I need to get a riding mower

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Taterman

Buckeye
Joined
Jan 2, 2013
Messages
1,252
Location
Kentucky
This will be the first mower I've ever bought as we lived in a townhouse for 25+ years. I might pick up a used Cub Cadet from a friend here but they is starting to look like it will fall through so I may have to buy a new one.
The two I've looked at so far are a John Deere 48" zero turn and a similarly priced Cub Cadet 50" zero turn. The guy at Home Depot said they'd had less returns or issues with the Cubs and that their Kawasaki engine is better than the JD.

Can anyone help steer me in the right direction? We have and acre and a half to mow and it's already pretty long .
 

GunnyGene

Hawkeye
Joined
Nov 23, 2013
Messages
9,704
Location
Monroe County, MS
I'm on my 3rd for my 2 acres of rough ground in the last 23 years. First 2 were a Craftsman, followed a few years later by a Husky. Both had large decks, which gave me some grief. Both from Lowes.

Bought a JD S240 last fall with 42"deck from a local JD dealer not a bigbox store. So far, I'm very happy with it. If you settle on a JD, get it from an official JD dealer that will support it. Full specs here: https://www.deere.com/en/mowers/lawn-tractors/200-series/s240-lawn-tractor-42-in/

That said, the first thing is to consider your ground. Is it flat and smooth with few obstacles, or is it rough, with steep slopes, and lots of obstacles? Will you need to bag the clippings, or need various implements (trailer, thatcher, box blade, snowblower, etc.)? Does the mower have the cheap bushing and spindle axles, or ball/needle bearings like cars? How easy is it to change the oil & filters (air and oil), and grease the deck spindles and wheels? Are the controls easy for you to use? What size is the gas tank? For your acreage, figure it will take around 3 gallons or more to mow depending on the above rough/smooth, etc. Keep in mind that the bigger the mower deck the more weight that engine needs handle, and the more blades you'll need to change/sharpen - 48" and up will usually have 3, and blades ain't cheap. Deck and drive belts tend to fail after a few years, so you should buy spares when you buy the mower - get 'em while their cheap. Ditto blades. The grass won't stop growing just because you have to wait a week or 2 for delivery of replacements if the bigbox is out of stock.

Whether you get a zero turn with the deck out front or the more common rider with a steering wheel is mostly personal preference and depends on what you have to deal with. Zero turns are more expensive and not necessarily better. If you need other implements such as I mentioned, a zero turn mower is not what you want. Don't let them talk you into something you don't really need. :)
 
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Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
1,463
Location
western Ky
I am personally a fan of ExMark. Been running them for 14 years (until this year). For 1.5 acres, a 50" Quest would be great and run very little more than a MTD Cub or Deere from a box store. I had such great luck with them that my brother, my daughter and my neighbors on each side of me (at the time) went and bought them too. No issues, heavy decks, good hydro pumps. When we moved here- I went to buy a new mower back in December for springtime, and left ExMark for a Kubota 60". Used it twice this year already- so far it's nice, but it will take a while to see if it is as good or better than my ExMark mowers. I really like Exmark (Toro) mowers. If I don't like this Kubota, I'll go get another ExMark. I used to pwn a small engine business on the side- I had a lot of MTD Cub mowers come through, several with hydro pumps gone bad.
 

MHtractorguy

Blackhawk
Joined
Apr 9, 2023
Messages
501
Location
Eastern NC
I totally agree with avoiding big box stores. Their prices seem lower because their products are lower quality.
I had an Exmark and my neighbor loved it so much, he bought it.
Look around at local farm and garden stores. They sell some industrial grade equipment, and they back it up.
I now have a Kubota compact utility tractor with a tiny backhoe and front loader with a 54 inch deck.
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2017
Messages
761
Fwiw
I have a 46" cub, old style tractor that I bought new in 2005. This was my first real brand new lawn mower. I was so excited not to have to work on it every time I went to cut the grass. I was on a 3.5 acre lot and I probably cut about an acre. The next year I moved to my current place and now have a good bit more to cut, and a lot rougher ground but I figured I would run this one into the ground first before I bought a new zero turn.
I'm still waiting. I run that thing all over in places I'm sure I'm not supposed to cut. Replace the blades every year, change the oil, check the plugs and I only run ethanol free gas in it. So far still going strong.
 

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
26,102
Location
Lake Lure NC USA
First off,, don't buy from the big box stores. it may have the JD or whatever name on it,, but to get them to a price point,, those models are specific to the big box stores & not as good as getting one from a dealer.

I own an older JD tractor. But my mower is a Cub Cadet. If my Cub were to die today,, I'd be right back at my local Cub Cadet dealer to buy another one.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2008
Messages
1,684
Location
NW Ohio
I have a 50" Toro zero turn that has a Kawasaki engine. Owned it for about 7 years. It has been maintenance free except for belt changes and blade sharpening. If your property has a lot of trees or other obstacles to mow around the zero turn is the way to go. It will save a lot if time. I have an acre to mow and it takes me about an hour.
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Messages
10,454
Location
missouri
The older CubCadet lawn tractors are in high demand in the MidWest. Blind Son refurbs and sells one or two every year w/o having to search for buyers. As with most equipment, I put dealer access high up the totem pole when making buying decisions.
My mower is an older JD with a Kawasaki engine and hydro drive. Basically fool proof. Change the engine oil now and then, check the coolant, and use 91 octane gas.
 

gunzo

Hunter
Joined
Sep 8, 2010
Messages
2,120
Location
Kentucky
If considering a zero turn you might want to check out Bad Boy that Tractor Supply sells. I don't know much about the current lineup, but the big one they've sold in the past was a doggone good machine for the money, which was about half of the big names.
They used the same engines that the big names do & have welded/fabricated decks like the commercial grades do. Thinking they are at least worth a look.
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
376
Location
Western Maine
I can't say enough good things about my 2001 Kubota BX 2200 tractor with a 60" deck. I mow 6 acres weekly and another 10 acres every 2-3 weeks. I have 3500 hours on it with no major problems. I have worn out one mower deck because I grind the sides again all the rocks in my yard. I also have a loader on it, grass catcher ( used just to pick up leaves in the fall), tiller, bush hog and 54" snowblower which I just had to use again yesterday.
 

GunnyGene

Hawkeye
Joined
Nov 23, 2013
Messages
9,704
Location
Monroe County, MS
I can't say enough good things about my 2001 Kubota BX 2200 tractor with a 60" deck. I mow 6 acres weekly and another 10 acres every 2-3 weeks. I have 3500 hours on it with no major problems. I have worn out one mower deck because I grind the sides again all the rocks in my yard. I also have a loader on it, grass catcher ( used just to pick up leaves in the fall), tiller, bush hog and 54" snowblower which I just had to use again yesterday.

Yep, when you get past the suburban yard needs and out into the country you need much more versatile (and more expensive) equipment. I've got a 1/4 mile long clay&gravel driveway thru the woods that I usually blade and spray every year so in addition to the box blade, I also need a 5 gallon tow behind sprayer to keep the forest from taking over, among other things.

I did look at the Kubota BX's last fall, but I couldn't afford $12,000 just for the basic tractor, plus another couple thou for attachments.
 
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Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Messages
551
I have John Deere's that are 40 years old. I bought new engines from Brand New Engines. Tipton Iowa. I took my deck off from 2 blade 38". I am replacing spindle bearings today. $6 from NAPA. 2 bearings each. Decks need maintenance at least yearly.
 

gjgalligan

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 3, 2007
Messages
346
Location
Metamora, MI
I bought a Zero Turn Cub Cadet 60" in 2012. It is the model with the steering wheel instead of 2 handles.
I have 2.5 acres (minus house, pole barn, ect) and besides plugs, belts & blades only thing I have had to replace was front tires as they started to crack from age.
Oil & gas filters came yesterday and I'm getting it ready for it's 13th season.
 
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southpaw13

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 24, 2008
Messages
41
Location
Redding CA
I have two acres that I mow and been using an 18 year old Craftsman YT 3000 and each year I want to get a new zero turn as I have lots of trees. Then I start using the ole girl and think I'll get one more year out of her, but I better start looking for one as California plans on outlawing new gas motors. Anyone here used a battery operated lawn tractor?
 

OMCHamlin

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 10, 2002
Messages
267
Location
Crossville, TN, USA
If considering a zero turn you might want to check out Bad Boy that Tractor Supply sells. I don't know much about the current lineup, but the big one they've sold in the past was a doggone good machine for the money, which was about half of the big names.
They used the same engines that the big names do & have welded/fabricated decks like the commercial grades do. Thinking they are at least worth a look.
I also have a Bad Boy, mine's a 54" MZ Magnum, with a welded deck. I have used it continuously for about 3 seasons with no problems. It cuts about 2+ acres every 8-10 days, all barely qualifying as "lawn" (rough as a cob, is what I'm trying to say!) and it's held up great. It is NOT commercial grade, but I believe it is one of their top residential models just before you make that big $$ leap up to commercial grade. It does have no suspension and so I bought one of those gel seat cushions by Purple Mattress and it helped a great deal with that (remember, it's used over rough terrain, so...) And I'm pretty darn good about PMing it by their manual. I looked at Rural King, but I found a local place that honors Bad Boys Veterans Discount and saved about $300 over RK and TS's pricing. I had to call Bad Boy to learn about that, but they are real Americans and you can understand them, in Arkansas.
 

44horse

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 20, 2012
Messages
58
Location
Western New York
I bought my bad boy zero turn in 2009. It has been great! Minimal problems, mostly need new battery every few years. That is not the mowers fault but the crappy batteries made today. I mow 3 very rough acres every 5 to 7 days in season. My daughter bought one about 4 years ago and it has held up as good as mine even with the teenage grandkids running it!
 

Dan in MI

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Aug 9, 2003
Messages
3,626
Location
Davisburg, MI. USA
Two stories.

One of my brothers mows "retiree" commercially. 20-30 yards a week. He just sold his 15 year old Exmark, and got a shiny new one.

Other brother, not real mechanically inclined. I get the help me phone calls. Always was a Cub Cadet, always was a PIA to work on. Nothing that should be considered serviceable is in an accessible place. After 25 years and multiple Cubs, he bought an Exmark this year.
 

bobsyouruncle

Blackhawk
Joined
Nov 9, 2022
Messages
529
Location
Colorado
lookit that
 

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