Exmark Metro 26 review

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by DCE, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. DCE

    DCE LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 311

    Mowed my yard last evening...gave my personal Exmark Metro 21 a break and put the Metro 26 demo unit into action. Bigger sometimes doesn't equate to being better. While I'm able to cover more ground in less time given the 26" cut, the wider deck also presents some challenges as well. Due to it being wider and longer in wheelbase than the 21, the 26 doesn't seem to handle uneven terrain as well as a 21" will. There are a few places in my yard where my 21" has trouble getting an even cut due to the terrain. I knew with the 26", that will only be exaggerated. And I was right. When I did the string trimming part after I mow [standard modus operandi] I found myself hitting areas that I don't normally hit with the trimmer just to even them out. So, taking that extra time to do that...I'm not sure having a 26" cut will benefit me except, to get the mowing portion done faster. I burned up about the same amount of time as I do mowing with the 21"...except the 21" handles those other areas that the 26" didn't. For my use, it doesn’t benefit me at all.

    Weight. Major issue here. The 21 is a svelte 122 lbs. Big boy 26 tips the scales at 150 lbs. Therefore, it takes a bit more "OOMPH!" to sling it around when you get at the end of the row, to go back the other direction. The rearward positioning of the Kawasaki FJ180V 6HP engine on the deck helps to shift the balance point toward the rear wheels a bit. And because it isn't as nimble as a 21", you have to make more calculated maneuvers...or maybe, it's just me using it the first time. I'm sure if I was able to use it longer I probably would get used to it.

    Mulching - some guys poo-poo'ed the 26's mulching capabilities. I think overall, it mulched as well as my 21 does. You go too fast, it doesn't cut as well mulching...just like my 21. But, slow it down going through the thick areas and you'll be fine. No clumping, no windrowing.

    I noticed that even though the 26 is considerably heavier, it doesn't leave pronounced wheel marks in the grass due to the wider wheels/tires that spread the weight of the mower out over a larger surface area. The 26 stripes pretty well too. The sound of the mower reminds me of a single blade consumer rear engine riding mower. It's got that kinda low rumble to it, not as high pitched as my 21". Blade tip speed of the 26 is rated at a 17,500 FPM blade tip speed, my 21 has an 18,500 FPM blade tip speed.

    Did not use the mower in side discharge or bagging so I cannot comment on performance of those modes.

    Quality of construction - this thing is built like a friggin' tank! It is very solid through and through. Due to the rearward positioning of the engine, it has a bit more forward reach than a 21", getting underneath shrubs or fences better than a 21". The demo unit obviously, has hours of use on it from others who tried it out...and it still functions very well.

    I believe the Metro 26 has a place in the commercial mower market...but it still isn't "there" yet in terms of quality of cut on uneven/undulating terrain. I think a machine like this is better suited for those "knock-it-down-and-keep-going" cutting jobs where the name of the game is just to cut grass. But if you want to cut grass and make it look good, I think a 21" produces better results especially if uneven terrain is afoot. Also, it is best when jockeying/turning around is kept to a minimum. I can imagine weaseling this 26 incher into and out of tight spots would tire anyone out faster if you have do a lot of maneuvering.

    The Metro 26 has its good and bad points. I wouldn't recommend it for residential use where you have a lot of uneven terrain. I guess, this is something that one would have to demo first to see the results on his/her property because YMMV. Verdict? I'd rather stick with my Metro 21, with its tried-and-true design that has stood the test of time. Overall, I was impressed by the quality of the overall build and the mulching performance of the Metro 26. On the totally flat sections of my yard the cut quality was excellent. Start getting into uneven/rough terrain and that’s where your cut quality may be compromised due to the wider stance and longer wheelbase than a 21 inch walk behind.


    Here are some photos I shot.

    First pic is my Metro 21 alongside the Metro 26. Size difference is apparent. Note the width of the wheels on the 26.

    Second pic is of the BBC/idler arm. The demo unit was missing the belt cover.

    Third pic is of the spring assisted rear height adjusters. It's a single point adjustment design for the rear only, just move the lever to raise/lower the rear axle. Front height adjusters are like on any normal commercial 21".

    Fourth pic is the mulch plug fully inserted.

    Fifth pic is the spindle. I was told the Metro 26 uses the same spindle as found on the larger Metro intermediate WB's.

    Metro 21 and 26.jpg


    Spring assist height adjuster.jpg

    Mulch plug.jpg

  2. DavidR

    DavidR LawnSite Member
    Posts: 180

    Great review Dex, thanks for posting it. Interesting how a smaller mower can actually perform better then the larger counterpart.
  3. megaboy

    megaboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 11

    Hi from Canada. i am in the market for a commercial walk behind, and have looked at so many brands, like john Deere, toro. gravely, and x mark..etc. i have been using the Honda hrc 216 which in Vancouver is the mower everyone uses. i am now entering the commercial arena and want to step up to the plate with a better mower. I am looking at the x mark metro hydro, but not to many sell here as every one uses the toro line. I know toro bought out x mark but was wondering if this is the way to go as there are so many to choose from. also i was looking at the x mark 26" push mower for smaller yards and would love some advice from the people who actually use them. They don't sell the smaller ones here so i would have to jump across the boarder to blain and pick one up, so your input would be very valuable to me.

    cheers from Vancouver BC
  4. Central Island Lawn

    Central Island Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    Hi from Nanaimo.
    There is an Exmark dealer on Annasis Island I think. You should give them a call. I have a 21" commercial toro and it looks exactly the same as the 21" above. It's an awesome mower, more expensive than the Honda but I like the feel of it. I just put a new Atomic mulch blade on it and it cuts great. It's an unbelievable cut. I would imagine the Exmark 21 would do the same. The 26 looks more like a John Deere JX75 and, like my John Deere, is probably good at bagging and discharging, but not as good at Mulching. I would definately come over to the mainland to demo one though as I am intrigued by these units.
  5. megaboy

    megaboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 11

    It's just what i needed to hear. From what i understand about the toro 21' is if you let go of the engage bar the mower shuts off, but the x mark keeps running. I had this same set up on another Honda, and this really bothered me, but if im wrong please correct me. Either way i will be looking at the x mark this week, and from what i hear they will run around $1600 cad. which is a little steep, but am so tired of the heavy Honda.

    Thanks for the info
  6. Central Island Lawn

    Central Island Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    The Toro has a single dual-action bail to engage the blade and the wheels. So yeah, if you drop the one bail it disengages the blades and applies the blade brake. The engine keeps running though. But that's never really been a problem for me, it took a little getting used to the action of the bail. The Toro is a tank, it's very heavy, but I think that lends itself to better cutting, so if the Exmark 21 is similar you probably won't find it too much lighter than the Honda.
    The main reason I went with Toro is because it's the only commercial deck I could find in Nanaimo with a Gear Drive transmission. It's a simple but well built easy to maintain machine. I don't need hydrostatic drive, dual blades, and what ever other new age crap Honda's have.
    If you try the Metro 26, please post about it, I would like to hear about it.
  7. megaboy

    megaboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 11

    Will do... I had the Honda 215 with the manual two speed and i bought it 13 years ago, and it's still running. Only had the transmission done for the first time last year. Now that was a mower, and i have gone through '4' 216"s and this is it for me with the Honda line. So your info on the toro has been invaluable for me, and i will take a look at the x mark and will post any comments i have on it.

    cheers from Vancouver
    Jim's mowing
  8. megaboy

    megaboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 11

    Hey people, i just picked up a new 26' metro and am chomping at the bit to use it. It's been raining in Vancouver steady since the beginning of the year, and it's been the worst spring in my 10 years in the business.

    I was wondering if any one has experience with the toro time cutter32' and the ex mark phaser 34'

    I like the size as i can get in the back yards of my clients and the lawns are pretty big, so this would be a great addition.

    Please give me your reviews if you have had one of these mowers.

    Cheers Doug
  9. dboyd351

    dboyd351 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,101

    One thing I didn't hear mentioned is the difference in the method of driving the blade. It appears from the photos that the Metro 21 has the blade attached directly to the driveshaft, but the Metro 26 has a belt driven blade. For certain applications, this could be a very important consideration. A blade attached to the shaft will ruin the engine if you hit something substantial enough, but a belt driven blade offers protection for the engine's shaft in those circumstances.
  10. megaboy

    megaboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 11

    You are right and this is one of the reasons i bought this mower as i have had drive shafts bent on the Honda 216, and this is an expensive repair.

    The other obvious reason is the size in bag and fuel tank, which allows for longer run time, and we all know time is money. So i am also looking to pick up
    a toro time cutter 32' and at $2500 it is a bargain,and cant wait to get some reviews on it.

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