How we test ride-on mowers

We assessed ride-on mowers for performance, ease of use, and safety.

Ride-on mower cutting grass

Our test was conducted at the Solway Showgrounds in Masterton.

Performance

We ran mowing performance tests in side-discharge mode (that is with neither mulching kit nor catcher fitted) on a patch of long (100-120mm), thick grass. We cut two 20m runs on the highest cut setting, before mowing two more lengths at progressively lower cutting heights. Then, we assessed each run for evenness, consistency and cut quality – we noted if the mower slowed or struggled when we lowered the cutting height.

We also ran mulching and catching tests on grass approximately 50mm high, for mowers where a mulching kit or catcher was included. Points were awarded based on how well mulching mowers distributed finely cut clippings evenly over the lawn. Similarly, the catcher mower was scored based on its consistency of cut and whether it left clumps behind.

Ease of use

Our ease-of-use assessment looked at the handling, ride comfort, ease of controlling speed, starter mechanism, ease of engaging the mower blade drive, changing cutting height and checking fuel level.

We also measured the noise of each mower and the minimum mowable diameter (effective turning circle) for tractor models.

Safety

To verify each mower’s safety, we assessed the instructions, warning stickers and labels, pulley and belt coverings, and automatic safety cut-outs. All mowers in our database passed the safety assessment.

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