So Many Mowers!

Industry insiders have long been saying that there are far too many brands of zero-turn mowers out there. Results from a recent survey of Green Industry PRO readers could help explain why.

Three out of every four brands are not viewed favorably by more than half of landscape contractors. This creates a rather muddled, highly competitive middle of the market. Check out the survey results.

Many brands also suffer from poor name recognition. According to the PRO survey results, the main reason a brand is saddled with a below-half favorability rating is because most contractors have not had experience with the brand, or are altogether unfamiliar with it. This lack of name recognition is typically the result of poor distribution and/or dealer support in a given region, and/or a lack of marketing prowess. Additionally, when veteran contractors in a certain area are fiercely loyal to a brand they have operated for years, it can be difficult for other brands to establish a strong presence there.

Contractors rarely say that they actually do not like how a certain brand or product performs. The average was 13%. Cub Cadet (23%), John Deere (21%) and Husqvarna (19%) led that list.

7 things you should look at

In addition to dealer support, there are six main areas that contractors should closely examine when deciding which mower is right for them:

  • Productivity
  • Durability
  • Cut quality
  • Serviceability
  • Operator comfort
  • Safety

What makes some of today's mowers "unique"

Many commercial zero-turn mowers share several similarities, including engines, cut widths and heights, etc. But each has its own unique features that help set it apart in some of the six key areas mentioned above. Here's a look at some of this year's models—and what helps make them different.

BOB-CAT FastCat Pro H Models

These mowers are designed to provide efficient cutting speed, traction and handling.

  • Large, 23 x 10.50 - 12, drive tires
  • 10-mph ground speeds
  • DuraDeck features front and rear anti-scalp rollers, a patent-pending double-wave baffle system, extra-wide discharge opening and molded rubber chute
  • Lightweight (840 pounds, 900 pounds) for 52- and 61-inch machines
  • Low maintenance requirements: self-adjusting belts, maintenance-free cutter spindles, maintenance-free caster wheel bearings

Country Clipper Boss

  • Patented stand-up deck simplifies under-deck maintenance, such as blade changing or cleaning; no extra tools necessary
  • Patented Power Lift allows you to electrically stand the deck up or adjust the cutting height with just the push of a button
  • One-handed, easy-to-use joystick steering option for ergonomic comfort; traditional dual-lever steering with a forward tracking system is also offered
  • Welded-steel decks feature steel plate lamination at stress points for extra strength; a bullnose leading edge protects deck from obstructions
  • Articulating front axle and floating deck help reduce gouging and scalping

Cub Cadet Tank SZ

Cub Cadet says its Tank SZ (which denotes Steering wheel Zero-turn) delivers enhanced maneuverability, turf protection and traction—even on steep inclines—due to Cub Cadet’s exclusive four-wheel steering and steering wheel control. The Tank SZ also features the Cub Cadet Signature Cut, which includes an overlapping, heavy-duty, triple-blade cutting system. Signature Cut was designed by aerospace engineers to create a combination of superior deck design and system components that are optimized for improved performance, low maintenance and a high-quality cut.

Ferris Evolution

Featuring the exclusive, patented operator-forward design, the Evolution places the operator in the most ideal ergonomic position for mowing, according to the company.

  • Operator's weight is evenly distributed with back, shoulders and neck aligned to minimize discomfort and fatigue
  • Location of operator's position is ideal for getting on/off the mower quickly and easily
  • Integrated operator suspension platform designed to deliver supreme comfort and performance
  • Controls are simple to use and are placed right at the operator’s fingertips
  • Overall compact, low stance and easy maneuverability, providing for excellent visibility and allowing for mowing in tight places or highly landscaped areas
  • Footprint is smaller than a commercial walk-behind of similar deck width

Grasshopper 725DT MaxTorque Diesel Mowers

  • T6 hydrostatic transmission is coupled directly to the engine, automotive-style
  • T-Drive eliminates need for drive belts, sheaves, idler arms, spring-tension pulleys and associated hardware, while tandem pumps are wholly contained in a CoolTemp HydroMax oil reservoir with self-contained, high-efficiency, fine-particulate filtration
  • AntiVibe Power Platform mounts the engine, transmission, rear PTO shaft, and all rotating and drive components onto a separate pallet, iso-mounted to the main frame
  • Clean-running MaxTorque diesel engines are Tier 4i-compliant, and are capable of saving up to 900 gallons of fuel over 1,000 hours of use and reducing CO2 emissions by 20% per hour of use compared to propane mowers, according to the company
  • DuraMax decks accept the industry-exclusive, patented PowerFold electric deck lift that controls infinitely variable cutting heights and raises the deck nearly vertical

Gravely’s Pro-Turn 400 XDZ Series

  • Air-suspension seat includes added seat isolation for a smooth, comfortable all-day ride
  • Seat’s air pressure can be adjusted for a custom fit with the touch of a button, and the comfort foam design feels more like an office chair than a standard mower seat, the company says
  • Rides smoothly over rough terrain, allowing for faster mowing speeds and increased productivity
  • Rubber isolated foot platform to minimize vibration
  • 7-gauge fabricated and welded X-Factor deck features a new deck-lift system designed to make raising and lowering the deck almost effortless
  • Dial-adjust height-of-cut system is faster and more convenient than pin height-of-cut selectors
  • Fully adjustable control handles allow operators to fine-tune settings for an optimum ergonomic position

Husqvarna PZ6029FX

Husqvarna says its PZ series combines a high ground speed with optimum cutting performance.

  • Two deck options: side discharge or Combi, both made of 7-gauge steel
  • Knives on the side-discharge deck raise the grass before cutting
  • Combination of a 6-inch deck depth, high-performance blades and optimized deck baffles enables an enhanced cut quality and clipping dispersal
  • Oversized deck opening on the side-discharge deck is less restrictive and allows a higher ground speed even in heavy mowing conditions
  • Combi deck provides the option of a mulching process or a rear discharge of the grass
  • Easier to service –open design makes the engine, hydraulic system and all other parts easily accessible, and the entire machine can be dismantled in less than 30 minutes

Hustler Industrial-Grade Super Z

Under average use of 800 psi, Hustler says competitive units are working 356% harder than its HyperDrive Industrial Hydro System. The system includes:

  • Two Sauer Danfoss DDC-20 variable-displacement, industrial-grade slipper piston pumps
  • Parker TG028 wheel motors which utilize a patented, extra heavy-duty torque link with a 60:40 spline geometry
  • High-capacity, 3-inch-thick, 10"x10" aluminum oil cooler with filter screen
  • 12-volt, 9-inch fan with an integrated shroud pulls air through 100% of the oil cooler surface
  • 3-gallon reservoir with easy-maintenance, threaded filter and drain plug, and increased micron-count filter for a cleaner running system
  • Wheel motor has an added pressurized shuttle that routes hot oil to the cooling system, regulating temperatures for increased life and performance

John Deere ZTrak PRO Z925 EFI

John Deere says its ZTrak PRO Z925 with electronic fuel injection (EFI) can help provide up to 25% fuel savings.

  • Closed-loop EFI system allows the engine to automatically adapt to load, weather, fuel and altitude changes
  • Fuel injectors respond to the load on the engine with the right amount of fuel
  • 27-hp engine includes an exclusive Tuff Torq integrated transmission, which features 13cc piston-style pumps and 13cc wheel motors for increased efficiency
  • Cross-porting system routes the coolest hydraulic fluid to the hydraulic pump doing the most work
  • 7-Iron PRO mowing decks stamped from 7-gauge steel
  • 54-inch deck includes the John Deere exclusive Mulch-On-Demand technology that allows the operator to switch between mulching and side discharging without ever leaving the seat

Kubota ZP330

The new ZP330 boasts a clean-burning, 31-gross-hp, three-cylinder, liquid-cooled, liquid propane-gas (LPG) engine for greener performance with reduced CO2 emissions, yet the same productivity operators know and trust.

  • Eligible for a number of federal and state incentives that reward consumers for making propane their engine fuel of choice
  • High-performance HST transmission
  • Full-flat operator platform
  • High-back deluxe suspension seat for operator comfort
  • Adjustable speed control levers
  • Hands-free hydraulic deck lift and parking brake

Snapper Pro S200xt

Snapper Pro says the most impressive of this eight-model series is the S200XTB2861, featuring a 28-gross-hp Briggs & Stratton Commercial Turf Series engine and 61-inch iCD Cutting system.

  • Engine includes a 5-Step Integrated Cyclonic Air Management System that provides ultimate dust and debris protection for extended engine life
  • iCD Cutting System allows for better airflow, discharge and cut quality
  • iCD Cutting System has a reinforced leading edge which provides protection where the deck needs it most
  • Newly designed .25-inch-thick Marbain steel blades generate greater lift for a precision cut
  • Heavy-duty cast-iron greaseable spindle for longer life
  • For operator comfort the S200xt utilizes a premium, adjustable seat with optional suspension platform
  • Can reportedly mow up to six acres per hour based on 80% efficiency

Toro Z Master Professional 5000 EFI Mower

Toro's Model 74930 utilizes electronic fuel-injection technology, helping contractors save up to 25% on fuel costs, the company says.

  • This closed-loop EFI system allows the engine to automatically adapt to load, weather, fuel and altitude changes
  • Easy starting in a wide range of altitudes and conditions, along with no-choke starting, helps operators get down to work quickly
  • System of engine sensors monitors the engine while running, while indicator lights provide early warning of any potential issues before they occur; helping ensure an enhanced level of reliability and reduced service times
  • This mower also comes standard with a durable 7-gauge steel Turbo Force cutting deck in 60-inch width. The deck features a patented adjustable discharge baffle, flexible rubber discharge chute, high-strength cutting blades, a rugged bull-nose front bumper, and tough spindle assemblies.

Walker Super B

Walker says the out-front design of its Super B puts the operator at the center of the machine for a better balanced design.

  • Because the deck is out front, the seat position is lower, helping lower the machine’s center of gravity which enhances hillside performance
  • Not just for traveling across a hill, it also helps with stopping, changing directions and precise mowing on hills
  • Better balance improves steering response because the weight of the operator and machine is concentrated on the drive wheels
  • Adding to this balance are the deck counterweight springs and the transfer of some of the deck weight to the drive tires
  • Better-balanced machine is also easier on turf
  • Easy-to-use steering configuration uses a forward speed control/cruise control and gentle fingertip pressure on the steering levers to precisely maneuver the machine