Standing Room Only
An in-depth look at stand-on mowers
Stand-on mowers have proved to be more than just a
fad. A hybrid of a walk-behind and a zero-turn riding mower, they are more
maneuverable than a traditional zero-turn rider and, in some ways, safer
and more comfortable for the operator over challenging terrain. Stand-on
mowers come in varying deck sizes and engine sizes and offer ease of
mounting and dismounting the mower; their short length means they are not
only more maneuverable in tight quarters, but also easier to transport on a
trailer or store in a garage or shed.
|Photo Courtesy of Ariens.
|The Scorpion FX 34-inch fixed deck
stand-on mower from Everride can
tackle gated yards.
|Photo Courtesy of Ariens.
|Gravely’s Pro Stance series augments the company’s line of professional
mowing equipment. Available in both fixed deck and floating decks with
sizes from 34 to 52 inches.
|Photo Courtesy of John Deere.
|John Deere’s Quik Trak stand-ons have
their famous 7 Iron II fully stamped
seven-gauge steel mowing decks
The stand-on mower genre got its start in October 1997
with Wright Mfg. Wright was already manufacturing the Velke walk-behind
sulky, which converted a walk-behind into a ride-behind mower. Bill Wright,
CEO and company founder, explains that while sulkies have substantially
reduced operator fatigue, the mower still requires skill to maneuver and
all the turning induces upper body fatigue. After reading an article in a
business magazine about how manufacturers should attempt to make their own
products obsolete so no one else can supersede them, Wright got together
with Jim Velke, his engineer who helped design the Velke sulky, to come up
with something that would top their own sulky. They came up with the idea
of a stand-on mower, a mixture of a Velke attached to a walk-behind and a
“Sitting down is intuitively the best way to
mow,” Wright says. “This needs to be trained out of people if
they really want to seriously cut grass faster and mow steeper
hills.” He says that standing does not cause much exertion on the
operator’s body, because “it is a state of readiness, not
rest.” The operator can shift their body from side to side or front
to back to change the weight distribution as the mower crosses terrain;
squat momentarily to cross under low-lying limbs without slowing down or
changing the mowing pattern to avoid such obstacles; or exit off of the
mower in the event of an emergency or to pick up debris.
In October 1997, Wright’s first stand-on mower
rolled off the assembly line. “We built and shipped 89 Standers with
52-inch decks and 18 hp engines by the end of 1997,” he explains.
Currently, the Wright lineup of stand-on mowers includes small frame
Standers in 32, 36 and 42-inch fixed decks; large frame Standers with 48,
52 and 61-inch fixed decks; the Stander RH (Rapid Hite) models available
with 36, 42, 48 and 52-inch quick height change fixed decks; and the
Stander ZK in 52 and 61-inch decks, the fastest of the Standers at 15 mph.
A 72-inch deck ZK is slated to be offered. Engine choices range from 27 to
37 hp, all Kawasaki manufactured. The Stander ZK features the Rapid Hite
quick deck height adjustment, a suspended operator platform, fabricated
seven-gauge deck with rubber discharge chute and heavy-duty deck carrier
frame and front caster assemblies.
John Deere’s Quik Trak series currently consists
of three models with decks ranging from 48 to 60 inches and engines from 19
to 23 hp. Gilbert Pena, segment strategy manager for John Deere’s
commercial equipment division, noted John Deere’s 7 Iron II mowing
deck, a seven-gauge deck whose shell is stamped from a single sheet of
steel. Stamping, as opposed to fabricating (welding), permits John Deere to
attain a uniform depth of the deck shell and eliminate corners that can
allow grass build up. The 7 Iron II deck is a floating deck, enabling it to
trace the contours of the turf. The adjustable forward reference bar
enables the operator to stabilize the controls when traversing rough ground
and maintain an even rate of travel speed. The reference bar can be
unlocked and moved closer to the operator to limit forward speed for rough
ground or to accommodate new users who are just getting the hang of mowing
with a stand-on rider. The Quik Trak’s components are easy to access
for routine service. “The padded operator support can be removed
completely for accessibility purposes,” indicated Pena. Behind this
pad is the dual hydrostatic transmission. Pena stresses that Quik Traks are
easy to use, once you win the operator over that standing is better than
sitting. “You have a better line of visibility of the trim side of
the deck,” cites Pena. “You are also not as fatigued as if you
are sitting.” He explains that your legs have the ability to flex
with the motion of the mower, and you can react to terrain changes by
shifting your weight. The current John Deere Quik Trak lineup consists of
the 647A (19 hp Kawasaki engine with 48-inch deck), 657A (23 hp Kawasaki
engine with 54-inch deck) and the 667A (23 hp Kawasaki engine with 60-inch
|Photo by Dexter Ewing.
|The Stander ZK from Wright Mfg. pushes the stand-on mower into the sit-down
zero-turn rider category by offering deck sizes and engine hp choices commonly
found on the sit-down riders.
|Photo Courtesy of Toro.
|Toro’s stand-on mower can be used on a wide variety of properties. As of press
time, the name of the mower has not been determined.
|Photo Courtesy of Ariens.
|Great Dane’s floating deck
Super Surfer features a wide
stance for hillside stability.
“Stand-on units appeal to larger landscapers who
are interested in efficiency,” says Mike Theucks, vice president of
sales and marketing of Ariens. He explains that stand-on mowers are most
effective on smaller properties or highly landscaped jobs. “In many
of these applications, a larger ride-on unit is overkill,” he adds.
Theucks explains that the operator’s weight is transferred below the
centerline of the rear wheel hubs and that on a stand-on mower you are
physically closer to your work, which means you have an improved view of
your surroundings. “You can trim around landscaping without any
problem,” says Theucks. Ariens is the parent company of Gravely,
Great Dane and Everride. All three have stand-on mowers in their product
lines: Pro Stance, Surfer/Super Surfer and Scorpion FX/Scorpion,
respectively. They are available in a variety of deck and engine sizes.
Theucks says the configuration with the 48-inch deck paired with either a
19 or 21 hp engine are the most popular sellers across the board. All three
brands have a 34-inch deck version, which is gaining popularity among
landscapers who care for gated properties. “The 34-inch easily fits
through a standard 36-inch gate allowing for efficiency of a stand-on to
mow the job instead of using a walk-behind due to gate restrictions,”
Theucks says. The Gravely Pro Stance, Great Dane Surfer and Super Surfer
and Everride Scorpion FX and Scorpion models come in 34, 48 and 52-inch
deck sizes and 19 or 23 hp Kawasaki engines. The Super Surfer, Scorpion and
certain models of the Pro Stance are floating deck stand-ons, with the
remainder being fixed-deck units. All Ariens manufactured stand-ons feature
an adjustable reference bar to limit the forward ground speed when
necessary, such as mowing hillsides or rough terrain.
Toro is not a new name when it comes to commercial
mowing equipment, but it is a new player in the stand-on market. At press
time, Toro was holding a contest, “Name It & Claim It,” in
which landscape professionals submit ideas to name the mower. The winning
name would earn the entrant the first stand-on off of the assembly line.
Ross Hawley, marketing product manager for Toro’s Landscape
Contractor Equipment division, explains that this type of mower can be used
on a wide variety of properties. “Properties that required both a
zero-turn and a mid-size, walk-behind unit in the past often can be mowed
by a single stand-on unit,” he says.
“It further enhances productivity by allowing
the operator to either ride-on or walk-behind the machine,” says
Hawley. Toro’s stand-on has an operator platform that folds up flat
against the control tower to convert the stand-on to a walk-behind mower.
In addition, the platform is suspended to isolate the operator from the
bumps in the terrain. Stand-on mowers offer excellent trailer-ability due
to their short length, according to Hawley. “The foldable platform
that allows for walk-behind operation also helps to conserve space on the
trailer, as well as off-season storage,” he points out. At press
time, there were no definite specifications available for Toro’s
stand-on mower, other than that there will be an option of two decks sizes,
48 and 52 inches. Toro’s machine will allow the operator to convert
the mower into a walk-behind mower for hillsides, for two machines in one.
Be sure to demo a stand-on mower and see for yourself
what it can do for you in terms of cutting your mowing time down. It may
take some getting used to standing up and riding, but when you see that you
can react to the terrain and interact with the mower, hills and obstacles,
intricately landscaped yards and low-lying limbs can all be managed with
Dexter Ewing is a freelance contributor based in