Lastec Articulator 721XR rotary gang

Probably the most capable wide-area mower for mounds and ridges, the Articulator 721XR delivers the cutting performance of seven individual rotary mowers in one, neat, 3.35m wide package. It's a masterpiece of engineering and always a thrill to watch in action.

The basic design of the articulator is simple, but ingenious. Instead of a single deck with multiple blades, this mower has multiple decks with single blades. Each deck follows the ground independently of its neighbours and has up to 24? of articulation.
“You wouldn’t worry about the fairway with this machine, it really does wrap itself around the ground,” says our tester.
A choice of blades includes standard, high-lift and mulch. Three hydraulic cylinders lift the decks for transport. But that’s where hydraulic involvement ends. A belt drives each deck and — because there are no power-guzzling hydraulic drives — this means you can use a lightweight, compact tractor with a minimum of 35hp at the PTO.
Of course, many people dislike belt drives, but for this machine the result is a remarkably lightweight, wide-area mower, with power to spare. This one weighs just 563kg and gives an immaculate cut to the densest of swards. And for those still nervous of belts, the Articulator comes with more good news. For starters, Goodyear had a hand in the development of the belts — that’s serious expertise. In addition, the belts are visible beneath a flap on the decks, so you can keep an eye on them. In the event of damage, a full set of seven belts will set you back just £98 and it takes less than 30 minutes to change every belt on the mower. Belts are tensioned by a slide-bar lever.
The tester takes the mower through its paces and reports that it follows up, down and along any ridges and mounds that can be safety negotiated by the tractor. And while it has a slinky mobility as it moves over the contours, the Articulator is not slow. This mound-master gives a fantastic performance at 13km/h. That adds up to 4.3ha/h. What’s more, it’s unbelievably manoeuvrable. Our tester has no problems following the snaking lines of shrubbery and is able to reverse with the decks down.
“It seems to get in and around the tight spots with ease,” notes an observer.
The tester is impressed with the quality of cut. “It fans the grass out so there’s no clumping,” he says.
Inspection of the construction and workings of this mower shows it to be sturdy as well as mechanic-friendly. The decks are made from 50mm reinforced steel deck pans with a 100mm by 190mm solid steel bar leading to the pan edge. The 721XR also features re-buildable spindle assemblies that are easy to service.
 “You can buy smaller rotary decks for a few thousand but they won’t have the productivity and are likely to scalp on undulating ground,” says one tester. “If you can live with the bare bits, that’s okay. If not, this is the machine for you.”

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