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D2W
D2W Dork
4/23/20 2:38 p.m.

What is the best self propelled walk behind lawn mower?

My Craftsman is wearing out, so I'm shopping for a new one.

Also it has to be a mulcher. I rarely bag.

ThurdFerguson (Freeloader)
ThurdFerguson (Freeloader) Reader
4/23/20 2:46 p.m.

I have the older version of this:

https://powerequipment.honda.com/lawn-mowers/models/hrx217hya

HRX217HYA

HRX2176HYA,HRX217K6HYA

21" Lawn Mower, Hydrostatic Self Propel, Blade Stop System

 

Been very satisfied with it.  I bought mine at the local John Deere Town and Country dealer, not a big box.  Caught it on sale, but still pricey.  But worth it.

 

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/23/20 2:51 p.m.

Best is going to be a Toro Proline. You'll pay nearly 1000 for it. Notice those landscaping crews you see running up and down the road. I'd wager you'll see more than 90% of them with Toro Prolines. They're the gold standard of 21 inch mowers.

Grizz
Grizz UberDork
4/23/20 3:07 p.m.

berkeley toro.

Buy a husqvarna with a honda engine. Just spent the last three hours mowing way too much yard with a beat to E36 M3 15+ year old one, why? Because my two year old toro is broken. Again.

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/23/20 3:35 p.m.
Grizz said:

berkeley toro.

Buy a husqvarna with a honda engine. Just spent the last three hours mowing way too much yard with a beat to E36 M3 15+ year old one, why? Because my two year old toro is broken. Again.

I'm pretty sure yours isn't the Toro I was talking about. Pressure lube Kawasaki, Honda, or Kohler engine. 1 gallon gas tank.  Built for 40 hours of use per week. It's a far cry from consumer grade Toro branded machines. He asked for the best.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
4/23/20 3:41 p.m.
Grizz said:

berkeley toro.

Buy a husqvarna with a honda engine. Just spent the last three hours mowing way too much yard with a beat to E36 M3 15+ year old one, why? Because my two year old toro is broken. Again.

Yeah, this, though I've never had a Toro. But my Honda engined Husqy fires right up every spring after sitting for 6 months and getting almost no maintenance. 
 

Grizz
Grizz UberDork
4/23/20 3:56 p.m.

In reply to Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) :

It's not a push mower, it's a 4 thousand dollar riding mower that's spent as much time broken as it has running. If the company sells garbage to us regular jerkoffs why do they deserve people buying their expensive stuff? 

GhiaMonster
GhiaMonster Reader
4/23/20 3:59 p.m.

I can second the Honda push mower from the perspective of a college kid using one for a landscaping job. Made push mowing almost not suck. Almost

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/23/20 4:14 p.m.

Not sure if it's still the same way, but Toro used to have two lines: a line they sell in big box retail stores, and a line they sell in smaller, authorized Toro dealers. The big box Toros are on par with most other big box stuff and extremely hit or miss. The "pro line" is much, much better. My 90's Toro Super Recycler that my dad bought in his old Toro-authorized landscaping shop has basically received no maintenance since it was new (1996) and just got a new plug and air filter THIS YEAR (2020) and it started first pull 99% of the time over that time frame. Blade, belt, and everything else are original. 24 years old and it's still amazing.

Best big box store mowers sold right now tend to be Honda mowers. They are made well and will run forever.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
4/23/20 5:36 p.m.

I always had junk mowers until I bought a Toro 15 years ago.  I've been happy with it and when I need parts.  
 

I want go get an old Wheel Horse rider....

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/23/20 5:51 p.m.

Best I've ever had was a 6.5 hp Honda mounted on a heavy stainless deck. I don't know if they still make a similar model. Like this with a different colored shroud: https://www.mowersdirect.com/MTD-Yard-Machines-12BV55DQ713-Lawn-Mower/p4449.html

I abused it for over 10 years. I still have the deck in case I ever want to LS swap it.

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
4/23/20 5:57 p.m.

Self-propelled, mulching, quiet. You don't even have to walk behind it - in fact I recommend you don't.

M2Pilot
M2Pilot Dork
4/23/20 6:16 p.m.
ThurdFerguson (Freeloader) said:

I have the older version of this:

https://powerequipment.honda.com/lawn-mowers/models/hrx217hya

HRX217HYA

HRX2176HYA,HRX217K6HYA

21" Lawn Mower, Hydrostatic Self Propel, Blade Stop System

 

Been very satisfied with it.  I bought mine at the local John Deere Town and Country dealer, not a big box.  Caught it on sale, but still pricey.  But worth it.

 

I've had one like that for 10-12 years & been very pleased with perfomance, reliability & start on the 1st or 2nd pullablilty. I had to replace carb 3 years ago due to lack of ethanol free gas.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
4/23/20 8:18 p.m.

Can be adapted for numerous other tasks in addition to mowing using the appropriate adapter. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/23/20 11:12 p.m.
Appleseed said:

Can be adapted for numerous other tasks in addition to mowing using the appropriate adapter. 

This is the model we're using now. 

I've owned one of those Honda mowers. Absolutely loved it. Currently have a Husqvarna with a B&S engine. It gets the job done, starts first pull every time. Only ever had ethanol free in it.

In fact, we've had two of them. My wife tried to mow a cast iron pipe with the first one. Bent the crankshaft.

I was going to replace it with another Honda, when someone gave me an identical Husqvarna with a bad carb and one hour on it. Used once, then sat for a couple of years. 

Now that the kids are doing the mowing, I don't care that it's not a Honda.

Another vote for commercial grade Honda. My hr214 is 35 years old-I re-ringined the engine almost 10 years ago and it's been great. Aluminum deck, blade brake clutch and self-propelled.

It is smoking slightly on startup again; this time I may upgrade the entire engine to a modern Honda. Old engines put out massive amounts of polution and the newer ones can be fitted with a catalytic converter.

preach
preach GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/24/20 7:28 a.m.
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) said:
Appleseed said:

Can be adapted for numerous other tasks in addition to mowing using the appropriate adapter. 

This is the model we're using now. 

I've owned one of those Honda mowers. Absolutely loved it. Currently have a Husqvarna with a B&S engine. It gets the job done, starts first pull every time. Only ever had ethanol free in it.

In fact, we've had two of them. My wife tried to mow a cast iron pipe with the first one. Bent the crankshaft.

I was going to replace it with another Honda, when someone gave me an identical Husqvarna with a bad carb and one hour on it. Used once, then sat for a couple of years. 

Now that the kids are doing the mowing, I don't care that it's not a Honda.

This is what I use too.

wae (Forum Supporter)
wae (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/24/20 7:42 a.m.

Every couple years I go to craigslist and find a used mower for around $100.  Sometimes less.  Then I just put gas in it when it runs out and talk a big game about how I'm really gonna get the blade sharpened this year but don't actually ever do it.  Then anywhere between 1 and 5 mowing seasons when it craps out, I do that whole dance again.  The last one actually lasted about 8 or 10 years, so bonus.  I look at it like I'm paying anywhere from $3.50 to $17 a month to rent a mower, depending on how long the thing lasts.  And that includes the maintenance.  Since, you know, I'm not doing any.  A $1,000 mower would take me anywhere from 10 to 48 years to break even, probably longer since I'd feel compelled to do some sort of maintenance on it.

 

But we might have divergent definitions of the word "best".

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/24/20 8:40 a.m.

I looked a long time for an HRX217.  Plastic deck that can't rot, fancy extra blade that mulches finer, hyrdrostat drive.  I found a few used ones around $100, but it's so hard for me to wrap my brain around paying for a lawn mower.  I haven't ever bought a lawn mower.  I owned two when I was in TX that were freebies from someone's trash pile.  I just sold one that my neighbor gave me when he moved out because I found a Cub Cadet self-propelled for free on trash day, and the only thing wrong with it was the cable had fallen off the handle for the self-propel.  It's such a nice mower for free that I re-upped my Karma by paying $6 to have the blade sharpened.

Having worked in small engine/tool repair before, my only pause with the Honda is the hydrostat drive.  They aren't what I would call reliable, nor are they cheap to replace.  A good old fashioned belt/gear drive is just as good and pretty bulletproof.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/24/20 8:51 a.m.

How much yard we talkin' about? Because if it's a standard city lot, go electric and don't look back. I got one last year for trim work to supplement my zero-turn rider, and it's a game changer. Zero maintenence other than blade sharpening once a year, and it will go about 45 minutes on a charge. And, needless to say, it ALWAYS starts. This is the one I have:

D2W
D2W Dork
4/24/20 8:55 a.m.
02Pilot said:

Self-propelled, mulching, quiet. You don't even have to walk behind it - in fact I recommend you don't.

This is my neighbors current method. Not what I would call a precision job, and a lot of maintenance during winter downtime. Oh, and a lot of extra fertilizer.

D2W
D2W Dork
4/24/20 8:55 a.m.
Appleseed said:

Can be adapted for numerous other tasks in addition to mowing using the appropriate adapter. 

I have this model, she just needs the proper tool for the job.

D2W
D2W Dork
4/24/20 9:02 a.m.

Thanks guys, a Honda was on my short list, I'll have a look at the Toro Proline. I want something powerful and durable as my lawn is 15K sq/ft, plus I have another 15K of natural grass that I keep mowed, plus my wildflower meadow needs mowed at the end of the year. Its tough on a regular mower.

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/24/20 1:09 p.m.

After doinking around with garage sale mowers for too long, I bit the bullet and bought a Toro Self Pace mower.  I found Honda's controls tough to use.  Once used to it, the drive system works better, easier than any others I've used.

~$600. 

Uncle David (Forum Supporter)
Uncle David (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand New Reader
4/24/20 8:04 p.m.

I see a lot of love for Honda here.  I'd like to offer a dissenting opinion.

I bought a Honda push mower (not self-propelled, so maybe I'm off topic and should shut up and go away) in 2016 or so, after my late 80's vintage box store mower was finally close enough to death that I decided to let it go.  The Honda starts easily and runs flawlessly - Honda definitely knows how to make engines. But the entire rest of the mower is an enormous pile of "meh".  I see absolutely no features that make the rest of the mower stand out from what I could get at Lowes Depot for half the price.  I was especially annoyed by the front wheels, which, in order to not fall off, had to be so tight that the mower was really, really hard to push.  When rolled across my garage floor, it would stop within 5 feet or so.  Maybe the self-propelled feature covers this up entirely, but I'd call it a major design flaw.  The rear wheels have ball bearings (a great idea!), so I bought two more of those and put them on the front and now the mower rolls like it should. It would have cost Honda an entire extra $4 (retail!) to put ball bearing wheels on the front. 

And another thing.  There's no oil drain plug.  The engineer in me sees that as leak prevention, a cost savings, and an opportunity to remove one more part that a retail customer can screw up.  But it's just cheap dammit.  One has to tip the entire mower and drain the oil through the oil fill tube.  Frankly, that works OK, but I  Just. Don't. Like it.

Also, it doesn't cut wet, heavy grass as well as my old box store mower.  It never stalls, but it loads up with grass until no more grass is discharged.  The discharge area is a hole stamped in the side of the deck, so there is metal on the bottom side of the discharge.  That adds strength and rigidity, but that's where the grass hangs up.  Honda's solution to this issue is to instruct users to not cut wet, heavy grass.  But I usually cut grass on Saturday mornings, because that suits my schedule,  and the grass is frequently damp. Next time, I'm looking for a discharge that is unobstructed down to the ground.

Would not buy again.  Insufficient value for the money.

I'll probably go electric next time, but the technology just wasn't where I needed it to be when I was shopping for this one.  

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