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Let’s say that you had, oh, five grand to spend on 40″ to 50″ riding lawn mower.  Would you go for a lever-type zero turn, or would you look for something more standard?  Or would you aim for Cub Cadet’s steering-wheel-equipped zero turn?

In short, discounting the fact that zero-turn riders are expensive, are they sweet or not?  Let us know in comments.


9 Responses to Hot or Not? High-Buck Zero-Turn Riders

  1. Dean in Des Moines says:

    There’s a very low value-for-dollar ratio in these. It’s neat to swing around on ’em, but they don’t get the job done any better than conventional mowers.

  2. joel says:

    I just joy-rode my stepfather’s $6K Cub Cadet lever-type zero turn this past weekend. They live on 25 acres in upstate NY (he mows about 1/3 of it) and I guess it speeds things up over a typical ride on mower. He also has a lot of trees to carve around.
    I got the impression that the high cost was due to heavy-duty construction– thick welded plate steel instead of stampings and heavy welded tube frames. I think if you were mowing acres every day it would be worth it, but it seemed like a bit of overkill for him. But hey, I’m sure he’ll hand it down to one of us some day.

  3. jeremiah says:

    My grandfather has a grasshopper zero-turn mower such as this. he bought his about ten years ago when they were $20k or so. He loves it, and he said he’ll never buy another mower. The man can barely walk (he’s 81 this year) but he can drive that grasshopper better than any professional lawn care person I’ve ever seen, and he drives it with a smile on his face.

  4. jgb says:

    Bought a year old Simplicity zero turn last year for substantially less than Lowe’s sells it’s cheap ztr with the John Deere plastered on. Only had 70 hours and looked brand new. Got it from a dealer I trust, who took it in on trade for a larger mower. I can carve up my 2 acres in half the time as my old tractor. The old tractor is also a Simplicity, which has lasted nearly 25 years with no serious problems.

  5. Chris Ford says:

    One of my friends has a zero-turn (can’t remember the brand right off hand) and I think that it is absolutely amazing. He bought it because he is sitting on several acres with a thin forest covering the acre that you would call the front yard. If you don’t have many obstructions in your yard then you’re just wasting your money but if you’ve got a lot of trees then these will cut your time exponentially.

  6. Kelley Nelson says:

    ZTRs are the cat’s meow for mowing productivity. If you have a lot of grass to mow and only part of a weekend day to do it, the ZTR may be the way to get some more of your weekend back for other things.

    The alternative for some people may be to pay someone $50 per week to do the mowing for you. If your grass grows for 7 months a year, that’s about $1400. No thanks.

    The disadvantage of ZTRs is that you can’t use as many implements as you can with a tractor.

    My personal favorites are the large commercial walk-behinds. You get zero turn maneuverability and commercial build quality for about the price of a consumer ZTR rider. An Exmark Viking 48 is about the same price as a John Deere Eztrak Z425 with 48 inch deck.

  7. jeff says:

    My family rolls an exmark for our construction company out in the country. It is way sweeter than the tractor we used to use to mow. We often have odd structures laying about the yard and the zero turn has no prob zipping around them at a decent clip. It is especially beneficial for us since all the employees have extensive experience running skid loaders, the controls and drive characteristics are pretty similar.

  8. luthier58 says:

    Hot for me, but it’s going to depend on your situation.

    We have about 4 acres currently mowed, with plans to expand to about 10. There are lots of trees, uneven boundary lines, flower beds, etc. I’ve mowed it for 4 years with an 8-year-old Craftsman 38″ rider, which required an ever-expanding amount of maintenance and repair time (the mower deck seems designed to rust, OTOH that’s how I learned to MIG weld). This summer I broke down and bought the Troy-Bilt 50″ ZT from Lowe’s (for about $3000). It has cut actual mowing time by two-thirds, plus cut the follow up string-trimming time by about 80%. I was concerned about the relative difficulty in using a bagger – there’s a LOT of clippings. But the three blades chop so fine and scatter so thoroughly that the effect is like a mulching mower, even though it’s not sold that way. It does have a little bit of a learning curve, but heck, that’s fun. It also encourages a paradigm-shift if you’re used to other riders – it’s actually easier to cut small sections then move on, rather than the overall pattern that the wider-turning riders more-or-less force you into. I was concerned about the price, but I spent some time comparing, and unless you go for the real high-end items like the diesel Kubota and such, it’s really not much more than a comparably-equipped tractor-type rider, for a vast increase in maneuverability. If you have a square, unobstructed yard, then you probably won’t appreciate the difference, but anything that’s a challenge with a regular rider and requires a lot of additional trimming, it’s a revelation. The quality of cut with the three blades, BTW, is gorgeous, much nicer than the Craftsman or other mowers I’ve used. So yeah, it’s somewhat expensive, but only if your time is worth nothing. I’ll never go back if I have a choice.

  9. Craig says:

    Back when I was in the landscaping (read: pro grass cutter in my case) trade, I LOVED these guys.

    I was using a Dixon, but definitely check out Walker, Cub Cadet, Dixie Choppers, etc. for some seriously nice mowers as well.

    In my opinion, these are great for the pros. As for the casual homeowner, there are some less expensive semi-pro style models (Dixon is a perfect example) that have a quality build, and give you some of the nice amenities, but aren’t 6k plus.

    What they do well: cut around random obstacles in yards, and leave much less area for you to go back and clean up with a push mower or weedeater.

    They are also (generally) small enough to fit into a standard size walk gate, which is absolutely AWESOME cutting residential yards. This is something you should definitely measure before you buy for homeowner use.

    the downfall: only price in my opinion.

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