The AR53 series has been designed for the professional world. These rotary mowers have aluminium decks with a weight of around 38kg, so they are relatively easy to lift in and out of a van.
Cutting height adjustment is in a central position and, although not as quick to change as the Viking, it should encourage operators to alter the height whenever required rather than "making do" with the setting from the last site.
Both machines are very similar but the TBX has a fixed speed of propulsion whereas the VBX has variable drive. Our testers unanimously preferred the variable-drive unit.
"The single speed is a little too slow for someone in the business - someone needing to get the job done quickly. I found I was trying to push it along - but I am sure it is fine for the semi-professional market," Gardner says. "With the variable model you can set the speed on '3' and get on with cutting grass."
But what we do like is the starting mechanism. The AR53 is fitted with a Briggs & Stratton engine featuring the "Ready Start" system. This eliminates manual priming as well as choking and also minimises the effort needed to fire up the engine. "You don't mind having to start and restart because it is so easy," our tester explains.
The AR53 is a good cutter. There is plenty of power from the 6hp Briggs Y Stratton engine to mow through dense grass, but beware of the grass bag - it packs the clippings in and can be heavy to remove when full.
Overall, these are very capable mowers. We reckon they are suitable for use by professional gardeners and small contractors - especially those working on multiple sites and needing to lift equipment in and out of a van.
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.