Mini tiller for Christmas


Old 11-24-06, 06:21 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: House Springs
Posts: 31
Red face Mini tiller for Christmas

Okay, so it's not as romantic as a diamond necklace, but my gardener SO would much prefer a Mantis-type tiller to more jewelry any day. I've been researching the options and have found several: Craftsman, Earthquake and Mantis. This will be used for gardening (flowerbeds, shrubs). Our soil is pretty much clay and takes a lot of work and additives to improve it. I'd prefer a 4-cycle engine to not have to mess with the oil/gas mixture but that's not absolute. The only 2-cycle equipment we own is a line trimmer that is loud and tempermental to say the least.

Mantis' standard 2-cycle tiller has the best reputation, it would appear. Their 4-cycle Little Wonder has a Honda engine. Neither has wheels standard like the others. Is that significant? I can't find the HP ratings anywhere and they're a little pricey compared to the competition.

The $299 Earthquake has an electric start ($100 option but it's tempting). It's only available with a 1.75 HP 2-cycle Viper (?) engine. Is that adequate for a tiller?

Sears sells one for $290 with a 4-cycle MTD engine. Again, unknown HP. I'm not real keen on MTD for reasons I won't bore you with. Otherwise, it doesn't sound bad. For $40 more, I can get a larger 96-pound Craftsman with a 5.5 HP B&S engine. It sounds like a lot of power, but it might be a little too big for her purposes.

Is there anything I should avoid or know about any of these tillers/cultivators?

These forums have always been helpful to me. So, thanks in advance for this one.

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Old 11-24-06, 09:31 PM
30yearTech's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 1,176
I have used several different units, and sold the Ryobi, MTD and Mantis units in the past. For my money there is only one I would ever buy, in fact it's the one I did buy MANTIS!

The Mantis unit has unique tines, they are made of a tempered spring steel and have a lifetime warranty, they are light enough that you don't need any wheels and these little beasts will till a hole to China, and they are durable. They will even give you up to a year risk free trial. Man I could go on and on about this little Tiller/Cultivator they are just something else. I have the unit with the 2-cycle Echo engine, I have never used the 4-stroke or electric one but I am confident that any one of them will provide excellent service.

The only other unit I might consider would be MM 55 STIHL YARD BOSS it's in the same league as the Little Wonder/Mantis, I am not sure how they compare in price.

Last edited by 30yearTech; 11-24-06 at 09:47 PM.
Old 11-24-06, 09:55 PM
repair_guy's Avatar
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Location: Marion,Al.
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I agree,And besides,the wheels are just for making it ez'r to get from place to place.You do better tilling without wheels.just hold back a little to dig,push it to go from place to place,or pick it up and tote it.
Old 11-25-06, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 2,365
To agree with the other posts, if you don't buy the Mantis or Stihl you need to take the money you save and go buy some jewlery to have on hand when she starts crabbin about the problems she's having with the cheap equipment. Have a nice day. Geo
Old 11-25-06, 11:58 PM
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I wouldn't buy any small tiller if it wasn't a mantis. In defense of the stihl, I haven't seen one yet. I've seen and used lots of the mantis tillers and am thoroughly impressed.
Old 11-26-06, 06:42 PM
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Location: NC, USA
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I have a 10 year old Mantis and a 1 year old Honda and they both work.

The Mantis is harder to start, but it always starts. It's a bit lighter and seems to have more power. It also seems to be louder.

The Honda is easy to start and has a more pleasent sound to the ear but it seems to be heavier and have less power.

They both do the job but my wife cannot start the Mantis. I am sure the Honda will last almost forever and the Mantis has already lasted half of forever (and my parents are still using it).

I would buy the Honda by a very slight margin because it starts so easily and I like the sound. I have nothing bad to say about the Mantis. You can not go wrong with either.
Old 11-27-06, 07:46 AM
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Posts: 4,288
Wifey bought herself a Sears mini tiller (2cycle) about two years ago. It doesn't get much use but she can easily handle it and with the easy start system she has no problem firing it up. I realize that it doesn't rank with the "big names" but it works for her.
Old 11-27-06, 08:11 AM
bontai Joe's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
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My brother has had the 2 cycle Mantis for 5 years now and uses it a fair amount in his garden ( approx. 50 x 75). His initial tilling is done in the spring with a big Troy-Bilt horse, but the garden is maintained the rest of the year by the Mantis, and he rotates crops during the season, replanting an area after something is harvested. He loves his! Says it can get into places the Horse is too big for, and allows him to space rows closer together to increase yields in the same space.
Old 11-29-06, 12:13 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Alabama
Posts: 718
I have owned a heavy 4-cycle tiller for about 30 years, and it beats me up whenever I use it. Just last year I tried my Dad's Mantis and loved it! It is so light and manuverable. Now my old 4-cycle would still be my choice for breaking up virgin soil for a garden, but if it has been tilled previously, then the Mantis is the one I go for. The only problem is when my dad put it up the previous year, he did not drain the fuel nor run it from the carburettor. I soaked the thing in carb soaking fluid which disolves nearly everything, but on this tiny unit the passages were so small I was never able to get it to work properly, so I had to purchase a new carb. Before I put it up for the season last week-end, I drained the gas tank and ran it dry. All of this is to say that if you are maintaining an existing garden/flower bed, I would certainly go with the Mantis.
Old 11-29-06, 06:59 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: House Springs
Posts: 31

I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond sooner. Thank you all for your advice. The only problem I have with the Mantis is it's 2-cycle engine. My experience with 2-cycles is wearing out my arm trying to start the thing. And it's loud. The Little Wonder Mantis does have a 4-cycle engine. I guess I should look into that.
Old 11-29-06, 09:27 PM
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Chances are, your experiences with 2-strokes involve 90 dollar weed whackers sold by retail stores. Those engines don't compare to the Echo engine (commercial quality engine) on the mantis. A good 2-stroke is hard to beat. A cheap one is good to beat hard (against a tree, for example).

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