A: I have never used a Pasquali two-wheel tractor, although I know it has been available for a long time.
I have just visited the Pasquali website and the specification certainly seems impressive - especially the new XB50 that concentrates on soil cultivation. I notice the XB40 is promoted as being suitable for landscape maintenance. It is a machine I look forward to trying in the near future, along with the Grillo and Bertolini.
In the meantime, all I can offer is a few buying tips and my impressions of some other brands.
Like their conventional four-wheel counterparts, the important considerations deal with the engine and the gears. And, as with four-wheel tractors, you also need some idea of what implements it needs to run. Do you want to mow, blow leaves, clear snow or cultivate? You might even require one to run a chipper or shredder.
You need to make sure there is plenty of power to run the implements - plus any that you might buy in the future - and you have to decide between petrol and diesel.
Many two-wheeled tractors have mechanical gears and you should thoroughly investigate what is involved in uncoupling and re-coupling the gears when you convert the unit from front-mounting to rear-mounting action or from mowing to cultivating.
There are some hydrostats on the market and these tend to be easier to convert - as in the case of the Rapid Universo from Rapid Tractors UK.
These units are not cheap but swivelling the handlebars is easy - just pull and lever and turn. There's no need to unhook and re-hook rods and the controls do not end up back to front. The Universo is agile, easy to drive and great on slopes.
For cultivation purposes and general mowing duties, I like the BCS machines from Tracmaster. These are tough, versatile machines, with the 730 and 740 having plenty of power for cultivating even wet, sticky soils. I rate these as value-for-money machines.
I have also looked at the SEP, offered by Bunce of Ashbury. Attachments fit on the SEP1700 Special by means of a quick-attach, quick-release system. The controls on this machine are also remarkably easy to master.
Following my answer to Michael's question about Pasquali two-wheeled tractors (HW, 29 April), North Devon Hospice head gardener and 2009 HW Gardener of the Year winner Colin Porter adds his personal recommendation.
"I bought a Pasquali XB40 about five years ago. I have a rotary cultivator and 60cm scrub mower attachment plus a trailer with seat. This trailer can carry up to 650kg," says Porter, who also runs his own landscape design business.
He transports the equipment in his Transit van, although not all the kit will fit in at the same time. He even takes the Pasquali in his van to work in France.
He continues: "The Pasquali XB40 is very tough and robust. It's designed for professional use and for my kind of work it is invaluable."
When Porter is engaged in large projects, he tends to use contractors. For a lot of smaller schemes and awkward sites, he uses the Pasquali and attachments. "The combinations give me a lot of flexibility," he says. "Although they may seem expensive, the initial outlay is paid back by the added value that benefits my business and my clients."