Considering a zero turn frontmount to team up with my Hustler Z. I've looked at the Grasshopper and it looks like a ggod mower. I noticed the F687 on the JD website and would like to hear any comments about it.
I considered both this year as well. I wasn't able to see J.D. up close and personal, but it kinda has a homeowner sort of look to it. I definately was not going to buy it without being able to sit on, touch, feel, cut grass, etc.
I'm taking delivery next week on a Grasshopper 725A. They're built like a tank, and Grasshopper has been making front mounts forever. Plus, it has more available attachments than just about anyone. I'm new to the lawn care side this year, but my research told me Grasshopper was the way to go for a front mount, especially if you're looking for the versatility to collect, s/d, and mulch with the same machine.
A friend of mine in the business has 3 Grasshoppers and two have over 1000 hours and run good. He claims that the bagging unit is second to none. Since the JD687 is not mentioned on this site probably is a good indication of it's quality in the commercial world. For a zero turn frontmount, Grasshopper sounds like the way to go.
I own and operate a John Deere F687 on my lawn crew. I have had a Grasshopper 721 D (diesel) with bagging unit and a Scag Tiger Cub with a bagging unit. My 60 inch cut JD cuts better than both of them due to the GREAT 7Iron deck they have. The ride on the John Deere is great, spring suspension under the cowling....oh and the cowling lifts up 90 degrees and locks for access to the 23 horse Kohler engine, which is centered closer to the ground and more toward the drive tires than the Grasshopper. It goes up and down, and across hills a lot better than the Grasshopper by design, as it does not have a heavy engine sitting way off the back. The bagging system on it is GREAT. Most baggers use a spindle drive right at the mouth of the deck. If you are in thick grass, or leaves, they tend to clog easier when the impeller is so close to the mouth, because it does not have time to catch up to the blades when you first engage them. The JD hangs the impeller off the back PTO on the engine, and it is a HUGE blower. It will literally suck right down to the thatch in most grass. It is also easier to install than the bagger on the Grasshopper. Overall, the machine mows a lot better in every condition and has more traction than the Grasshopper. In addition, it costs about 3500 dollars less....with the bagger included. I checked with my old Grasshopper dealer when I purchased my deere just to compare.... about 14k for the grasshopper 728 D with bagger. My JD was 10500 with bagger.
If you have any questions for me, when I'm online PM me and I will be glad to answer any of your Deere questions.... BTW the machine IS NOT homeowner quality....it is BUILT LIKE A BRICK commercial quality. Also, the ease of being able to change a hydro belt with no tools is great, and you don't have to strain yourself to get to any moving part on the machine. The power take off for the blades is a DIRECT clutch off the front of the engine to a driveshaft! NO BELT! The only two belts on the machine are the one around all three blade pulleys and the one for the hydros. (unless you have the bagger, then its another one off the back PTO to the blower unit)
We have a F-620 with a 20 hp Kohler 60" deck that has 1200 hrs on it. The machine has got to be one of the heavyest built front mounts available. We use it for rough roadsides and other rough areas and our smooth areas. The machine cuts pretty good in wet or dry grass. The only complaint we have is the 20 hp we have is a little underpowered and ours will only go about 6 mph max. I think the new 687's will go about 8 mph but thats still slower than a Grasshopper.
I have an F-680 and have really been happy with it. I mow my yard and my uncles yard with it so it sees just shy of 8 acres a week. I got it 2 years ago and for just shy of 7k, I got the mower, 2 spare sets of blades, and the mulching kit. I mulch everything. I even mow about a quarter mile of ditches in front of my house and it does very well on inclines. I like the fact that the deck flips up 90 degrees for blade service (and storage) and the body cowl for engine service. Definitely get it with the dual rear wheels as I think that goes a long way for stability. My only gripe is the pan under the engine holds a little grass and puts oil everywhere during a change. Oil out of the engine is fine but filter removal is a show. I am contemplating picking up another yard or two and getting a second one. A person can never have too many toys.
I only have experience with John Deere so nothing to compare it to but I have been very happy. Sometimes in very heavy grass, I have to make a second pass in some areas to disperse the clumps but other than that, no problems. I dont seem to ever run out of power either with the 680. My JD GS-30 with a mulch attachment on it has always done very well also.