Pros: Easy to use, functions well
Cons: no snow plow attachment available.
My old Ahrens 8HP rider dumped on me right in the Fall when I used it for leaves and mulching....sigh. And here I was looking for another used one and of course no one was selling them. They only sell them by the droves when I don't need one.
I wanted a 30" cutting width as I have to drive through normal 36" gates. Otherwise I could have grabbed a 42" almost anywhere.
So a bit disparaged I went to the Sears Outlet store nearby and happened upon this mower. The normal cost on it was $1,900.00, but they were letting it go for $850.00! I could barely find a used one for under 6 bills that was decent, so what's a couple more hundred for a brand new one?
So I loaded it up and took it home, and did my 'walk around' as I do with all my new toys. Nice looks. Nice styling. Headlights, big seat, cup holder, automatic transmission and a nice 17.5 HP engine! Woo hoo! It has an attached plastic grass/leaf catcher that yanks up with a handle while seated and dumps the load where you want it. It also has a built in alarm that tells you when the bucket is full and needs dumping. Cool beans! so off to the races here!
I read the manual and set the brake on, sat on the seat, and cranked the engine over. It popped right up and I waited a couple minutes for it to warm a bit, then sat down and hit the Reverse pedal with my heel (it works like a heel toe shifter on a motorcycle) and backed out of the garage.
The Reverse is slow on this thing, and I mean SLOW. Engaging the blade is a bit hard the first couple of times, but after that the cable relaxes a bit and it's not bad. One pull toward the rider and it pops in.
The height adjustment is a breeze, just a pull of the handle again to the side and it moves pretty easily up or down. The Forward pedal takes a light pressure with the toes and off you go. The harder you push down, the faster you go. Take it off and you sit.
The steering is tight and the turning radius is impressive. This thing is almost Zero Turn, not quite, but an impressive radius nonetheless. The 17 HP engine will run me uphill easily at 260 lbs., and it doesn't bog or breath hard.
The cutting is very even and the grass catcher sucks everything up cleanly and when the alarm goes off, I stop the blades, run across the property and dump in my area where I can rake it all into a bag fast. It works very well with leaves as well.
As far as dry leaves that is. Wet leaves tend to clog the chute, though it WILL suck them up, you need to carry a stick to un-jam it with if you use it for that.
The automatic transmission is a joy, as it relieves you of the constant shifting on older type mowers. It only goes as fast or slow as you want it to by pushing the pedals like gas pedals on a car.
The seat is adjustable to the rider, so tall or short it will adjust to you.
It has a safety brake that allows you to hop off and keep it running, like a Parking Brake on a car. If the brake is NOT on the mower will die when you get off the seat. Use it, you can hop off, open a gate, ride through, and hop on and never shut it off.
Now, heres what I dislike besides the slow reverse.
If mowing on uneven areas or through a drainage ditch, the rear bag assembly tends to hit the ground on high spots and either bumps up and down a bit, or falls off altogether. The worst part? There is a safety switch that will cut the engine off if it thinks the bag fell off.
So every time I ran uphill through a drainage ditch, the bag jumped unbeknownst to me, and the engine would start to die, then when I popped on level lawn again it ran fine. So it APPEARED to be bad gas or spark plug, and it was brand new. So when I found out, I simply rigged the safety switch, and now I hit bumps and ditches, the engine doesn't start to die on me. AND by doiong this I can also run the mower with the bag off, which it will NOT do as designed until you disable that switch.
Secondly, there is NO snow plow attachment you can buy for this mower. It is one of the only riders from Sears that doesn't have that option.
There is a mulching option, but it’s a little expensive and I can make it mulch easier by using a home made plate I bolt on.
So my final assessment.
It’s a nice machine. But at full retail is it $1,900.00 pre-tax nice? Not at all. Is it $850.00 dollar nice? Absolutely. Judging this machine, I would never want to pay more than $1,200.00 at the very most, but at that cost I could grab an MTD ( same machine ) that I could slap a snow plow on. So it is MUCH more easy than a push mower. It is easier to use than a mower you need to shift all the time for speed and forward/reverse modes. It has plenty of power at 17.5 HP, and t mows nice and easy.
It is a godsend for extremely leafy lawns like mine, making what used to be a 7 hour job every weekend in the Fall for 5 weeks, to an hour and a half each weekend. That alone justifies the cost to me. It is a 30” mower and fits through normal gates and takes not that much room in the garage.
It’s a pretty machine and has headlights if you need. Why? Most lawns are mown in late sun Summer days. Snow, I can understand but it doesn’t take a plow. A useless function on this mower unless you plan to beef it up and run drag races AT 2 AM and don’t want to hit a tree.
But all in all, I say if you can find it for under $1,000 on sale, nab it if you have a hilly and leaf filled lawn that is over a 3rd acre. I think it’s a darn good bargain at that price, especially for the price I got mine for.