Craftsman has changed the zero turn mower game with this new mower!
For many years I have been wondering why residential zero-turns cost so much. For example the most popular Craftsman yard tractor (Model 28551) costs around $1500. The same size Husqvanra (RZ4219) zero-turn costs $2400 and the same size John Deere (Z225) costs a whopping $2900! The zero-turn mowers have fewer parts so they should take less time to assemble. (around 300 for the yard tractor, around 250 for the zero-turns) The three mowers use basically the same decks so the cut speed and quality is the same. Yes, you can save some time with these zero-turn mowers on a flat, smooth lawn with many obstacles. A residential zero-turn will save you about 25% in time over the Craftsman Yard Tractor with the 6 inch Turn-Tight Steering. But should that time savings almost double the price you would pay for the product?
by: Paul Sikkema
Introducing the Craftsman 25061.
The first zero-turn that is priced correctly for most homeowners. This new Craftsman has the features you need to mow your large suburban yard yet costs significantly less than other comparable zero turn mowers. It is priced up to $1700 less than comparable zero-turns!
How is the Craftsman different from the other zero-turns
Unibody Chassis: All the other zero-turn mowers sold by Craftsman’s competitors use a welded tube chassis. Welded tube chassis have been used on zero-turns since they became popular in the early 90’s. A welded tube chassis is very labor intensive to produce. This style chassis tends to add a lot of cost to the product because they are made of dozens of individual pieces welded together and reinforced at the joints. Over time if the frame was not welded or reinforced properly the frame will crack. The new Craftsman 25061 uses a rigid Pan Chassis that eliminates all of those welds and stress points that may fail over time.
Articulated Front Axle: The Craftsman model 25061 features an articulating front axle and floating deck. This combination greatly reduces gouging and scalping over zero-turns where the front casters are welded to the frame.
The best feature though of an articulated front axle is the ride. It is a much smoother for you. It moves and gives to bumps and dips like the front axle on your lawn tractor. How rough most zero-turns ride is the one unspoken problem. The stiff, welded frames, rear engines, and poor seat suspension on other zero-turns all factor into a rough jarring ride at anything over 4 mph. The articulated axle on the Craftsman greatly reduces the jolts and bouncing associated with other zero-turns. In addition Craftsman put nice long springs under the seat to eliminate even more of the bounce.
Fully adjustable suspension seat and lap bars. The seat and steering levers have enough adjustment that almost anyone can comfortably drive this Craftsman zero-turn. The seat slides forward and back. The lap bars (steering handles) also have a wide range of adjustment.
Weight: A commercial zero-turn capable of mowing 15 degree or steeper slopes weighs in at 1000 lbs or more. Any zero-turn that weighs less than 600 lbs will have difficulty turning on any type of slope. The Craftsman weighs in at a comfortable 700 lbs. This will give it good traction to mow 10 to 15 degree slopes.
Note: Because zero turn mowers steer by traction of the rear wheels the weight of the zero-turn is an important factor. A heavier machine will have more traction. (I owned one that weighed in at 4200 lbs and would mow 40 degree slopes) A loss of traction could also reduce your ability to stop. When operating on slopes, a zero turn mower will not steer if you are sliding or skidding. There is no power to the front wheels of a zero-turn mower. If you operate a zero turn mower on slopes lesser than 10 degrees, keep the following recommendations in mind: Keep all movements on the slope slow and gradual. Mow up and down slopes, not across them. Avoid starting, stopping or turning on a slope. Do not mow on wet or drought-dry grass.
6 miles per hour is all the faster you want to go on a residential zero-turn! In other words speed is limited by the deck design, not by the ground speed the zero-turn will mow at: Many manufactures state their residential zero-turn will go 6-8 mph, but it doesn’t matter how fast the zero-turn will go, in reality they can only cut well at about 4-5 mph. A zero-turn like the Husqvanra RZ5424 will go 8 mph but it will only cut well at about 4 mph. Why? Residential mowers are limited by the OPEI regulated blade tip speed and at any speed above 6 mph the quality of cut deteriorates considerably. (Commercial machines like an ExMark Lazer on the other hand will mow well at the top speed of the zero-turn.)
Horsepower, 24 hp is plenty at 6 mph. I have driven many zero-turns and in reality 24 hp is plenty of power for this Craftsman. Even when mowing a nice thick mid-western bluegrass lawn in the spring 24 hp Kohler Courage will do the job for you.
Transmissions: Zero-turn mowers in this price range normally use Hydro-Gear EZT transmissions. These are good transmissions for light duty, flat land mowing. This Craftsman uses the heavy-duty ZT-2800 transmissions found on machines costing $1000 more. These transmissions will give you long life and won’t fade when mowing slopes. EZT trans have a rated output torque 115 ft lbs. Weight capacity 340 lbs per axle, 18 in max tire size. ZT-2800 transmissions have a rated output torque 180 ft lbs. Weight capacity 440 lbs per axle, 20 in max tire.
Here is a short marketing video from Hydro-Gear on the performance characteristics of these heavy-duty residential transmissions
Craftsman 25061 54 in, 24 hp, ZT-2800 drives, Weight 700 lbs. 2999.99 Deck 12-gauge. You can get this for even less as a Shop-Your-Way-Rewards Member. $2699.99
Three Bin Bagger: MTD Genuine Factory Parts 50″/54″ Zero Turn Bagger
Compare the Craftsman to the other popular 54 inch zero-turn mowers in this quality range
Below I listed the other popular zero-turns in this quality range.
Z425 Deere. 54 in, 22 hp, ZT-2800 drives, Weight 660 lbs. $3999.99 Deck 10 gauge, 0.135 in. (3.4 mm)
ExMark Quest S 50 in, 23 hp, ZT-2800 drives, Weight 681 lbs. $4299.99-4799.99 Deck 10-gauge top that is formed and welded, 12-gauge side skirt and 7-gauge welded bumper.
Husqvarna RZ 5424 54 in, 24 hp, EZT drives, Weight 640 lbs. $2999.99 Deck 12-gauge
Cub Cadet Z-Force 54 54in, 24 hp, ZT-2800 drives, Weight 740 lbs. $4799.99 Deck 11-gauge
EZT output torque 115 ft lbs. Weight capacity 340 lbs per axle, 18 in max tire