There’s a good reason that professional landscapers use zero-turn mowers. These machines are the fastest way to cut a lawn. By placing the operator with a clear forward view, and with the ability to both turn and pivot, they can radically reduce your mowing time. If you think you might need one, read on for buying advice and our reviews of the best.
How They Work
A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers (commonly known as lap bars). With engine-powered mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drive the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When the operator moves the lap bar forward or back, he or she is directing the transmission to go faster, slower or even turn the opposite way. When one wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels turn at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are returned to the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there is no other braking system on these machines other than what the transmissions provide. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors for driving the rear wheels and for spinning two to three blades inside the mower deck.
How We Selected
In selecting these mowers, we’ve highlighted a range of the best residential machines based on our previous experience testing zero-turn mowers and countless hours of discussion with dealers, distributors, and manufacturers. We picked models that balance somewhat-accessible price with providing a variety of features. For any of these mowers that we haven’t already tested personally, we’ll update this review with full impressions as we get them in for firsthand testing.
All but two of the mowers we selected are powered by gas engines, in the range of 21 to 24 horsepower. Wherever possible, we note the transmission. In most cases, this a Hydrogear EZT, a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle that has a reputation for durability. Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of metal, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. The advantage of a fabricated deck is that manufacturers can deliver a deck built from thicker steel at a lower cost than they could otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of the deck alone can push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks shown below are sized from 42 to 52 inches. Again, that’s a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of seven miles per hour. Note, however, that cut quality on these machines will decline steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.
As to the electric mowers shown below, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.
Best Mulch ControlJohn Deere Z365R
One of the harsher tests we’ve run recently is the one that we performed on the John Deere Z-365. Our test zone consists of a swath of lawn at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. A week of intermittent rain and sun formed perfect grass-growing conditions. When it was time to test the Deere, we found our test zone more closely resembled a hay field instead of the lawn that it was just the week before. We cut the area to bring it down to size, then we recut it and crosscut it. One area was so bad, it required a fourth cut.
Fortunately, the Deere has several things working in its favor. It’s powered by a 24-hp Briggs & Stratton V-twin engine and a pair of rugged HydroGear EZT transmissions, each one having the ability to propel a 900-lb.vehicle. For the money, the Deere is ruggedly built. We found it easy to steer, uphill and down, over ruts, and around various obstacles, like fences and sign posts. In the thickest and tallest grass, we set the Deere to full throttle and plowed ahead in side discharge mode, throwing a steady stream of clippings. When the grass was shorter, we flipped the mulching lever on the deck and mulched the clippings, rather than discharging them out the side of the deck. Speaking of which, the deck is a stamped three-blade type with a rolled outer edge and excellent pulley protection. We really like the exterior pully covers that fiip up to allow the user to clear the build up of grass clippings.
In other respects, the Deere is a model of simplicity, with a 2.4-gallon gas tank (no gas gauge) and an oversize spin-on oil filter that eliminates messy oil changes. All the oil is contained in the filter. Swap the old filter for the new and you’ve changed the oil.
Great for Big YardsAriens Ikon X
Ariens mowers and snow blowers have garnered high marks in our tests for decades. We attribute that to sound engineering and better than average build quality. This mower combines the reliability and high-torque characteristics of a 23-hp Kawasaki engine with a rugged 52-inch fabricated (11-gauge) steel deck, plus a smooth-running Hydrogear EZT transmission at each rear wheel. The Hydrogear is a popular residential-grade transaxle with a one-inch-diameter axle and a 900-pound weight rating. You need that much capacity with a product like this. The mower by itself weighs 635 pounds before you add a driver and 2.8 gallons of fuel. The Hydrogear provides a top speed of 7 mph. You also get very robust construction in other critical areas: a four-point deck mount- similar to what’s used on commercial mowers. The deck mount hangs off a tube steel frame. And Ariens frames are stiff, models of neat welding and well-applied paint.
Adaptable ElectricEGO Z6 4204
This is one of the most advanced mowers we’ve ever seen, gas or electric and its manufacturer, EGO, is working hard to fill the order pipeline to home centers later this spring. In the meantime, the best you can do is to keep checking back for availability.
The company rates the 42-inch Z6 as being equivalent to a machine powered by a 22-hp gas engine. It estimates its run time as sufficient to mow two acres. We haven’t verified that yet, but it strikes us as plausible, given that the 56-volt mower comes with four 10-Ah lithium-ion batteries and has empty bays for another two. But what really got our attention is that these batteries are removable. If you’ve already invested in the Ego system and have additional batteries (or buy some more), you can power this mower like it’s a cordless drill: plug in a new battery and keep going. Or you could use the charging cable that comes with it and plug into a outlet in the garage.
There are other features that make this one of the most advanced mowers out there. The battery bank feeds current to two deck motors—one for each 21-inch blade—and two drive motors. An LCD interface enables you to control blade speed (2,400 to 3,200 rpm), ground speed, lap bar sensitivity, and what the company calls drive modes: the Control setting for protecting turf and preventing wheel marks, the Standard setting for everyday mowing, and the Sport setting for precise turns around sharp corners. The theory with all that control is that you can increase battery run time, your mowing efficiency, and the quality of the cut.
Powerful and Long-RunningRyobi 48140
Ryobi has set an ambitious goal with this mower: designing it to cut 3.5 acres of grass on a single charge. Since we haven’t yet tested it, we can’t say whether it lives up to that. But we wouldn’t be surprised if it did, especially given Ryobi’s success with smaller versions of the 48140. It has a 54-inch deck, a 48-volt battery bank, and five motors to propel the machine and power the three blades inside its fabricated 10-gauge steel deck. We tested the predecessor product, a 42-inch mower powered by lead acid batteries, and we had a complete blast with it, finding most success on smooth suburban lawns. Equipped as is, the mower mulches or side discharges. A 7.8-cubic-foot, two-bin bagger accessory costs $349. LED headlights help you see at dawn and dusk, and a rear-access charging port enables a quick connection to an outlet.
Mid-Sized OptionHusqvarna Z248F
If our tests have proven one thing, it’s that Husqvarna is a company that pays close attention to the details. And in the case of this mower, that attention went into the redesigned 48-inch deck. It’s 10-gauge fabricated and features three blades, all of which have an aerodynamic shape reminiscent of a sting ray’s wing tip. Those spinning blades not only cut the grass but are intended to produce a tremendous amount of lift and air flow inside the deck, especially when combined with the curved air baffles welded to the deck wall. The mulching action of the grass prevents clogging, according to Husqvarna, and the aforementioned air flow is supposed to shoot the debris right out the side (without a test, we can’t say, but we have seen good cutting performance with similarly designed blade-deck combinations in the past). And the blades are mounted on cast-iron spindles, a sturdy material that withstands heat and dampens vibration. Unlike some residential spindles, these are grease-able for improved longevity. Powering the mower is a 21.5-hp Kawasaki engine, offering a high power-t0-weight ratio and producing 39.3 foot pounds of torque at 2,200 rpm (translation: plenty of twist to get the job done). Kawasaki boasts that it’s commercial-grade performance in a residential engine. We can’t vouch for that specifically, but we have seen impressive performance from Kawasaki engines in many other mowing tests.
Intuitive SteeringCub Cadet RZT-SX 42 EFI
You want the maneuverability of a zero-turn mower but you don’t want those lap bars. We get it. So does Cub Cadet. That’s why it developed the RZT-SX with a steering wheel. It connects to linkages at the front and rear wheels. We found the design so noteworthy that in 2013, we presented the machine with a Breakthrough Award. When you steer, the linkage moves the front wheels but also adjusts the speed of the Hydrogear EZT transmission at each rear wheel. The four-wheel steering is intended to provide added stability on hills and over washboard surfaces.
Other features: The mower’s frame is stamped from a single piece of 12-gauge steel; although hefty, the steel is still relatively light, while the forming process lends it strength. We’re not surprised by that metal-stamping expertise. Cub Cadet’s parent company is MTD, which started out in 1932 as Modern Tool and Die, a metal-stamping and fabricating outfit. It knows metal fabrication like few others. But we digress. The mower’s 679-cc engine (estimated 21-23 hp) is fed not by a carburetor but by electronic fuel injection, increasing power and decreasing fuel consumption. Comfort? In our brief tests of the RZT, we found it exceptionally comfortable, owing to its layout, a better than average seat, and an adjustable tilt steering column. A final thought on its 42-inch stamped deck. Its twin anti-scalp rollers are adjustable, a great feature if you need to adjust for more clearance at the deck edge on a washboard lawn.
Great ValueTroy-Bilt Mustang Z42
The Mustang is on the lower end of the zero-turn price spectrum, fitting into that category of machines suited for lawns that are too much to cut with a walk mower but aren’t big enough to warrant a mower with a deck, say, 48 to 52 inches wide. For your money, you get a welded tube steel frame, twin Hydrogear EZT transmissions that provide a top speed of 7 mph, a twin-blade stamped deck with two anti-scalp lawn rollers on the leading edge, and a Troy-Bilt engine with a forged steel crankshaft. We like to hear about forged components as a telltale of durability, but is it really necessary in a light-duty mower like this? Troy-Bilt thinks so, and we’ll take their word for it. The company doesn’t list the horsepower of the 679-cc V-twin OHV engine. But based on past experience, we’d say it’s probably good for 21 hp, which should provide plenty of oomph to propel the 580-pound mower and driver while cutting.
Roy BerendsohnSenior Home EditorRoy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment.
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Zero turn vs. 3-wheel mower
My FIL just bought a Ferris IS 500Z 61". He loves it, and no doubt I'll have to try it out on the new place at least once. Maybe two or three times.
The barnowner where we are now has a Gravely 60" 3-wheel style. He thinks it's great and it's given him plenty of years of service. From my research, I only that they don't make true zero-radius turns, are easy to maintain with the flip-up deck, easier learning curve, and are highly maneuverable around obstacles - perhaps better than a ZTR.
Also ZTR's are the popular thing right now, so from a value point of view it's hard to get a great deal on one. I suspect the 3-wheels will have much softer prices.
Do you think a 3-wheel mower makes sense for me?
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Type of lawn mowing equipment
A zero-turn riding lawn mower (colloquially, a z-turn) is a standard riding lawn mower with a turning radius that is effectively zero when the two drive wheels rotate in opposite direction, like a tank turning in place.
Different brands and models achieve this in different ways, with hydraulic speed control of each drive wheel being the most common method when a gasoline or diesel engine is used. Battery powered models simply use two electric motors. Both commercial duty and homeowner models exist, with varying engine power options, size of cutting decks, and prices. A z-turn mower typically drives faster and costs more than a similarly sized conventional riding mower that has steerable front wheels.
Most current models have four wheels: two small swiveling front tires and two large drive tires in the back. Bush Hog mowers sometimes come with a small, pivoting fifth wheel mounted in the center behind the driver. Instead of controlling the swiveling tires to steer the machine, the large drive tires rotate independently of each other based on the driver's input. They may rotate in opposite directions. The mower can pivot around a point midway between the drive wheels (the classic z-turn), or it can pivot around either one of the drive wheels if one is stationary, or it can turn in a circle of any radius. Reversal of the direction of travel can be accomplished by causing both wheels to rotate in reverse.
In 1949, Warrensburg, MO resident Max B. Swisher invented the very first commercially available zero-turn mower and called it the "Ride King". It was a three-wheeled machine: one drive wheel in front and two in the rear. The patented system had a driven front wheel that was capable of turning 360 degrees. The wheel was driven by the motor in the same direction at all times. In order to reverse or utilize the zero-turn capabilities, the driver simply turned the steering wheel 180 degrees and the mower would move backwards.
In 1963 another system was designed: Hesston Corporation was a manufacturer of farm and agricultural equipment and had recently engineered a device called the swather, which, propelled by a series of belts, cut hay, alfalfa and other farming materials and laid them out in windrows. One of their employees, John Regier, was struck by the swather's belt-and-pulley mechanism, that allowed for counter-rotation. His idea was: what if the same technology could be incorporated into lawnmowers?
"So he went home and invented this thing that was able to operate on the zero-turn radius," says Ken Raney, advertising manager at the time for Hustler Turf. "He began selling them, but they weren't really taking off the way he wanted them to." Regier's design was the first twin-lever zero-turn lawn mower. There was no steering wheel. The lawn mower turned on a zero degree radius by utilizing two independent drive levers. This technology was new and regarded as unusual, which resulted in the slow acceptance. Regier's patent was eventually sold to Excel Industries, the parent company of Hustler Turf and BigDog Mower Co. The mower was called – appropriately enough – the Hustler.
"We were the first company to offer mowers with zero-turn technology," says Paul Mullet, president of Excel Industries. "After Regier sold us the patent, he came to work for us and the rest is history." Excel Industries is the parent company of Hustler Turf Equipment, Inc., which manufacturers Hustler Turf and BigDog Mowers zero-turn mowers.
In 1974, the Dixon company coined the term "zero-turn radius" on their entrance into the mower market.
In 1997, Robert D. Davis Jr. obtained United States Patent 5644903 for a new steering control he had invented for a zero turn radius mower, based on eight previous patents.
Currently, there are more than three dozen zero-turn mower manufacturers, offering a range of mid-mounted and out-front mowing deck options and accessories.
For most zero-turn mowers today, steering is simply changing the speeds of the drive tires, a method called differential steering. The tire speed is controlled by two levers that protrude on either side of the driver and typically extend over the lap (aka. lap bars). It is not that different from steering a shopping cart. When both levers are pushed forward simultaneously with the same force, the mower moves forward; when both levers are pulled back simultaneously with the same force, the mower moves backward. Push one lever more than the other and the mower makes a gentle turn. Push one lever forward and pull the other back and the mower pivots from the drive wheels, creating a zero-radius turn.
Zero-turn mowers can use steering wheels but must be designed much differently. Cub Cadet is one of the few zero-turns to use a steering wheel by connecting the back wheels to an axle. The axle is mounted in its midpoint to the body of the mower.
Zero-turn mowers are designed to cut so closely around obstacles that there's virtually no need to trim. These mowers pivot through 180 degrees without leaving any uncut grass. Maximum lever movement means maximum fluid flow, which translates into a rapidly turning wheel. If one drive wheel turns more rapidly than the other, the machine moves along a curved path. If both wheels turn at the same speed, the machine follows a straight path. If one wheel stops and the other turns, or if the wheels turn in opposite directions, the mower pivots. This drive system can be used on two different types of zero turn mowers, Mid Mount, where the mower is suspended under a 4-wheel chassis or Out Front, where the mower is terrain following and front mounted. The terrain following models provide a higher level of balance, comfort, safety and performance. The Out-front models use a centralised main drive wheel system with front and rear caster wheels. The mid-mount has front caster wheels and rear drive wheels. As both types use traction only as a steering system, care must be taken on any sloping terrain. Loss of traction causes total loss of steering.
- ^ abFasold, Danny (2009-01-12). "Zero-Turn Mowers: Past, Present, Future". Igin.com. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
- ^Davis Jr., Robert D.; et al. (July 8, 1997). "United States Patent: 5644903". USPTO. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- ^Davis Jr., Robert D.; et al. (July 8, 1997). "Steering control for zero turn radius mower - Robert D. Davis et al - Google Patent Search". USPTO via Google. Retrieved 2010-07-17. (more user-friendly presentation of the above)
- ^"Why Zero Turn Mowers? - Easy to Drive". zeroturn.com. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
- ^Maxwell, Steve Care must be exercised when turning as a tight turn on one wheel can induce scuffing and turf tearing. (2007-08-04). "Zero-turn radius concept mows over grass, competition". thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
- ^ abBerendsohn, Roy (December 7, 2004). "Zero Turn Mower Reviews - Best Zero Turn Mowers - Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
Says balls in it. Yes, I'm listening. Irina's heart began to pound harder.
Turn zero 3 mower wheel
The dog did not seem to notice anything and went on saping loudly. Anya grew a little bolder and began to gently and slowly masturbate the dog's penis. She felt how he began to grow and harden. And then the dog raised his head as if trying to understand what was happening.Yazoo Master Mower YR 60 Zero Turn mower
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