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Ferris vs. Hustler

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by creeper, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. creeper

    creeper LawnSite Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 30

    I just demo'd a couple of machines and thought I give my observations on the two. The machine will be used on my own acreage, since retiring from the landscape business and will replace my 48" walk behind.

    Now remember my opinions are worth what you paid for them and I'm sure they will be some who differ greatly.

    My background. I had been a landscaper for 17 years and have recently retired. I've run many different brands.

    My first round of Machines where Bunton's. I think my Bunton 52" walk behind was the finest cutting machine I ever had. Not saying it didn't have it's likes and dislikes , but as a finish mower on a normal cut cycle it always left the best cut.

    I've used Scaggs , Ferris , Xmark all equal in the walk behind in my opinion, Ferris getting the nod for the lower price point in my area. They were all equally durable and all took the abuse the same. My last years of business I was running a combo of 15 or so different machines.

    Now you have proponents of the two machines I demod. Each will probably disagree with me on points, but hey you get what you pay for.

    The Machines:

    Huslter Fast track 54" 21 HP Flex forks
    Ferris IS 2000 61" 25 HP

    Not the exact machines I wanted to Demo, but that's what they had in demos at this time of year. Some will say it wasn't fair because I demod I "home owners" machine vs a commercial machine. Well that's what they had.

    The Hustler didn't have the exact setup I wanted , which was flex forks and Suspension seat as you can't get the suspension seat on the Fast track series. They also didn't have any mini Z's in that set up.

    I wanted to test a 52" Ferris, but they only had a 61"

    My reasoning on decks size, which I found is the smaller the deck the prettier the cut. I've found that 52" give you good productive combined with a nice looking cut.

    First up Hustler.

    Looks like it's built to last, no frills machine.

    good, doesn't strip well at all. No scalping even at top speeds.

    Fast, but even with flex forks it could fling you off the machine at top speed. No way I could cut at top speed.

    Parking break setup is slick and really speeds up things if you have to get on and off to pick up debris.

    Deck lift peddle is a bad location/setup. I had to contort my leg to lift the deck as my knee would hit the levers. It was a nice gnarled piece for nice foot grip.

    Hill holding:
    It didn't do a great job holding the hill I tested, but the hill was pretty steep and I crabbed on a good portion of it. With no roll bar it certain kept you thinking.

    Customer support: Outstanding. I couldn't say more about the local shop. Walked in asking for a demo to be be dropped off. Walked out with the demo and a trailer they loaned me. Signed me out for a week to demo the machine.

    Next up Ferris:


    Now here is where people knock Ferris. Justified? Maybe yes , maybe no. Maybe just not used to a full suspension machine, which obviously requires some retraining.
    The knocks on the Ferris cut is with dipping decks. Will that happen yes. Is there something you can do about it, yes. Just push on the deck lift slightly when making your turns and the dipping is gone, What I found was that due to the increased cutting speed, due to the suspension you tend to turn too fast.

    That being said, yes it cuts nice. Yes it does strip , even on centipede.

    For residential the 61" Ferris is WAY TO BIG. This machine is made for some wide open commercial accounts.


    This things blows the hustler away. On the hustler I was always backing down the speed to keep me on the machine and my teeth in my mouth. The Ferris WOW, Comfortable and you can cut wide open. As I was cutting at top speed , I noticed I was more involved in cutting , then thinking getting slammed around.


    While not on the less is more theory as the hustler, The Ferris controls were well placed, foot pedal in good location. I preferred the deck height lock out on the ferris as I had the hustler drops it's deck coming off the driveway.

    Hill holding:

    Appeared not as good as the Hustler, but I was on a MUCH LARGER MACHINE and it crabbed as well. Still decent.

    Customer support:

    I have to say the support I have received over the years in NY was nothing but outstanding.

    Since moving south, not so good. Took me over a month to get a demo set up and would have been even longer had I not sent a nasty gram to Ferris HQ. Even still I never received a response from Ferris HQ, but the rep(who I had been dealing with) did call the next day and had the demo shipped out right away. When the demo arrived it was a fresh out of the box machine. It also wasn't left for me to test, they actually stood there and watched. Which has never happened to me before.


    Construction: NOD TO HUSTLER. Both machines appear and felt well built. Both operated well. If you're running a large crew or multiple crews you might prefer the less is more approach of the Hustler.

    Cut: DRAW. As hard as it is to strip centipede grass, The Ferris stripped it FAR better then the smaller Hustler, which left nearly no visible strips.. Bear in mind you have to retrain yourself when cutting with the Ferris in ref. to deck dipping, which I find is due to the increased cutting speed.

    Controls: Draw. Hustler gets points for their slick parking brake setup and loses some for their poor location of foot pedal. Ferris foot pedal was in a good location and a better deck lock out.

    Speed: NOD to Ferris by a wide margin. While having a higher maximum speed, you could also use that speed due to the suspension. I found I couldn't run the Hustler flat out often, yet I easily ran the ferris wide open.

    Productivity: NOD to Ferris. This one was tough to call for the following reason. The Ferris cuts far faster and thus you can cut more acreage per hour, BUT on and off is faster on the Hustler due to the slick parking brake setup, which requires one less step. Now if your guys run over debris like some of my guys do(which drives me nuts) , the the Ferris is FAR more productive. If you have a area with lots of junk blowing around the Hustler catches up some.

    Customer Support: NOD to Hustler, but this will vary from area to area and dealer to dealer.

    Cost: NOD to Ferris. Now if you deck out a Mini Z with flex forks and Suspension seat to get a ride closer to the Ferris you are also at least 1K over the price of a ferris.

    Which will I be purchasing?

    Probably the Ferris. While each machine has trade offs, I'm just tired of the all the years of being pounded and having bad discs like lots of old crusty landscapers do, it was a pleasure to drive the Ferris. ALthough, a local Hustler dealer is discounting a Mini Z and with flex forks and suspension seat it may be close to the ferris. I would have been nice to test that set up.

    Please note , I have a flame proof suit I wear when reading forums. :)
  2. cybervision

    cybervision LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 342

    I owned a Hustler 52"/25 Super Mini Z. There is a big difference between the Fast Trac and the Mini. I would like to suggest you contact PJ on the Hustler forum and he should be able to get you a demo from either a rep or a dealer. I have seen PJ get demo machines lined up for most if not all of those who ask. If the Hustler cuts well you will be happy with it. If you get the Suspension seat and Flex Forks you will love the smooth ride. Do not purchase one without a demo first though. I returned my machine because it did not cut or disperse clippings well.

    You were not comparing apples to apples here. One of Hustlers smallest machines against a full size with suspension. Don't give up on the Hustler yet. Try to get the Demo.
  3. cybervision

    cybervision LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 342

    Contact PJ by his email address listed on the forum for faster results.
  4. creeper

    creeper LawnSite Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 30

    Very true comparing the machines, that's why I put that caveat in there, also note that for a machine that goes the more is less route , the price tag on the Hustler should not be so high.

    Comparing the price of a Mini Z 52 with all the suspension goodies and the full suspension Ferris, you end up paying nearly a grand more for the machine.

    It should end up less.
  5. jsaunders

    jsaunders LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,781

    nice review- when I had a demo ferris 3000z I didn't really like it as all I use was w/b's -- by the end I didn't want to get rid of the demo
  6. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,915

    This is my mower run by someone I had never met, this is his opinion of my Hustler and we are not talking about running the slow speed you are talking about. He is talking about 15 mph which will run circles around any Ferris.

  7. creeper

    creeper LawnSite Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 30

    It's nice to have top speed, but having USABLE top speed is the Key.

    The Hustler ran nice and fast as long as it was smooth, I cut some rough areas and had to IMMEDIATELY cut the speed down to half to stay on the machine and keep my teeth in my mouth. The bouncing was really bad. Now I took the SAME EXACT path with the Ferris and never slowed down.

    15 mph vs Ferris 12 mph of Usable speed is certainly not running circles around(of course you are referring to the Super Z, which I'm not talking about here). It would certainly would have been nice to have the suspension seat to make a full comparison, but the flex forks only doesn't compare to the full suspension. Even with the seat that still means there is a lot of metal bouncing around under you.

    For a simpler , easier to build machine, the much higher price tag is not warranted.

    Are you offering a Mini Z 52" with flex forks and suspension seat for $7500? IF so we're talking after a demo.
  8. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,915

    9.09 acres per hr. at 15 mph with a 60" deck versus 7.27 acres per hr. at 12 mph with a 60" deck "is" running circles around it.

    I have 15 mph of usable speed with which I mow 60% of the time.

    The Super Z I have with 8 lbs. of air in each tire, flex forks, suspension seat with the flex seat bottom added will ride just as good as the Ferris and better at 15 mph.
  9. creeper

    creeper LawnSite Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 30

    You're talking roughly 1min 45 seconds difference per acre between the two machines. Even less since you're only running it full at 60% of the time, now we're talking less then a minute difference between the two per acre. Running circles around,hmmmmm. If you say so.

    Lots of tricks to get the machine to smooth out.

    NOW ,since I'm not talking about a SUPER Z, the ONLY machine faster then the Ferris top of the line, it's interesting that the rest of the Hustler line is slower then all the other Ferris's with the exception of the home owners model and then you're talking a 1mph difference. But, if you compare Mowers class to mower class, Hustler comes out on top on only their very top machine. The rest of the line lags in tops speeds.

    Not that I was penning putting down Hustler for their top speed. Just their usable speed, unless you put a bunch of options on it or air down the tires like you do.

    Now why is the Hustler so much more money for a simpler to build machine. You dealers like to say Less parts, well less part should mean less selling price. Less parts equals less labor to assemble, should mean less cost retail. Yet, the price is SUBSTANTIALLY more, now add in all the items needed to try and make the rides comparable and you're talking more money.

    If the two machines were at the same price point, with the flex forks and suspension seat, heck I'd might buy one.
  10. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,915

    What are you talking about airing the tires down, anyone that has ever operated a zero turn mower, or for that fact any mower, knows you never run over 10 lbs. of air pressure in the tires and I personally run 8.
    The manual even states that information, "8 lbs.-10 lbs. of air pressure in all tires". This is one of the main reasons mowers ride rougher than they should.

    I ran the big 72", 37 hp Kawi Cub Tank on the dealers yard one day to see what it felt like. I said to him "what in the devil is wrong with this thing, you can't stay in the seat"? I went to my truck, got my air gage and checked the tires, it had 30 lbs. in the back and 22 lbs. in the front, they shipped it that way and no one checked them. He has a shop full of mechanics, I said "you need to put a check list in the shop for people prechecking these mowers on the yard so this does not happen, it could cause you to lose a sale when a man cannot stand the ride because of improper tire pressure.

    Now, for the productivity debate, first of all we have to compare the mowers that have the nearest comparable components.

    You run a 12 mph mower with a 5' deck at 60% mowing efficiency for an 8 hr. day and you will mow 34.91 acres.

    You run a 15 mph mower with a 5' deck at 60% mowing efficiency for an 8 hr. day and you will mow 43.64 acres.

    You will mow 8.73 acres more in that 8 hr. working day.

    When people do this for a living, time means money, and in a cutting season you are talking about a tremendous difference in productivity. You can afford to spend extra money for a mower that is going to generate a great deal more income.

    I am using "run circles around" as a slang phrase but I think you see the difference in comparable mowers with different speeds.

    I can't comment on any Hustler other than the Super Z because I personally would not own another mower.

    12 mph is more than a adequate speed for most people but in my application I can utilize the 15 mph and get a very good cut because I use lower cutting heights.

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