The 740 has all-gear transmission and automotive-style clutch meaning there are no belts or chains to rob the machine of power, or that have to be replaced. The gears, shafts and ball bearings are heavy duty. There is a choice of petrol or diesel versions, the diesel costing about £500 more. Opt for the electric-start model and it will set you back a further £500.
What really makes this machine a worthy investment, however, is the comprehensive range of quality, easy-to-fit implements that give the 740 such impressive versatility. You want to mow? There are three types of mower in a total of 10 working widths. Need to clear the snow? Choose between a snow thrower or dozer blade. There’s a chipper/shredder to help with autumn clearance or shrub maintenance. And if you need to cultivate, there is a selection of rotary and tined cultivators, power harrows, ridgers and both single furrow and rotary ploughs. A powered brush and trailer are also available.
“Clearly this machine would be suitable for small holdings and estates where a variety of work needs doing, but the tractor and implements are so transportable — in a van or on a trailer — that the landscape gardener should also find it useful,” says our tester.
There is no problem starting the machine. With the gears in neutral and holding the operator presence control (OPC), it’s just a matter of pulling the recoil start. The 740 has three working speeds plus a very generous travel speed. Like all BCS single-axle tractors, the 740 has a geared reverse so you can get out of tight areas while both hands stay on the handlebars. And the handlebars drop for easy turns. They also swing quickly into the offset position when working alongside a fence or hedge or when it is important for the operator to keep to utilised pathways.
First, we match the tractor to a 78cm mulching mower. It seems a little noisy but is heavy duty and the finish is outstanding. “See how finely chopped and evenly distributed the clippings are,” remarks the tester. “I am very impressed with that — a quality finish.”
Next, we go to the paddock to try a flail mower. Changing implements is simple. Based on a quick-release male/ female coupler, all that is required is the pull of a lever and the tractor is wheeled away from one implement and lined up with the next. Turning the handlebars round means we can use the travel speed to full advantage and literally run up the road.
We use a 60cm flail mower — the mid-size of three — with 16 L-shaped swinging blades. A wide opening at the front allows tall, dense vegetation to be cut easily. Again the tester is impressed with the finish. “For the type of mowing, it leaves a first-class finish,” he notes.
We move onto the reciprocating cutter bar. Available in widths of 80cm, 1m, 1.15m and 1.35m, it can be used to mow down tall vegetation very quickly. The tester uses the 1.15m bar. With the engine on tickover he selects third gear and he’s off. Quietly the machine moves through nettles and docks — toppling all before it.
The 740 has plenty of grunt. It will work its way up slopes, speed between sites and power implements in demanding conditions.
On the soil plot the tester puts the rotary plough through its paces. This pan-buster has revolutionised ploughing with two-wheel tractors. It works down to 30cm and throws soil out of the furrow.
Finally, with the light fading, it’s time to clear up the yard. “The quality and performance of the machine is impressive. I believe it would make a sound long-term investment,” says the tester as the power brush aggressively sweeps the day’s dirt from the yard. “It’s value for money.”
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