3 wheel rider vs Z style

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by 97firebird, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. 97firebird

    97firebird LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    Hey guys..I am looking into a second mower for this spring for the start of my second year in business. I have been told that the Z style (either toro, exmark, or scag) mowers are the best out there because they can get the job done the fastest. However, I have a scag 3 wheel rider now and i love it...it does everything i ask it do and its about 15 yrs old. Anyway...Here are a few questions...Are the Z style mowers really any faster? What advantages to the 3wheelers have over the Z's and visa versa? What are their disadvantages. Just for more info, I have about 20 lawns, hoping to get to about 40 this year, and most are between 1/3 and 3 acres in hilly landscape. Any and all opinions would be appreciated.Thanks.
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    I once owned 4 Ferris 3-wheelers and currently have a couple of their Z's too. Here's what I can tell ya...

    1. Z's have a higher ground speed over 3 wheelers. I seem to remember my 3-wheelers top speed at being around 7 mph. Z's today can go 10mph and more.

    2. 3-wheelers will hold a slope better than a conventional Z (even a Ferris Z with independent suspension).

    3. With their outfront deck, 3-wheelers can get under shrubs and low tree limbs better than a Z.

    4. Sitting over that 3rd wheel behind the mower deck can make it real hard on your back at the end of the day.

    5. I'm not sure if Scag still makes 3-wheelers, but I know Ferris does in a 61" and 72" deck size.

    6. Improper turning techniques with a Z can produce "divots" in the turf. The same can be said with a 3-wheeler with the back tire dragging through wet or soft turf when reversing direction.

    Hope that helps some and good luck in your purchase decision...
  3. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    To add to what Rodfather said:
    I used to have a Scag 61" three wheeler. Found it was not any faster than my 52" walk behind with sulky on my properties (biggest is 2 acres, there it was lots faster but most of them was not). The 61" is not too big, its just that a 3 wheeler is so long and does not have true zero turn capability (one wheel reversing while the other goes forward) so it is a bear to operate in tighter spaces and i had a lot of tighter spaces. I loved that mower but it was not making me any more money than the walk behind. So what I did was sold both of those mowers and got a faster, more powerful walk behind with sulky so that improved productivity. That was two years ago. Last May, I bought a 52" Ferris ZTR (mid deck) and i love it. Its been great, does a great job and gives a great ride. It gets in as tight of places as the walk behind, handles all my hills well (unless its a steep bank or ditch, but for a regular hill it does fine). The mid deck Z will be lots faster as it gets in small spots and can really speed on straightaways, and does great in maneuverability. If your properties are all hilly, you maybe better off with a 3 wheel rider though... the 3 wheeler did well on hills as you know. Mine was about a 1996 model, 61" hydro with 22hp Kohler command. They are big, but thats really not a major problem trailering them because you can pull one in and park its tail end over to a side, then back in the second one and overlap their rear ends, so thats not too bad really (could park 2 of them in about the same space as two mid deck Z's I think). The best thing for me to tell you to do from here, without seeing your properties, is to just get a demo of a mid deck Z and try to see if you can use it more than just a few hours. A couple days would be good. Its really hard to demo something when you're not accustomed to how it handles. Don't jump straight to the hills first though! Work up to it, using it first on level ground....
  4. Jeff@SGLC.ca

    Jeff@SGLC.ca LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 576

    I notice the 3 wheelers get used for Blvd mowing quite often.
  5. lawncare4u

    lawncare4u LawnSite Senior Member
    from S>C>
    Messages: 399

    The Hustler SUPER Z will top out at 15 MPH,,,The FASTEST of Fast...might want to take a look at them!
  6. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,565

    I have always wondered how often I could mow at 15 mph. I tried running my eXmark Metro at top speed for a few minutes one day last year. No way could I do that for long, but for the time involved, the deck popped up quite a bit.

    Now it's true that a heavier deck will stay down better, but the Metro tops out at 6 mph (weighs 400 lbs.). Will the Super Z really run at 15 mph on most jobs without bouncing and leaving uncut spots? I find it hard to believe that it will.
  7. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    I used to but I don't anymore Mark simply because you can't. I'll give ya an example...

    We mow 2 polo fields here in NJ every 4 or 5 days with our Toro 325D Groundsmasters. These are big, heavy units that weigh close to 2000 pounds with a 72" out front mounted deck. Top speed on them is I believe 9.5 mph.

    Now, a polo field maintained properly is about the nicest and smoothest piece of turf you can have. These 2 fields we mow are privately owned and the owners spare no expense in maintaining them (they even go as far as having them rolled one a month with huge double drum asphalt rollers).

    My point is even though my Toros can go 9.5 mph, I've never been able to mow that fast and stay in the seat too.
  8. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,565

    Rod, it really would be embarassing if someone saw me getting my a** bounced off a mower. That's the sort of thing I associate with Monty Python. I'd hate to be the one who proves that life sometimes imitates art.

    Next on Strange Inventions: Parachute packs for operators of high-speed riding mowers.
  9. edward hedrick

    edward hedrick LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    I have a 1999 Scag STHm. bought at Chatfields. It was in

    Turf north April 03. I made several mods to it. Precleaner,

    muffler, deck baffle and turbo baffle. Also replaced seat w

    newer spring seat. I use this and a Walker 48. Its safer to ride. Scag, Ferris, exmark and Gravely still make one.
    The Gravely will do 9 mph. I like being on the back instead of being on front. . Ed

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