JD 970R vs. Hustler Super Z HD 72" Vanguard BB

zr won

LawnSite Member
All:

Second post (first was in intro section), but have been reading as a 'visitor' for several months now. I've searched long and deep on various threads regarding the JD 970R and Hustler Super Z HD; both are obviously very good mowers, but I haven't seen (or at least found through searches) a question directly pertaining to comparing both.

I don't want this to get into a 'Well both of those options suck, look at XXX model," as I have my reasons for narrowing my search down to these two mowers. The #1 reason is I have a servicing dealer for both of these options within 15 miles of my home; both obviously are going to be fine mowers. And when you read on and see it's intended usage, you will also know both of these are a complete overkill. But I like to buy the best I can afford (would love a Kubota 331 or JD 997, but that's just not in the cards from a price perspective).

Usage: I have 10 acres (just moved out in the country 1.5 years ago), approximately half (perhaps a little more) is open field. Given my travel schedule for work, I was having someone mow half of it this year (the other half is down a hill, I mow that with a tractor / finishing mower), but at the cost of 100 bucks a shot, twice a month, I literally could *buy* one of the aforementioned mowers (using the 0% for 48 month option right now with a couple K down) for what I'm paying someone else to do it. Time obviously isn't going to be a huge issue with either of these mowers, given how fast they can cut grass.

My big quandary is the build quality. From everything I can read, the Hustler Super Z HD is so overbuilt there is little doubt it will last the rest of my life (which is the point of buying such a high end mower), the JD likely would for that matter. I've tried to find direct comparisons for the hydro motors for both mowers, links are below:

JD TZT 13 III
http://www.tufftorq.com/products/lawn-garden/zero-turn/tzt13.html

Hustler Super Z HD
http://www.kstci.com.tw/Catalog/parker/torqmotors/TG-1590-009.pdf

Obviously, these are not direct comparisons from a 'spec' standpoint, but I found it impossible to find one (which likely is the point). Bottom line, from what I can discern from the specs, the Super Z HD hydraulics are MUCH stronger than JD's. But I have to wonder, is it REALLY necessary? Obviously with anything, the bigger it is, the less it has to work (lower wear / stress), which seems to stack the 'deck' (ha ha) towards the Hustler.

The engine on the 970R is a Kawasaki 35hp, the Vanguard BB is a 36hp (or 37 with EFI). In talking with a couple Hustler dealers, I understand the main reason they (Hustler) don't use Kawa's anymore is because they (Kawa) basically limited production for their motors and set the price per unit. Whoever wants them will pay that price, those companies choosing not to participate have to go another route. Enter the Vanguard BB. Typing of the Vanguard BB, does anyone have any experience with the EFI version? Being relatively new, I'm not overly interested in being someone 'beta tester' to flush out problems. One JD dealer that I visited said when doing comparisons with a DFI vs. Carbed Kawa the latter mowed quicker AND used less fuel than its injected counterpart. I am suspicious of that statement but given the miniscule difference in pricing between those two motors, he certainly isn't saying that because he's going to make a bunch more commission.

On to the decks. I've read some threads on here that the Hustler deck has some issues with a clean cut, whereas most people agree the JD 7 Iron is one of the better mowing decks available today. Both have HD greaseable spindles (although I think it's a terrible design that the zerks are on the bottom of the Hustler deck vs. the JD that has them right up top for easy access.

I've also heard / read that Hustler has recently started to 'farm' a lot of their manufacturing out overseas, and the quality isn't what it once was. I have no idea if there is any truth to that or not. But given the JD uses a Kawa and Tuff torque hydro motors, they certainly aren't 100% "Made in the USA" either.

Pricing is very similar for both mowers, the Hustler is about $600 less than the JD in doing some light inquiries on pricing ($12.2K for the Hustler Super Z HD 72 and $12.8K for the JD 970R). While the warranty is better on the Hustler than the JD, given that I won't be putting much more than 50 hours a year on the mower, the years are going to expire the warranty before the hours. So for my application, the warranty is pretty much a wash. Being in Indiana, does anyone have any suggestions for dealers in neighboring states that provide the most aggressive pricing?

I do have the opportunity to demo a 970R on my property in a week or so (just in time as the grass is going to stop growing in IN here in two - three weeks). I'm trying to line up a Hustler Super Z HD 72" for the same day, but that may prove a challenge (the local JD dealer isn't a Hustler dealer anymore).

With all that typed, I'm hoping you fine folks can chime in with your experiences with one, but hopefully both, mowers. This will allow me to make the best decision possible. Again, this is going to last the rest of my life, I'm sure both units will do that, but the ones that mow for a living are going to have much more insight / knowledge than I will gather with an hour or so demo for each option. Thanks so much in advance!

Brian A.
 

Choppin

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
crossett, ar
I didn't read every bit of your thread, but if you are gonna mow on the Reg and not let grass get to tall I would hands down go Hustler. If you are gonna go 2 weeks between a cuts and if you have thicker grass I would get the Deere. I have them both.
 
OP
Z

zr won

LawnSite Member
Choppin:

Thanks so much for the quick reply. I would likely mow weekly with a mower of my own, I just refused to pay $400 a month to have someone cut my grass this summer. :) Regarding the type of grass, this is 'typical' field grass, which in Indiana, is basically a type of ryegrass.

Brian A.
 

Choppin

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
crossett, ar
Choppin:

Thanks so much for the quick reply. I would likely mow weekly with a mower of my own, I just refused to pay $400 a month to have someone cut my grass this summer. :) Regarding the type of grass, this is 'typical' field grass, which in Indiana, is basically a type of ryegrass.

Brian A.

If you are mowing weekly than I would hands down get the hustler. Unless you are cutting 3.5 or higher.

The hustler rides so much better and mows faster if your not taking a lot off and not cutting to high. And you can get a lot better engine and more efficient engine on the Hustler. I like the Vanguard EFI on the HD and the Kohlee EFI would be a good engine to get on the regular Super Z.
 

Ridin' Green

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Michigan
I'd go with whichever dealer will be the best to deal with after the sale, and for any warranty work that may arise. Will both pick up and deliver during the warranty period of need be? JD will. Hustler may, IDK for sure on that.

You are in northern grass, so the guys in the southern regions aren't going to be able to give you an apples to apples comparison as well since they mow different grasses and at generally different heights than we do up here (which is generally at 3.5" or so for northern grass to keep it healthy and slower to burn out in the heat). The 72" Hustler doesn't seem (at least on here) to have the same issues that the 60" VX4 does. However, there are very few guys running Hustlers in my area anymore, and that tells me something, because they used to be a LOT more popular here. It may just be the VX4 deck that has caused that, because the prices here are very much the same as for JD etc., and the rest of the machine is still solid, so that seems to leave only the deck. I have seen a few of the Hustlers that are still running here cutting, and I am not impressed with the QOC left behind, and that goes for both the 72" and the 60". The machines themselves are built great, but that deck.........while built heavy, it isn't built for the best cut up here IMO based on what I am seeing. I should say, not built for leaving a decent looking finish behind as much as, or more than the actual QOC.

The JD hydros are more than heavy duty enough, believe me on that. Are/is the Hustler HD system better? No doubt, but having the best just to have bragging rights is kinda silly in my view because any commercial mower made now has hydros that are more than up to the job. We don't buy a mower to be able to brag to our friends and neighbors about the hydros. We buy them to cut grass.

I think you are smart to demo both n your place if possible (regarding the Hustler as you already said you are doing that with the JD).

Good luck with whichever one you choose, and enjoy it!
 

747pilot

LawnSite Member
For homeowners the hustlers are good at cutting short and mowing large areas fast. I have a super z hd and a z930r and so the super z hands down will mow 10 acres in 1 hour at full power if you turn up the engine rpms and you mow flat land with long straights
 
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