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Looking to buy a ZTR. Need Advice

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by hansenke, Jun 1, 2003.

  1. hansenke

    hansenke LawnSite Member
    from NE PA
    Messages: 16

    I have a large yard that I maintain, which includes mowing about 3 1/2 acers of grass. The back yard has a decent slope to it and is fairly rough. Most people would consider it a field, rather than a lawn. (see attached pic) I currently have a Cub Cadet 2185 with a 48" deck and it takes about 3 hours to cut the yard. Every time I cut, I'm constantly thinking that there has to be a better way. I'm almost convinced that a "commercial grade" mower designed to cut large amounts of grass would be a better choice then buying a larger garden tractor. I'm pretty sure I want a ZTR to be the replacement, but it has to be able to pull my yard cart. Here are the candidates, in no particular order:

    Cub Cadet Z-Force
    Ferris 1000Z
    Exmark Lazer Z-CT
    Hustler Fastrack

    I think the Ferris might be considered a real commercial mower while the rest are residential/commercial so it might not be fair to include it in this list. I don't think I NEED the commercial heavy dutiness, but I do like some of the features like bigger wheels and castors.

    My main considerations in order are:

    Time it takes to cut the grass
    Ability to handle slope in back yard
    Durability to handle the rough terrain
    Cut quality

    Other questions/concerns I have are:
    -Is a 44" deck too small, since I am currently using a 48" deck
    -Is a 52" deck over kill and would it make this cost prohibitive?
    -Is ground speed that important? The Ferris runs at 10 mph, while the others are around 7 mph. My current cub runs at 5.5 mph
    -what is the minimum HP rating I should consider? Does brand name carry that much weight?

    Any other thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. hansenke

    hansenke LawnSite Member
    from NE PA
    Messages: 16

    Here's the pic. sorry

  3. DLCS

    DLCS LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,385

    I don't have any expierience with those ztrs that you mentioned. I run mostly John Deere equipment. I wouldn't worry too much about speed since you said that it is rough terrain, you won't be going that fast. I don't think 52" is over kill at all in fact I would consider a 60" deck but a 52" would do just fine. Kinda of just depends on how much time you want to spend mowing. I can't say what the minimum hp engine that I would get, but I will tell you get the largest hp for the size of deck ecspecially if you want to mulch. I think most commercial ztrs are durable and the cut quality is very good. I think you can put a hitch on just about any commercial ztr but you probably will have to make your own. My best advice to you is to see if you can demo them on your property. My pick out of the ztrs that you mentioned would probably be the Ferris but like I have said I don't have any expierience with them.


    I love that picture you posted, thats beautiful scenery.:)
  4. Demo – Demo – Demo - Demo

    Yes, ground-speed is a major factor in the equation. If it’s heavy and/or wet, then you’ve got to slow down. But for the majority of time, when you’re cutting dry weekly growth and can cut at top speed, from 7mph to 10mph is a large difference.

    No, a 52” is not too large, it’s on the small side for a lawn of this size. But don't make a choice like this based on one account, they come and go. I can’t tell what slope you’re dealing with from that picture, pictures tend to make things look less dramatic. But any commercial mower should be able to negotiate it.

    There is a reason for the difference in pricing and product lines. Commercial mowers are able to handle punishment better. Residential class equipment is designed for smooth conditions and lighter cuts. Besides, if you spend this much money, you will be looking around for other business, and you never know how easy or hard the next account will be. In other words, buy commercial grade equipment.

    As far as horsepower, getting the most means more cost on the front end and less gas mileage. But you won’t be kicking yourself every time you land a tough account for skimping. Will you be cutting in the wet? What about heavy growth? What about mulching? What about mulching heavy wet grass going uphill on a slope? Kohler or Kawasaki.
  5. wareagle

    wareagle LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 18

    Consider the Gravely 152Z. It has a 23 hp Kawasaki, heavy fabricated deck, hydraulic deck lift, and canister air filter. I paid $6300 for mine which also included the Liftmaster (lifts front end for under deck maintenance) ~$150 and tow hitch ~$30. This is one of the best values in an entry level commercial grade ZTR and I am quite pleased with mine so far.
  6. Piedmont Lawn

    Piedmont Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 178


    Add Gravely to your demo list, lot of changes to their new Z's. Bigger tanks, faster ground speed, wider tires, lights, Marbain steel blades, heavy duty air cleaner and the list goes on.

    I have a 02 260Z and I am very happy with it so far, nice machine for the money.

  7. vahaus

    vahaus LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 15

    I would agree with demo especially on your lawn. I have 5 acres and recently upgraded from a 46" 18HP MTD mower to a Hustler Super Z with 25Hp KAW and 60inch deck. 4hours of mowing is now down to 1hr 30 to 45 in that range also using half the gas I used to use.

    I looked at TORO Z master and Gravely Both nice machines as well but my Hustler dealer had a used unit at a good price so I went to Hustler. I think any commercial grade machine will do the trick besides lasting a lifetime, I just wish I would have had the money years ago to save all this time, but with your slope I would try them out on your property.

    Good luck and good hunting
  8. imograss

    imograss LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 796

    27hp 60" hustler super duper z
  9. Wally

    Wally LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Hansenke, I was in the same boat here with 1 1/2 acres plus the road sides. Was using a compact tractor and 3pt finish mower and it took forever . Ended up buying a used Scag Turf Tiger. Man, am I happy with the time savings! There is some goodly slopes that get mowed that used to require 4WD on the tractor. The ZTR does them just fine and I don't worry about upsetting it like the tractor fear factor. The ZTR lets you mow as fast as conditions permit with rapid changes in speed. The Scag I ended up with has a 61" deck and the liquid cooled 27 HP Kaw and is a lot quieter than the diesel tractor. As most of us are, I have too much stuff for my storage area. I hang the Scag from the cieling for storage, image attached I hope. You can even be the neighborhood hero helping your neighbors mow while mowing rings around them on pokey mowers. You won't be sorry with a ZTR.:)

  10. rvsuper

    rvsuper Senior Member
    Messages: 930

    Holy cow wally that thing is gonna pull your roof out!

    P.S. Welcome to LS

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