What's not to like about this machine? It has everything a professional gardener or mobile garden maintenance team could want - and more. Best of all, this one gives a remarkably close cut.
This is a self-propelled, three-in-one machine, so you cut and drop, cut and collect or mulch. It has one of our favourite engines - a 190cc Briggs & Stratton with Ready Start - so there is plenty of power and starting the machine does not take much effort. Zone Start on this mower helps further and reduces the potential for back strain.
Aimed at large lawns, the 800AL has a 54cm cutting width. What we particularly like is the ability to cut down to 10mm. We didn't know rotaries could go that low. But is that heading into the danger zone for the blades? Not with this one. Masport AL mowers have Quick Cut blades with swinging tips to provide some protection to the crankshaft.
"The swing tips give you that confidence when there might be obstacles or debris on the ground," says Baldwin. Then he racks up the cutting height - quick and easy with the centralised height adjustor - and heads for the woodland edge.
"It's quite a roughty-toughty machine," Baldwin observes, as he emerges again from the undergrowth, drops the cutting height down and sets about finishing off the lawn. "It is very easy to manoeuvre and it handles anything," he adds. "And look at the quality of cut - uniform and clean. I like it."
The machine has a heavy-duty aluminium deck with wash port. To aid mowing around flower beds, the deck is slightly offset. The handles are upturned with soft grips; they are comfortable and vibration was not noticeably an issue. Variable speed provides a comfortable walking pace to match user and conditions.
Engine: Briggs & Stratton XVS 675 Series
Capacity: 190cc with Ready Start
Drive: Self propelled, variable speed
Cutting width: 54cm (22in)
Cutting height: 10-70mm (single lever, in 11 steps)
Cutting type: Cut, collect, mulch
Grass catcher box: Fabric, 54.5 litres
Warranty: One-year commercial use, two-year domestic
List price: £424.17 + VAT
Tel: FGM Claymore - 01789 490177
Tested This Issue
Viking MB 756 YC
Cub Cadet CC53SPBE-V
The Reviewer - Mike Baldwin, director of learning, Broomfield Campus, Derby College
The walk-behind wheeled rotary mower is the backbone of many machinery fleets and often a first choice for anyone with small or awkward areas of amenity grass. Lightweight and easy to pop into a van, these mowers are loved by garden contractors and in municipal spheres they are used for trimming up after the ride-ons have flown past.
With plenty of options, such as collect, side or rear discharge or mulch, wheeled rotaries find work in locations as different as cemeteries, highway roundabouts, newly germinating sports pitches and back lawns. At the Broomfield Campus of Derby College, where we held our test, walk-behind rotary mowers are used around beds and borders, along verges and in between trees.
We look at new models from four firms. Viking, the mowing side of Stihl, is an increasingly recognised name in professional grounds care circles as well as providing a wide range of domestic lawnmowers. We test the company's latest premium mower for commercial use. It is the most powerful and most expensive of the bunch, but what will our tester make of it?
We also look at a self-propelled and push mowers from Makita. Joining us for the first time we have Masport and Cub Cadet. While all three brands submit what appear very normal lawnmowers, we find each has something to set it apart from the others.
In the test, we were assisted by horticulture students undertaking an assessment of machinery for ease-of-use and health and safety considerations. Conditions on the day were cloudy but dry.