2014 Raven MPV-7100. Has Denver Global Answered My Original 17 Concerns?
I am very particular about the look of my lawn so I want a mower that mows very well. I want an Multi-Purpose Vehicle that will pull firewood out of the timber and have enough traction get in and out of the woods. If I am going to buy a generator I want it to be able to power my essential home appliances. Those are the main questions I have when I looked at the Raven and developed this list.
Here are some items that bothered me last year. I needed more reassurance or proof of quality before I would buy the Raven.
I’ve had the MPV-7100 since April and I’m going to answer these questions I asked last year.
1. Original Question: You HAVE to remove the mowing deck to put it in high gear. The deck is at least 100 lbs and they require you to drag it out from under the MPV. There are no rotating casters or other convenience feature to make this easy. The new owners state the deck is easy to unhook.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: You do not have to remove the deck to use the high gear. I regularly run around the neighborhood with the deck on and the Raven in high gear. The deck is easy to remove and yes, it is heavy. If you take it off on a hard surface like your garage floor or blacktop drive though it slides out from under the MPV easily.
2. Original Question: The mounting brackets for the deck seem flimsy and taking the deck on and off all the time – I hope you can get parts quickly.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: Parts are available and Denver Global is in the process of setting up a nationwide dealer network. The network will be in place by the time you need it. The mounting brackets are stronger than I originally thought. I have banged the deck into my wife’s wonderful rock landscaping borders many times all ready and I see no bending or sign they may break.
3. Original Question: They do not mention anything about the deck. The U.S. manufactures have spent years perfecting a great cutting deck. Good airflow, good lift, good discharge. Was there any design work done on this deck or did they just throw 2 spindles inside a box and call it a deck? Is it a vented deck? Does it mow well? 5 mph mowing? I would love to see Consumer Reports rate the mowing, bagging, and mulching quality up against a 46 inch Craftsman, John Deere or Cub Cadet.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: Well it mows well. It lifts my bluegrass and cuts it cleanly. I also used it to cut a spot out alng the highway where the grass was about 18 inches tall. I didn’t expect it to cut the grass in one pass (most residential decks won’t) but it cut it cleanly. The was one patch of very weak blue grass that had flowered about 18 inches tall and it cut that all in one pass (You sometimes have to go over that type of grass 2 or 3 times with a conventional rider)
The deck is a fabricated deck and no, it does not have vented spindles. But the blades are high-lifts and plenty of air gets under the deck to help the blades lift and cut the grass. I was using it to move 6 inches of leaves this spring and it actually would suck the leaves under the deck when I went along a fence or building. It had no problems moving wet maple leaves (they get stuck in the grass) that had been on the lawn all winter.
It gets the cut grass out of the deck well. It spreads the grass as evenly as my old green Craftsman. It will bag well. Because it’s a fabricated deck it will not mulch as well as a Husqvarna combi-deck or a John Deere stamped deck with baffles.
4. Original Question: You HAVE to use the gas engine to charge the unit. You HAVE to use the gas engine to mow. There seems to be no charger so you can plug it in as use electricity to charge it. Yes, the gen/set should use less fuel than a conventional mower but you are still using gas to charge the unit. This is a step up in the right direction for “greener” landscaping but it is just that, one step.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: I completely mis-understood how the Raven was designed and engineered. The Raven runs on electricity. The transmission drive motor and the deck motors run off of batteries. These batteries will run you around the yard for at least 45 minutes. My wife and I use the Raven all the time in battery mode and in the last 2 months we have not run out of battery. When you want to mow, you just fire up the generator and the unit powers the deck, transmission motor and charges the batteries while you mow. The 5 gallon fuel tank will let you mow for 6 or 7 hours. No more running out of fuel at the back of the property. Just switch to electric mode and drive home.
Does it have enough power? It only 420 cc’s. I was very surprised at the power to the blades and the power to the rear wheels. Because there are no belts to slip, no belt guides for the belt to rub against and no idler pulley springs to wear out all the power from the unit goes into mowing or moving around. The electric motors are operated by controllers and these controllers sense when there is an increased load. This allows the motors to run at full speed no matter how thick the grass is. It’s is very surprising at how much power is sent directly to the deck motors. The Raven mows as well as a 46 inch lawn tractor with a 24 hp motor.
You can toodle around your lawn, fire up the engine and mow your lawn and then turn the engine off to ride down to the neighbor’s to show it off.
Under electric drive only the unit will not spin the rear wheels under normal conditions but when you use the generator there is more than enough power to the rear wheels to spin them in low gear.
5. Original Question: States it is good for 2-3 acres. If it will actually mow at 5 mph as stated, 3 acres with a 46 inch deck is 2 hours – plus trimming.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: I can say it mows large areas well at 6 mph! So mowing 3 acres is about 1 hour 15 minutes plus trimming.
6. Original Question: It has a Floating deck and suspension on the MTV. You will have adjust the cutting height for each rider. Because the suspension will raise or lower for different weight drivers, the unit will mow at a different height for your 125 lb teenager than a 250 lb rider. I can just see you bouncing along at 5 miles an hour mowing and your lawn ends up looking like a washboard.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: The suspension is stiffer than I originally thought and only on the front. There is no bounce when mowing and the deck cuts smoothly. The front suspension does absorb bumps in your yard and it gives you a smoother ride than a lawn tractor without creating a washboard effect when mowing.
When you go around a corner with the suspension in the front, the front of the MPV does not dip to the outside of the turn. The deck does not dig in or gouge on a turn.
7. Original Question: Turf Tires. Great on your lawn, terrible out in the woods in MPV mode.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: I don’t recommend going out into the woods and running on bare dirt right after a rain with the factory installed turf tires. Under normal trail conditions though it will have enough traction to get you out to that perfect photo spot, your deer stand or where you want to fish. There will be sport tires with a more aggressive tread design available separately. I’ve seen the tires and they are nice, aggressive design.
8. Original Question: What is the plastic made of? Is is like Sterilite the breaks when the temperature gets below freezing or like RubberMaid that will put up with just about any abuse. Companies like MTD have developed polymers that will take more abuse than steel, but I wonder if this manufacture has? Will it stand up to bumps and bangs without cracking? If you hit it hard enough to dent it will the dent spring back.? I would like to try the Sledge Hammer test on it.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: Yes, it’s a good poly. It resists scratches very well (my apple tree has tried to break it many times already) The toughness is somewhere between a Rubbermaid trash can and the fender extension on your pickup.
9. Original Question: Turning Radius? Lowes states 16 inches and the manual states 18 inches? There is one video on YouTube where a user tries to turn it around inside a store and the turning radius is a lot greater in that video than stated. If the turning radius is a bad as in the video you will have to do a lot more trimming to get your lawn mowed. Once you own a Craftsman with Turn-Tight all the rest look like you are turning a semi.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: The advertising now states 14 inches. It reality it is better than that. One thing I had to get used to was the really good rack and pinion steering. It’s really quick and precise. You can turn all the way from lock-to-lock without the steering trying to bind up like it does on most lawn tractors. And even better the steering geometry is flat and does not scuff your turf. I have turned the Raven at full-lock in sand and it barely made a mark. The steering doesn’t push (try to go straight when mowing around a tree) The steering effort is a little stiff for me and I if the steering wheel was 2 inches larger it would help – but that’s just my opinion. You will really like the steering.
10. Original Question: No boots on electrical plugs. In the video the electrical connectors look rugged enough but I would like to see rubber boots and covers for when it is wet out and when you have the deck off. The main 100 lb, 48 volt battery is located down behind the rear axle. I would be careful going through water.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: The boots are not needed. Even mowing wet grass you will never experience a problem. Of course the Raven is not designed to cross creeks and rivers so don’t try it. I have seen the prove design though and the unit went through 100 feet of 18 inch deep water without an issue.
11. Original Question: Weight: 750 lbs. ok for a mower, but is that too heavy for a MPV?
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: It’s actually closer to 800 lbs. I am just amazed at how much easier a really heavy lawn mower is to use. Yes, I have experience with the big zero-turns but this is a different experience altogether. The ride it a lot better, meaning the Raven doesn’t bounce you around like a lawn tractor. You can mow your lawn and you don’t feel wore out from all the bouncing around. Little dips and hills in your lawn are handled with ease. No shifting your weight to get traction mowing around that big old maple in your front yard. This will be one items about the Raven that will get the most praise – the ride.
Out in the timber the majority of the weight is on the rear so the Raven will follow what the rear end is doing. It will bounce you around more than a 4 wheeler ATV, but if you are using it for a job like moving firewood you will enjoy the increased traction all that weight has to offer.
12. Original Question: No 240v plugs. You can use it to power your drill and fridge but you will not be able to use it to power your home during a power outage. A transfer switch uses 240 volts to power your house. Most well pumps are 240 volt. Yes, you can power individual 110 volt items. But, you will need to run an extension cord to each item you want to use. (You will be running the MPV outside. Be sure to size your extension cords for the proper amperage and length of run so you don’t overheat the cord or burn out your appliance) The manual does not state how much current each out let will produce (15 or 20 amps)
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: I’ve realized that if you need a generator it will not be to power your oven. You need it for everyday tasks around the property and for emergency power for your essential appliances. Use the grill to cook on. Build a switch into the gas furnace power system. The Raven MPV7100 has enough power to handle those types of tasks and then some.
13. Original Question: I switched to all cordless tools two years ago so I have no need for a charger out in the pasture. I have a feeling most of you reading this have also switcher to cordless tools. Lowes advertises this as 7000 watts. The manual states 6500 watts continuous, 7100 peak. This makes me wonder what other generators Lowes is mis-advertising.
The surge wattage corresponds to the maximum amount of power the generator can output for a short time. Motorized devices typically require more than their rated wattage for startup. The surge wattage ability of a generator allows for this extra power requirement. This generator can run at its surge wattage capacity for only a short time. Connect electrical devices requiring a rated (running) wattage equal to or lesser than the rated wattage of this generator. Never connect devices requiring a rated wattage equal to the surge wattage of a generator.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: The generator has enough power to start my 1 1/2 table saw and cut 2 inch thick hard maple
14. Original Question: According to new owners there is no suspension in the rear. The rear axle is solid which makes for a very rough riding MPV at 17 mph. So is it just a lawn tractor that looks like ATV and has an ATV front end? Lowes does not advertise it as an ATV. The Lowes site calls it a Hybrid Riding Mower and the banner ads they are using calls it a MPV (ATV=All Terrain Vehicle, MPV=Multi Purpose Vehicle)
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: The Raven is a Multi=purpose vehicle and not an ATV. If you have it in high gear I suggest keeping it on a fairly smooth surface like your lawn, the path out to the cows or the gravel drive out to the mailbox. The rear end is heavy and stable but there is no suspension under it so it will ride rough for some owners. Use common sense and you will do just fine!
15. Original Question: New owners also state the unit has very little power in high gear. It works for flat ground but is all but worthless when trying to go up a hill. So with the turf tires, no suspension in the rear and no power for pulling or hills in high gear it is not a true ATV. It has a front end and steering similar to an ATV but that is about as far as it goes to being an ATV.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: No, It does not have a lot of pulling power in high gear. If you are pulling a trailer keep it in low. If the hill is steep enough for the Raven to lose power turn on the generator and there is more current available to go up the hill/
16. Original Question: This is a very minor point and one that most people are not aware of with today’s mowers. The placement of the seat on the machine. Almost all mowers have the seat centered in the turning arc of the machine. If you place the seat behind the arc (Like the old Yazoo Mowers) the operator gets thrown around like a Tilt-A-Whirl and if you place the operator if front of the arc (some zero-turns and the Raven) they constantly have to look down and back to see where they are mowing. This can lead to a stiff neck and operator fatigue. Again this is a minor point and you would only notice this if you were using the MPV all day long.
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: In regards to the placement of the seat the Raven is very similar to a zero-turn. The deck is directly below you and the rear tires are a few inches behind you. It only took me a few minutes to get used to where the rear tires were and I had no problem trimming close. The Raven is a lot taller than your old lawn tractor though and you may have to trim a few low hanging branches so that you can mow as close as you are used to.
17. Original Question: Maybe I am asking too much out of this unit. Maybe this is the “wave of the future” for lawn & garden work. I like the idea of using a combination generator and engine (gen/set) Diesel Locomotives have been using this concept for years and the fuel savings are real over conventional gas powered equipment. We’ll see!
Update June 2014 The new Raven MPV-7100: Well it is the future. The hybrid concept is a new and improved way to mow your lawn. No worries about running out of battery power. No plugging it in to charge. The gas generator is very fuel efficient and much quieter than today’s lawn tractors.
Update March 2014 –
I spent the week of March 20, 2014 in North Carolina reviewing the improvements and schedule for the Raven. I’ll write a detailed article soon about my impressions and what’s in the future. In the meantime here is a hint:
See my full review here:2014 Raven MPV-7100 Hybrid Mower Review – Are You Ready For A Change?