Inside Consumer Reports Test Labs: Review of Easun NaturCut Classic, Fiskars Momentum 317736, and Scotts 2000-20 reel mowers

Consumer Reports News: March 08, 2010 02:46 PM

The latest reel mowers we've tested.

Reel mowers appeal for a number of reasons, including the financial savings (no gas to buy), maintenance-free use (beyond the occasional need to sharpen blades), and cardiovascular exercise they provide, not to mention the emissions they don't produce. But when push comes to shove, so to speak, a reel mower might not be the best choice for everyone.

During our recent testing of gas and electric walk-behind and riding lawn mowers in Fort Myers, Florida, we reviewed the Scotts 2000-20 ($140), Fiskars Momentum 317736 ($200), and Easun NaturCut Classic ($220) reel mowers (left to right in photo).

While the Easun and Scotts resemble the classic reel mower, the Fiskars includes some innovative features, which we covered in this recent product preview. Fiskars says you'll need to sharpen the blades less often since they never touch one another. The Momentum also provides the greatest range of cutting heights, ranging from an about 1 inch to 4 inches. This flexibility is an improvement over most of the mowers we tested two years ago, which cut too low, resulting in scorched turf.

We compared the cut ability of these reel mowers against that of our best-cutting walk-behind mower, the self-propelled Honda HRX217HXA (like our ratings of mowers, detailed model information for rated products is available to subscribers). Each reel mower earned only a fair in cutting; the Scotts 2000-20 provided the best cut of the three.

Like the reel mowers we tested two years ago, mowing with these three was a shoving match, especially through thicker grass. That's why you typically need to cut your grass every three or four days with a reel mower.

The Scotts 2000-20 proved the toughest to push, partially due to a fixed handle height and angle that don't offer good leverage. The ergonomic handle on the Fiskars Momentum did make it a bit easier to push.

If you have small property and are dedicated enough to mow at least once a week, a reel mower might make sense. Otherwise, and especially if you're looking for a mower that's greener and quieter than a gas-powered machine, consider getting one of the better electric push mowers in our ratings, which will be updated with the latest models later this month.

Ed Perratore

Essential information:
Check out our Complete Lawn & Yard Guide for tips on maintaining your gear and keeping your yard looking its best.

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