A traditional arrangement of pistol grips means our testers are confident from the start. The central control panel includes the blade engagement button and a lever to set the forward speed to suit conditions. Under the handlebars there are “brake”-type levers – the left one slows oil to the left wheel and gives a left turn, the right provides the right turns. Hold both levers and the machine slows down. Hold them tighter to the handlebars and you find reverse. The tester gets the hang of the system straight away and mows a neat line down the side of a hedge.
“Turning needs a little practice but, generally, operating this mower is easy,” she says. “The thing to remember is to let the machine do the work.”
The engine is quiet — rated 105LwA dB — and our testers report no vibration. Quality of cut scores 10 out of 10. This mower will tackle long, thick grass and leave a good finish.
We particularly like the foot pedal. Easily found at the back of the machine, this pedal will instantly disengage the Hydro drive and return it to neutral. What makes this feature useful is that the operator’s hands remain on the controls.
The strength of build is evident in this machine. The deck is 10-gauge and is fabricated rather than stamped. It features overlapping corners for extra strength. A double-skin top deck adds rigidity to the machine and the double-skinned side skirts should take the knocks and abuse of commercial use.
The castor wheels are a good size — 23cm by 8.9cm — so they should not get lost in potholes. The drive wheels are also large. At 46cm they provide plenty of traction and, although we did not test it on slopes, the machine should provide a good grip on banks.
Having a wide and low stance, plus being kitted out with knobbly tyres, the machine certainly looks suitable for steep bank. IPU’s representative tells us it will mow on slopes up to 45°.
The Ferris zero-turn system is different from others on the market. It uses self-contained twin Eaton hydrostats, rather than hydraulic motors and pumps, with a two-year warranty. The warranty’s only exclusions are the blades, belts and tyres.
Height adjustment is typical of a large commercial rotary mower in that you need to find a kerb or a friend to lift the tension of the deck. But rather than using just R-clips or pins to alter the height of cut, the DD also makes use of strong, metal spacers.
Our tester perceives some heaviness in the machine, perhaps due to it being so low to the ground. We swap to a model fitted with a 91cm flail attachment and he finds operating the machine much easier.
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