Zero Turn or Riding Mower?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by thuiskens1, May 30, 2010.

  1. thuiskens1

    thuiskens1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I suppose I am in the same boat as many homeowners who have 1-2 acres of lawn opting to cut it themselves. What to buy, ZTR or riding mower. I am located in Florida and have St. Augustine grass. I think I'm experiencing data download. I have considered the following ZTR's:
    Hustler Sport 48" B&S 21 $3,400.00
    Hustler Fastrak 48" Kaw 19HP $5,000.00
    EXmark Quest 48" 22HP B&S ELS for $4,300.00
    SCAG Freedom Z 48" 20Hp B&S ELS $4,800.00

    My initial quest was to find a residential ZTR under $2,800.00; big box store models. After some research, I have now made a quantum leap into $4,000.00 -$5,500.00 machines. The models listed above are higher end residential mowers. I don't think I can justify another $1,000.00 -$2,000.00 for true commercial grade based on my 40-50 hours per year of use. I have 1.25 acres and my lawn is in good shape. Would I be as well served with a mid range quality riding mower? I have looked at the John Deere 175 and 300 series. They range in price from $2,800.00 - $3,600.00. While cut quality is important, reliability is critical. I'd hate to spend this kind of money and start having issues in 4-5 years when the warranty expires..I live close to all the dealers with the models listed..Any comments will be appreciated. Thank you.

    MS_SURVEYOR LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,002

    I went from a lawn tractor to a ztr last year. My wife and I researched and looked, and looked, and researched, and looked for near 6 months before we made a decision. That's a whole lot of land surveys for us to spend that much money.:dizzy: But we both felt we made the best choice getting a ztr for us. I mow a little more grass. A lot rougher grass and grounds. Almost tractor territory. We went with a commercial mower. Back to your choice. Not a bad looking list of mowers. The only flag I see is the Briggs engine. I'm a long time Briggs owner, but my research told me they are weaker, and have shorter lifespans than other engines.

    You may want to look at this line of mowers also,

    I'll say this. A ztr will save you planty of mowing time. It'll cut your time by almost 1/2, with a good quality mow in that St. Augustine grass. I love mowing St. Augustine grass. I have Bahia, my mother in law has St. Augustine grass.

    My mother in law's St. Augustine grass after mowing with my Bad Boy Pup.


    Hey! Things break! I don't think ztr's break any more than lawn tractors.

    Good Luck!

  3. thuiskens1

    thuiskens1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    In trying to compare like priced machines, I visited TSC and looked at the Bad Boy MZ 26 HP B&S/48" $3,499.00..Looks well built.. Again, Briggs engine.. While I don't want to be completely fixated on price, to get out of the entry level engine and transmission, you move to commercial grade equipment. Regarding the John Deere, many folks criticize the stamped deck. I would guess that with my residential application it would be fine for years..
    MS Surveyor, Thank you for your reply!
  4. 2001FZ1

    2001FZ1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 83

    Don't count out a mower just because of the Briggs motor. For a home owner like yourself, the B&S ELS will last a long time. If you were doing it for a living, a B&S Vanguard would be the way to go. Since the ELS came out a few years ago, they have made improvements to the air intake system and reliability has gone up.

    I was looking at a few specs on the machines you listed. Look at the weight difference. The Hustler Fastrak and Scag weigh over 150lbs more than the others. Kinda makes you wonder why? Where is the extra steel? Will this weight provide extra traction or not?

    One thing to consider with these entry level commercial models (high end residential) is that they will probably last 20 years. Spread that $5000 out over 20 years and its not too bad.
  5. Larry Overcash

    Larry Overcash LawnSite Member
    Messages: 71

    I agree, you should buy a commercial grade mower. Don't go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy one. Spend the money once and you'll be happy.
  6. Grubrunner

    Grubrunner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 245

    I recently switched to a ZTR from years of owning Riding Mowers.

    I've owned Craftsmans, John Deeres, TroyBuilts and Husqvarna over the course of the last 16 years or so. Most I gave away to family members and some I scrapped. While they all cut good-to-very good, none of them comes close to a ZTR in ALL areas.

    And like many have stated: save your money and wait until you can afford a commercial grade ZTR..... it's so worth it!

    Once you own/ride/cut with a ZTR, you'll wonder how on God's good earth you ever did without it.

    Good luck!
  7. 2001FZ1

    2001FZ1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 83

    My Simplicity Broadmoor was 16yrs old when I traded it in on the Scag. Still got $750 on trade too. I thought about buying another one but it was going to be $4,000 for the Broadmoor or another 1,200 for the Scag. 68 trees in the yard and I had to have the ZTR. That old Simplicity did cut better than what i have now. I think it has to do with the fee floating deck that follows the ground instead of riding above it.
  8. Specop_007

    Specop_007 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    Heres my thoughts on the subject, worth exactly what you paid for it... :D

    I'm getting a Hustler Sport 42" with the Honda motor. I absolutely dont see the deck or frames wearing out on these machines (These being good ZTR's). The weak link to me seems to be the motor. Sure the B&S is a decent motor but I would expect it to be the first thing to start giving me fits. Hydrostatic units are nothing new, so even a sealed unit such as the EZT hydro I expect to get a heck of a long life out of. I would expect the motor to fail before the EZT unit.

    So thats what I'm getting. a "commercial" deck/frame and motor with a "semi commercial" hydro. The Sport is far cheaper than about any other high quality ZTR mower. Anything under this price point has a stamped deck I really am not too keen on and anything over this price point is a noticeable increase in price. Theres no bloody way I'm spending $4,500 or more to cut my grass.

    That said I dont make 200,000 a year, so even the Sport is a significant investment for me. If I were a few paygrades higher than what I am now I'd probably spring for a Fastrak 48" and be a happy camper. However I'm fully convinced the Sport is going to be all of the machine I need and more.

    MS_SURVEYOR LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,002


    That's one way to look at it! Good Luck!

  10. thomasglenn

    thomasglenn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I've also owned several brands of the tractor type mowers, bought my first ZTR this season, I can't see ever going back. For the first time in 20 years I can get on the mower without cussing and kicking for 10 minutes. I don't know why I didn't get one sooner, I've spent far more money on more foolish things. I have always hated cutting grass, until this year I would have rather gone to the dentist than cut grass, not any more. It's almost fun on a ztr.

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