Are you looking for a way to bridge the gap between a commercial ZTR and a walk-behind mower? Then you should take a look at Exmark’s wide-area walk-behind mowers. They have steerable drive systems like a riding mower, but they work better in narrow spaces and on small lawns. With decks up to 52 inches wide, you get increased flexibility without taking a hit to cutting speed.
Enhanced Control System: Rethinking the Mower Handle
While Exmark’s excellent decks are reason enough to consider these models, the biggest advantage they have over other walk-behinds is the control setup. Using a standard mower handle on a wide area mower doesn’t make much sense. The drive wheels act independently, so the operator doesn’t need leverage to steer. Exmark designed ECS around this fact, giving the operator controls that fit their body, increasing comfort and ease of use.
This starts with the handlebar itself. Instead of using a straight bar or adding a slight downward angle, the bar curves up and inward. This keeps the operator’s hands and arms in their natural resting position. The grips are also close together, keeping the operator’s hands away from tree branches and other obstacles. The drive levers are shaped to fold flat against the handle. This allows a neutral grip, reducing hand and finger strain. All other mower controls, including throttle and PTO, are built into a central control panel between the bars. A blade brake comes standard on all models, so the engine doesn’t have to shut off when the operator leaves the controls.
Metro Gear Drive: Keeping It Simple
This mower line uses a gear drive system with easy-to-access belts, making it cheaper and simpler to maintain than a hydraulic drive mower. The drive system can propel the mower at speeds from 2 to 6.2 mph. It also assists when moving in reverse, and has a neutral to make it easier to move the mower with the engine off.
These mowers are available with 32, 36 and 48-inch UltraCut Series 2 decks. They’re built with a 10 gauge plate steel top, 12 gauge side skirts, and a 7 gauge front bumper. From the factory, they’re set up for side discharge. Exmark offers a 3-bushel side-mount bagger and micro-mulch system with high lift blades and baffles, as well as an operator-controlled chute cover. A high clearance design helps the deck climb over curbs. The cutting height can be set from 1 to 4.25 inches in ¼ inch increments.
The sole engine fitted to the Metro is the Kawasaki FS481V. A dual-element air filter, built-in clean-out ports and rotating chopper screen help keep the engine cool and clean for a long service life.
Viking Hydro: ZTR Precision
There are few things more annoying than a hydrostatic drive that doesn’t track straight. To alleviate this problem, Exmark fits the Viking with its toolless Quick Track Adjustment. With a few twists, you can bring the motors back in sync. Twin Hydro-Gear variable displacement pumps paired with Parker/Ross wheel drive motors propel the Viking to a top speed of 6.2 mph going forward and up to 2.2 mph in reverse.
The Viking Hydro is available with 36 and 48 inch-wide UltraCut Series 3 decks. These decks have 7 gauge reinforcement plates surrounding the maintenance-free spindles. Like the Metro, the cutting height can be set between 1 and 4.25 inches. Both models are powered by a Kawasaki FS481V.
Along with mulching and bagging accessories, the Metro can be fitted with a StandOn chariot and front weights. This lets the operator stand on a platform while mowing, reducing fatigue and increasing mowing speed.
Turf Tracer: Superior Cut Performance
A full floating UltraCut 3 deck helps the Turf Tracer get a consistent finish on uneven ground, and it prevents scalping. The Turf Tracer is available with 36, 48 and 52 inch wide decks fitted with front casters that use flat-proof semi-pneumatic tires. Cutting height can bet set between 1.5 and 4.5 inches in ½ inch increments.
The pump/motor combo of the Viking carries over to this model. Depending on the deck size, the mower comes with a Kawasaki FS481V, FS541V or FS600V. Looking to cut operating costs and emissions? You can pair the 52-inch deck with a Kohler Command EFI propane engine. All Turf Tracers come with a standard hour meter.
Bagging and mulching options are the same as Exmark’s other wide area walk-behinds. However, thanks to the higher weight of the floating deck, the StandOn chariot doesn’t require front weights.
No Matter Your Needs, We Have a Mower for You
Shank’s Lawn Equipment has helped homeowners and professionals with their landscaping equipment since 1984. We carry most major brands including Exmark, Toro, Scag and Cub Cadet, and we offer parts and service for everything we sell. If you’re looking for a new mower or need help keeping your current mower running, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. You can also order parts and accessories for your mower at www.shankslawn.com. We ship across the United States and Canada.