Stand-on zero turn mowers were first introduced in the mid 1990s to much fanfare and a general hope from the manufacturers that they would gain the same traction in the market as other types of zero turn mowers. Unfortunately this never happened. Recent years have witnessed something of a resurgence of interest in the stand-on ZTR market, with new designs and better pricing helping to fuel this demand. Many professional landscapers have realized that the stander type zero turn radius mower has many potential benefits.
Dane Scag is a pivotal figure in the history of stand-on mowers. His innovative early designs transformed the stand-on from an interesting variation on standard zero turn mowers, to the practical, manoeuvrable and durable machines that are much beloved by users today. Dane Scag's influence on zero-turn-radius mowers in general cannot be underestimated. The number of manufacturers he has worked with over the years, as well as the number of designs and innovations he has introduced is quite simply breath taking.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a stand-on ZTR is the fact that they are so compact. This means that they are ideal for people who cut a lot of grass in tight, restricted areas. This compactness also means that they are easier to transport than their front-mount and mid-mount counterparts.
The compact design also means a greatly reduced weight. This can, along with the front-cut design make maintenance easier. Some professional grass cutters have also remarked that the lighter weight of the stander type has left grass in better condition and resulted in positive customer feedback.
Another benefit of these machines is that the viewpoint of the operator is markedly improved. It’s a lot easier to spot obstacles and debris from the standing position.
Stander mowers have a reputation for offering great traction on hills, as well as a reduced risk of scalping a prized lawn.
Many stand-on type zero turn mowers can be used as walk-behind mowers, albeit in a limited way. Many seasoned operators, however, caution that they lose a lot of traction when doing so. It is perhaps best to think of the walk-behind option as a way to get from the trailer to the lawn rather than as another grass cutting option.
A premium feature on some stand-on mowers is the ability to adjust the height as you are mowing. This can be helpful to avoid scalping. Wright Manufacturing, for instance, call this feature "Rapid Height" on their stander machines. Rapid Height allows the operator to change the height with a single lever and without slowing down. Such an ability could be crucial to a commercial landscaper, and may sway them towards models which have it.
To meet increased demand, primarily from commercial landscapers, many manufacturers, such as Toro, Wright-Stander, Great Dane, Everride and Exmark have introduced stand-on models into their line-ups.
Perhaps the most famous name in the stand-on zero turn mower arena is Wright Manufacturing. Whether for residential or commercial use, a mower from Wright's well regarded Stander range can meet all needs. The flagship commercially focussed Stander ZK model can tackle huge expanses of grass, while the Stander RH might catch the eye of the homeowner.
Closely Related to their stander range Wright also offer the Velke, which is a something of a hybrid. It falls somewhere between a traditional walk-behind mower and a stand-on, featuring a sulky for the operator to stand on. The super compact Velke, which is only 33 inches wide, offers great performance on slopes and wide areas but can reach areas that no other ZTR could possibly hope to fit into (narrow access gates for example). The Velke might be an ideal solution for jobs which are time-consuming for traditional walk-behinds, but are impossible to reach with other types of ZTR mowers.
Great Dane are another manufacturer offering a stand-on ZTR. Founded by Dane Scag, Great Dane's pedigree is obvious. Great Dane's Super Surfer range is designed with speed and agility in mind, and a grass cutting productivity that supersedes that of any walk-behind. With their 36" to 61" floating decks, low centres of gravity and a wide wheel bases the Super Surfer range can meet the needs of even the most demanding professional landscapers. They can even be converted to run on Calor LPG. Great Dane also offer the surfer range of stand-on mowers which which might interest the homeowner or smaller landscaping contractor. The Surfer mowers are smaller and lighter than the Super Surfers and appealingly less expensive. They do, however, lack many of the premium features of the Super Surfer range. A fixed rather than floating deck, for example, might put off many potential purchasers.
Another name in the marketplace is Toro. Toro offers their GrandStand range of stand-on ZTR mowers in 36 to 60 inch deck sizes. They have a reputation for being durable and easy to use, while also saving a lot of trailer space. A folding platform at the back of the GrandStand line-up means that they can also be converted into walk-behind mowers. Operator comfort is not ignored either in GrandStand mowers - suspension offers the rider a smoother and less fatigue-inducing ride.
Luckily, for the budget conscious buyer, there is a thriving market in used stand-on zero turn mowers. Unfortunately, in the current economic climate, many small landscaping businesses have been forced out of business. This is very unfortunate for all involved, particularly the well run family businesses that have operated successfully over several generations. It does mean, however, that there is a constant supply of well maintained used mowers available to the potential buyer.
Perhaps before buying a stander it would be a good idea to consider just what sort of properties you currently maintain, or are likely to maintain in the future. If the properties maintained are primarily vast open areas, then a sit down model might be the more efficient option overall. On the other hand, if the properties you maintain are smaller and less easily navigable, then the manoeuvrability and compactness of a zero turn stand-on mower might just be the ideal solution. Those dealing primarily with urban, narrow access properties who are looking to enhance their productivity may be swayed towards something like the ultra-compact Velke from Wright Manufacturing.