder why you find they're harder on turf. I haven't had complaints out of my customers...

    Is it possible maybe the real culprit is the increased speed and torque due to the different pumps and not actually the tires? (the Lightning is a 14mph mower with 12cc pumps, whereas the STCs/STWCs have 10cc pumps and go 10mph). Also, the steering dampers are different, which have a bit of an impact on them. I say they're different, they feel different, but they're both Stabilus Stabil-o-shock gas dampers.
  10. Rons Rightway Lawncare

    Rons Rightway Lawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,163

    Why have your customers not said anything about the tires being rough on the turf?

    Probably because of a few reasons...

    1. Their Bad Boy mower very likely may be their first ZTR. If it is, then they likely don't know there is a difference in the way one brand of tire performs over the next.

    2. They may be using the BB mower on properties where they don't have to go around alot of beds and trees and so on, and they might not have to do many turns or turns on the turf. It is these times that the tires were ripping up the turf and causing me problems.

    3. The turf they are cutting may have been more durable than the turf I was mowing. Here I am cutting fescue or fescue/ mixed with bermuda or even weeds, and the soil is red clay and the turf is delicate here, you have to be very careful with any zero turn machine, and for that matter even a walkbehind hydro or belt drive.

    4. They simply don't care if they are ripping up the lawn with the tires. If they don't care then there is no reason to comment about it to you.

    Now please give me credit for being in the business for over 13 years and using a slew of machines, Zero Turn riders from Scag, Bobcat, Toro, Everride, Dixie Chopper, Encore, Husquevarna, and more.... along with many walkbehind mowers including Scag, Encore, Bobcat, Lesco, exmark, etc... In other words I know how to smoothly ( key word Smoothly! ) operate both the riders and the walkbehinds. It wasn't how I used the mower or the faster speed or size of the pumps that caused the problems. Even though the mower was able to go much faster than my scag, I cut at the same speed I would cut with the scag.

    The problem I am certain falls on the brand of tire on the machine. Like I said, I demo'ed two different Everride mowers last year that had the same tires on them as the Bad Boy and both mowers also were rough on the turf. I would feel that with the same tires the scag uses the mower would be much better than with the maxxis tires.

    As for the seat height, I measured my wildcat today.

    Measured from the ground to the steel plate the seat bolts to, the height is 20 and 1/2 inches tall. The top of the seats bottom cushion is another 8 inches taller than the plate it bolts to, and this is taken at the front edge of the seat which is taller than the middle and rear of the cushion on the wildcat. Basically your butt is roughly 27 inches or so off the ground taking into consideration the seat sags a bit with my weight on it. I look forward to your measurements of the Bad Boys seat height.

    And please understand that I am not trash talking the bad boy at all. I think it is a good mower and a great value. I am very detailed and observant, I notice things I think most people don't bother looking at or even take into consideration. After the demo I thought I would post what I learned about the Bad Boy mower here, so the next guy who considers them can get a fair, honest, and absolutely non biased review of what to expect. I tried to learn about them before the demo and there wasn't enough info on this site to answer most of my questions I had about the mower. Thanks, Ron

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