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Green Expo: New MTD riding and walk-behind mowers

Consumer Reports News: October 28, 2011 03:08 PM

MTD, maker of Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, and other brands, says you don’t have to be a Baby Boomer to appreciate its new rear-engine rider. We got an exclusive look at a prototype of the Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Rider TB30R yesterday off-site during the annual Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo) in Louisville.

The 30-inch riding mower, expected to sell for $999 next spring at Lowe’s, has the same gear-drive transmission as some of the company’s lawn tractors, including the Cub Cadet 1000 Series. Its engine is an 11.5-HP Briggs & Stratton with an overhead-valve design.

For comfort, the ventilated seat swivels (see photo), and the steering column has three positions. The manufacturer claims the unit achieves 4.5 mph forward and 2.5 mph in reverse. If you stick with side-discharge cutting, the most common mode, you won’t be disappointed that the price point doesn’t allow for other modes. A mulch kit is expected to cost $49; a bagger, $199.

Among other announcements, we noted in our 2010 coverage that Cub Cadet had introduced a zero-turn-radius rider with a steering wheel—the $4,000 Cub Cadet Z Force S 46 17AF5BHH—for easier control on hills than the usual lap bars offer. That model now sells for $400 less, but zero-turn mowing with steering-wheel control is coming down even more.

Three new RZT-S riders range from the $2,700 RZT-S 42, with a 42-inch stamped deck, to the 50-inch RZT-S 50, $3,200. Four-wheel steering, cruise control, and three-year warranties come standard. One caveat: Cub Cadet was among the more repair-prone brands of lawn tractors and zero-turn-radius riding mowers in our most recent repair-history survey of readers.

In Troy-Bilt’s line of self-propelled walk-behind mowers, we saw a variable-speed transmission, premium engines, and other new features we hope to look at more closely when we test our next batch of mowers in time for spring.

Ed Perratore

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