Mowers with high rear wheels?

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Green
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Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Green »

The past few years, it seems like a good number of 21" push mowers (especially those that don't have a drive mechanism) have been redesigned to have high rear wheels. For the sake of this, I'd consider a difference in wheel diameter between front and back of 3 or more inches to be a "high rear wheel" design. An example of this is the Honda engine Lawnboy 21" push mower, which is made by Toro: https://www.lawnboy.com/en/Products/107 ... nda-engine

I've read that these high rear wheel mowers tend to actually be less easy to handle when turning, etc., because you have to tilt the mower up more, which requires pushing down more. It's supposed to be the opposite...they're supposedly easier to handle. But it seems like it's hype. I'm not sure whether they're tougher or easier to handle on hills compared to a mower with equal or near-equal front and back wheel sizes.

Anyone use a high wheel model, or have insight into why the manufacturers have been pushing them the last few years? It's really weird.
Last edited by Green on Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

high leverage
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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by high leverage »

I normally see big wheels on cheap non self-propelled mowers. Personally I'd steer clear. If you want a rotary homeowner grade mower stick to Honda HRX217 models. Otherwise step up and get a commercial grade Honda HRC216 or Toro 22298. Those should last a homeowner a lifetime.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by FlyMike »

I have a cheap Troy Built push mower, and recently my parents gave me their old Husqvarna self propelled mower when my dad decided to get a Toro Super Recycler. The Husqvarna has the bigger rear wheels and my Troy Built doesn't. I'm so used to just pushing a mower that I was pushing the new self propelled out just out of habit. I could tell the new mower was heavier but it seemed to push as easy or almost easier than my old push mower, obviously it is a lot easier to "push" when I use the self propel function. It turns very easily too, and I haven't noticed having to push down any more than usual when using it either.

My understanding of the bigger rear wheels is to make the mower push/drive over uneven or bumpy yards more smoothly so that it will give more of an even cut.
Last edited by FlyMike on Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Green
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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Green »

High leverage,

I have also heard that when those larger wheels get loose with wear over time, it tends to be a disaster compared to smaller ones.

Your advice is good...I agree that buying a commercial quality 21", if you one can allocate the money to it, is a wise move. Even at $800 to 1,000, a non-self-propelled commercial 21" Honda or Toro costs far less than a consumer grade sit-down mower...which doesn't make sense on a yard smaller than a certain size anyway. Or at the very least, try to buy a higher-end consumer grade model, like the top-end Honda HRX models or Toro Super Recyclers....which cost $500 to 700.

Another advantage of the higher-end models is that they tend to have higher top-cut heights. The Toro commercial 21" goes up to 4.5 inches HOC! I'd love to get one of these someday: https://www.toro.com/en/professional-co ... push-22289
Toro 22289

That said, I was hoping manufactures would reverse this trend of making their lower-cost mowers with the larger rear wheels...it just seems like another thing to break down.

Still, any first-hand user experience in this thread, for high-wheel push mowers is still welcome....if anyone uses one.
Last edited by Green on Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:14 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Green »

FlyMike wrote:
Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:55 pm
I have a cheap Troy Built push mower, and recently my parents gave me their old Husqvarna self propelled mower when my dad decided to get a Toro Super Recycler. The Husqvarna has the bigger rear wheels and my Troy Built doesn't. I'm so used to just pushing a mower that I was pushing the new self propelled out just out of habit. I could tell the new mower was heavier but it seemed to push as easy or almost easier than my old push mower, obviously it is a lot easier to "push" when I use the self propel function. It turns very easily too, and I haven't noticed having to push down any more than usual when using it either.

My understanding of the bigger rear wheels is to make the mower push/drive over uneven or bumpy yards more smoothly so that it will give more of an even cut.
Thanks for the first-hand experience, Mike! My generic 21" has 8" rear and 7" front wheels...so it's not considered a high wheel model. It's similar to the Troy-Bilt design. In fact, they're made in the same factory. It handles well.
Last edited by Green on Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by FlyMike »

My Husqvarna with the larger rear wheels is about 8 years old and hasn't had any issues with the wheels getting loose. It's my only experience with this type, so I have nothing to compare it to except my cheapy Troy Built 21" push.
I would never have put the wheel size into a comparison when buying a mower until I saw this thread, although I don't have a ton of knowledge about mowers. Based off my experience so far I don't have an issue with them.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by MasterMech »

I have not had any issues with high wheel machines being harder to handle. In the days when self-propel was rare and expensive, those big bicycle style rear wheels were great. The trade offs mainly apply to plastic rear wheels with tiny bearings (if they have any bearings....) making this not so much of a design issue as it is more of a quality/price-point thing.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Green »

Here's an example of a mid-range 21" mower with high rear wheels (8" front; 11" rear). It's definitely not a low-end model at $550, and even has the well-regarded Honda GCV-190 engine:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Cub-Cadet-2 ... /303523197

If I were in the market for a mower today, this is probably what I would buy. Craftsman has a front-wheel drive version of the same mower that omits the side-discharge feature and has a Briggs and Stratton engine for about $100 less. Note to anyone who wasn't aware...Cub Cadet push mowers are in fact made by MTD.
Last edited by Green on Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by MasterMech »

With so many cheaper options out there, I’d have a hard time spending $550 on an MTD. $50 more gets you into a Toro Super Recycler, or you could get a regular Recycler for a lot less.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Green »

MasterMech wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:14 pm
$50 more gets you into a Toro Super Recycler, or you could get a regular Recycler for a lot less.
True...but I'm a fan of the higher quality and/or bigger engines, like the Honda 160cc and 190cc models, and the Briggs 190cc models (which my current mower has). Toro does offer some models with the Honda GCV-160, though...even their low-priced Lawn Boy branded push that's under $300 that I mentioned in the first post has the GCV-160.

To me, the engine is the most important part of the mower. My Craftsman branded MTD with mid-range 190cc Briggs engine cuts a thick lawn unbelievably well if you stick to the 1/3-rule and don't go too fast. If I were buying a Toro, I'd want to make sure to get one with a Honda engine...or at least a higher-end Briggs and Stratton.
Last edited by Green on Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:06 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by MasterMech »

Green wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:58 pm
MasterMech wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:14 pm
$50 more gets you into a Toro Super Recycler, or you could get a regular Recycler for a lot less.
True...but I'm a fan of the higher quality and/or bigger engines, like the Honda 160cc and 190cc models, and the Briggs 190cc models (which my current mower has). Toro does offer some models with the Honda GCV-160, though...even their low-priced Lawn Boy branded push that's under $300 that I mentioned in the first post has the GCV-160.

To me, the engine is the most important part of the mower. My Craftsman branded MTD with mid-range 190cc Briggs engine cuts a thick lawn unbelievably well if you stick to the 1/3-rule and don't go too fast. If I were buying a Toro, I'd want to make sure to get one with a Honda engine...or at least a higher-end Briggs and Stratton.
Spoiler Alert: I have -a little- background in small engine repair. :mrgreen:

It's pretty hard to find junk engine on a mower these days. (Kohler tried REAL hard with the single cylinder Courage line though.....) The GCV line is a fine running engine. However, once it stops running, throw it out and get something else. Other than minor repair to carburetor or ignition components, there is not much on it that was meant to be serviced. (I'm good with that.) They were never intended to compare quality wise to the GX series engines. My point being, I don't think the GCV series is any better/worse than another manufactuer's OHV engine with comparable displacement. I'd much rather focus on operator ergonomics, features, cut quality (first and foremost), mulching ability (with rotary mowers), and durability when approaching the $600 price point.

Green
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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Green »

MasterMech wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:01 pm
Spoiler Alert: I have -a little- background in small engine repair. :mrgreen:

It's pretty hard to find junk engine on a mower these days. (Kohler tried REAL hard with the single cylinder Courage line though.....) The GCV line is a fine running engine. However, once it stops running, throw it out and get something else. Other than minor repair to carburetor or ignition components, there is not much on it that was meant to be serviced. (I'm good with that.) They were never intended to compare quality wise to the GX series engines. My point being, I don't think the GCV series is any better/worse than another manufactuer's OHV engine with comparable displacement. I'd much rather focus on operator ergonomics, features, cut quality (first and foremost), mulching ability (with rotary mowers), and durability when approaching the $600 price point.
It's good to get the opinion of another of another engine guy. Good to hear that you don't feel there are any bad engines on current mowers. The other guy I talked with basically felt all of today's mid and low-grade engines were inferior to the previous generation. His justification? That the makers classified them as not needing oil changes...the implication somehow being that this must mean they're less reliable (not my opinion, btw...I'm just trying to learn what I can).

It's so weird, because there are people who swear by a certain brand engine...and then other people who hate that brand and say it's not reliable. I've heard the least complaints about the Hondas, and also heard they tend to be a bit quieter than most others, and extremely reliable. I also like the shutoff valve they have.

I'll try to clarify what I meant in the previous post. Basically, if the cut quality and features are there, and I like the design of a mower, then I don't care what the brand name is or who makes it. Next thing I'm going to look at is the engine. If I have a choice between a GCV-160 Honda and a Kohler 149cc that has less torque, I'm going to go with the more powerful one, because I mulch mow 99% of the time. I'd rather get a no-name OEM mower that cuts and handles well with a good, name-brand engine than the other way around.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by social port »

Very nice discussion in this thread.
Green wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:02 pm
It's so weird, because there are people who swear by a certain brand engine...and then other people who hate that brand and say it's not reliable
I've found this to be the case with so many products (cars, being one of the best examples). It is a bit maddening.

The rear wheels on my current pushmower are at least three inches larger in diameter than the front wheels. I would say that the mower is both harder to push and requires more effort when turning around compared to other mowers I have used. The thing is, I can't say that my mower is harder to push because of the size difference in the wheels. The mower could simply be heavier than mowers that I've used in the past. I don't have the information I need to really make the comparison.
FlyMike wrote:
Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:55 pm
My understanding of the bigger rear wheels is to make the mower push/drive over uneven or bumpy yards more smoothly so that it will give more of an even cut.
My lawn is very bumpy in places, and I've found that my pushmower does provide a very even cut.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Green »

Just found out that the Cub Cadet snow blower I use is also made by MTD (not a surprise). And so is my neighbor's Z-turn of the same brand. All three pieces of equipment do an excellent job (cut quality is top notch on both mowers).
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by Powhatan »

All my home push mowers have had high rear wheels, much easier to manuver around. If I replace a mower and the new one doesn't come with high wheels, I cannibalize the wheels off the old mower.

The last small wheel mower I used was when I was a kid ... many, many decades ago. I was sure glad we got the gas mower, before that I had to use a very old cast iron reel mower that had wooden handles. Now that was a workout.
Last edited by Powhatan on Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mowers with high rear wheels?

Post by SwBermuda »

Wanted to bump this. Just purchased a reel, 7 blade McLane but want to have a “junk” rotary for picking up thatch etc. what do you guys look for with a used rotary? Not a large yard 2.5k sq feet and fairly level.

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