Hydro or Belt ?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by packerbacker, Jan 22, 2004.

  1. packerbacker

    packerbacker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,433

    Just curious how many of you still use belt-driven mowers. I find them to be a complete waste of time. If any of you do is there a reason?
  2. 44toy

    44toy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    The gear drives are of little use to me. a properly tuned hydro will make a better cut in a lot less time for me. more coin up front but a long time payoff in usefulness. Demoed a 48" bobcat gear drive, and own a 36" bobcat even if you shifted your weight to your heels on the sulky, it still wanted to pull up the front end, this causes funny looking spots in lawn . but with pratice I am sure you could make much better time than with a steering wheel. but getting a gear drive to track straight seems easier tham a hydro.
  3. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    Gears becuase of price and I only use them for smaller yards when I need a hydro I get the Z.

  4. PLI1

    PLI1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 254

    I have 2 Bunton belt drive w/bs that I use as backups. They cut great, but when it's wet, forget it!
  5. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    waste of time? Maybe you're using the wrong belt drive mower or using them wrong. They're not as productive in many situations, but hardly a waste.

    I'm hunting again for a hydro myself, but mainly because I'm trying to save wear on my body, not because I think the jobs will get done appreciably faster enough to justify the outlay of cash.

    I use a wb only maybe 20 percent of mowing time, and thats for gated areas(usually small), really small lawns where the ZTR is just too much, berms the ZTR shouldn't be on, and in situations where the ground is wet and I want a lighter less damaging mower on it. If you're using it full time for mowing you will see more benefit to hydros than someone who uses it like I do. But belt drives do have a few advantages of their own to consider.

    1. Lighter than hydros - I find my Toro belt drives were lighter and easier to baby over delicate turf areas than my hydro. The lighter weight also means you can manhandle them around when needed if they won't start or are broken. The lighter weight helps offset the need to manhandle it in tight turns somewhat.

    2. Lighter touch for precision. I found I was able to mow more precisely with the belts in really tight spots, but of course had to pull it or switch gear to use the reverse assist. I found the ability to crawl slowly was better with the belts.

    3. Maintenance/repairs; Belts to replace are no big deal. When a pump or motor goes down it's a big deal. And a hydro drive still uses one belt itself.

    4. Control system availability: With all but Hustler and some Toro models, you're stuck with various of the same theme, pistol grips or ECS handles, on hydro models. And the Toro T bar stinks on their Hydros compated to on their belts. So you're left with a Hustler on a system that does not release to neutral and which requires a seperate speed/tracking lever to use with your non-existent third hand and neutral locks to have to remember to engage/disengage when leaving the mower or starting. Toro T bar is, I think, the best belt drive steering system, easy on the hands and easy on the mind, since you just stop pushing when you want to stop the mower. I hear Gravely has a similar system.

    Hour after hour, day after day, a Hydro's extra cost will pay for itself in increased productivity and ease of use. But if you're on a sulky doing a lot of large flat rectangle lots, you may not notice that much of a difference. There are also several cleaver mowing techniques to help make near zero turns on a T bar belt drive that eliminate much of the extra manhandling of the mower that is a problem.

    But before I would spend $5500 or $6000 w/ sulky on a major league well equipped full size wb, I would get a small ZTR for a little more. Now that's a productivity increase.

    Pick what fits your needs the best, but a belt drive is hardly a waste of your time. I've mowed pretty darn fast with them in certain situations.
  6. packerbacker

    packerbacker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,433

    Maybe its because ive always used a sulky, i tried it once on a belt when my hydro went down and it pissed me off to no end
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Anything I need a small mower for the belt drive is fine.Anything else.....that's what lazer z's are for.HeHeHe.
  8. Royalslover

    Royalslover LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 382

    I wouldn't mow if I had to use belts.
  9. captaingreen

    captaingreen LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 471

    My first mower was an exmark belt drive. Less expense was why I chose the belt. If the turf is wet or you get caught in the rain, forget about it, it is not going anywhere. Other than that I think they are worth the money, hydros are just easier to use and save you some time.
  10. LawnMower

    LawnMower LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    The hydro is nice. I had a belt drive and liked it when I had no other choice. With the hydro I can maneuver the machine like you wouldn't believe.

    I do all my trim with my walk behind. Its easy to go under a bush or a tree, and then back it up. Try doing that with a belt. Your behind is going to have to yank it back.

Share This Page