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Riding mower recommendations, please

wakebdr's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 97

04-05-07, 09:58 AM   #1  
Riding mower recommendations, please

I'm finally taking the plunge and am about to be in the market for a riding mower. I've been pushing my mower up and down the hills in my yard for long enough. With this choice comes the decision of what to buy, which I have absolutely zero knowledge to base it on. I'd like to get some recommendations or simply advice on getting a riding mower. I have a couple of specific needs for a mower and also a couple of questions.

1. What is a hydrostatic lawn tractor?
2. What are the best brands?
3. What's the typical lifespan if taken care of properly?

Needs/Requirements (in no particular order):
1. Bagger option: I want to bag my lawn pretty much all the time
2. Fairly powerful: I have some pretty steep hills that I'll need to go up and I don't want the mower to struggle going up the hills
3. Ease of maintenance
4. Warranty: Must have a good warranty
5. Option to use attachments (spreader, aerater, etc)
6. Ease of use: my wife will also be using it

My current push mower is a John Deere and I've been extremely pleased with it. The only problem I've had with it in the 7 years that I've owned it was a cracked gas tank, which my local John Deere dealership fixed in a day.

I've been pleased with John Deere, but I'm curious to get opinions on the multitude of other brands in the market. The Husqvarna's really appeal to me simply because they look like very tough, rugged machines. Again, any info is appreciated.

Last thing to note is that I'd like to stay under $2000 total. (I'd like to stay well below that, but that might not be possible.)

Thanks in advance

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backyardwonder's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 105

04-05-07, 12:19 PM   #2  
Sounds like you need a good, reliable, hard working machine. I would be inclined to suggest you stay with John Deere if you have a good relationship with the dealer. Pretty well any machine runs good out of the crate but down the road, you will be looking at more and more service and your dealer can, or should be your best friend. In fact, it could be argued that the dealer is more important in the long run than the machine.

Here again, the life of the machine will depend entirely on proper maintenance. There are a lot of old John Deere's still going strong. A lot of the other brands aren't old enough yet to really be able say how well they last.

My money's on John Deere.

Azis's Avatar
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04-06-07, 08:01 AM   #3  
If you have unlimited time and money and don't care about wasting either, then by all means stay with John Deere. If you got service in ONE day from a Deere dealer, likely there was a recall on your fuel tank :P I have gotten the same unattentive, uncaring and sometimes downright rude interactions from 5 different John Deere franchises in my area, so its kinda personal I don't think they like anyone servicing their product other than themselves. (Their hourly shop rate is twice what mine is.)

For under 2000.00 however, you won't be getting any more or better product than you can buy at any box or Dept store.
Personally I like your interest in Husqvarna. They are made by Electrolu/AYP. The same as the Craftsman. However at least the last I looked at them, the Husqy's had the heavier gage steel, the solid cast not stamped front ends, Electric PTO...just the higher end of the line of the AYP procuct. I have always liked and trusted the Husqy name and products myself. (And the bright Orange )
If you like forest green you can get a craftsman with the same options.
Hydrostatic is basically just hydraulic driven. They are much easier to operate and provide much better control. No gears or shifting mechanisms to break or wear out. Basically no maintenance is needed or possible.
I personally like the single cylinders, Briggs or Kohler. Just for the simplicity and longevity. I think most all of the Kohlers have pressurized and filtered oil systems, which adds to the longevity. The twins do have more power but not enough for me to prefer them over the single when you consider all that could go wrong.
Best brands is kinda like asking Ford or Chevy. Many different brands may be made by the same manufacturer and produced for a specific distributor.
Barring any defective parts or mistakes during assembly, I think neglect and or lack of proper maintenance is about the only thing I have seen send one to the scrap pile.
Follow the operators maintenance schedule in the Operators Manual, if and when problems do arise, address them immediatley. Proper storage, Cool Dry and avoid temperature extremes, and it should service you for years and years.
My personal MTD that I use for the 5 of my 20 acres I mow, was made in 1996 and still has the original spindles

cheese's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 16,570

04-06-07, 08:31 PM   #4  
I think the best bang for the buck is AYP mowers (Craftsman, Husquvarna). They can meet the needs you listed, and for the price you listed. Deere makes some mowers that stand out above the rest, but you have to pay twice your budget to get into the good mowers from deere. If it was my money, it would be a craftsman, husquvarna, or a nice used deere (one of the better mowers available at dealers...not the box stores...like a LX or GT series deere).

"Who is John Galt?" - Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)

God bless!

Pendragon's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,835

04-07-07, 10:51 AM   #5  
Just bought a Cub Cadet SLT1550 ($2499).
25hp Kohler twin with full pressure oil (oil filter, etc), 50" triple blade deck, electric pto, hydrostatic drive.
Haven't mowed enough grass with it to write a review, but have owned a number of riders over the years. All have lasted about 10 years before something major mechanical (current craftsman with major oil leak) or functional (previous craftsman with shot mower deck), and we are not kind to them, pulling full size trailers loaded with stuff, etc. This is my first with an oil filter and I am hoping that will help the engines lifespan, built in deck wash system should help the decks lifespan as well.

The cub has plenty of attachments, and it will take the same ones as the GT line, even though Cub doesn't list them. Part diagrams are on Cub's website, and you can purchase the parts online as well. My only complaint is I don't like pedal drives, my old craftsman was a stick hydro. Easier on the feet not having to constantly press down a pedal when you are on it for a few hours at a time. I'm sure I will get use to a pedal again though.

I was leaning towards the GT1554, but for $500, all you get is 4" more deck, 3 more rated HP and slightly bigger tires.

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