Hydro vs. Gear Drive


LawnSite Bronze Member
I have been using gear or belt drive walk behind mowers for a few years now, and find them to be nice machines. Whats the difference between what i use and a Hydro machine, are they just that much faster, turn better, I know for one thing that they are much more expensive? How bout maintaining a hydro?


Stafford Va.
day and night hydro has no slip were belt get wet.
Reverse in at your finger tips,no more putting in reverse and pulling mower back.
yes more money but worth it unless you are mowing flat open grass for mile then maybe a belt is ok


LawnSite Senior Member
NE Ohio
It all depends on your application. If you are mowing flat land then gears are fine but if you have some hills then the hydro is the way to go. Also with the hydro, you can cut when it's raining or when it's wet out. In that instance the gear would be slipping and wouldn't want to get out of it's own way. As for repairs the only difference is the hydro pumps, havn't had one go but I would bet they're more expensive than belts.


LawnSite Member
One of the big advantages to a hydro is the variable speed. Have you been cutting grass that is a bit too long for third gear but second is way too slow? A hydro has much more adjustment in a situation like that.
Another advantage (on the ones I have seen) is that you do not have to stop, take it out of gear, put it into reverse gear and hold it there while steering with one hand, to go backwards.
My next walkbehind will be a hydro.



LawnSite Fanatic
N.E. Wisconsin
Your productivity will go up greatly with a hydro. The maintenance is no big deal. I have a Toro Proline and I change the hydro oil and filter every 100 to 150 hrs if real dusty but the system is great. I personally like the T-bar and I also have a Pro-Slide that makes me slide along at about 6mph - ya can't walk behind yours that fast.

Give one a try its worth the money and the mower keeps its value longer.Good Luck


Stafford Va.
Greenskeeper. you statedthat one problem with hydro was if a pumb let go it would be expensive IYou can rebuild the pumps for 14.00 for the kit and about 1 hour to do it
easy todo,and no belts or jackshafts todeal with


LawnSite Senior Member
i have a gear drive and if the tires get wet so do the belts
makes it almost impossible to put nice strait stripes on a
hill side the mower gets a mind of its own .


LawnSite Silver Member
I use a belt drive and mine does very well, even when wet. however, I hear that most do not.

my next WB will be a hydro, unless of course I get another killer deal on a belt!



LawnSite Senior Member
Most crews around here run gear drives I believe for economic reasons. Those hydros are salty if you have to buy five or six mowers. I used a friends Toro hydro for just a few minutes and I know my next walk behind will be a hydro unit. I never use reverse on my Toro 44, so I never thought it was that big of a deal to just be able to slide right back into reverse until I used his for just a few minutes. Now everytime I do the old turn and tug to get a quicker turn without tearing the turf, I dream of the day when my gear drive gives out (will likely be a while since it's a Toro) and I can justify to my wife that I need a new mower!


upstate new york
If you go with an Exmark hydro you gain a few more things...

1.the exmark uses mobil1 synthetic oil, so after your initial 200 hour oil change you dont have to change the oil but every 1000 hour or so.

2.the exmarks also have a tracking control knob so you can instantly change your tracking.

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