If you have tried a lot of self-propelled walk-behind rotary lawnmowers that simply don't go fast enough for you then you should try this one. Our testers report quite a decent walking pace in third gear.
This is also a remarkably comfortable mower. The handlebars fold completely for transport and are fully adjustable for maximum comfort. They even swivel so you can work close to walls, fences or hedges without fear of scraping your knuckles.
This mower has the usual Stihl attention to detail; it's sturdy and we like the front and side bumper protection. While its slick, glossy exterior may give it a classy, domestic appearance, this unit is not a toy. It's tough and has features contractors will love, such as reinforced axles and wheel bolts, and should easily withstand being bumped in the van or inadvertently knocked against obstacles. It's also got muscle. Power comes from a 6hp Kawasaki engine to rip through dense grass.
Height adjustment is via a no-fuss central system - and it's quick. "That's fantastic, just what you need if you are a contractor rushing from garden to garden," says one tester. "This mower also has a decent work speed - a lot of mowers don't go fast enough but speed is not a problem here." It's also quick to convert to mulching via the addition of an insert.
But we would like to be able to wheel it without the blades turning. Although its bigger brother is fitted with one, this 19' (48cm) mower has no blade brake, so you will need to be fit to constantly restart the engine after emptying the 80-litre grass catcher.
Not too heavy, and not too light, this mower is lovely in use. The engine is mounted on AV elements, giving the unit reported vibration levels of 1.9m/s2. A nice touch is the toolbox neatly fitted under the console.
THE REVIEW PANEL
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Hugh Murray, head greenkeeper, Cannington Golf Club
Steve Hasell, machinery lecturer, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Ashley Hale, apprentice groundsman, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
- Sometimes the situation will call for a cylinder mower. On other occasions it is the rotary mower that is the right machine for the job.
In this test we looked at two traditional cylinders - the general-purpose Allett Buffalo and the fine-turf Allett Tournament. We also tested three new rotaries - the AR53 Series Efco mowers and the latest Viking model from the Stihl stable.
The cylinder mowers were tested on the golf course of the Cannington Campus of Bridgwater College in Somerset. Conditions at the time were fine, with late afternoon sunshine. The rotaries were also trialled at the Cannington Campus, but on an area of longer amenity grass. This test took place in the early morning, when a heavy dew covered the grass.