Rapid two-wheel tractors

These are executive class without a doubt. Rapid machines have style in brilliant packaging but you have to pay for a top-drawer image — these tractors don't come cheap. On the plus side, they are packed with engineering know-how, are superbly versatile and are built to last. What's more, they are hydrostatic — and that puts them in a class of their own.

Being hydrostats, you can forget about the need to select gears with these machines. Instead, get a firm grip on the twist handles for stepless speed control. Twist away to move forwards, and towards you for reverse. Let go of the handles and the machine stops.
The machines also feature brake steering. Squeezing the left-hand steering-brake swings the machine to the left; the right-hand brake actions right turns. While the controls are comfortable and easy to use, combine them with PTO-engagement, throttle, dead man’s handle, parking brake and handlebar adjustment levers, and there is a lot to learn for the first-time user.
The Mondo comes in both in standard form and specials, of which the Mondo Easy is a safe bet if you are a newcomer to using two-wheel tractors. It’s the easiest to operate and is delivered “ready to go” with a 142cm sicklebar mower for £3,900 plus VAT. Powered by an eight-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, this model will take any of the add-on Mondo appliances via the quick-coupling system.
Another entry-level model is the Caretaker. It has a nine-horsepower Honda engine and shares many of the features of the Easy but comes set up with a 95cm roller sweeping-brush.
At the top of the Mondo range are the Mondo Plus and Active Plus, which have bigger, stronger axles, nine-horsepower Kubota engines and boast brake-assisted steering.
“This is the first time I have seen a Kubota engine on this type of machine. It makes it nice and quiet. And the machine is very responsive and manoeuvrable,” says one tester.
Taking the challenge of working in all seasons, the Mondo range of tractors can take a variety of attachments including flail and mulch mowers, haymaker, power harrow, barrow, trailer, snow blades, blowers and vacuums.
For seriously tough conservation, landscape and public works, the Rapid Euro offers power combined with versatility and adaptability. There’s a choice of engines — from 10hp, single-cylinder model to the super-powered, 20hp, two-cylinder Briggs & Stratton version.
The Euro also features two PTO speeds with a simple selector lever changing speed between 630rpm and 1,000rpm. Another advantage of the Euros is that they can be fitted with a dual-action auxiliary hydraulic system. Electric start also comes as an option.
Handlebar adjustment on all the machines is done with a lever and is safe enough to make adjustments on the move. The 20hp machine is quiet and there is no problem with vibration. Our testers appreciate the quick change of implements and the fact that, if needed, there is a tool kit under the bonnet.
The equipment for the Euros should suit everyone in the industry. You’d expect a variety of grass-cutting and cultivation implements, but the Euro goes further. For arborists, in addition to the woodchipper, there is a stump grinder. Conservationists will be interested in the baler, and nurserymen in a barrow-frame capable of carrying 27 seed trays.
There is a new member about to join the family. The 13hp, petrol Universo is the ultimate in Rapid engineering. This one takes the best features of the Mondo and Euro and adds a few more. The engine is a Briggs & Stratton and it’s been tested through 360°, so the machine should operate on the steepest slopes.
The mechanism for swivelling the handlebars through 180° is particularly impressive. Although the handlebars can be swung round on some of the Mondo models, the result is that the controls end up being back to front — and that can be confusing. The Universo solves the problem with just one pull of a lever. There is no need to unhook the gears or rods and all the controls remain as they were. Cultivator to mower — it’s never been so easy.

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