Top positive review
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An excellent choice!
on February 2, 2011
Review ratings updated 08-27-2012
Forgive the length of this review - it is intended to be what I was looking for (comprehensive information) before I bought my own.
If you're paying attention and have the right wrench, it shouldn't take more than about 5 or 10 minutes to assemble. Adjusting the blades takes another five minutes. Then you can start playing with it. I say playing because this isn't work. It's too much fun to be work. Strange, but true.
I learned quickly that the ease with which it is pushed through and cuts grass depends proportionately on how much of that grass's height you cut at one time. Reviews and research say that you should never cut more than 1/3rd the grass's height at a time. They tell you it's for the health of the grass. It is also for the health of the person pushing the mower. Get the mower set too low, and it's not very easy (or fun) to push. Get it set too high, and it's super easy, but nothing happens. Get it set just right, and there's light resistance, and it's going to town.
A good idea is to set it to cut off between 1/2" and 1/3rd of the total grass height for the first pass, whichever is more. Then keep lowering the cutting height 1/2" to 1" at a time and keep making passes until you get a lot of resistance pushing it when you lower it any further. Then, wait a couple days, and go out again and mow at the height you had trouble with previously. Keep doing this until your grass is where you want it. From there, it's a breeze to keep up with.
I can't believe I was paying $70 a month to have someone come in and mow my lawn when I could have been using this. It's so simple and easy!
Here's my assessment. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best:
Is it easy to assemble? Yes. 9/10. Just follow the simple directions. The only way to make it easier would be to have it come pre-assembled, but they don't do that because it makes for a much smaller box if you assemble the handle yourself.
Is the handle comfortable? Yes! 10/10. The design allows you to hold it in various different ways. I like holding it in such a way that I am gripping the vertical part of the handle, which is much more natural, comfortable and surprisingly, less fatiguing than a horizontal handle.
Is it easy to adjust the blades for perfect cutting? Mostly. 6/10. It might take some fine tuning and fiddling to get it just right, and I found this slightly confusing at one point. But when you see your lawnmower slicing paper cleanly without the blades touching, it's pretty impressive and well worth the effort. Which, by the way, you only have to make once a year. I adjusted this down a notch because it can be confusing if you make a mistake. Be careful to follow directions closely.
Is it easy to adjust the cut height? Ridiculously. 10/10. Just reach down and adjust a knob on the right side. It's not even hard to move the knob! No wrenches necessary. It literally takes about 3 seconds. I wish the notches were marked for height.
Is it easy to adjust the handle height? Very. 9/10. (Just be careful not to drop the cotter pins when you're doing it.) You can adjust it super low for the very short, all the way up to comfortable for the very tall. I am 5'8" tall, and the recommended position 3 is where I like it. My 5 year old cousin can use it when it's set to Position 1. (Yes, it really is that easy to push when the grass isn't overgrown.)
Is it easy to push? When adjusted properly for the height of the grass, yes. 9/10. Even if you are small framed and spend your life sitting at a computer doing nothing but typing, you will be able to use this mower fairly easily. The only exception will be if the mower is being pushed through a very deep carpet of grass, which its weight will make a bit more difficult to do because of a tendency to sink into the grass bed.
Does it do a good job in one pass? Yes. 9/10. While you will get more grass that gets cut if you make a second pass, even at the same height, it's not necessary in most cases unless the grass was very tall to begin with. If the grass is more than 2 or 3" higher than the cutting height setting, but still low enough for the machine to mow, a second pass in the opposite or a perpendicular direction is worthwhile. The first pass does almost all the work. When I mowed my grandfather's 1 acre yard, I made one pass, period. He was very impressed with how well it cut through even the thick stuff in one pass, without needing a second pass at all. So was I. Update: You need to have the blades adjusted properly for this to be true. Otherwise it bends some, and cuts some.
Does it cut tall weeds? Usually. 7/10. If the weeds are not more than about 6 to 8" taller than the cut height, and pointed in the right direction (usually straight up or toward the mower), it will usually cut them but may need multiple passes. Taller weeds should be pulled out by hand. I have been pleased with how well it handles 6 to 8" tall weeds in one pass even when set to cut at 1.25".
Is it quiet? Yes. 9/10. It's nearly - but not quite - silent. Front wheels squeak some on mine. When the height is set properly, it can be somewhat louder than you might expect when going through thick spots. Almost silent going through thin spots, or during a second pass - unless you're mulching the previous pass's heavy clippings. I was able to mow an inch off my grass at 9:30 PM without any of my neighbors ever noticing.
Is it a good workout? Yes. 10/10. Not effortless, and not too hard when properly adjusted, this mower will definitely make you work up a sweat (I was mowing in still 70 F air after dark and sweating a moderate amount), but at the same time, it also won't make you feel exhausted unless you have it set to cut too low. And because of how quiet it is, you can mow when it's cool. I have mowed my grass at night or in the evening on a few occasions, and it makes it much more comfortable to mow than in the heat of the day.
Does it handle clippings well? Very. 9/10. The clippings might actually bog down the machine if the grass is thick and you try to cut too much off at once, or make too many passes in the same day while lowering the machine with each pass in overgrown grass. That's why it's suggested that you mow, wait a couple days and mow again a little lower: gives the clippings time to dissipate. As for dispersal, I can not tell where they go after mowing, except when they get in the driveway. They just... disappear. Literally. I love that.
Do the blades stay sharp? Yes. 10/10. This mower will only require sharpening every 5 to 10 years, according to the company, but I am not sure I can see the blades needing sharpening in anything less than 8 years, after taking a close look at how this thing is made. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if it went for a lifetime without needing sharpening.
Is it good for large (1+ acre) lots? Fairly. 5/10. If you are not trying to mow too much off in a day, and you don't mind spending some time mowing the grass and getting some exercise, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to mow multiple acres with this in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the bigger your lot, the more obstacles, and the higher/thicker your grass, the longer it'll take. It took me about 75 minutes to mow my grandfather's 1 acre yard, which is 99% St. Augustine grass with a house and moderate number of obstacles. About 2/3rds mowable. One acre a day at that rate, or maybe one in the morning and one in the evening, would make short work of even a four acre plot. But I can see where a riding mower would be popular with more than an acre, since you really need to mow once or twice a week to keep grass under control with a push mower.
Is it fast? Yes! 9/10 I was very impressed with how quickly I was able to mow my yard. It happened so fast I was disappointed, because I was having so much fun doing it. In fact when I mowed my grandfather's lawn, he told me I finished his entire lawn faster with the Momentum than he could with his riding lawnmower, which very much surprised me. Of course this depends on grass height and mower height, as well as grass type.
Is it maneuverable? Quite. 8/10 It's easy to maneuver, but the front wheels do not turn, so you have to lift them up to turn the machine on its back wheels. It does become a bit challenging at times when space is at a premium, such as next to a fence or in a corner, but it is no more difficult than any other push mower, powered or not.
Is it good for edging? For a lawnmower, yes. 8/10 I haven't had any trouble with edging on concrete driveway edges when I overlapped the mower on the grass and the concrete. It's good along fences if you keep it straight and steady and keep the fence to your left. Then again, who tries to edge with a lawnmower? That's what weed eaters are for. I can trim the grass to within 2" of my fence without a problem as long as I keep the fence to the left and the mower straight.
Does it handle different types of grass well? Yes! 9/10 I used it in several different types of grass and weed: Bahia, St. Augustine (Floratam, etc.), Zoisia, Crab Grass, and Bermuda grasses, as well as a type I cannot identify (wide, hairy leaves) and thick clover and dollarweed. It performed flawlessly in each. In fact it's even easier to use in healthy St. Augustine grass because that type of grass is stiffer, which makes for a perfect match to the scissor action of the mower. Update: There is a type of tough, stringy grass that I cannot identify taking over my yard that it does not do well with at the height I cut the rest of my yard. If I raise the height, it's okay, but still not as easy as say Bahia or Bermuda.
Is it fun to use? Yes! 9/10 So much fun that I mowed my own yard three times this week (during winter) and went over and mowed my grandfather's 1 acre yard. Then I mowed my uncle's yard, and snuck over to mow the back yard of the bank-owned house beside mine. It's probably more fun for me than it would be for most people because I work for myself, and I spend all my time in my office, so getting outside is a treat. Still, there's something strangely and endlessly satisfying about seeing the grass pour out the front and just disappear, all without much effort. Kids seem to enjoy using it too. Update: Have since settled into "It's a chore" mode, but it's still enough fun that I don't mind doing it even twice a week during the summer.
Would I buy it again? Absolutely. 10/10.
Is it a good value? Yes! 10/10. So far, I am very pleased with it's build and performance compared to what it cost me. Presuming that it lasts me only 10 years, it really only costs $20 a year to own. However, I fully expect that it will last something more like 80 years, making it's cost per year (if we factor in blade sharpening once every 10 years) about $5 per year. That means that if I cut my grass twice a week, it costs me 4.8 cents per cut over it's estimated lifespan of 80 years. Compare that to the $20 or $30 I was paying someone else per cut previously, and it's not exactly hard to see the value.
Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely. 10/10. Get one for yourself, and start enjoying your lawn mowing. Seriously. I only wish I'd had this when I was a teenager!
How does it compare to other push reel mowers? It is clearly the best-in-class. 10/10. The ever popular Scott's 20" (6/10) can't hold a candle to it. That mower is almost a nightmare to use, adjust and maintain in comparison, between the full-contact blades that make for more resistance, resharpening each year, more noise while mowing, problems with the handle and much less easy adjustment of the mower. The Brill RazorCut 38 (9/10) is a very good mower, and comes close, but is only about 15 inches wide. There is simply nothing that matches this mower in it's class.
Bottom line: I'm not one to really much care how "green" a solution it is. The "green" movement is great and all, but has become too politically motivated in a lot of ways for my taste. I'm a pragmatist. What I like is that it's built well, works well, is easy to adjust, quiet, pleasant to use, does a good job, gets me out of the house, gets me some sunlight (when I mow during the day!) and good, but not unreasonable exercise, saves me a lot of time and money buying gas, danger from storing gas, cleaning from getting gas on me, time and money having the mower serviced, money paying someone else to come mow a 1/4 acre lawn with a riding lawnmower when the grass is only 2" tall to begin with, blah blah blah, yada yada yada. In short, it's a clearly superior solution from a purely practical point of view, whether you're thinking green or not.
Do you want one? If your yard is an acre or less - yes you do. 9/10. Go git 'em. Bigger than that... probably only if you're retired.
UPDATE 03-01-2011: I have learned that set to less than about 3" cut height, pinecones sometimes jam it. At 1.5" to 2", it starts catching larger sticks. At 1.25", it starts catching on smaller sticks and can nick standard garden hoses. At 1", it catches on acorns and will sometimes scalp your lawn if it's not perfectly flat. Places where cars park, in soft soil can become uneven like that. The most useful cutting heights seem to be between 1.5" and 2", unless the lawn is overgrown. Probably most people would be happiest with 2" cut height.
Every time I use this thing, I love it more. I think the only way I could be happier with it is if it had been given to me for free.
UPDATE 04-15-2011: Still thrilled. The amusement factor of using it has balanced out at "I'm cutting the grass", but when I do use it, it makes mowing the grass a truly relaxing experience. People stop and marvel, and nobody can believe how well it works. It's a great way to meet neighbors. I also find it more and more irritating when I hear my neighbors cutting their grass with gas powered mowers now. I wish they'd get a clue about reel mowers.
UPDATE 07-05-2011: I have noticed that for my mower, the blades need adjustment back to optimal for cutting about every 2-3 months, not once a year as I was originally led to believe. They get too far apart and don't cut all the grass blades after that. This wouldn't be a problem, if I could find it easier to adjust. If the adjustment settings were numbered, perhaps it would be easier. As it is, finding a setting that cuts paper on both sides but does not make any contact with the stationary cutting blade is either next to impossible, or I'm thoroughly confused how to do it - which seems preposterous, since it should be pretty simple. I suspect the misalignment happens because of hitting sticks while mowing. Also, I'd like to see the height adjustment notches marked for what height they represent. Otherwise, it's still mowing my yard, my uncle's yard and my grandfather's yard like a champ.
UPDATE 07-25-2011: I have concluded that the difficulties I was having with adjusting the blades were the result of me not reading the directions before attempting to adjust them. There are two bolts on either side that must be loosened before you adjust the cutting blades, which I was not loosening prior. Now it's set just right and cutting like a champ again, although I have two kinds of grass dominant in my yard and they prefer different cut heights, which is making things interesting.
Update 11-07-2011: Just returned home from an unexpected 8 week journey, and found my grass was insane when I got back. I spent some time using this mower to the best of its ability, and it did cut some of the grass, but half the front yard was both ridiculously tall and of that one type of aggressive grass that resists this mower's cutting ability. To mow the majority of the lawn, only took multiple passes. I went across and back four times per swath and that handled the sane grass that was "just too tall". For the resistant grass, which I'll be sodding over soon, and the tall seed pods, I got out my electric weed whacker. I am really surprised how good a job this mower did with such an overgrown lawn, although I do use a special technique to help. You push it over an area, and then drag it backwards. Then some grass will be bent in half, and if you push forward that grass will get cut because of being bent by the mower going backwards. It has to be partially caught under the mower for this to work. Then repeat, repeat, repeat. It's not the fastest way, but it cuts grass much too tall to cut otherwise. Long story short, no borrowing a neighbor's gas mower - but it took a couple days of work with all that weed whacking the ditch area with that horrible new type of grass getting so much water.
Update 08-27-2012: Had the blades jam completely on it a few weeks ago while adjusting it. Contacted Fiskars for how to send it in for adjustment. They sent me a brand new one instead. So... I guess got one for free after all. :D Very pleased with the customer service. I have also updated the ratings to reflect my extended experience.