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Ariens/Gravely pro 21: old model or new?

Paul in Maryland

LawnSite Member
I'm ready to buy a 21-inch Ariens or Gravely top-of-the-line mower, either push or self-propelled. This weekend I'll visit a dealer who sells both the old and new models. But I'd like to hear from you guys. Which would you recommend: The 1999+ Gravely SCH model (10.5 inch rear wheels, 7.5 inch front), or the newer, 2003+ Gravely XP21 model (8.25-inch wheels on all four corners)?

Are more accessories available for one model than for the other? The new model's shredder, mulcher, Bag-and-Drag, and Thatcher--are these available for the older model, too?

I've found these differences:
- width: new (Gravely XP 21), 23.5 in.; old (Pro 21 SCH), 23.0 in.
- weight: XP 21, 135 lb; Pro 21 SC, 118 (but the 118 may be for the push version, an option not found in the XP 21)
- engine: XP 21 offers 3 engines: Honda GVX 160 5.5hp (1-Liter fuel tank), Kawasaki OHV 6hp (2L), and Briggs & Stratton Intek Pro 6.75hp (1.6L)--at least, the Ariens version offers all three. The Pro 21 SC offers only the Honda.
- drive: XP 21 uses a variable-speed belt drive; Pro 21 SC. I'm not sure.
- blade: XP 21 uses a blade of unstated composition. The Pro 21 SC uses Marbaina hardened steel blades.
- axle: XP 21 uses axles of unspecified strength and size. The Pro 21 SC uses 1/2-inch solid steel; ball bearings for smoother mowing. and a rear axle differential.
- wheels and tires: The XP 21 uses four 8.25in. steel wheels with dual bearings and semipneumatic tires with replaceable tread. The Pro 21 SC uses 7.5-inch wheels in front, 10.5 in the rear; no other specs are given.
- handlebar: The XP 21's handle folds; the Pro 21 SC's does not. Which is sturdier, less likely to break or come loose? Is either handlebar adjustable in angle?
- range of cutting height: XP 21, 1 to 4.25 in. Pro 21 SC, 0.75 to 3.5 in.
I've found these differences:
- deck: Both are 14-gauge steel, but only the Pro 21 SC mentions a rolled-under lip. Is this feature found on the XP 21, too?