The bottom of the deck is unlikely to fold under itself because it has box section reinforcement at the front edge and is strengthened with 3/8in by one-inch bar stock along the bottom. And we reckon it has probably got the heaviest deck spindle of any walk-behind — it is made from ductile iron rather than cast aluminium.
When it comes to power, the Hustler is supercharged. It has a 17hp Kawasaki twin-cylinder, air-cooled engine. A 15hp model is available. Considering the amount of power, the Hustler is not noisy. It gives a very good cut — three rotary blades, driven by a single belt, provide the 122cm cutting width. There is a choice of side or rear discharge.
Operating the Hustler is fairly simple, though you won’t have come across anything quite like this. The steering bar is Hustler’s answer to preventing cramped forearms and numb fingers. The manufacturer calls it the “H” bar, though it’s more like a “T”. It’s a bit like hanging onto a mountain bike and steering the mower by turning the bar. But that is where the similarity ends — this mower will turn on the spot.
Being hydrostatic, speed is infinitely variable. Twist the handgrips forward to go forwards. Reverse is selected by twisting the grips away. Our tester takes to the “H” bar immediately, finding it comfortable to use. After an initial lurch as the power takes him by surprise, he reports that speed control is precise. He says: “It’s a powerful machine but you feel in control. And the handles are positioned so you don’t scratch your arms on the bushes.”
The OPC is incorporated into the bar in the form of two rings positioned inwards from the handgrips. As you hold the grips, the OPC rings are lifted upwards and inwards — so there’s no need to grasp them, clutch them or hang onto them. There shouldn’t be any blisters with this mower.
Only one ring needs to be engaged to keep the mower running, so you could grab a drink from the water bottle in the special holder. Handlebar height can be adjusted to suit the height of the operator. This machine is unusual but it is also comfortable. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” says tester number two as he takes hold of the “H” bar.
After mowing, he adds: “The steering takes a bit of practice but the speed control is easy. It’s certainly a powerful machine and really eats the grass.”
Another tester also finds the steering tricky at first but loves the reverse. “Getting into reverse is so easy; it’s there for you immediately you want it — 10 out of 10 for the reverse control,” she says.
The oversized, pneumatic front castor wheels have an anti-pothole measurement of 28cm by 10cm. In addition, there are four anti-scalp wheels, making this a practical machine for rough terrain. It also looks a solid, stable design for use on slopes. The mower was not tested on sloping ground, but we understand that it will work on banks of 40°.
A lot of thought has gone into making the Hustler easy to adjust and maintain. The fuel tank holds 19 litres for day-long productivity. The oil reservoir for the hydrostatic transmission has a bar across it so no one is going to confuse the different tanks. The spindle assembly has sealed bearings and needs greasing annually. There are also sealed bearings on the front castor wheel forks.
Cutting height adjustment is particularly easy. And it is a one-man operation. An L-shaped leverage bar is inserted under the deck and held down with the foot to lift the tension off the deck so that the R-clips can be moved to one of seven holes for half-inch height changes from one inch to four inches. Whether you are using it or maintaining it, this machine should please.
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