Ride-On Mowers...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by christoff, Mar 20, 2005.

  1. christoff

    christoff LawnSite Member
    Posts: 139

    Why is everyone use walkbehinds, why not Ride-On's? what are the advantages/ disadvanteges?

    thanks
     
  2. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,565

    This is my take on the subject. Others no doubt see it differently. First, I should say I've never operated a ZTR, but here goes anyway.

    1) Hillside stability: Walk-behinds have an obvious advantage here. ZTRs tend to have higher centers of gravity.

    2) Speed: ZTR riders are generally faster, although sheer speed does not always correspond directly to productivity. That question depends wholly on what sort of properties you're handling.

    3) Weight: Smaller trucks and trailers might have difficulty hauling a mid-grade ZTR, which will weigh in at about 1,000 lbs and go up from there. A mid-grade walk with a 52" deck will weigh only around 700. Also, soft, spongy turfs don't respond well to more weight, but that's not the operator's fault.

    4) Cost: For a given size deck and manufacturer, a walk will always cost less than a rider of comparable performance, making allowances for speed.

    5) Servicing: Most riders are more work to service than similar walks, or at least that's my impression. You might want to ask someone who has had both types of machines about that, though.

    6) Reliability: I'm not aware of any difference here, assuming all equipment (motors, hydro drives, blade spindles) are of appropriate capacity for the application. This is where purchasing can be tricky and a lot of research is called for.

    7) "Sex appeal": ZTR mowers are infinitely more interesting than walk-behinds, and my impression is that a lot of LCOs buy zero-turn units because they think it's sure to make them more money. As noted above, this is sure to be true on the right properties, but one must look at one's market first.

    If you want a demonstration of how confusing this last question can be, just go to eXmark's website and find the page listing used equipment. Just for fun, count how many used ZTR mowers are for sale versus the number of walk-behind units. It seems that a lot of operators make the mistake of buying a machine they really cannot make proper use of and have to sell it at a substantial loss. Your interest in educating yourself on this issue bodes well for you.
     
  3. PMLAWN

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    Mark, Great answer. And so true about #7
    To many worry about image and not what is the best tool for the job.

    Most businesses that you open, require you to have the capital to buy equipment and stock before you open. This business allows you to get in so cheap (the reason that many non business minds are in it) that a lot will start with nothing and bootstrap. The first real tool they can buy will be the cheapest unit they can buy, Read WB belt, and they will feel that the ultimate is the Z. Also the reason that you see so many Zs on 3000' lots.

    Always fit the tool to the job
     
  4. christoff

    christoff LawnSite Member
    Posts: 139

    Ya but what about a Craftmans Ride-on tractor, or a John Deere, not the big machines like Exmark or Scag, but like at your local retail store, Craftsmans, Husky, John Deere Ride-em's
     
  5. PMLAWN

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    That is not commercial equipment and will not last too long with hard use.

    It is good for the homeowner.
     
  6. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,565

    Chris, I really do not recommend that class of equipment if you're mowing more than two lawns a week. Those mowers simply are not built to withstand the constant pounding. I have a Deere L110 (17.5 Kohler, 42" deck), and it can't keep up with my eXmark Metro (12.5 Kawasaki, 36" deck). I wish I had saved the money on the Deere and put it into a larger walk-behind mower.

    Please don't make the mistake I made. The eXmark cost a bit more, about $700 more, but it will last three times the life of that Deere unit and mow 1.5 times as much grass per hour, despite that the deck is six inches narrower than the deck on the Deere. The productivity difference will pay the cost difference in a matter of weeks, even if you're doing this part time. There simply is no comparison.
     
  7. christoff

    christoff LawnSite Member
    Posts: 139

    WOW, thats exactly what I was looking for, thanks for the advice

    Chris
     

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