Pros: Excellent mower, lots of traction with wide tires, easy to service.
Cons: Rear steering is differet.
I really like this mower. Have had it a year now. In that time I routinely mowed two acres with it, every week. So I have changed the oil a number of times, and also sharpened the blades many times.
Had to replace the main drive belt when a twig about the diameter of my thumb, but two feet long, managed to leap from the ground under the mower, and bind itself in the drive train. Probably my fault as I should have seen this stick. Replacing the main drive belt was not difficult, and took about two hours, although I had to order the part.
By allowing a rear wheel to turn, rather than just drag, tears can usually (but not always) be avoided. Rear steering means the front wheels follow along wherever they are pointed. If the main drive belt breaks, you have no control of the direction the mower will take, and can only stop the mower.
The MTD mowing blades are excellent, but I prefer the professional blades (bright yellow, with teeth on the back side to fling the grass to the catcher). These are a better quality steel and stay sharp longer, as well as generally doing a better job of cutting the grass. More expensive, they will save you money if you mow more than 1/2 acre in my opinion.
The mower is a bit noisy, but quite average for a 17hp gas engine. If you want a quieter mower you need to look at the two cycle or twin V engines.
They say you cannot mow hills with this mower, and that you cannot mow backwards with this mower. Both are true, but, as with any mower if you coast on a slight slope you can indeed mow backwards. As for hills, there is a greater tip over risk with other mowers in my opinion (although I am not an expert, and do not suggest dangerous operation). The rear wheels on this mower are fatter, and farther apart, that any other mower on the market that I know of. This gives it a lower center of gravity. Just remember to always turn up hill, and go slow, and you will be fine.
I have found this mower easy to work on, easy to service, and easy to operate. If you intend to replace your own belts, then I strongly recommend taking a polaroid, or a digital camera picture of the belt train, and pulley positions, as soon as you can. Mirror image pulley runs can be difficult to logically evaluate, but once you see how it goes it is quite simple to service.
There have been great difficulties in using this mower. Specifically the Tractor Supply place I purchased this mower at was unable to produce for me, by special order or otherwise, a bagger for the mower for over four months. It does not take a standard bagger or clipping catcher so you have to order it. Oh well, I guess nothing is perfect !
I bought this product to mow grass lawns at my home with. And to help with clean-up in the hilly woods on our property. It has excelled at both, even when I demanded vastly more of it than the manufacturer recommended. With zero turn I can navigate in heavy woods, cleaning up low growth briars, leaves and short brush (poison ivy), even when going down slope.
This product may be overkill for 1/2 acre or smaller lawns.
This product is probably best used on flat terrain. Slopes are tricky on any size mower or tractor, from the smallest to the largest.
This product has been very durable, and I say that even though I have had two flat tires, and one broken main drive belt, and used (or abused) half a dozen mower blades.
This product can provide service for those of us that are above the medically recommended weight level. In fact, the more you weigh the more stable the mower is, at low speeds.
This product is fun to use, and I have found many different ways to mow the yard with it, making the task more enjoyable and more challenging.
I looked at Cub Cadet, Sears, Kuboto and other small lawn tractors. For the money, this product is well made, sturdy, and provides excellent service in my opinion.
You should not provide this product if you cannot steer a boat. If you have experience on bob cat or similar skid steer equipment this product will be a breeze to operate. As a rear steer product, this mower is very different in its operation than other mowers. Most dealers will allow a test drive of the product, and I strongly suggest you compare using it to other mowers before you buy it.
If I could change anything I wanted about this product, I would change
- the package so that a grass catcher is included (special orders can be a big pain)
- the rear tires, increasing their diameter a few inches to reduce grass tear
- the engine to use a twin cycle or V engine, so it is quiet
- the front attachments so an inexpensive snowblower is available
- the manufacturer mower blades, to use harder steel so they stay sharp longer. Taking a break after mowing an acre or so, to sharpen blades, is not a good thing.
- the undercarriage of the mower, so that an embossed or decal image of the belt runs exists in a place that can be easily seen from under the mower
- the flat trail-float wheels on the blade housing, so they can pivot to faciliate housing removal (it slides out from under the mower completely)
- the blade housing hook up to the mower undercarriage. This can be simplified, and made easier to work. It should work so that any housewife can do it with one hand. It takes both hands for me to do it.