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Mower Comparisons From The Pros

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by arrowpa, May 19, 2005.

  1. arrowpa

    arrowpa LawnSite Member
    Posts: 7

    I've been referred by so many friends and neighbors to this site (some of which are pros) and I can't tell you how impressed I am with the content, the activeness of the community and the variety of knowledge here! I come to you with questions about mowers.

    I have a 4-acre lot to mow; mostly flat, and what grade there is, is not that significant. I don't have a lot of things to cut around, but was told to go ZTR because of time savings.

    I have two local dealers which, combined, sell Kubota, Grasshopper, Cub Cadet, John Deere and Scag.

    Question #1: ZTRs are faster than lawn tractors because of less turns, higher horsepower, wider decks, faster MPH.

    Question #2: Aside from speed, why would a residential homeowner want/ need a ZTR (given the steep price increase from tractors)?

    Question #3: Albeit significantly pricier, do I need to go go liquid cooled because of my sized yard (so says the local dealer)?

    Question #4: I hear tractors drop 50% in resale value as soon as you take them off the dealer lot (like a cheap domestic car), and that ZTRs hold their own. Is this true? Does this matter to me if I can't imagine why I'd ever want/need to sell it in the future?

    Question #5: I saw in some Grasshopper literature, that if you get a front-mount deck, you can swap it with other attachments (push trailers, blowers, whatever). Is that the kind of mower I need for attachments, or can you get other things like that on mid-mount decks? Do ZTRs have better traction (than a tractor) in the snow (i.e. would pushing snow even be feasible?)?

    Question #6: I like the brands listed above the most (and my head will explode if I start looking at additional brands). Can you guys give me specific pros and cons on any/all models? It'd be great if ConsumerReports.org did something like that, but they only mention ZTRs; not rate them. In a nutshell, I just don't know if I should spend $4000 or $9000; if a stamped steal deck really matters to everyday Joe not cutting 20+ acres a day commercially; and if I can get the same performance/HP/speed out of a cheaper tractor.

    Thank you all soooo much! I'm looking forward to some wonderful responses. Likewise, I can be reached directly via email at p.arrowood@elsevier.com.


  2. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,036

    q1. yes, ztr's are MUCH faster than a lawn tractor due to the higher mowing speeds.

    q2. well, the reason you would want a comercial machine over a lawn tractor, is that as a home owner, this mower will probably last you the rest of your life. also, it will deliver profesional results and have the hp to go through the spring growth and really pay off in the fall when your bagging leaves and you have a lot bigger bag capacity.

    q3. liquid cooled is nice, but not really necissary. a liquid cooled engine will last about 1000 hours longer than a air cooled engine. but depending on what mower you get, it may be cheaper just to repower after 2500 hours of use. now for a home owner, 2500 hours is around 15 years of use, so I wouldn't worry.

    q4. ztr's will hold there value very well, expecially if taken care of. as we speak I am selling a ztr with 1500 hours that was repowered for $5,000. why you would want to sell a ztr that you use on your lawn is beyond me. once you use a ztr, you won't go back.

    q5. the front mount mowers can take a lot more attachments than the mid mount, ecpecially if you are going to be using it for snow work. I would go with a 700 series grasshopper. I would not buy a 600 series because of the low mowing speed (6.5 mph)

    q6. here's my opinion on the mowers mentioned. kubota, a good mower, but the blade speed needs to be improved. the cost of parts are very expensive, if you get this mower, make sure you get the "pro deck".

    Grasshopper, my favorite out of the bunch, it has a tried and proven design, with a great reputation and quality of cut. I really can't find a weak link with this mower, and that's why I'm selling my exmark to buy one. I would look at the 225 52" (mid mount) or the 227 60" (mid mount) or if you want a front mount, I would look at the 700 series mowers. I would not touch the 600 series.

    Cubcadet, personally, I do not like this mower. it's made fairly tough, but it's made by mtd which leaves a bitter taste in my mouth just thinking about it.

    John deere, a great machine, with a very well built deck, but the cost of parts will make you cry, should anything ever go wrong. if you buy JD, don't expect anything from them to be cheap!

    Scag, a great mower, with a great quality of cut. the scags are very heavy built machines, and are a very solid performer. I do not know much about the pricing of parts for the scags.

    just one mower I would add to your list to look at is ever ride. they are a samller company, but everything about their mower looks well thought out and designed. here's their website, where you can see if there is a dealer near you. www.everride.com the only disadvantage to the ever ride, is that they do not offer any attachments as grasshopper does. I think that the ever rides are a bit cheaper than the grasshopper though.

    overall, would say grasshopper is the best mower out there for all around use, but if mowing is the only thing you'll be using it for, I would take a serious look at ever ride.

  3. Itsgottobegreen

    Itsgottobegreen LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,177

    Grasshopper would be my choice. For versatilely, nothing beats a hopper. If I did a lot more large acreage lawns, I would have nothing but hoppers (thats coming from a hard core Wright fan). A 928 with the 72" deck and 25cu collection system. Is freaking awesome. But will run your about $15,000.

    A 61" air cooled 700 series would be just fine for your lawn.
  4. Appalachian landscape

    Appalachian landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 453

    I say, of those brands, go with the grass hopper or scag. If you spend the extra money now, you'll have that mower for 20 years. SCAG is as tough as they come, I would say grass hopper is very comparable. No need for the liquid cooled engine, sounds like the dealer is just trying to sucker you into spending more. These mowers are designed to run 8 hours a day for years and years. Out of scag and grasshopper, go with the one you can get a better deal on.
  5. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,640

    Well i'm another GH fan! Once you get on one...you won't be able to get off! A little more expensive...but well worth it!
  6. Mowin Mac

    Mowin Mac LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    I love my Exmark.
    And the quality of the cut is (in my opinion) unmatched.
    The best part is that you will reduce your time on the mower by about 75% vs. using a homeowner model "lawn tractor".
    You get your Saturdays back.
    Or even better, have one of your local Professionals mow. You'll have the best looking lawn in the neighborhood.
  7. daltonbuck

    daltonbuck LawnSite Member
    Posts: 36

    You may pay more $$$ for a Grasshopper but fo rthe reliablity, lack of maintenance and most importantly the quality of cut, i would go with a grasshopper. I own a mid mount and mid mounts are the only kind of GH i have tried but if you are looking for an interchangable deck, go with the GH 700 series. trust me, you wont be disappointed. SCAG is the only other ZTR would own. You couldn't GIVE me a Cub Cadet or Exmark. SCAG might be your second best choice especially for the $$$ difference.
  8. arrowpa

    arrowpa LawnSite Member
    Posts: 7

    Okay, so here's an update on my ZTR search.

    Grasshopper - Most everyone love the GHs here, but everyone seems to forget I'm a homeowner and don't get to recoup any of the costs like you LCOs do! *smile* However, that doesn't take away from the resounding support for that brand. While there's strong argument that the GH will be my last lawnmower ever, or for the next 15-20 years, isn't that the case for any of these that I'm listing? I'm considering the 223 (23hp) for $7200 or 227 (27hp) for $8020...both with a 61" deck. For a 4-acre lot, what do you think? The dealer says there's only 5 grease fittings total, so less can go wrong. Is that true? Will that be a big deal for residential use? He also says the GH spare parts are VERY affordable. Financing wise, 1.9% revolving credit card.

    Scag - the Z-Cat (42" deck) and Tiger Cub (48" deck) are the ones I'm considering. Those are the deck sizes in stock at my dealer, but I can go larger if necessary. Both are 19hp Kawasaki engine. These range from $5500-$6000. The dealer doesn't offer any financing, but Scag offers various no pymts/no interest for x number of months, and then converting to some 8-12% APR. Not sure that turns me on too much, but the lower price does.

    Kubota--while I thought these ZTRs would be out of my range, one dealer mentioned the ZG23 as a great option for me to consider. Turns out what makes these so unaffordable is the ZD (diesel) version. They offer the ZG23 (54" deck, 23hp Kohler) for 24 mos no payment or interest for $6950. That almost sounds too good to pass up. He cites a key differentiator as the single drive shaft between the engine and the spindles.......thus only one belt for the whole mower. He said "no electric clutch." Not sure what that means to me.

    John Deere--heard differing feedback about the before- and after-market prices of the JDs. Some said the prices are unnecessarily high, but jeez...the GH's are even higher. Some said the maintenance prices and service fees, again, are too high. Is that true? I just don't know if it's worth considering a Deere.

    And some parting thoughts:
    1) I love the front-mount concept because of all the accessories available, but again I'm not sure that's worth the extra couple of thousand. Shoot, I could be a junky little mower to hook to all similar attachments for probably less that $2000, don't you think? FYI: attachments I'm interested most in would be like a fertilizer spreader, some kind of sprayer (could you also use something like this to water your lawn?), a blade or blower for snow, etc. I don't know what else is out there, but that's it off the top of my mind.

    2) Is it rue that Kawasaki and Kohler engines are comparable? Just a matter of personal preference? I had another dealer say for the 4-acre lot, that I'm borderline needing a water-cooled engine

    3) is there a good website for used quality ZTRs?

    4) For what i've listed and said in this thread, knowing i get uneasy over $5000 but will go up to 8-9k if it's truly the absolute best thing to do, and with your knowledge and experience of these makes.................rank 'em 1, 2, 3, 4 (1 being the highest). I don't ask much, do I?

    Thanks everyone for all the great feedback. You've been awesome!

    Paul A
  9. Tider6972

    Tider6972 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 649

    (1) attachments are available for most ZTRs, see the Gravely and Toro.


    (3)don't know of any, other than "Trader"

    (4)From your list, the John Deere is the best ZTR, can't speak to front mounts, they're too long, clumsy and cumbersome for my business.

    I have to think <i>EVERY </i> single GrassHopper fan on this site responded to you! In 3 1/2 years here, I 've never seen so much support for them. And they may be great, I only drove a GH mid-mount in a parking lot, but it seemed mediocre and outdated to me, more time with it might have changed my mind, but I wasn't interested by it enough to ask for a demo.

    You're on the right track as far as deck size, if your 4 acres is open and smooth, a 60 or even a 72 would be fine, too.

    As far as I'm concerned, Hustler makes the best mower on the market right now. But John Deere, Exmark, Toro are close seconds.

    The JD pricing may be more fiction than fact; select some parts and do some comparison shopping. Besides, the major mechanicals, engines and hydraulic systems, used on all the majors, and parts are widely available aftermarket. Don't let parts prices scare you away from the JD; it's the best product on you list of choices.
  10. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,036

    the front mount is good if you don't have too many "tight" areas.

    2. imo, kohler and kawasaki are totally different things. a kawasaki is a super high performance engine, that needs to be treated as such. imo, kawi's aren't good for mowers. my dealer has done 6 re borings on kawi's, while none on kohlers. the kohler runs a bit rougher, but can take a beating. some of the kohler's I've seen have 5,000 hours on them (that's a real long time for a air cooled).

    3. how about a grasshopper 218 48"? that should keep your price low, but you'll spend more time mowing.

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