What is the best 50-52" ZTR mower?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by srobbrown, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. srobbrown

    srobbrown LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I am looking for some guidance. I will be purchasing a ZTR mower to mow my own lawn (1.5 acres) as well as a few others as my sons and I start a lawncare business.

    I am looking to choose between the following:

    Scag Freedom Z 52"
    ExMark Quest 52"
    Cub Cadet Z-Force 50"

    Also, what engine mfg. is better:

    Here are my options
    (Scag) Kawasaki 19hp V-twin air-cooled engine
    (Scag) Briggs & Stratton 26hp V-twin ELS (Extended Life Series) air-cooled engine
    (ExMark) Briggs & Stratton 24hp V-twin ELS (Extended Life Series) air-cooled engine
    (CubCadet) 23 HP Kohler® Courage® PRO V-Twin OHV

    Was wondering what everyone out thought should be my choice and why?

    What are your experience with these? I am well aware that the first two are about $1,000 more than the Cub. I'm really looking for your candid comments.

    Thanks to all who post for your honest feedback!
  2. IHusky

    IHusky LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    How many yards are you trying to pick up, those listed are not true commercial units. They would be okay for 10 or so yards, but won't hold up to frequent use. If you are trying to go full time or big, don't waste your money and get a true commercial unit. I would recommend a 60-61" deck, more deck overhang from tire and more productivity. Good luck.
  3. srobbrown

    srobbrown LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    We're looking to mow our own yard (1.5 acres) and probably less than 10 others. Not a big business, just for some extra $$ for the boys.

  4. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,381

    The mowers that you listed would not be a wise investment for a commercial lawn service. Those mowers would not stand up to everyday use in a commercial mowing operation. I would look into a Hustler Z with 52-60 inch deck with at least a 25 HP engine. You might also look at Exmark Lazer Z with the same deck and engine sizes.
    One option would be to buy a used commercial unit and use it until the business is up and running. After you've established enough accounts to make it a full time business you can look into buying a new machine that will last a long time and pay for itself.

    Believe me...if you put your money in low priced homeowner grade equipment and try to use it in a lawn service business you'll be frustrated in a matter of a few months. I've seen many LCO's fail in a few short months because their equipment didn't last.
  5. srobbrown

    srobbrown LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Thanks for your input and I completely understand your comments. I just wanted to clarify that this is not to start out small and go full-time. We are simply going to mow our lawn and pick up some others to earn some extra $$ for the boys. My thoughts were that we wouldn't need to spend $10k on a new 60" Lazer Z but also wouldn't want to buy an entry level ZTR fopr $2,500-$3,000 that would never last. I have heard a lot of good things, especially about the Quest and Freedom Z in that both ExMark and Scag have incorporated many of the commercial features in this mid-range price for a low volume user. After researching, it seems as though that is correct with the engines, heavy gauge decks, heavy duty transmissions, etc. that are listed in the specs. At $5,200, these don't seem like cheap, entry level machines for the homeowner looking to pick-up a few accounts.

    What do you think?
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  6. IHusky

    IHusky LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    You don't have to pay 10k for a commercial ztr. Do a search on the Snapper Pro s150x or like DennisF said about the Hustler. The entry level commercial ztr is going to be alot better than the ones you're looking at. You don't want to drop $5000-$5500 on a ztr to realize you could have gotten a much better commercial one for only $1000-$1500 more. You might get a thick deck with the high end residental, but the other stuff won't be as good. You'll get a much better engine, hydro motors and wheels with commercial. Like DennisF said, you'll drive yourself crazy with the homeowner stuff. Trust me, the little stuff on the cheap stuff will drive you crazy. When I started out, I bought a Cub Cadet 21 thinking it would do the job. It had a heavy deck and Kaw engine. I took it in 3 times in 2 years to have the transmission rebuilt at $80 a pop and I was only part time. I could have had a commercial 21 for the amount of money I've put into that POS. Good luck.
  7. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,381

    If you're not going to go into the business full time then one of the mowers that you listed would probably fit the bill pretty well. I agree that $5200 is big a chunk of change for a mower that would see limited use. If you're going to mow 10-12 lawns per week over a 26 week mowing season in the northern U.S. then one of the mowers you listed should be able to handle the job.

    To give you an idea of the durability of a commercial mower I can vouch for a Hustler Z. I have 2 Hustlers and 1 Exmark lazer Z HP. The 2 Hustlers each have over 3000 hours of heavy use and both are still going strong. The Exmark has 1500 hours and has also performed flawlessly for nearly 2 years. The Exmark has had zero downtime since it was new. The 2 Hustlers have only had minor breakdowns (clutches, spindles, electrical switches, etc.) in 4 years of use. All of the machines are maintained by the book and are not abused in any way. The 3 machines are used to mow 150 residential lawns that range in size from 1/4 acre up to 5 acres. Each account is mowed 40 times per calendar year so the equipment is used year round here in the sunshine state.

    I hope I have been of some help. Good luck.
  8. mississippiturf

    mississippiturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 674

    Look for a good used commercial unit with less than 1,000 hours. Scag, ExMark, Hustler, Walker, Ferris, and Bad Boy are just some of the better brands. The Kawi motors have way better reviews than the B & S.

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