The best riding mower (IMHO)

Discussion in 'Tractors' started by oilman1, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. oilman1

    oilman1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2


    My thoughts about buying the best lawn mower for the money.
    #1 The best engineering design. I base my information from using & repairing all kinds off lawn mowers from push mowers to tractor style riding mowers & lots of reading between the lines on all sources of information available on this subject (doing your homework) over the last 30 years. My picks for tractor style riding mowers 1=JOHN DEERE, 2- KUBOTA John Deere wins because they have been in business longer & there is no substitute for experience.
    My pick for ZERO TURN Mowers 1=HUSTLER 2= SCAG, HUSTLER wins because of experience, they have done it longer.
    My pick for push mowers are 1= Honda 2= Toro, mainly for the honda engine.
    My pick for best engine is 1= HONDA 2= KAWASAKI very little difference only length of time company has been in business.

    What type of riding mower to get ? Tractor style or zero turn, here are my thoughts.
    First thing is this does not pertain to commercial mowing just mowing my own property.
    One mower that will mow most any kind of surface, one mower that can pull different kind of attachments, & one mower that just about anybody can use.
    The tractor style can mow hills or slopes better than a ZTR (ZERO TURN RIDER)
    The tractor style can stop quicker or in a shorter distance mostly due to the weight difference, it is easier to bring 800 lbs to a stop than 1800 lbs as most ZTR mowers out weight tractor style. Tractor style turns with less damage to grass because it does not rely on one of the back wheels having to change speed or direction from the other back wheel. The tractor style can maneuver a wagon for picking up debris better than a ZTR. The tractor style takes less fuel to fill tank as most tractor styles have approximately 3 gallon tanks where as the ZTR has up to 5 gallons or more.
    The tractor style has smaller hp engines which uses less fuel per hour at full throttle but the ZTR mows faster because the top speed of a ZTR is 3 to 6 mph faster than a Tractor style mower and they can turn sharper. Unless your yard is smooth as pavement going more than 6 mph will cause the mower & deck to bounce so much that the cut quality will not be even & your comfort quality will suffer (bounce you out of the seat), of course if you are a male & have that "need for speed" mentality a tractor style will never do what a ZTR will & if time is money to you a ZTR is the best choice.
    While ZTR's cut grass faster than most Tractor style mowers do, they have 2 hydrostatic pumps and 2 hydraulic motors in them and those equal to TWICE the expense when they are used up. In fact, there's a good chance that the cost of replacing the pumps and motors will exceed the current value of the ZTR at that point. So, a well-used ZTR wouldn't be a good choice for me. My main reason for a Tractor style riding mower over a ZTR is that I have a much higher chance of not having to mow the grass at all because the female members of the family would prefer to mow with the tractor style, and it is also more safe for the children to mow with.

    Now for which Tractor style riding mower to buy in the used category.
    Two types to pick from are the Lawn Tractor class or the Garden Tractor class.
    Only one brand will be covered here for the reason above, JOHN DEERE.
    This is the results of my many hours of research on the matter. John Deere
    elected a few years ago to enter the cheap riding mower market with the ones sold at box stores like Home Depot & Lowes etc. These are mostly Lawn Tractors like models D100 to D170 L100 to L130. The next level up is the LA100 to LA175 and LT133 to LT190. These are the low cost or low price point mowers to compete with Murray, Yard Machine, Poulan, Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Troy Built, Husqvarna, Ariens. In my opinion these are not reliable enough for me.

    Any John Deere riding mower built more than 20 years ago or has a manual shift transmission is not what I care for because the oem parts supply starts to get limited or phased out, and I do not want to shift gears.

    For the best built, best engineered, longest lasting, premium brand, John Deere Tractor style riding mowers, are as follows:
    For a residential lot up to approximately 2 acres.
    Lawn Tractors by JOHN DEERE are LX176, LX178, LX188, LX255, LX266, LX277, LX279, LX280, LX288, LX289, ALL X300 LINE
    For big lots & up to 5 acres.
    Garden Tractors by JOHN DEERE are GT225, GT235, GT245, GT275, GX255, GX325, GX335, GX345, GX355 ALL X400 LINE ALL X500 LINE ALL X700 LINE.

    Now to further reduce the models to pick from I am just going to focus on the gas engine, but I know the diesel engine is the most reliable, but a carburetor is easier to fix or rebuild than a diesel injector pump. Easier to fix gas engine if something should go wrong. The best gas engines are Honda or Kawasaki.
    The engine has to be reliable with the least amount of things that can be a problem or go wrong & if it develops a problem be easiest to fix. For this reason I rule out liquid cooled engines because the water pump may go out or hose or gasket leak fluid & lots more stuff to move to get at engine. The trade off is sacrificing the additional hours the engine will last over an air cooled engine which may be twice as long. But the premium air cooled engine will last over 1500 hours with proper use & maintenance.
    I rule out premium ignition systems with computer controlled spark & pulsars just want simple mechanically controlled spark to spark plugs.
    No power steering or power deck lift, these are just more areas that may fail & in my mind I do not need power steering for a mower that has just a few hundred pounds on the front wheels, and the power deck lift usually bleeds down after the mower has been parked for awhile so when you start the mower for the first time to move it you find the deck is dragging the ground if you don't remember to raise the deck. The best way to control the mowing deck height is with a mechanical foot operated pedal this leaves you hands free to hold the steering wheel while mowing & lifting the deck at a moments notice should something unexpected appear. The transmission has to be Hydrostatic which means no gears to change & you can go any speed at a moments notice & be controlled by foot pedals. All the hydrostatic transmissions used in John Deere's premium line are very dependable. The last year the model was made meaning stay away from the first year of any model because as each year passes there are improvements to the design such as improved transmission support, bell crank design, deck lift mechanism, tire sizing, engine improvements. frame & axel design.
    Here are my picks.
    For Lawn Tractor

    For Garden Tractor
    2005 JOHN DEERE GT245 WITH 54 INCH DECK. HAS A 20 HP KAWASAKI ENGINE & HYDROSTATIC TRANSMISSION & FOOT CONTROLLED MOWING DECK HEIGHT PEDAL. WHATS UNIQUE ABOUT THIS MOWER IT HAS THE SAME ENGINE & TRANSMISSION & TIRES & MOWING DECK AS THE LARGER JOHN DEERE GX335. The only difference is the GX335 steals hydraulic pressure from the transmission to provide hydraulic steering & hydraulic deck lift & it has a bigger frame & front axel. The 2004 model is second option.
    I have not mentioned the entire X line of mowers made after 2005 because the prices are not in my mind the best for the money.
    If you want to get one in good shape just ask for a guarantee or you will be taking a chance.

    Just looking for friendly opinions.
  2. redmax fan

    redmax fan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,193

    interesting info . i know nothing about riders but just bought my first one and am aiming to buy another one or two for both home & business . got a good deal on a budget deere , 1999 sabre 17HP B&S . real low hours only ran on a small suburban lot . havent run it yet beyond test spin down a street . but after reading about the transaxle problems in deere box stores like the ls series im iffy on it , my deere dealer wont even rebuild them , gotta buy a new one at $700 for a ls130 . now im waiting for a guy to give me a price on a mint early 80s 108 thats always been run on small manicured lawn just to cut grass and just last summer had the engine completely rebuilt by a deere dealer . i hear what your saying about old machine but this being mint and with rebuilt motor im buying it if no more than $500 . then i'll take my time searching for a LX like you talk about . clean them all up then sell the two i like the least later this year
  3. oilman1

    oilman1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    After you work on those mowers you will see for sure the different levels of engineering that is put into different price point mowers & I would be interested if you feel the same as me on this subject. My 2 main reason for posting is to help those that are not mechanically inclined & want to know which riding mower mower will most likely not need working on & if others fell the same as me.
  4. redmax fan

    redmax fan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,193

    im not real mechanical , im an ex jock that gets by in this business by going full bore with all the hand helds while my partner mows . so my opinion on mowers is worth zero , but i 100% agree on your mechinal logic of buying equipment with no frills + simple + sturdy . thats exactly how everything i ever purchase is chosen . so i read this thread and instantly decided LX as a target after you saying it . just missed seeing one off craiglist in good shape with an 18hp kaw at $650 . just picked up a sabre technical manual off ebay for $30 . ive wanted to incorporate a rider into business for years , but paid no attention to them til this winter then the deere fever hit me
  5. rickpilgrim

    rickpilgrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 251

    27 yrs ago when zt mowers were not popular after many john deere, toro and Ariens we found the Simplicity Soveriegn was the best. Simple, rugged easy to fix with full floating roller mower for striping that customers loved. I still have 16 accounts that only want to see those Simplicities on there lawn.
    John Deere makes a good product for sure but when it's the money your making there are alternatives that are better in some respect.
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  6. redmax fan

    redmax fan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,193

    im thinking of buying this 1986 for $425 , it comes with deck


  7. rickpilgrim

    rickpilgrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 251

    For an 1986 it looks clean and well cared for. The price is ok but not great for a 5211 with just the mower deck. Now that being said, the 5211 Simplicity is a mid level homeowners machine. As with all Simplicities the quality is better than any dept store machines and if you have customers that like the stiped/patterned lawn that's a bonus. An all around good lawn tractor but for above ground work, not the rototilling, grading, garden plowing, general utility work we use our Soveriegn's for. Very good mowing/snowblowing bagging though and $350-450 is the right range I've seen
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  8. redmax fan

    redmax fan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,193

    thanx for info rp . i guess i'll hold off and wait for a heavier duty machine
  9. rickpilgrim

    rickpilgrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 251

    Your welcome!
    If your looking for a true garden tractor try to find one of these:

    I see them on my local craigslist regularly going from $400-1000 depending on age and condition and if you need technical help just google simplicity Soveriegn forums and there is a ton of information on them.
    Yrs ago, I used to do the garden tractor pulls, all my gt's have fluid 80% in the drive tires and 50lb wheel weights so prep involved removing the mower deck to get in the 1000 lb stock class, pin on the class hitch height and go. For 5 yrs I was always in the top 2 and 67%(I'm told) did full pulls. Go home, put the mower deck on and mow 39 accounts a week before doing it again. Till an average of 76 gardens every spring, blow snow for 32 winter customers and on and on. Yes you will go through some belts and idler pulleys, yes you will replace arbor bearings(blade spindle) every 500 mowing hrs and get comfortable with a grease gun every other day but after the JD, Case, Snapper and IH in our early yrs this is the machine that's still with us for 25+ yrs
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  10. redmax fan

    redmax fan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,193

    well i think thats about as an extreme of a torture test as there is :D

    is there a best motor in simplicitys ?

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