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Need a Mid-Grade Mower -- Please Help

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by nolimits76, May 5, 2014.

  1. nolimits76

    nolimits76 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 32

    I would like to get some input into a mower for my personal property. No intentions to go pick up yards, etc. on the side. Just need this for my own use.

    My lot is approximately half acre. It’s a cul-de-sac lot meaning the front is narrow and limited. The back yard is much larger and kind of funky shaped as you might expect with a cul-de-sac lot. In the back I have a gentle slope, approx 5-7 degrees, away from the house towards my fence line. Like many yards, it isn’t perfectly smooth. We just moved there, and later in the year I plan on landscaping, so some of my wide open space in back will shrink.

    No worries on access or storage. I have a 14’ wide drive gate on one-side and a normal walk-gate on the other of my yard. And I have plenty of space in my garage to store the unit.

    My budget is approximately $3,000. I’m paying cash. I could expand my budget a little, but only if I am on the edge of getting considerably more/better features for just a little more cash investment. I am primarily looking at ZTR’s for the speed and ability to maneuver in the yard. Because of my limited yard size, I am trying to stick as close to a 42” as possible.

    Here are a few models I’ve considered:

    Hustler Raptor 42”
    Hustler Raptor SD 48”
    Toro TimeCutter SS4260
    Toro TimeCutter MX4260

    I’m not close minded to other brands or models. I am looking for honest suggestions. I realize I don’t need a commercial unit, but don’t want to buy junk either. My main considerations have been Kawasaki engine, fabricated deck and 2800 hydros (if possible for my budget). I look forward to your comments and suggestions.
  2. ernie_h

    ernie_h LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    Ztr's are nice but, with the size/shape of your lot, might want to consider if you really need one. Something the equivalent of the Exmark 30" commercial walk-behind might do you just as well, should have lower maintenance, and might just get to areas that you can't easily get to with a ztr. Plus...at least with the Exmark as an example (which, BTW, does have a Kawasaki engine).....you'll still have a little over 1/3 of your budget left for other things! FWIW

  3. SkeetShooter

    SkeetShooter LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Hey there,

    I just went through this problem and ended up staying completely away from the ZTR's. The Hustlers are great, but there is no way you will get the SD for $3K new. Same with any MX series Toro... At that price point you have to settle for residential grade ZTR's. I decided to up my budget to $3500 and was able to get a nice 48" Bobcat walk-behind belt drive. Now this may not be for you and i understand if you don't want that.

    If you don't have much of a slope and you have a half acre (I do as well) I would probably recommend a nice Honda walk-behind for around $800-1200.

    If you are set on a ride-on I would say you can't go wrong with either the regular Toro ZTR, or the Hustler Raptor, but again its not going to be commercial quality components.

    I thought about the Toro/Exmark 30" walk behind commercial, and decided against it because I hear they can be a pain to maneuver sometimes.

    I love my bobcat though, and if I get lazy i can always go and pick up a used Sulki for ride-behind use. (doubt I will though since I'm young and don't mind the walk behind aspect)
  4. nolimits76

    nolimits76 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 32

    I would agree that a rider is probably overkill for my lawn; however, if I'm going to spend a few thousand on a mower I'd at least want something with an option for a sulki. The problem is I'm a big and tall guy and just not sure if those will work as planned with me on it.

    Also, for better or worse, I'm attracted to the ZTR because I had one about 10 years ago when I had almost 2 acres to mow. Fast and fun. I'd like to replicate the experience if possible -- but maybe it's just not feasible.

    I might note I anticipate about 6 months of mowing every week, or 26 weeks total. I'd say 30-40 minutes will be realistic, but will plan an hour. So I'd be looking at putting around 25 hours per year on this mower. Am I being unrealistic to think these units (even the residential grades) would last 10-15 years given the low hour count?
  5. doublesharp

    doublesharp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 314

    I'd get a 36" hydro walk behind for a 1/2 acre irregular lot.

    As far as ztr deals go, Southern Indiana Equipment sold me a new Big Dog R 7-48 power bar mower for $3350+tax and last time I was there they had one left. Pretty much same mower as a Hustler Fastcat and the power bar is same steering as Hustler Trimstar.
  6. SkeetShooter

    SkeetShooter LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    You say you're a big guy... Height isnt really an issue with sulkis'... I would recommend if you go the walk behind route, go with a jungle wheel set or a comparable 2-wheel sulky... The one wheel might dig into the ground or create ruts.

    I like ZTR's as well, just because I can ride it and have a "adult beverage" while I mow, but for me it just wasn't practical. Im not saying my 48" walk behind was that practical either actually, but I bought it because I want it to last for pretty much ever.

    Regarding the Big Dog Mowers, I think you will be hard pressed to find a model that is priced below $4K that has any kind of commercial features that you would want. The way the market is for ZTR's there is the Residential Tier (Toro SS, Hustler Raptor, Husq, JD, Cub Cadet, Gravely, BadBoy) Mid Commercial Grade (Toro MX, Raptor SD, Gravely HD,BadBoy ZT Elite,) then you get into what I would say is true commerical Grade

    I think your typical price points are $2500-$4000 for residential, $3500-$5500 for Mid-Commercial, $5000 and up for Commercial...

    The reason I stayed away from ZTR's were two things in general:
    1. Engine had to be commercial grade
    2. Hydros had to be serviceable.

    I could get both of those checked off without spending a bunch of cash.

    I doubt you will be able to get a Hydro-walk behind in your budget either. I think you are going to have to go belt-drive if you really want commercial quality.

    Hope this helps.
  7. SkeetShooter

    SkeetShooter LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    You got a pretty good deal on that... I know that has the upgraded hydros, but what kind of motor is it? Residential or Commercial?
  8. ernie_h

    ernie_h LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    Hi SkeetShooter.......saw this in your post above....just for the record, I really haven't had any maneuverability issues with the Exmark 30" commercial.....in and around trees, odd corners, etc., etc. If I recall correctly, two of the differences between the Toro and the Exmark versions were the wheel height adjustment (Toro is probably a bit easier), and the Exmark has separate controls/levers for the wheel drive and for blade drive (i.e., forward motion does not automatically engage the blades). Makes it kind of nice because, with all the post oaks I have, going over the leaves once then backing up with the blades engaged really does a nice job mulching the leaves :)
  9. SkeetShooter

    SkeetShooter LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Thanks for letting me know... I thought i read that somewhere. I thought i also read that they don't do well going up hills with the drive being a bit lacking... Might not be an issue in TX, but in the North East we basically live on hills.
  10. doublesharp

    doublesharp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 314

    Kawasaki FR651V. Does not have the Donaldson air cleaner but is sweet and plenty powerful on a 48" deck. I'm using G5s and it's a mowing machine



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