2011 Craftsman 30 in SMART RIDER Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower Model 28001 Review

Update Feb 2012: This mower has been discontinued and Craftsman has replaced this mower with the  Craftsman 420cc 30″ 6-Speed Rider (49 States) Mid Back. The new mower is made by MTD and uses the same dependable transmission that is in the 28881 Lawn tractor. Go here to read my review of this new mower. 25000 Review .

Jan 2012: Until I hear something different DO NOT buy a Craftsman Smart Rider, Poulan Pro PB 30 or Weedeater SmartCut unless you have a FLAT lawn and you weigh less than 150 lbs. The transmission is prone to quit working if you are too heavy or you try mow slopes.  I was told Husqvarna is developing a solution but so far we have heard about an update.

It’s Not The Best Lawn Tractor….It’s The Best Lawn Tractor For You!  My Rating of this Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower:

Letter of Notification




May 2013

Dear Valued Sears Customer,

Our records indicate that you purchased a Craftsman Smart Rider Lawn Tractor, Model 917.280010 that may have a quality issue that could cause a potential performance problem.  Sears has received some customer complaints regarding sluggish performance and problems with the tractor not moving well, and Sears has been advised by the manufacturer, Husqvarna Consumer Outdoor Products N.A., Inc. (“HCOP”), that the drive system on the rider does not function properly and if it malfunctions the product needs to be exchanged for a full refund or replacement with a new Sears Craftsman Model #29000. 

If you feel that your tractor is not moving well or you notice sluggish performance.  Contact Sears for free inspection.  If the service technician verifies that the drive system is not operating correctly you will qualify for the exchange or refund

Please do not return this Service Notice to Sears.  If you have any questions regarding this inspection and possible exchange or refund of your Craftsman Smart Rider Lawn Tractor, Model 917.280010, please call Sears at the toll free number listed below. Please have your model number and serial number available when you call. (under the seat)



Monday – Friday 7:00 A.M. – 9:00 P.M. and Saturday 7:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. Central Time

Finally, to extend to you our appreciation for being a Sears customer and as an accommodation for any inconvenience that you may have experienced with this product, and for you to be available for when our service technician comes to your home to do the inspection, within 4 weeks after your repair is completed Sears will mail to you a $50 Sears Gift Card redeemable at any Sears store or at www.sears.com.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.


Sears, Roebuck and Co.

MODEL NUMBER: _____________________                   SERIAL NUMBER: _____________________


Update June 1, 2011.

It has come to my attention that the Craftsman Smart Rider, Poulan Pro PB 30 and the Weedeater SmartCut have a transmission issue that you need to be completely aware of BEFORE you purchase one of these units.

Like the original Weedeater One, this riding mower is designed for a specific use and the owners who use it for that purpose love it.  The mower is designed to mow flat lawns.  The transmission is also designed for an average weight rider and no attachments.  If you use the mower to mow slopes you will have to have the transmission adjusted as often as every 25 hours.  If you pull a yard cart or any other attachment and your weight and the weight of your attachment is over 200 lbs you will experience a sluggish moving riding mower that will eventually stop working.

This need for a regular transmission adjustment is not explained in the sales literature by the manufacture and it is not something an owner can to themselves.  You will have to pay for this adjustment.

All three units,  The Poulan Pro, Weedeater 2 and Craftsman Smart Rider all use the same transmission and are all affected by this need for regular adjustment.

This is not a safety issue but a performance and customer satisfaction issue. There will be no recall on these riders.

I know many of you have purchased the Craftsman Smart Rider.  I still think it is a good mower for what it is designed for and for the price. This is not a safety issue and Sears will stand behind the product. I know Sears will support this riding mower for the 2 year warranty period and if you purchased the 3 or 5 year protection plan will adjust the trans as part of that program for the duration of the plan.  If you purchase a Poulan Pro PB30 or Weedeater SmartCut from a different retailer or dealer be sure you have in writing that they will service it for the warranty period.

My Original Review:

Craftsman “Smart Rider” Riding Mower

My Value/Cost Rating: Rider: Mows Lawn Well, Mulches, Gets Through Tight Spaces Well.  Great for 1/4 to 1  Acre Lawns, Light Hauling, No Snow Removal. Accepts Light Attachments & Bagger.

Type:Riding Mower.
Engine Type: Good. S
Transmission Type: Automatic.
Accepts Light Duty Attachments:

Don’t Forget Your Trailer, Dethatcher, Aerator, Broadcast Spreader.

What I Like!

I have one acre, 35 trees, 9 landscape beds and a big dog yard.  The yard gates are 34 inches.  This riding lawn mower is perfect for this type of yard.  The 30 inch deck (big blade) will mulch well and the light weight (220 lbs) won’t leave ruts in the sandy areas. This is a great mower for small, complicated, lawns like this.  It is very easy to drive and gives you great visibility all around. The small deck and step through design will be easy for us old, stiff guys to get on and off. Even better, it is over $300 less than the riding mower it replaces.

By the way, This mower with a smaller motor is also branded as a Weedeater and Poulan Pro.  Buy the Craftsman.  You will like the extra power!

What I don’t like!

The steering wheel is too small for me.  This is a direct turn mower meaning you only have to turn the steering wheel 1/2 turn from pin to pin.  I would like to see a larger steering wheel like the one on the 28034 .

This mower is not that great on hills.  Running on a side hill it feels tippy (even though it’s not) and two customers so far complain about it not going up hills well.  If you need a small mower and have hills – buy the 28034.

This is the bigger, stronger brother!

There are three other versions of this mower.  All of them have a smaller motor than the Craftsman version.  The Craftsman has a 12.5 hp Pressurized Briggs with spin on oil filter. In my opinion more power is always better, especially if you are going to mulch so I recommend you purchase the Craftsman version.

Here are two videos of this mower.  Every detail is explained well.  The Website where you can learn more is: 



Craftsman Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower 12.5 HP 30 in Model 28001

Product Description From Sears

Powered by a Briggs & Stratton 12.5HP OHV engine, this riding mower is designed to maximize efficiency and power. With infinite mowing speeds and an ergonomic high back seat, you can comfortably cut more area in less time, making this mower a great solution for all of your cutting needs.
Briggs & Stratton Quick Start OHV Series engine
30″ high-lift 2-n-1 deck; mulch or side-discharge
Automatic transmission
Premium comfort steering wheel
Ergonomic high back seat

Weight: 222 lbs

Cutting Range: 1-1/2 to 4 in.
Deck Thickness (Gauge): 13
Deck Cut Width: 30 in.
Type: Turf tread
Rear: 16 x 6.5 x 8 in.
Brakes Type: Disk
Speed & Direction Control: Shift lever
Steering Wheel Type: Standard
Steering Type: Conventional
Turning Radius: 30 in.
Chassis: 14 ga. steel
Bagger Model: 23010

  1. Paul Sikkema September 3, 2012
  2. Roger September 3, 2012
  3. Gary Erwin July 31, 2012
  4. Gary Erwin July 25, 2012
  5. Paul Sikkema July 24, 2012
  6. Gary Erwin July 24, 2012
  7. Rick June 18, 2012
  8. Rick June 18, 2012
  9. Paul Sikkema June 18, 2012
  10. Rick June 18, 2012
  11. Paul June 20, 2011
  12. Betsy June 20, 2011
  13. Paul June 4, 2011
  14. bill jeffery June 4, 2011
  15. bill jeffery May 31, 2011
  16. Paul May 30, 2011
  17. bill jeffery May 30, 2011
  18. Paul May 24, 2011
  19. Bob May 24, 2011
  20. Rick April 14, 2011
  21. Paul April 13, 2011
  22. Rick April 13, 2011
  23. Bob March 27, 2011
  24. Paul March 27, 2011
  25. Bob March 27, 2011
  26. Paul March 27, 2011
  27. Bob March 27, 2011
  28. Paul February 13, 2011
  29. Chris February 13, 2011
  30. Paul February 8, 2011
  31. Ryan February 8, 2011

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