Need to get up to speed on ZTs

   #1  

KTurner

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2008
Messages
498
I'm looking at ZTs for the first time. Mowing consists of 6-7 acres. For wide open areas, I currently use a Ford 3230 utility tractor pulling a 6' caroni finish mower, unless grass is too thick/tall, then it pulls a 5' woods rotary cutter. This is not very maneuverable and normally goes in the 3-4mph range. For the non-wide open areas I use a JD lx255 (w/ 42" deck) that's showing its age and may be ready for retirement. It still runs fine, but plastic hood just fell apart while doing annual maintenance, deck has a hole in it, seat is coming apart, etc.

I don't need a golf course and am generally happy if things are green, a reasonable height and I dont spend all day mowing. Reasonable height increases as you get further from the house, with the furthest potentially only getting cut a few times per year. I think my primary factors are cutting time and longevity. The lx255 is 24 years old and I'd expect similar/better from a replacement. The deck and plastic body seem to be the weak points on the JD. The equipment isn't babied, but does stay inside a building and gets annual maintenance. I'm thinking getting a ZT would allow me to get rid of the caroni and the lx255, or maybe keep the lx255 around for kids to learn on.

Is there a good website/youtube channel/etc to get an (up to date) crash course on ZTs? pros/cons of different brands and features, things to watch out for, etc.

Keith
 
   #2  

popsx3

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2005
Messages
11
You'll find everybody has the best one out there. I've had very good service from Gravely. First one lasted 14 years, and traded it to a friend. Current one 4 years, no problems at all. Ex Mark comes highly recommended, but the Gravely was less $$. I cur 6 acres with lots of trees in 2 hours.
 
   #3  

MoKelly

Super Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Messages
7,399
Location
Jefferson County, Mo, ... about 35 miles out of St
Tractor
Bobcat CT235, Bad Boy z-turn, Suzuki Vinson 500 and F-150
This shows, for speed of mowing, you cannot beat a zero turn.

IMG_1308.JPG


MoKelly
 
   #4  

BigBlue1

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2017
Messages
1,467
Location
Middle MN
Tractor
JD: 2520 & x758
I'm far from an expert, but I've been looking at getting into a zero-turn for several years and learning what I can. And I'm about ready to buy one myself. I'll share a little of what I've learned.

Zero-turns can typically mow faster than a garden tractor or CUT because of their speed and maneuverability. With my Deere x758 (or any GT I've used), you have to either make a circle to make the 90* turn at the end of a square/rectangle section or else make a multi-point turn with reverse. Given the turning radius this just takes longer on a GT than a zero-turn can do, which adds time.

The zero-turn mowers usually have higher blade rotation speeds (spec is called 'blade tip speed'). That helps the mower give a better cut at higher ground speeds. Most commercial level zero-turns seem to run at 18,000 to 18,500 feet per min blade tip speed. Elsewhere someone told me 19,000 is some industry max threshold for safety, which explains why so many run in the 18 range.

Zero-turns can also shorten your mowing time because it is quicker and easier to mow around things like trees, flower beds, etc.

Higher end models also have some type of suspension system, ranging from a suspension seat on up to full chassis suspension. This also allows you to mow at higher ground speeds and be more comfortable.

There are drawbacks. Zero-turns are not hill friendly. They are harder to run in a straight line going across a slope. And they lose traction more easily on hills and in wet areas. You also need to use both arms to run them all the time, which can make it hard for people with physical issues or those that like to hold a beer while they mow. I may have to resort to using my CamelBak when I switch to a zero-turn.

As long as you're looking at models a bit above the entry level I don't think you'll find there is a lot of quality difference at any particular price point, but with 6-7 acres you probably want a larger, commercial-quality one to hold up to the task at hand. When you're shopping around look for some of these differences in features:

- Does it come with a suspension; at least a suspension seat?
- How does deck height adjust? Knob or do you have to pull and move a pin?
- Twin hydro motors tend to give best performance and longer life.
- How easy is it to open things up to clean and service it?
- Does it have adjustable levers, seat and foot controls? Very useful to make operation easy for your size/reach.
- Larger tires will give a better ride and enable you to mow faster. This is on key difference as you move up in the line of any brand.

Good luck shopping!

Rob
 
   #5  

Frankenkubota

Elite Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2020
Messages
2,644
Location
Carthage NC...Deep in the woods
Tractor
Kubota MX 5800, SkidPro 4 in 1, Ratchet rake, SkidPro pallet forks
I'm far from an expert, but I've been looking at getting into a zero-turn for several years and learning what I can. And I'm about ready to buy one myself. I'll share a little of what I've learned.

Zero-turns can typically mow faster than a garden tractor or CUT because of their speed and maneuverability. With my Deere x758 (or any GT I've used), you have to either make a circle to make the 90* turn at the end of a square/rectangle section or else make a multi-point turn with reverse. Given the turning radius this just takes longer on a GT than a zero-turn can do, which adds time.

The zero-turn mowers usually have higher blade rotation speeds (spec is called 'blade tip speed'). That helps the mower give a better cut at higher ground speeds. Most commercial level zero-turns seem to run at 18,000 to 18,500 feet per min blade tip speed. Elsewhere someone told me 19,000 is some industry max threshold for safety, which explains why so many run in the 18 range.

Zero-turns can also shorten your mowing time because it is quicker and easier to mow around things like trees, flower beds, etc.

Higher end models also have some type of suspension system, ranging from a suspension seat on up to full chassis suspension. This also allows you to mow at higher ground speeds and be more comfortable.

There are drawbacks. Zero-turns are not hill friendly. They are harder to run in a straight line going across a slope. And they lose traction more easily on hills and in wet areas. You also need to use both arms to run them all the time, which can make it hard for people with physical issues or those that like to hold a beer while they mow. I may have to resort to using my CamelBak when I switch to a zero-turn.

As long as you're looking at models a bit above the entry level I don't think you'll find there is a lot of quality difference at any particular price point, but with 6-7 acres you probably want a larger, commercial-quality one to hold up to the task at hand. When you're shopping around look for some of these differences in features:

- Does it come with a suspension; at least a suspension seat?
- How does deck height adjust? Knob or do you have to pull and move a pin?
- Twin hydro motors tend to give best performance and longer life.
- How easy is it to open things up to clean and service it?
- Does it have adjustable levers, seat and foot controls? Very useful to make operation easy for your size/reach.
- Larger tires will give a better ride and enable you to mow faster. This is on key difference as you move up in the line of any brand.

Good luck shopping!

Rob
thx

i've been looking for about 1 year and your post kinda sums all it up!
 
   #6  

MoKelly

Super Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Messages
7,399
Location
Jefferson County, Mo, ... about 35 miles out of St
Tractor
Bobcat CT235, Bad Boy z-turn, Suzuki Vinson 500 and F-150
I'm far from an expert, but I've been looking at getting into a zero-turn for several years and learning what I can. And I'm about ready to buy one myself. I'll share a little of what I've learned.

You also need to use both arms to run them all the time, which can make it hard for people with physical issues or those that like to hold a beer while they mow. I may have to resort to using my CamelBak when I switch to a zero-turn.

Rob

As a fan of the occasional beer or two, I had to laugh at your comment.

Many ZT have cup holders which, in my experience, are useless since everything gets sloshed out of the can due to the vibration.

For me, that is what rest stops are for!

MoKelly
 
   #7  

blacktruck

Silver Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2014
Messages
228
Location
Texarkana, TX
Tractor
Cub cadet 2450 and several older Ford LGTs
I'm looking at ZTs for the first time. Mowing consists of 6-7 acres. For wide open areas, I currently use a Ford 3230 utility tractor pulling a 6' caroni finish mower, unless grass is too thick/tall, then it pulls a 5' woods rotary cutter. This is not very maneuverable and normally goes in the 3-4mph range. For the non-wide open areas I use a JD lx255 (w/ 42" deck) that's showing its age and may be ready for retirement. It still runs fine, but plastic hood just fell apart while doing annual maintenance, deck has a hole in it, seat is coming apart, etc.

I don't need a golf course and am generally happy if things are green, a reasonable height and I dont spend all day mowing. Reasonable height increases as you get further from the house, with the furthest potentially only getting cut a few times per year. I think my primary factors are cutting time and longevity. The lx255 is 24 years old and I'd expect similar/better from a replacement. The deck and plastic body seem to be the weak points on the JD. The equipment isn't babied, but does stay inside a building and gets annual maintenance. I'm thinking getting a ZT would allow me to get rid of the caroni and the lx255, or maybe keep the lx255 around for kids to learn on.

Is there a good website/youtube channel/etc to get an (up to date) crash course on ZTs? pros/cons of different brands and features, things to watch out for, etc.

Keith
Lot's of good advice given so far. A ZT is the only way to cover large areas in a hurry. My opinion is they are worth the price of the dalliance but they are not a substitute for a a small tractor. That said, a small tractor is not a suitable substitute for a ZT to mow with. Every mfg has their own sales pitch about their features. Truth be known, I would go for buying one from a dealer who you can count on being there for you. A good dealer will make the difference for me. All brands are pretty good but run the gamut in price and features. Find the ones you like at the price you can afford for a place you want to deal with.
 
   #8  

shooterdon

Elite Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2012
Messages
2,720
Location
Near Johannesburg MI but in the middle of nowhere
Tractor
2019 LS XR4140 HST Cab; 2020 Kawasaki Mule SX; 2021 Bad Boy 54" ZT Elite
I am also looking at getting my first ZT. Every "affordable" option I have to pick from in my area has either a Kohler or Kawasaki engine regardless of mower brand...so no advantage for any brand. So then it comes to features like the serviceable hydros, and nearly all use the same hydros. Then there is accessibility for service, tires sizes. seats, and beefiness of frame, deck. spindles. The only brand that offers something truly unique is the Country Clipper. They have a joy stick control that is very nice (and lets you have a beer in one hand..LOL) and a flip up deck. I was set to get one until last week when I saw the Bad Boy at my LS dealer. The Bad Boy has a much heavier deck and weighs 125 lbs more for the same price. The Bad Boy also has a front pivot suspension in a $5000 model. I am still trying to decide which one to get.

One last item to consider. If you are letting some areas grow to the point you need to brush hog, that may be a bit much for a ZT to handle. Cutting those areas twice as often but at twice the speed would let you use the ZT and not cost you any more seat time.

BTW, after talking to the dealer, he has suggested a cutting height of 3" and never changing it. Not sure how that would work in your conditions but it seems "the setting" for the part of Michigan I am in.
 
   #9  

RjCorazza

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2000
Messages
1,440
Location
Maryland
Tractor
Kubota L4060 Cab, ZD1211, ZD326
Many years ago I bought a Kubota ZD326 diesel to mow my 6 acres plus a friend's property who had fallen on tough times. I still have this mower as my backup machine, and a ZD1211 72" that I use to cut 30 acres per week now.
Commercial diesels are not cheap, but longevity is an important factor plus handling diesel is much easier. Even if I we're back to cutting just my 6 acres I could never go back to gas mowers.
 

kthompson

Elite Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2008
Messages
3,300
Location
South Carolina
Tractor
Kubotas B2710, M6800, L6060 cab, Volvo EC excavator, 2 ZTRs and various implements.
We have about a two acre yard with shrubs, trees and grape vines. Used a Kubota 27 hp tractor and 6 foot rfm. Took two hours. Bought a Bushog ZTR (same brand as the rfm) 52 inches and cut the same yard it took only 1 1/2 hours using a 20 inch narrower deck and basically doing 80% of the trimming with the mower. Mower is not a commercial model but their now mid grade.

I think Bigblue did a good summary. We now have second ztr (Ferris)much nicer and higher price commercial mower. The Bushog is at least a dozen years old and repairs have been very few. One advantage the ztr has over the tractor with rfm is only the front wheels run over the grass before being cut on most ztrs. Still I would look at the mowers with the deck out front so NO mower wheels hit the grass before being mowed. There also the option of used truly commercial mowers such as golf courses use. Some of those use steering wheel and not levers. ONE BIG SAFETY NOTE ON ZTR, never ever let a child ride on it. It moves too quickly and sharp turns. Had a mother with her about 2 or 3 year old place her daughter on hers and when she fell off mower took off one arm up to about the elbow. As a dumb and sad an act as I can think of.
 
 
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