Stand-on mowers could provide the right combination

Stand-on mowers could provide the right combination

Features - Maintenance

Contractors are still learning more about stand-on mowers as the machines become increasingly powerful.

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February 18, 2019

Now capable of doing just as much as other mowers, manufacturers say stand-on machines are still gaining momentum as viable options for residential and commercial landscapers alike.

Kubota’s product manager Phillip Song likens mowers to computers. The traditional sit-down is like a desktop that can churn out a high volume of requests, whereas a walk-behind might be similar to a tablet that can be easily transported and still gets the job done. Meanwhile, a stand-on is a combination of both.

“To me, the way I like to describe it for those who are really into technology: The stand-on is kind of like the hybrid machine of the mower world,” Song says.

Joe Ferris, product manager at Ferris Mowers, has a different comparison: stand-on mowers are like sedans. You can navigate larger SUVs through tight roads, much like you can navigate zero-turn mowers through properties with narrow operating spaces, but it’s much easier with something agile.

“A stand-on mower handles better in more tighter situations,” Ferris says. “Sedans tend to handle a little bit better, they’re a little more agile and more maneuverable. A stand-on is the same way.”

Manufacturers say much of the safety considerations and regular maintenance on stand-ons are essentially the same as other mowers.

But what separates the stand-ons from the rest of the market is a different kind of comfort, maneuverability, and how they’re changing public perception.

Photo courtesy of Kubota

Out of your seat.

In terms of comfort, sitting may no longer be the best bet. Manufacturers say standing upright may lead to a better mower ride.

“Americans in general, we feel like we want to sit,” says Ron Scheffler, senior product manager at BOB-CAT. “Whether we’ve cut grass all day long or came home from a job and cut part-time, we think we want to sit, but the reality is, you have more energy at the end of the day if you’re standing.”

Scheffler says operators who sit are often letting their organs take high-shock impacts as they drive the mower, whereas those who stand on mowers allow the legs to absorb bumps.

The result is operators finding more energy at the end of the day, Scheffler says. Some properties are so large that it would be cumbersome to stand for the duration of the job, but most worksites are small enough that manufacturers think it would make more sense to stand.

“You always get the common question or thought of, ‘Why would I want to stand while mowing?’” Song says. “To me, it really depends on how much are you mowing, and are you doing this to be more productive? These stand-ons seem to go really well for those guys that are really into trying to maximize performance and also trying to get in and out of jobs quickly.”

Know the terrain: Stand-on mowers work well on properties with tight spaces, but hilly areas and steep inclines might be more dangerous to operate on.

Small spots.

Easy to transport from one jobsite to another, manufacturers say the stand-on machines work best at locations with tight squeezes. It makes sense to use stand-ons in places where you might get off to pick up branches or debris several times while mowing.

Cemeteries and memorials, where there’s a lot of stop-and-go while working, are also good candidates for using stand-on mowers, manufacturers say.

Of course, there are times where using a stand-on might not be ideal. Particularly in hilly regions or in areas with steep inclines, manufacturers say operators should exercise caution.

In addition to it being less comfortable to stand on a mower going up a hill over sitting on it, it could be more dangerous and top-heavy, resulting in hazardous falls.

Users can often shift their weight on slopes to avoid falls and standing provides additional visibility that sit-downs might not have.

Most machines disengage as soon as operators step off, and there’s no seat belt, which allows the user to easily get off the mower if it begins to tip. Still, it’s advised to make sure you’re using caution.

“You do need to know your terrains when you’re mowing on a stand-on and pay attention to the operator’s manuals about how people tell you how to mow around the hills or the slope,” Scheffler says. “You have to know your machine.”

“You have more energy at the end of the day if you’re standing.” Ron Scheffler, senior product manager, BOB-CAT

The future.

Song says companies are producing stand-ons powerful enough to handle just about any workload. He thinks they’ll be soon be efficient enough to use in any situation as a replacement for sit-downs or walk-behinds, if they’re not already.

“I think you’ll start seeing manufacturers believe that they are like a complementary piece to an equivalent zero-turn machine they currently manufacture,” Song says.

Ferris says most manufacturers who produce stand-on mowers are already looking for ways to improve the comfort of their ride. This includes his own company, which recently debuted a pivoting front axle addition that helps add more suspension.

He says the mowers are often designed so users who are familiar with other mowers of the same brand can easily switch to stand-ons. Aside from these mowers being more compact, they have pretty much the “same spindles and such” as their more traditional counterparts, Ferris says.

“(Stand-ons have) a lot of the same components, parts and features that you’d have on a zero-turn or walk-behind,” he says. “It’s all just on a different layout.”

Try it out.

Song says interested contractors should try a variety of stand-on mowers before writing them off entirely based on one or two designs. And Scheffler says he understands why some contractors are still skeptical, but he says trying them out is the ultimate way to tell if their crew has any use for stand-on mowers.

Depending on the properties they maintenance and the work they do, he believes companies will likely find the perks of stand-on mowers to be intriguing.

Try all of them, he says, because they all have different features and different benefits between manufacturers.

“Evaluate the properties you’re going to be on. Think of how many times you’re going to be off and on your mowers so you can be most efficient throughout the day,” Scheffler says. “Then get on the mowers. You can do website reviews all day long, you can look at specs all day long, but the reality is that you need to really look at all the different stand-on mowers that are out there to fit your needs. Nothing really tells the tale like a demo.”