Grasshopper 223/52 demo review

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Jason Rose, May 4, 2005.

  1. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Ok, Here goes... I have been on my Local Grasshopper dealer about getting in a demo unit for me to try out. He was able to get the 52" 23hp Kohler mid-mount with the twin cloth catcher that I wanted to try out (he also had someone else wanting to try it as well). He called me this morning and was able to bring it by my house so I could meet him and put it on my trailer at 1:00. 1:45 rolls around and his helper finally arrives, puting me a little behind now... Unloads it and leaves, ok, now all I have to do is put it on my trailer and go. Bear in mind I usually always carry 2 Z's (my trailer is 20' long) a 33" walk and a 21" walk. went to load 'er up with one dixon on the trailer and it is 2 feet too long! Freaking thing is HUGE. TWO inches wider cut than my dixon and this beast is a foot wider and 2 feet longer. Not scoring too many points with me already.

    So, I had to unload my Dixon and my 21" to get this beast on the trailer and I head out to the 12 house development I mow, takes me between 2.2 to 3 hours depending on the growth start to finish (trimming and everything). great place to test the machine. First off, did I mention that it is freaking HUGE? Plus it has ROPS on it which I couldn't take off since It wasn't mine, and they don't fold down. Trees are a problem! Every tree I came too I was swearing left and right. Horrible PITA to maneuver under limbs.

    (I'll try to mank this readable by breaking it up)
    Right up there with the PITA factor was the width of the machine, remember, this has the blower and catcher on it, the blower sits horizontally on the side adding what seems to be a foot to the width! I couldn't get in a number of places that I'm used to getting to with my 50" dixon. On the subject of the blower I did see that it collected very well. Packed the bags extremely full and then some. Downfall: there is no way to check periodically to see if the bags are getting full, like reaching back and feeling or by sight. It dosn't even change in sound in any way when the bags are full, it just plugs the chute full. The tripple bag catcher would work fine on this unit as well, it's sooooo wide and the twin catcher is tiny in comparison.

    The cut on the unit seemed fair at best. I was cutting at 3", I bumped up to 3.25 for a bit but it seemed taller than I was cutting with my dixon so I went back to 3". The deck didn't really stripe much. I can usualy make pretty nice stripes when it's dry like it was today but I wasn't seeing much with the Hopper. It was cutting smooth and picking up clean, however I was only cutting off 2 inches at best. The grass is thick and usually this time of year it's growing at least 6" a week, but all the freezes and frosts we have been having have stunted everything.

    One issue I was having with the unit was the lack of trim on the left side of the deck. The deck only stuck out about one inch past the rear wheel making it very difficlut to mow close to things. This was even harder mowing aroung curves, inside and out. I found the rear wheel running over edging and still not being close enough in a curve situation to not leave a strip uncut.

    On the topic of the cutting deck I want to add, the foot pedal deck lift on this machine SUCKS!!! I don't know just how much you need to be able to leg press to lift this thing easily but it's certianly about 3 times more than I can. I could get the deck up but it was one hell of a strain and the notion of raising it peirodicaly while mowing to go over sprinklers or bumps was out of the question! I have problems with my right ankle as it is, and today was a good day where I really didn't have much pain. If it had been a bad day there would have been no way. I have sat on a few other mowers with foot deck lifts and all seemed easy to operate to me, but this thing was terrible, seemed like there was no spring assist to it at all.

    The ride was pretty cushy I will say, the tires are very oversized all the way around and are ran at low pressure. Bumps seemed to melt away. The seat is also mounted on some sort of cushioning system, though it had a squeek to it that was coming from under the seat all the time that was driving me nuts!

    Steering was pretty nice, compared to ExMark the GrassHopper is a dream. I remember the ExMark being so stiff it fealt like a rowing machine trying to go from forward to reverse. the hopper is very smooth and easy to move the levers back and forth. However I wasn't terribly thrilled with the lack of response in the levers. At times it felt like a wet sponge to me. Steering a zero turn with one hand on grass is really out of the question. It takes nearly a 6" seperation on the handles to make a zero turn and head back the opposite direction for the next pass. Once again, I am used to very small movements on the levers and one handed operation being very simple on my dixon...

    Since I only ran it a couple hours and didn't tax it a lot I really can't remark on the engine performance. It is a 23hp Kohler horizontal shaft, I have used the 23hp Kohler vertical for years now and have had good luck.

    Overall on a scale of 1 to 10 I would probably give it a 5.5. Not the greatest... But if I was mowing a lot of wide open areas I would get the 3 bag catcher and it would work nice I think, it's just not made for tight residential mowing given it's overall size and lack of trim on the left side.

    Please ask questions, I have the machine for as long as I want it, HA, Right now it's sitting in my garage and is staying home tomorrow so I can mow with my dixon that actually fits onto my lawns. I will most likely call the dealer tomorrow and tell him the bad news that he didn't make a sale and the next guy can try it now. Am I just too dang picky?????
  2. deereman

    deereman LawnSite Senior Member
    from USA
    Messages: 518

    Very interesting thread............I myself am not a Grasshopper man but I think that you are not being picky at all, you were just stating very important issues about the demo.
  3. green acres lawns

    green acres lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 362

    I have a tiger cub, 52",24 hp. When I put the clamshell bagger on it, The weight of the blower made the deck much harder to raise. It also made the deck as wide as my 60" exmark. The clam shell sets high enough to hang up while mowing around small trees. Altogether it added about 300 pounds to the mower. Now that the spring flush has been killed by the cold weather I will remove the bagger and switch it back to the mulching set up. The catcher works great and makes a beautiful cut, but its really ackward in close areas. Try the hopper with mulching kit instead of the catcher and see how you like it. My 60" exmark with a york ocdc is still the quickest, best all around, mower for my property's.
  4. clc2003

    clc2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ia
    Messages: 284

    Hey green acres, How do you like your york ocdc? Havn't heard of them,but I am looking to purchase an ocdc and I am looking for comments. Have any?
  5. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 4,714

    As a Grasshopper dealer, I might point out a couple of things that address your comments.
    1. The foot lift is very easy to use if adjusted properly. You can set the spring assist tension so it requires very little effort to raise the deck. With the extra weight of the collecting system on the deck, sounds like the tension assist needs to be increased.
    2. Having run Grasshoppers as an LCO before becoming a dealer, I can tell you that you can get a really nice cut with stripes with a Grasshopper. My guess as to your cut problem is that the collecting kit is running low lift blades. If you were just doing regular cutting and discharging with it, you would be running the hilift blades. I have used my 223/52 for field mowing in tall grass, and get a beautiful finish cut.
    3. The Grasshopper is not large at all compared to other machines in it's size class. Since you are used to smaller machines, and need it to mow small properties, you may just have too much machine for the job. You might want to consider a 218/52.
    3. You are correct about the width problems with the grass catcher assembly installed. Also, the grass catcher unit just gives the whole machine a bulky, cumbersome feel and appearance.
    4. You are also correct about the lack of trim capabilities on the 52" deck. With the wide frame, and wide tires, about 1" is all you have on the left side. Grasshopper chose to stay with the wide tires to avoid rutting problems.
    The 223/52 is our best selling machine here, and most have gone out to commercial cutters. I wish you could try a 223/52 without the catcher. I think you would find a big difference in how it handles and mows.
    All in all, your report on the demo is very informative. If you get more time on it, let us know of any other observations you have.
  6. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Ok, thanks for the info, but I NEED the catcher. I have no use at all for a mulching or side discharge mower. Also, when the dealer came to pick it up just a half hour ago i made the comment that I really didn't think it cut even as nicely as my dixon. He said they use medium lift blades with the catchers. Is there medium lift? I thought there was only low and high? He said with the high lift there is too much air flow. I had no problems with it sucking up the cut grass but it really didn't "lift" the grass I was cutting all that well, another indication of the lack of lift is that it didn't stripe much at all.

    I know my post was rather long, most probably didn't read all of it... thanks for the comments!
  7. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    As Mowingman stated, I think it needs some adjustments. The one that i sat on had no problems with the deck lift; very easy to lift. The controls on mine are VERY quick and I "one hand" it all the time. This is the only mower that i CAN mow one handed.
  8. green acres lawns

    green acres lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 362

    I like it fine. It was made by york sheet metal in florida I think. It was called "the director". It resembles Dixies but with out the holes. I would like to get one for my Scags but they havent returned my phone calls.
  9. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Well, I like the Grasshoppers, but there 2 & 3 baggers just don't look like much to me, rather they are or not. However, it sounds to me like you might the other bagging system better. But that would depend on what style bagger you would prefer.

    Regardless of mower brand, would you rather have bags or a hopper setup?

  10. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Catcher set-up has to be bags. I dump into the back of a dump bed truck only, there is nowhere that I mow that I can dump in a pile on site. A number of years ago I noticed that what few commercial mowers had catchers they were all hopper types that dumped on the ground. Now in the last few years just about every one of them has developed bag style catchers. I couldn't imigine dumping a truck load of grass on the ground and shoveling it into the truck only to drive 5 miles with it and dump it back on the ground!

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