Walk behind specifics


LawnSite Senior Member
North Alabama
I'm looking at buying a walkbehind mower(Exmark, because I already have an established dealer with excellent service). I have two Exmark ztr's but have never even tried a walk-behind. It will be used for smaller residential lots. I have four specific questions:
1) How much difference is the quality of cut between a floating vs. non-floating deck?
2) When operating with a velkie, how difficult is it to back up and maneuver? I'm used to making the standard three point turn to stripe lawns. will this be a problem with a velkie?
3) On the belt drives, appox. how long does it take to learn how to "smoothly" operate the knee shifter?
4) I've seen where you all talk about tracking. Is this actually sychronizing the levers for straightness or what? and how hard is this to accomplish with the belt drives?

I have done many searches and can't find a direct answer for these questions.

Thank you in advance,


LawnSite Senior Member
St. Louis, Mo
What size are you looking at 36", 48", . . .

I have two 36"s one with a floating deck one without. Although the majority of my mowing is done with the fixed deck(because it is newer, faster and has a velke) I must say that the floating deck gives a better cut. On a 48" deck I would think that the quality of cut would differ even more between the two decks(fixed/floating).

Both of them are belt drives as well. I rarely use the reverse,


LawnSite Senior Member
North Alabama
The mower in question would preferably be a 48" .. I'm going with the belt drive simply because of the cost differential. this mower will be used part time and just for the smaller lawns. Thank you all for your responces. Would like to here from more of you on the specific questions posted.
thank you and please let me know if any more specifics need to be listed on my part.


LawnSite Senior Member
If you get the belt drive you won't be backing up, you have to pull it to back up, makes it hard to line up to stripe. On the hydros you just pull the grips a little harder to go in reverse .


LawnSite Silver Member
ssouth, When using a belt drive walk behind with a velke you cant make 3 point turns whith out geting off the velke. belt drives have "reverse assist" wich dosnt even move the machine unless your on perfectly flat pavement. So to stripe when using the velke you have to make like 3 outline passes around the perimeter of the yard and just mae very wide turns at the end of each stripe. To "track a belt drive all you have to so is remove a cotter pin and turn the brake rod right or left... thats take some fidiling to get it right but its simple to do. I have use a floating 48 and a fixed... i really see very little diffrence. You get used to the fixed and you learn how to cut without scalping with it.


1) I use a 48" fixed deck but would prefer a floating just for ease of height adjustment.
2) With a gear drive and a sulky you won't be backing up. (Unless you get stuck in a corner and have to pull it backwards) Maneuvering is no problem and the gear drive will turn around the inside wheel. I use a two wheel sulky but the proslide looks good. It's on my list of things to get.
3) No more than a minute or two if someone shows you.
4) The gear drive will track straight (theoretically) all by itself, except on hills. You keep it straight on hills by sqeezing one of the grips. Hydros sometimes need tracking adjustment.


LawnSite Fanatic
Flint, Michigan
If you're looking into a new walkbehind and are considering an Exmark anyway, I would DEFINITELY look into that new HP with the "ECS" feature. This machine looks to be a bad boy! I'm considering one for next year too. I think my '85 John Deere (Bunton) walkbehind is getting a little tired. Besides, being a 52", I always have to turn it sideways to get it through many gates. I think I'm going to opt for the 48" this time since that's all it'll be used for. Good luck with whatever you decide!

Richard Martin

LawnSite Fanatic
Greenville, NC
My answers:

1: There is virtually no difference in quality of cut. <i>All</i> Exmark mowers cut very well when the blades are sharp.

2: You will not be making 3 point turns with any kind of articulating sulky.

3: Nothing to it. Pull both the left and right pistol grip levers in and you shift. Gear drive mowers are not meant to be shifted while they are moving but with some practice it can be done without harming the trans.

4: Tracking on belt drives is accomplished by altering air pressure in the rear tires. The mower will "pull" to the side that has lower air pressure. Exmark mowers are not prone to pulling however. I have had a slow leak in one tire and the mower has not pulled <i>even though there was a 10 pound difference in air pressure</i>. My Gravely on the other hand will pull if the difference is as little as 1 pound.