You want to make sure you find something that you will be comfortable with. Not necessarily the cheapest rider on the market, but find something that will last, has a great quality build, and a mower you know that you can handle. These mowers might be fitted with handle bars, a steering wheel, or a zero-turn with the sticks.
The most important factor is to make sure you are comfortable with it, you can safely operate it, and particularly want to determine the size of your lawn area. That should determine what the width of the mower should be. Some widths will go from anywhere from 30 inches (a rear engine mower), up to a 6 feet width (72 inches).
Riding mowers come in several configurations:
–Rear Engine Mowers
Their engines are situated in the back. The cutting widths tend to be narrower in rear engine riders, typically 30 inches.
The engines are found in the front and most commonly the cutting widths are 42 inches, but sometimes greater.
Mowing isn’t the only capability of these lawn tractors. They have more power and are often compatible with ground engaging attachments, such as tillers or graters. If you don’t want to be limited to just mowing, this is something you might want to look at.
–Z-Turn Mowers (commonly called zero turn radius, or ZTRs)
The mower category’s hottest, new thing is ZTRS, able to turn in their own length. They are often contrasted with traditional riding mowers.
How do these riders differ?
Traditional riders are nimble, but they can require up to 28 inches to make a 180 degree turn, whereas a zero turn turns in its own track wasting no movement. This is possible because each back wheel of a zero turn is steered independently by the operator using a separate steering handle for each wheel.
A traditional riding mower uses an automotive style steering wheel since only the front wheels steer. The other big differences, performance wise, are its speed and maneuverability. Most traditional riders max out at 4-5MPH, while zero turns can go as fast as 15MPH. A zero turn can also negotiate tight turns and mow close up to obstacles like trees or fence posts.
Given these performance factors, why would someone choose a traditional riding mower over a zero turn? Well, budget is one consideration. zero turns often run 2-3x the cost of traditional riders.
Another factor is the operation and speed of zero turns. Not everyone finds the two handle steering system to be intuitive and the speed is overkill for some.
It’s really a matter of preference. Zero turns have a zippy quality to them that’s generally fun for some people, but it’s just disorienting for others.
I would recommend deciding on a professional machine from one of the local dealers. They have the service department do the service and warranty work, and the machine won’t let you down near as much than the more economical varieties that are available.
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