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What would you suggest? FasTrak or Exmark CT

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by grass lover, May 22, 2003.

  1. grass lover

    grass lover LawnSite Member
    Messages: 38

    I am a homeowner with 1 acre to mow living in middle Tennessee. Yard has a good slope in the back and some steep inclines around several beds. No major obstacles other than a swing set and my planting beds are laid out for ease of mowing. Overall slop is 4-6 degrees with short steeper sections up to 30 degrees. Grass is mostly fescue with some rye and clover.
    Currently have a Dixon 4423 cone drive 15hp B&S.... sucks! Replacing the transmission to sell because it will not take the slope of my yard. Local dealer support is terrible also. Service tech actually told me how terrible Dixon’s were. Got to like his honesty.
    I have a great Hustler/Exmark dealer down the road and trying to decide between the CT and FasTrak. What engine/deck options would you suggest? FasTrak has more combinations and thought I liked the idea of Honda engines. However, I have read some negative postings on this site about the bigger Honda’s.
    Need something that will mow a slope with ease and give me a good quality cut. Would it be too much to ask the dealer if I could demo each model on my yard to help me choose? Feel awkward asking since I'm just a homeowner, BUT this is a big investment for ME.
    You advice and comments are welcomed....
    :cool: :cool: :cool:
  2. BigDave

    BigDave LawnSite Member
    Messages: 148

    I think you've answered your own question. You could and *should* ask your dealer for a demo of both on your property.

    My dad is in the market for a ZTR, and most of the dealers he's visited have asked him if they can bring a few units out to his property to demo them for him.

    And after the demo, please let us know how it went -- I'm looking forward to hearing which one performed better on your property.
  3. sjz60

    sjz60 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 43

    I am biased I guess..Get the Hustler! I have the 52/20HP Honda, runs like a top. The exmark looked ok, but I was really turned off by the single cylinder engine..even my Craftsman had that beat. 50+ hours on mine and going strong!
  4. ccorts

    ccorts LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    I have 3 acres and asked the same question 2 months ago. Both dealers are close, but I chose the Fastrack. Great machine and I am sold on the Honda. 52/20 is rock solid and will handle anything I need to cut. It is the machine my dealer has at his house!! Get the gator blades and spring seat kit installed, and you are good to go.
  5. mowerconsultant

    mowerconsultant LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Syracuse, NY
    Messages: 9,769

    Grass Lover,
    The Hustler FasTrak is a machine that was made with your exact need in mind, a commercial type unit made for home use, it is by far the best selling high end home owner ZTR on the market.
    The larger Honda engines we use on our FasTraks are proven winners, and we have had little or no bad experiences with them at all !!!
    I have yet to see anyone on this site give me information on the exact model Honda engine and what the major problems they were having.
    The Honda is a very smooth running v-twin engine, that comes with a full 2 year warranty, the Kohler you are looking at on the Exmark is a single cylinder.
    The FasTrak has a foot operated deck lift standard, I believe it to be a option on the Exmark.
    The FasTrak has tow hitch standard.
    The FasTrak holds more fuel, and has a integrated parking brake.
    The FasTrak has proven itself for the last 1 1/2 seasons, Exmark made a limited run of the CT's, to see how they would be accepted.
    The hydros on the FasTrak are a integrated system, the pump and wheel motor are integrated into 1 unit per side, this system was designed for this application and works great, heck another mfg uses it commercially with no problems.
    The Hydro Gear IZT's are actually less expensive to replace, unlike what our competition says, but saying this, you don’t need to worry about replacing them, they will work excellent for your application.
    As you will see when you demo it, the Hustler FasTrak is a awesome machine.
    Let us know what you think.
    If you have any questions you can ask them here or e-mail me directly at hustlerturfequipment@msn.com

    Thank you for you interest
  6. grass lover

    grass lover LawnSite Member
    Messages: 38

    Ok guys, so I couldn't wait until next week and took off of work early to give these bad boys a spin. Here are my novice opinions. Keep in mind I have been running a Dixon 4423 for the past 1.5 years and ANYTHING would be a step up from that. Considering the quality of both machines.... I am still grinning from ear to ear.

    First up.... Exmark CT
    Hard to start and had to use the choke every time until after I'd been running for 5+ minutes. Touchy choke also. Had to have it all the way out to get the engine to fire, but as soon as it fired I had to cut it back off to keep the engine running. As I didn't quite get the hang of the parking brake / steering levers right away...this was a pain in the $#@. Loading/unloading off of my tilt trailer was a breeze. Once off of the trailer I proceeded to make a lap around the outer edge of my property to see how it handles on the slopes. 1st slope was a roughly 15 degree, about 6' high and a little wet. No problem running end to end lengthways. Nice smooth line and didn't slip or slid. Then came the backside of my property where I have a rather steep (20-25 degree) pie shaped section that slopes for roughly 35ft down hill. Made the decent great, no problems and full control. (Unlike my old Dixon..whew missed that tree this time) HOWEVER, I reached the bottom and promptly got stuck in some soggy ground. Tried like heck to get out, but just spun. Ended up using the FasTrak to pull it out. (more on that in a minute) Once I got it out the CT performed very well on the rest of the property. Steering was a little touchy, but attributed that to my inexperience on a hydro machine. Left several bare spots on my turns for the first few laps. Quality of cut was good and clippings were fine. Throwing them 10’-12’ from the deck with the lid up.

    Batter up… the FasTrak 20/52
    Honda 20 fired up immediately with NO choke. Purred like a kitten and was surprisingly smooth. Made the same pattern as the CT with that first slope, no problems. Tracked fine in the lower portion, which was slightly wetter. Back to the pie slope for a second run. (Left the tow rope out and ready) Took the Hustler down the slop under perfect control and hit the bottom just left of the CT skid marks. Spun around on a dime and shot right back up the hill with NO hesitation. Couldn’t believe it. OUTSTANDING TRACTION. Cut the rest of the yard with equal cut quality to that of the Exmark. No real difference that I could tell. Did notice that the striping of the CT was slightly better. No striping kit on either model, just noticed a more distinct pattern with the CT. Not sure why. Seating was odd, not uncomfortable but odd. Felt like I was too low in the saddle and the steering levers wouldn’t travel to the full reverse position. Hit me in the belly about a ½” shy of full back position. (I’m a pretty skinny guy too, so someone with a shed over their tool is going to have some problems.) Didn’t need the full back position while driving, but noticed while sitting with engine off.

    Overall –IMO in handing, the Hustler outperformed the Exmark. However, the Exmark was a more comfortable ride due to controls and sitting position. If I were going to be on my mower for hours at a time, I don’t think I could handle the FasTrak. Unfortunately, I can’t be getting a towrope every time the ground is a little soggy either. (By the way, this went over like a fart in church with me asking to wife to come pull me up the hill on one of the new mowers I’ve just talked her into! “Oh, so I see this one was a good choice”) Cut quality was excellent on both machines, and left the yard looking great. I did prefer the Honda engine over the Kohler based on the hard starting and vibration of the Kohler. Didn’t like the FasTrak 17.5 B&S at all. Noisy, rough vibration and seemed underpowered. B&S model was only driven on the dealer lot, so I have only limited input.

    Now What….this left me wanting to try the Mini Z, which is coming next Wednesday for an evening demo on a fresh lawn. Can’t wait to step up to a big boy. Will keep you posted and hope this info helps.
  7. mowerconsultant

    mowerconsultant LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Syracuse, NY
    Messages: 9,769

    Grass Lover,
    Thank you for giving us a fair evaluation of each unit.
    The seat is adjustable fore and aft on the FasTrak along with the steering levers, they can be bolted into a high and low option and can pivot forward or back for YOUR best position, if you have the units still get a1/2 inch wrench and a 9/16 wrench and socket and adjust these items to your liking.
    Also, if you feel you are low in the machine, that is due to the low center of gravity and this is what gives this unit excellent traction, but if you must sit higher there is a optional seat spring kit that will raise you up a few inches and give you a smoother ride on rough ground, it will not affect your traction much if at all.
    And to top that all off you can put either seats from our commercial units on the FasTrak at a additional cost from your dealer.

    Hope this helps
  8. Farmboy

    Farmboy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 145

    Just a suggestion but when I was at the mower shop today they had just received a shipment of COUNTRY CLIPPER mowers. I asked if I could drive one it was a 20hp kohler 52" cut and it really suprised me plus it was priced real good I thought!
  9. BigDave

    BigDave LawnSite Member
    Messages: 148

    Grass Lover,

    Thanks for taking the time to give us that write-up - I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    When you step up to the next size (mid-size) as you're talking about with the Mini Z, you get bigger tires, which of course gives you more traction, and less chances of getting stuck.

    Many people would say that getting a mid-size for just 1 acre is overkill, but with the slopes you're talking about, I'm not so sure. I have 2 acres of sloped land, and I wouldn't want to put anything smaller than my Exmark LHP on it.

    Besides the Mini Z and LHP, the Scag Tiger Cub and the Gravely PM are good units, and both have started some really aggressive pricing.
  10. Hustlermowerman

    Hustlermowerman LawnSite Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 2

    Grass lover,
    If loved the fastrac on hills you will love the mini z. It is just a good on hills if not better. The mower deck blade speed is higher because it is a commercial machine. If you are looking for a lifetime investment you have found it.The seat is a little better. To top it off the steering linkage is even smother. I now you will love the mini z. the next problem will be do I want to spend the extra $$. Good luck

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