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Newbie trying to decide on a ZTR...

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Rocketrod, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. Rocketrod

    Rocketrod LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    Well I am in the market for a ztr. I have 1.1 acres of grass, minus the area for the house, to mow. The yard is mainly flat, with a few gentle slopes and the terrain is relatively smooth. Currently with an old 42" Craftsman I can mow the yard, I do not bag it, in about 1.25-1.5 hours (this does not include edging) and I typically mow about every 5-6 days. I would like to get the mowing time down to about 45 minutes or less. The wife said get what I want as long as it is less than $6,000 ( I would prefer to spend less than $5,000).

    After reading a ton of posts on this forum I decided to rule out the ztrs you find at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc and by a model only sold through a dealer. I want something that has a high probability of lasting 15+ years if properly maintained. This is where the headache(s) :hammerhead: begin. There are so many brands and models it becomes overwhelming and it is hard to compare when there are such a large differences in features/specs/$$$$ :confused:

    I thought in order to alleviate this I test drove, or looked at the following today:

    • Exmark Quest 48" deck $4360 delivered
    • JD Z425 $4145 delivered
    • Used JD Z425 with 77 hours with rear bagger and 1 yr warranty for $3060 delivered
    • Hustler Fastrak with 19HP Kawasaki/48" deck $5360 delivered
    • New 2007 Snapper 50' deck (can't remember the model, but I wasn't overly impressed for $3800 + tax. Dealer said it retailed for $5399)
    • Ferris IS 500Z $5699 plus tax - I didn't't drive this one as the dealer said it was overkill for my lawn.

    Of the machines I drove the Fastrak was hands down the winner. The machine was much easier to operate, more responsive than the others, a thick deck that could be used as bomb shelter if needed and a 4 year warranty to name a few, but with a price of $5360 delivered for a 48"/19hp Kaw. The JD Z425 and Quest seemed to be similar machines, to me anyway, and were comparably priced.

    I like the Fastrak, but is it really worth the extra $1,000?? Needless to say I think I am more confused now :dizzy::dizzy: than I thought was humanly possible. Any insight would be appreciated.
  2. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,181

    It seems unlikely to me that you will average more than a hundred hours a year, and it'll probably be a lot less. If so, I believe a commercial ZTR will last at least as long as the 15 years you have targeted, so an extra 1000 or even 2000 spread over that number of years is not much annually. And I wouldn't get anything less than 23HP. I'm just one homeowner talking to another, but I believe most of those who mow for income would agree with the last statement. Good luck!
  3. Rocketrod

    Rocketrod LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    Larry thanks for the input. None of the ztrs I listed in my original post are considered commercial grade, so are you saying I should spend an extra $1000-$2000 over my $6000 budget? I would estimate with a ztr I would put about 30-40hrs a year on the machine. While a commercial grade machine would be the best, all five of the dealers I have talked with so far have said a commercial grade is overkill for my intended use.
  4. jkingrph

    jkingrph LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    I was like you a bit more acreage 1.75 less house, storage shed and driveway/carport. I have a JD LX 277 48" lawn tractor, and two years ago got a Scag Wildcat 52" with 26hp liquid cooled kawasaki engine. With the "super" high lift blades it can load up and slow down a bit in heavy damp early season grass. In the two seasons I have used it the hour meter shows just over 80 hours, however the '06 season was extreme drought here so only mowed every two-three weeks at times. My suggestion is to go for a light commercial grade machine, a bit more cost up front but fewer repairs, frustrations down the road "if you maintain and service it properly".

    I would suggest you stick with the higher hp as you needed it because the ztr travels faster than a lawn tractor and needs the hp for increased workload on blades, and wheel motors. Another thing I would look for and it appears that you are doing so, is dealer support. I now refuse to buy anything of significant cost from a big box center, ie lowes, best buy, wal mart, sears, sams ect. I want to be able to get quick, personal service and in my area can get it that way.
  5. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    Have you considered a Dixon RAM MAg 50" ZTR ... very nice machine !! If there's a dealer near you it would be right around $ 5,000.
  6. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,181

    Yes indeed, it is overkill. Is there anything wrong with that? I did it, and considering my age, I believe mine will be running long after I'm gone, and someone will probably get a great deal on a hardly used commercial ZTR. I don't really care because in my opinion what I have has already saved me more that the cost of the machine. Besides, I think it's fun to operate. Knowing what I do now after having it for about 7 years, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. But I won't ever have to, because mine will last as long as I live.:rolleyes:
  7. Rocketrod

    Rocketrod LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    I looked on the internet and there is a Dixon dealer in my area. Thanks for the advice I will have to stop by and take one for a test drive.

    No there is nothing wrong with it, but I wanted to make I understood what meant since you didn't recommend a particular brand/model. What did you end up buying (7 years ago)?

    While I need a mower I am not going to rush out and buy the first mower I like. I may end up repairing the mower I got to buy me some time until I find the right mower, or a good used commercial grade mower. I also haven't started haggling with any of the dealers yet, since I still haven't narrowed my choices down.
  8. dago52

    dago52 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 253

    I would fix your mower and wait until the end of the season. My Exmark dealer told me that they drop the price on the Phazer 34" deck a 1,000.00. I dont know if any other dealers do the same thing, but I am sure they will try and push as many mowers as they can in the off season. The trade off is warranty. It may sit for 6 months before you start using the mower. Now the question is do I want to save some money and give up some warranty or pay the extra money and start mowing. I am waiting until the end of the season to purchase my mower. I will purchase a good used commercial or a new high end residential. So far it is between the Hustler and the Exmark. Anyway, good luck with your decision and keep us posted.
  9. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,181

    If you look at my profile, you'll see that it's an Exmark Lazer Z HP with a 52" deck and a 23 HP Kawasaki engine. I like it and would recommend it, but of course most people with a commercial ZTR seem to think what they own is the best that can be found. I believe that any commercial ZTR will be much better than any box-store one, but it seems to me you already believe that too.
  10. Capemay Eagle

    Capemay Eagle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,752

    Did you look at the Hustler MFT 17/42?? For about $3800.00, this is a perfect machine for 1 acre. I also have one acre and it takes me 35 minutes to do the yard. I also looked at the Fasttrak 48" and the Scag Freedom Z 48", but in the end, the Hustler mini Fastrak was the perfect fit and prince. I am 6'2 and 280 and it is still comfortable to drive, I was 240 when I bought it, I gained a few over the last year :cry:. I figure at 40-50 hrs a season that the machine should last forever. I figure by the time it is time to replace it, I will have a bigger yard or I want new machine. Good luck..

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