The newest mower sulkies
Midsize, walk-behind mowers are versatile mowers, filling roles as either a primary production mower or to augment riding mowers in a fleet. One accessory is the riding sulky, which is a platform that hitches to the engine deck of the mower allowing the operator to ride behind the mower standing up. Just as mowers have advanced through the years in terms of technology, safety and productivity, so have sulkies. Here are only a few of the models available.
Scag’s RS-S ride-on sulky attachment for Pro V mowers is a fixed-frame sulky with a single caster wheel and operator footpads on either side of the caster wheel. “The RS-S is constructed from heavy-duty steel, and that’s a must for the rough commercial environment it will be operated in,” says Chris Frame, Scag’s director of marketing and technical services. Tapered roller bearings are used in the caster pivot as they can carry a greater load than ball bearings. Additionally, “the operator foot plates feature an extruded tread pattern for better grip when wet,” says Frame. The perforated design allows dirt and other small debris to pass through, and the RS-S also features a latching system so the sulky can be folded up and locked to the mower for trailering or when sulky operation is not desired.
|PHOTOS BY DEXTER EWING.|
|Scag’s Pro-V hydro walk-behind has a specially designed single-wheel sulky, the RS-S, which features a comfortable operator leg stance and robust construction.|
TrimmerTrap offers two sulky models: the Bull Rider and the Bronco Rider. Says Bill Bellis, president of TrimmerTrap, “Both sulkies are designed and constructed with safety as the most important issue.” He further explains that roll and yaw movements are limited by built-in stops, which prevents dangerous pinch points and jackknifing, two of the safety issues with mower sulkies. He says the frame is designed to have an indefinite service life if the wear parts are replaced as needed, so when the foot platform is worn or damaged, it can be replaced easily without having to buy a whole new sulky.
|The Bronco Rider from TrimmerTrap features a foot platform that can be easily replaced should it get damaged.||The Bull Rider sports heavy-gauge construction, perforated foot platform and heavy-duty hitch.|
The Bronco Rider is a trailering-type sulky best suited for gear drive walk-behinds, and features tires that are a bit different from the other sulkies. “They are actually go-cart tires that have almost four times the amount of rubber as typical lawn and garden tires,” Bellis points out. The Bull rider is a fixed-frame sulky with pivoting caster wheels, in which “the operator stands in a fixed position on the foot platform, centered behind the mower’s controls at all times,” he says. Bellis says the Bull Rider is the choice of those with hydro-drive mowers to take advantage of the maneuverability that a dual-drive hydro has to offer. The hitch brackets of either sulky are formed from heavy-duty steel.
Jungle Jim’s Accessory Products produces aftermarket sulkies that fit a wide variety of midsize gear-drive and hydro-drive mowers. Jennifer Hafendorfer, sales manager for Jungle Jim’s, says the Jungle Wheels sulky is made in the U.S.A. out of 10-gauge steel. “It is unique in that it offers an adjustable arm so the operator can be closer to the mower’s controls, or farther if need be,” she says. Hafendorfer says that there are three pivots on the sulky to ensure that both wheels stay in contact with the ground at all times, no matter what the terrain, and for tight turning ability. Another unique trait is its rear-weighted design, in which the operator’s weight is placed behind the centerline of the sulky wheels’ hubs. This lever principle places an upward force on the sulky hitch, which is then converted into downward force at the mower deck so the operator’s weight does not cause the front of the deck to lift up over uneven or hilly terrain to make sure the cut is even.
Wright Manufacturing was the first company credited with inventing and releasing a ride-on sulky for a midsize walk-behind. Jim Velke, Wright Manufacturing’s senior engineer, invented the one-wheel Velke Pro1 sulky. “However, there were those who were unaware of or willing to give up the many advantages of the Pro1 design, determined to eliminate the third wheel stripe that all one-wheel sulkies leave behind.” As a result, Velke and Wright brought out the Velke X2 two-wheel sulky, where the wheels tracked in the same width as the mower’s drive wheels. Its extra-wide platform still retains the ability to fold up when sulky operation is not desired, and also to caster around 360 degrees for reverse, provided the operator steps off the platform first. In 2008, the Velke Superpro sulky was introduced, and features an advancement in sulky design and comfort while still offering the 360-degree maneuverability of the Pro1. The Superpro’s operator platform is hinged and supported by a large coil spring, so as the operator traverses the terrain, the platform pivots slightly and the spring compresses, taking out the bumps and jars.
|The Velke Superpro is the next step in the evolution of the popular Wright Velke sulky.|
Better Outdoor Products
Better Outdoor Products offers two types of sulkies for their Quick series of single and dual-drive hydro models. The Step Saver is designed for any single-drive hydro Quick model, from the Quickie 32 to the Quick 44. Its sturdy, trailer-type design hitches to the engine deck with two connecting points. “Not utilizing steering brakes on our original Quick series mowers, many told us it would be impossible to add a sulky,” says Gary Patridge, president of Better Outdoor Products. Patridge explains, “By carefully managing the articulating geometry of the Step Saver, we were able to produce a comfortable, two-wheeled riding platform that, with very little effort from the operator, allows the machine to be rear-steered.” To steer the mower using his body, the user pivots his hips in the opposite direction that he wants to turn the mower.
|Better Outdoor Products’ Dually Step Saver is engineered to work with their Dually dual-drive, hydro walk-behind mower.|
For the Dually dual-drive hydro model, there is the Dually Step Saver sulky, which is a fixed-frame design with a pair of heavy-duty caster wheels. “One of the primary design objectives was to keep the operator centered and to have the EZR control system in a very close and comfortable reach,” says Patridge. “We also sought to keep the operator’s center of gravity as close to the drive axle as possible.” There is also a pivot on the foot platform to allow the sulky’s wheels to precisely follow the undulations of the terrain, so the mower drive wheels are in contact with the ground at all times.