This mower doesn't waste time. At 54cm, it covers the ground well. Big wheels and ball/needle bearings provide smooth manoeuvrability and the variable speed transmission lets you walk up to 5km/h.
The JX90 has a rustproof cast-aluminium deck - and this one comes with a 15-year guarantee - with John Deere's Turbostar mowing system. A fan, positioned just below the engine, increases the airflow under the deck so the grass stands up ready for cutting and helps throw the grass into the catcher - even in wet conditions. The result is as neat as you can get.
Carter was impressed with the construction. "There is no flex in the handlebars - it's solid and moves with you," he says.
Adjustable, folding handlebars make it a comfortable machine to use and also mean the unit takes up little room in the van - although, at 54kg, you will want a hand to lift this one in and out.
Cutting-height adjustment is central and tool-less. It gives seven positive positions from 104mm down to 17mm. Power comes from a 6.5hp Kawasaki overhead valve engine.
All the testers found the JD JX90 comfortable and easy to use. The additional blade brake safety clutch is the icing on the cake. It lets you stop the mower blade but leaves the engine running so you can empty the grass catcher without needing to restart the mower every time.
"I like the controls. They are really friendly," said Ayrey. "With this sort of mechanism, you can't go wrong. The mower is light when you turn and the material over the top of the box indicates when it needs emptying. You don't waste time checking every few minutes."
The JX90 is really a high-end domestic or entry-level commercial machine. All the testers felt some rattle from the mountings and wanted to see the JX90C model - the same machine but with JD's anti-vibration handlebars - when it is available later this spring.
Engine 4-stroke 6.5hp Kawasaki OHV
Cutting width: 54cm
Propulsion: Self-propelled, three speeds
Cutting adjustment: Central
Cutting height: 104mm to 17mm in seven settings
Grass box capacity: 75 litres
Options: Mulching kit
List price (ex VAT): from £852
Contact: John Deere, 01949 860491
The test was carried out on the edges of the golf course and along verges at Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College, Somerset. Conditions were cloudy, with a shower or two.
THE REVIEW PANEL
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Ian Phipps, grounds mechanic, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Jayne Alcock, gardener, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Faith Ayrey, gardener, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus
Leah Rossiter, apprentice gardener, Bridgwater College - Cannington Campus