Ride on Lawn Mowers

What next in the world of lawn mowing.
Fresh from the world famous manufacturer ‘Bunnings’, oops - Ryobi is this the ideal gem for taming the kikuyu.

Aside from that putrid yellow green colour scheme, it does resemble one style of mobility scooter. Multipurpose?
Cheap?
Well it’s advertised at only $2,800US on Amazon. Assume that is ex taxes. Edit Only $4,449AU (not $5,000AU thks @Drop_Bear) at Bunnings who will not be beaten on price. Excuse the rounding.

Is it time for an update and another look at the options for larger lawns or for those who can ride but not push the Victa etc?

5 Likes

$4,499


Positive reviews, so far:

Comparatively cost-effective:
https://www.hasmow.com.au/electric-ride-on-mowers

2 Likes

Our local Bunnings lists it at $4,499.00.

But still a big increase from my post in January, 2017.

1 Like

Current exchange rate would make this about AUD4100, add 10% GST and it would be around $4500…(+ add in shipping?)

Looks like Bunnings can beat Amazon on this one.

But knowing Bunnings, in store it will be possibly a different model number (maybe with AU added) so they don’t have to honour it is the price if it was cheaper.

3 Likes

The interest here is not necessarily in buying a Ryobi specifically to replace a 25yr old 12hp Cox. It’s not the only battery electric ride on option. Or petrol machine. @Drop_Bear has linked to the Hasqvarna front mounted deck battery mower.

One of my neighbours has the older Husqvarna petrol version. It is the most versatile and compact ride on. Perfect for getting into corners, under shrubs and into tight spots around curves. It cuts in front so no flattened grass from the front wheels. And no extra stress from a push mower on the recent hip joint upgrade! :slightly_smiling_face:

I would not offer a critique on any of the electric ride ons without trialing one around our yard.

It would seem there are an increasing number of lower cost ride on options in the market, new features and ideal for the larger urban block up to an acre or more of good lawn. I use the old Cox for all the fiddle bits around the place the big mower can’t reach. And with enough on foot work to do with a brush cutter etc, a small practical lower cost ride on is one way to ease the work load. Especially in summer!

P.S.
The Bunnings online data sheet does not state the battery size/capacity for the Ryobi. It does however list 101.7dB as the noise level. It seems very high, and is hopefully an error. Louder than my professional grade chain saw!

Thanks for the link and comments @Fred123

3 Likes

I am attracted to the idea of the Ryobi 38 battery powered. Getting rid of belts, fuel, oil etc is a big plus. I don’t know if it is possible but re-charging from solar is also attractive. Less noise, fumes and vibration are all good too.

The first question that I cannot get an answer to, either on the Bunnings site or the Ryobi; what power is it? Whether you truly can mow an acre and hour depends on many things, the prime ones are the weight of the grass (length, thickness and moisture content) and the power of the mower. For a given sized deck the speed that you can actually cut has little to do with the supposed maximum speed of the mower and much to do with its power supplied to the deck.

Secondly, I would also like to know what happens if you push it too hard. With a petrol mower you either stall the engine or burn the belt(s). Do the electric cuttings motors gracefully cut out when overloaded or overheated or do they die in a plume of expensive smoke? Assuming it is not immediately destructive what does repeated overloading do to the motors’ lifespan?

Apparently they come with a 75 Ah battery, what is to stop you fitting a 150 Ah and going for twice as long? How easy is it to swap batteries to extend running time?

Hopefully such a mower needs much less servicing but when they do need attention who will do it?

2 Likes

When testing Ride-on Mowers can you look at the Dead Man’s seat (must have weight on the seat or the engine stops) pls? I am tiny. We have two. One will start, but as soon as I put weight on pedals etc it stops, so I can’t mow. The large one is too big for me - the seat does not come forward so I have to lean or sit forward to steer and operate pedals. The engine surges and idles depending on me shifting weight (turning corners, engaging deck etc) which drives my husband mad. He has disengaged the seat mechanism or put a bag of cement on as back rest, neither a good solution. He does the Ride-on, I do the tractor & slasher and the push mower. We had a self-propelled but it is useless on slopes.

The other bugbear is long grass where the front of the deck lays it down and the blades then pass over it, and it lives another day, week, month… A problem more with the slasher - long grass gets wrapped around the shaft between the deck & blades, the thing starts overheating, then we wait to cool, and start in with hacksaws, blades and bars to clear.

All ours are second-hand, so we are dealing with either clapped out (ex-Council) or highly modified (different deck/engine, “improvements” that didn’t work etc) or given to us because it never worked properly (or broke), so dump it on Dad. One day I want to have a decent one.

3 Likes

Plenty of empathy and understanding, from here. You raise some good points. There is much to evaluate.

We managed for quite some time with an open deck utility push mower and now 25yr old 12hp Cox tractor style ride on. A hernia op and some spare cash saw it relegated by a heavyweight zero turn for the kept lawn/paddock.

Finding a suitable machine and getting value without meaningful reviews is not easy. Fortunately with 20 plus nearing neighbours there is a least one of every (reputable) brand of ride on and model type to check out first hand. Except the yard with the horse, which is a different type of ride on. :wink:

None of the brands or models appear in the local Bunnings. While every specialist mower super store has at least one cheap brand the locals with larger blocks avoid?

I’d hope that if Choice does a review it also looks at the maintenance needs, cost, frequency, ease of access and skill level.

1 Like

Regardless of whether Choice reviews cover all of the possible problems that you might have may I suggest you insist on a test drive before you upgrade. Not all seats/controls/designs suit all people.

I think the deadman’s seat is of rather limited value, a bit of a gimmick, if I had your problem I would consider if I should disable it.

Before anybody jumps and says I am suggesting a bad thing, we all make decisions about the tradeoff between cost, convenience and safety all the time. I am not telling you to do this just pointing out it is possible.

2 Likes

A former neighbour could not be bothered to operate the engine stop bar on his self-propelled mower to he locked it with cable ties.

No safety system is people proof.

With Bunnings, if you are not satisified with the product, you can return it for a full refund.

It may just need some adjustment? It seems a common issue on older mowers.

I do find my toes (boots) sometimes under the outside edge of the deck. The electric starter on our Cox is U/S so I tend to leave it running. The cut out switch on it tends to stay engaged, which is the opposite problem, to it shutting down unexpectedly. It has been fixed several times. I guess I’m relying on habitually disengaging the deck before getting off. Although in the two Instances where I have put the Cox on it’s side the switch has worked, which is a good thing I think?

As @syncretic suggests getting a test ride would be great, several of our local mower stores oblige. A close neighbour had several brought around to try out, although he was looking at an up market JD tractor style costing closer to $5k. The Bunnings deal would seem a great alternative, although their range is limited.

1 Like

Maintenance, the need for less is better?

Even with newer machinery I often feel like I spend nearly as much time cleaning, maintaining and sharpening or replacing blades as mowing or slashing.

1 Like

This review seems to indicate they are lead acid batteries…

1 Like

My mistake. They don’t have a 75 Ah battery they have 4. Not quite the same thing as far as swapping or upgrading. They are lead acid AGM batteries, lithium would be lighter but more costly.

3 Likes

Here is a website with the Operator’s Manual and assembly guide. I haven’t checked (large file size warning) and usually these documents have specs for the mower and also limitations as far as usage.

This website also has some information as well…

2 Likes

Thanks for the links @phb.

From the second link, four off 12V x 75Ah batteries in series for 48V x75Ah. IE 3.6kWh at 100% dod. Realistically less In practice, and not ideal to run flat. The low number of cycles from AGM type batteries under heavy use would probably not be a concern if the Ryobi only goes out once or twice a week. Still looks much less powerful than a >20hp Vee twin petrol alternative, although the comments in the YouTube clip about power losses in the belt drives on a petrol mower are spot on. It would certainly be informative to see some Aussie testing.

$1,000 and 80kg plus for a new set of similar capacity AGM deep cycle batteries locally. Assuming they are not a weird Ryobi only sized package.

It was good to see the USA assessment of maintenance and running costs. Similar to my local experience except for the oil and labour costs.

P.S. no motor hp ratings evident in the owner manual, only the Ryobi spare part numbers for the separate deck and drive motors.

2 Likes

Well let me see if I can do the sums from there, if you are running for 2 hours and leave some in the tank you have about 1.5 kW of power to play with, or ~2 HP. Assuming very high efficiency motors and transfer to the blades that still does not sound like nearly enough grunt for a 38in deck and forward propulsion. A similar sized petrol mower would be 8-12 HP, if you wanted to push on in heavy conditions the latter would be better. I begin to doubt you would be doing anything like an acre an hour unless the grass was short, dry and sparse, and the ground was level with no obstacles. If it was long and damp you would be going nowhere. Some user comments align with this.

I see why nobody wants to say what power this mower is, it is the first statistic you are given by all the competitors and they don’t want to compete on that.

2 Likes

The alternative view point is that it is difficult to compare direct drive electric mowers to a petrol powered machine. Although Husqvarna’s promo for their battery ride on said it was ideal for ‘residential’ lawns. Many petrol powered ride ons face much tougher larger rural allotments around here.

Using a battery push mower (based on Choice testing and recommended models) 1kWh of Lithium battery energy will enable you to mow approx 4,000m2, or about one acre. That’s a residential lawn acre.

The recommended depth of regular discharge for AGM batteries, in approx daily Golf Cart use is 50%. For an expected life of around 2 years. Which would suggest the Ryobi battery as best recharged after 1.8kWh of draw down. Perhaps for a once a week mow that could be pushed to 80%DOD occasionally.

The Ryobi RM480E will need to travel approx 5,000m to do the hypothetical one acre. That is around 400Wh in golf cart pristine driving conditions. It would need more energy for a mower pushing through longer grass than the average cart pathway.

This suggests it may be possible to mow an acre of pristine short front lawn with the Ryobi, and still have charge left in the battery?

Perhaps the caution here is knowing how the lawn conditions of any Choice test compare to the typical less manicured non urban acre.

The alternative Husqvarna battery rider is a little easier to find details for. But does not appear to be available in Australia, not listed on the Husqvarna web site?
Weight 250kg
Cut width 76cm?
Drive motor 2kW
Cutter Motors 800W x two.
Battery 36V 125Ah (3 x 12V lead acid, assumed AGM)
Up to 90 mins total runtime.

Overall slightly lighter, less cut width, more battery at 4.5kWh and possibly more powerful than the Ryobi RM480E. It was listed at $6,500.

1 Like

Probably true but my little thought experiment was intended to show that even under the most favourable assumptions it did not seem possible for the battery mower to have the power at the blades of the similar sized ICE-driven deck. Which is rather a shame because it means it isn’t a starter for me until battery tech improves the energy/weight/cost equation a fair bit. Perhaps Choice could do some head-to-head testing in the same conditions, eg green kikuyu 30cm tall.

Would anybody like to hazard a guess as to why the battery models are so expensive? I imagine the EV version has far fewer parts, not true? Limited production so no economies of scale? Trying to retrieve development costs too fast?

2 Likes