2013 Craftsman 42 in 24 hp Model 25001 Zero-Turn Review

The 2014 Craftsman Z6000 Model 20411 replaces this 2013 Craftsman. 2014 Craftsman 42 inch Z6000 Model 20411

Last year I recommended you did not buy this zero-turn but I have changed my mind. Why? Read on to find out.

 Small zero-turns can be fun and can save you time mowing your yard but they are not for everyone.  If you have never owned a small zero turn please go to this article to see if a small residential zero-turn is right for you: Do you really need a zero-turn mower? 16 reasons why you may not want one.  

I am going to use my lawn as example where this small zero-turn will work well. I have a one acre flat lawn with over 40 trees, and other landscape features to mow around:

  • Using a 22 inch walk-behind it takes me about 3 hours to mow and trim.
  • With a conventional 42 inch lawn tractor I can cut that down to 1 1/2 hours. About 20 minutes of that is trimming.
  • With a 42 inch zero-turn I can mow my yard in 23 minutes. Trimming takes less than 10 minutes!

by: Paul Sikkema

Summary: Of all the 42 inch residential zero-turns on the market this unit is surprisingly strong and well-built. It is one of the few with an oscillating front axle to smooth out the ride. As a whole this is a very well designed zero-turn for the price. The design was new to me last year and different than what everyone else was selling. I spent quite a bit of time last year talking to the owners, demoing the machine and reading the owner and magazine reviews. I now feel it is a great value for a small residential zero-turn.

Brand/Manufacture: Craftsman / MTD
Model/Series: Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Item Number:  25001 (49 State) NA  (CA Version)
Buying online gives you the best price. You can pick up your new mower at your local Sears or have it delivered ready to use at your home.

Sears usually offers better prices through sears.com than in the store. For example, the day I wrote this article day you could get free delivery, and an extra 5% off on-line only. These extra deals change regularly and usually don’t last long. I’ll try to keep you informed of the best deals in the right hand column of this page

Buy Here: Craftsman 42″ 24hp V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower Non CA 11 x 4 in.
Street Price: $2299.99

Basic Quality: This is listed as Craftsman’s Better Quality.

Type:  Residential Zero Turn. Accepts 2 bin bagger: MTD Genuine Factory Parts 42″ Deck Two Bin ZT Bagger. This zero-turn handles NO pull behind attachments.

Craftsman 25001 zero-turn Compare it to: John Deere Z200, Z400 series
Ariens Zoom, Zoom XL
Cub Cadet RZT
Toro Timecutter
Troy-Bilt Mustang
Husqvarna RZ series (including the RZ5424)
Dixon SpeedZTR

 Pros:
Uses MTD’s good 42 inch deck. This deck gets good reviews for cutting, bagging and mulching.
Oscillating Front Axle. Smoother Ride
V-Twin Motor
Tub Chassis. Solid
Serviced by Sears! Service is always done at your home.

Cons:
Parking Brake is under the seat
No Anti-scalp Wheels
Tub Chassis is hard to clean

Buy Here: Craftsman 42″ 24hp V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower Non CA 11 x 4 in.

My Review:

What I like:

spin_prod_667713401 Oscillating Front Axle: What makes it better than the other zero-turns is it uses an oscillating front axle to smooth out the bumps. When the mower encounters a bump the front axle absorbs over half of the bump’s height giving you a smoother cut.

One Piece Chassis: This zero-turn uses a strong “tub” chassis. This chassis is created out of one piece of steel and is particularly stiff. This allows the deck/frame to follow the ground contours very well.  The mower frame does not flex and crack over time like some of the welded-tube chassis models.

Great Deck: There are two things that make this a better deck. The deck supports and the deck itself. The deck supports are “over-built” so they are stiff and heavy. This keeps the deck from bouncing and flopping around like the inexpensive lawn tractors. This lack of bounce and twist makes the deck follow the movements of the chassis and results in a much better cut than mowers with a less robust support.  This is one of those little things that you don’t realize that make the difference between a good cutting zero-turn and one that leaves your lawn looking like sheep cut it.

The deck itself gets good reviews for cutting, bagging and mulching.

  • My own test: It spread the clippings evenly with no clumping when side-discharging.
  • Other independent reviews: Using the Craftsman 42″ Mulch Kit it mulched very well, producing fine clippings with little or no clumping. (Be sure to mulch at 2 1/2 inches or higher)
  • Other independent reviews: Using the MTD Genuine Factory Parts 42″ Deck Two Bin ZT Bagger it filled the bags to capacity with fresh clippings.

The combination of the oscillating front axle, good deck mounts and one-piece chassis makes this mower one of the best “ground contour following floating deck” mowers. (I know that was a very long term) In other words the wheels of the mower are close to the deck and even though this is a floating deck design the deck follows the contour of the ground well. The movement of the front axle absorbs half bump or contour’s height allowing the deck to cut more evenly over rough ground.  This combination gives it an advantage over many of the other 42 inch mowers.  It will give you a smoother cut than zero-turns without an oscillating front axle on rough lawns.

It is not a timed deck so if you do hit something and break a spindle, blade or belt it will not cost you a lot to repair.  Other brands that use a timed deck can cost you hundreds of dollar to repair. 

If you have a subscription to Consumer Reports go and read their review of the Craftsman 25001 and why they gave it a best buy.  If you read the ” Best Zero-Turn Mowers” article in Mother Earth News be very aware they did not give this Craftsman a fair test.  All the other mowers they tested were larger, heavier and more expensive than this one.  In fact the mowers they rated the best were over $10,000 more than this Craftsman Zero-Turn (Yes-$10,000 more!) No wonder they rated it the lowest of the bunch.  

Engine Placement: Where the engine is placed has an effect on the handling, balance and ease of use.  Put the engine too far back and a zero-turn wants to do wheelies all the time. Put it too far forward and it will not turn in soft soil.  Put the engine too far forward and the operator is also place too far forward and feels like she is riding a “Tilt-A-Whirl.”  The engine on the Model 25001 is placed in just about the right position. The operator is placed slightly in front of the rear axle. This is not too far forward.  The engine is placed just behind the rear axle.  This is an acceptable combination. This zero-turn steers well and doesn’t want to pop the front wheels off the ground when you “hit the gas.”

EZT Trans: The Hydro-Gear EZT Transmissions are sized correctly for this zero-turn mower. If your lawn is flat or gently sloping these hydrostatic transmission will give you long life.  

 The Hydro-Gear EZT Transmission is used in most of the small residential zero-turns and are quite reliable if you use them to mow flat lawns.  Unfortunately they will fail prematurely if you decide to not listen to me and try to pull a heavy yard cart.  If you try to mow slopes with these transmissions they will overheat and fade. (The mower will not stay on the slope) On larger 48 and 54 inch mowers they will fail prematurely if you regularly try to mow up and down hills.   I repeat, if you use this mower as intended the transmissions will last the life of the mower but if you pull anything with this mower or try to mow long slopes (like a road-side ditch) you will be replacing these drives every 200 hours or so.  If you mow long slopes (200 feet or more) you may experience overheating and fading.  (How to tell when they are over heating? When the downhill drive overheats you will have to push the control bar father and farther to keep the same speed. If you try to keep the lap bars even it will want to turn downhill) 

Flat or Round Tread

Round Tread

 

Flat Tread

Flat Tread

Good Flat Tires: One of the secrets of zero-turns is the flatter the tire, the less they tear up your turf. No, I am not talking about the tire having no air in it. I am referring to the tread.  If the manufacture installs cheap, round tires your zero-turn has a greater tendency to dig divots in your lawn.  A flatter tread slides on the turf better doesn’t dig in. The Craftsman 25001 has good flat tires so it will not damage your turf as quickly as other brands with cheap, rounded tires.

Good High-Back Seat: These small zero-turns can ride fairly rough compared to a lawn tractor. Especially over your mole-infested, pocket-gopher destroyed lawn. The good high back seat helps to make the ride better. The seat also has a 4 inch fore-to-aft adjustment.

Easily adjustable Lap Bars:  The Drive Levers (Lap Bars) have a wide range of adjustment so small operators, tall operators and operators with big bellies can comfortably use this machine. No it is not as easy as adjusting the seat in your car but this zero-turn does have a wider range of adjustment than most of the other small residential zero-turns.

What I Am Neutral About:

Will It Mow In Reverse? Last year I gave this mower a “don’t buy” because it did not mow in reverse but I want to clarify what that means for you.  When you are mowing you can “zero-turn.” In other words you can push forward on one lap bar and pull on the other. One wheel will rotate forward and the other in reverse allowing the mower to zero-turn.  But when you pull back on both levers the deck will disengage.  There is no over-ride so that you pull both handles back and mow backing up.

Why am I neutral? I learned a maneuver years ago that greatly speeds up mowing with a zero-turn.  When you come to the end of a row, pull back on both levers, then push forward on one to zero-turn and spin around. With a little practice you will be lined up exactly for the next row and will be moving in the correct direction at full speed. Turning this way cuts seconds off of each turn you make and is one of the small improvements a zero-turn can make to cut your mowing time in half over using a conventional lawn tractor. 

What I Don’t Like:

Hard To Clean! there are no debris holes on the chassis for grass, leaves and other debris to fall off.  The chassis is just one big sheet of steel with a few holes cut in it for linkages. This will cause a build up of crap between the engine and seat.  The only way I can see to clean this chassis is to use a shop vac on it every time you mow. Don’t use a hose-end sprayer to clean the chassis. That will just force the dry grass and debris into the corners causing it to mold and eventually rust the chassis.

No access Panels. Cleaning the top of the deck including the spindles and pulleys will be a real chore.  Most of today’s zero-turns have access panels so you can easily work on the deck or clean the transmissions.  Again I would use a shop vac or air hose with a wand to clean the top of the deck.

Motor too large! I’m sorry, but 24 hp is just overkill! You can only mow on flat lawns with this mower. The deck will mow only mow off 4 inches of grass at a time and cut well. You can’t pull attachments because of the drives.  This mower only needs a 15 to 17 hp motor.

No Cover on Tool Tray. There is one small drain hole in the bottom of the huge, open tool tray. This will make a great grass collector.

Deck height and parking brake between your legs.  The safety interlock system will shut off the engine if the operator leaves the seat before engaging the parking brake. But the location of the parking brake is another matter. It is too low and between your legs.  Us “old guys” are not flexible enough to reach down and set the brake. If you can’t you sit on a chair and bend over far enough to touch your ankles this will be an issue for you.

Final Thoughts: If you don’t have hills or slopes to mow. If you don’t pull a heavy yard cart around.  A small residential zero-turn may be just the mower for you.  The Craftsman Model 25001 is one of the better values in this category. If you feel a zero-turn is what you want and you have less than 2 acres of flat lawn to mow I feel this is a great choice!

Buy Here: Craftsman 42″ 24hp V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower Non CA 11 x 4 in.

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9 Comments on "2013 Craftsman 42 in 24 hp Model 25001 Zero-Turn Review"

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Pete Sampogna
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This site is fantastic!! Thank you for the candid reviews.
On a flat lot, how fast can I cut with this Craftsman model – how many mph while actually mowing?
What changes are being made to the 2015 model?
Is now a good time to price the 2014 model, or better to wait until the 2015 is available?
Finally, those prices in the Sear Outlets offer significant discounts. Are they great values, or am I better off getting a brand new ztr?

Larry Schmidt
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Beaverton, Mi. Where do I click to buy a mower????????

Craig Morren
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I am looking for some advice on purchasing a mower. My lot is .55 acres and most of that is a flat back yard. My front yard was built up a few feet so there is a bit of a slope but it’s not a very large area. I’m thinking I could mow the front at an angle with this mower once I get the hang of it. Most of my landscaping is up against the house and I have a row or 12 trees at the back of my yard. I really like the idea of getting the 5… Read more »
Chris Nelson
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Thanks Paul. Much Appreciated.

Chris Nelson
Guest

I am looking at the 25001 and noticed you said to never pull a lawn cart with it. Do you really mean never or could someone feasably pull a cart once or twice a year without doing any damage. I also have a sweeper I like to pull behind if the lawn gets a little long and I have to side discharge instead of mulching. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the site. full of great information.

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[…] I have spent quite a bit of time on the last year researching this mower and I have changed my mind about it.  Go Here to read my updated review: 2013 Craftsman 42 in 24 hp Model 25001 Zero-Turn Review […]

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