In conservation work, they provide plenty of power and a light footprint for the most sensitive of habitats. They have the strength and ability for annual grass and reed cuts — and they can turn, collect and bale the hay.
In large gardens, parks and on estates, two-wheelers can perform tasks from mowing and cultivating to sweeping and clearing snow. They can be used to power woodchippers and sawbenches. Hitch up a seat and a trailer and the walking tractor becomes a ride-on model to transport tools and materials. And its narrow width makes it ideal for accessing awkward entrances to bring mechanisation into back gardens or even glasshouses and polytunnels.
While it is probably one particular job or one particular site that initially makes a would-be purchaser consider buying a two-wheel tractor, the range of available attachments should always be borne in mind. The power unit will set you back several thousand pounds so, just like a compact tractor or even a full-sized unit, you will want to make the most of it and keep that engine running. You’d be wise to spend time considering what other tasks might be achieved using the machine, what other sites you may wish to work or what likely direction future business and contracts may take you.
How and where you envisage using the two-wheeler now and tomorrow will determine the size of machine and the most suitable power. Engine horsepower ranges from three horsepower to 20hp, but the physical size of the machine is also important. Double check that the unit will go where you want it and that it has sufficient power to run the equipment and attachments you want. Many of these power units have been designed with hill climbing in mind but it is a good idea to see a demonstration of the machine on similar terrain to your own so that you can judge the traction for yourself. What type of tyres will be most suited to your work? Caged wheels may be worth considering as an extra if you frequently work on very soft ground.
Both petrol-powered and diesel-powered models are available. Costing as little as 20p a litre, diesel is attractive to landscapers and contractors. Those working on conservation sites or in environmentally sensitive areas may have a preference for the quieter, cleaner running of petrol-powered machinery.
Ease of use
Investigate the ease of use of the machine and its attachments. Just as with larger, four-wheel tractors, these two-wheel power units are to be found with a choice of drives and gears. Match these to your tasks and site conditions and make sure the machine is sufficiently manoeuvrable and easy to handle for your needs. Changing from one attachment or implement to another needs to be simple and quick.
Reliability, ruggedness and durability are important. Consider running costs and find out about service requirements and maintenance. Check that spare parts and accessories are readily available through the dealer.
As with any other item of machinery, you should make sure that two-wheel tractors and their attachments have their CE markings. Look for safety features such as guards around moving parts and check that the position of the exhaust is not going to make your work hot and unpleasant or lead to burns.
Operator comfort is another feature that should be investigated. Attention should be paid to the height and position of the handlebars, how easy they are to adjust and how far they can be offset for working close to walls, fences and hedges and around trees.
The importance of health and safety cannot be over-emphasised. All machines should now be supplied with data concerning levels of noise and vibration. Take notice of them.
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