In 1837 in a rural Illinois farming community, a humble displaced Vermont blacksmith fashions a new type of plow from discarded materials, and John Deere Plow Works is born. The rest, as they say, is history – bathed in colorful “John Deere Green.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the company’s residential product line and recently invited me to “test drive” one of its newest zero-turn mowers. Of course I jumped at the chance, what with already being a John Deere customer, myself.
John Deere brings its legacy of plowshares and farm implements to your yard, thanks to a broad lineup of residential and commercial products including riding tractors and the EZtrak zero-turn mowers. New for 2013 is the EZtrak Z235 and Z255 consumer models. The good folks from Deere set me up with a test model Z235 from my local dealer Storm Lawn and Garden in Grand Prairie, Texas.
No sooner did they unload the mower in front of my residence, than the neighbors were all coming out to see the “new arrival” while also “volunteering” their yards for my test track. Our lots here range in size between a little over half to two acres, so opportunity definitely presented itself.
As I mentioned, I already owned a John Deere riding tractor (100-series), and my father-in-law struts around on his v-twin 300-series yellow and green rider. While I love my tractor mower, there are areas in our yards that present a bit of challenge to mow quickly and efficiently — and even cause me to have to (ugh) break out the push mower or weed eater.
After a quick lesson from the employee from Storm Lawn and Garden, I found myself literally zipping off on the EZtrak to attack that overgrown lawn.
As with any new vehicle I test, there was a bit of a learning curve with the zero turn model, as steering is significantly different from my rider. While I miss the “traditional” style of the riding tractor, I absolutely fell in love with the maneuverability of the EZtrak; once I had mastered the twin lever steering action, I found myself not being able to part with the Z235.
And lo and behold, I discovered that John Deere has some nifty financing deals going on for spring as well, so after a quick trip to meet with Matt Storm over at the dealership I walked away with not one but two new John Deere products (the second being a cool pedal tractor for the grandson).
By the numbers, the Z235 mower features a 42-inch Edge Cutting mower deck with side discharge and is powered by a 20hp 40 cu. in. v-twin four-stroke OHV gasoline engine. Power is sent to the rear wheels via dual Hydro-Gear EZT units with 1-inch axles.
Forward speed is rated at 0-7 mph, but it sure seems faster than that while zipping down the road to Poppy’s house. Reverse speed is 0-3.5 mph and that is where I really appreciate the EZtrak, as no adjustments are necessary to mow in reverse like my riding tractor – just pull backward on the twin levers and we’re mowing.
A word of caution for newbies on zero turn mowers – these things turn on less than a dime and will drag that inside tire on your grass. Doing a few Ken Block-type Gymkhana moves on the grass will yield unsightly divots thanks to the awesome grip of those drive tires.
The EZtrak mower is very comfortable, easy to mount and dismount, and that larger footdeck will have you riding around til you run the 2.1 gallon fuel tank dry. The PTO engages and disengages quickly with the flip of a switch, and the twin cutting blades are driven by a single belt and cutting height is adjustable between 1-4 inches.
List price for the EZtrak Z235 is $2,499 and the US warranty is 24 months or 120 engine hours (mowers and tractors utilize engine hourmeters to monitor usage instead of odometers found in passenger vehicles).
The EZtrak cuts cleanly and quickly and discharges efficiently. I did not notice as much bunching up of cut grass in my wake as I get with my single-cylinder riding tractor. A mulching system is also available, as is material collection system. The Edge mower deck features a wash port making for quick cleaning of the business side of the EZtrak.
I had not experienced a single problem with the first John Deere product I purchased, a fact not lost on helping to make my decision on my new purchase. The financing deals and dealer support helped seal the deal. Now I gotta get busy building that pedal tractor for the grandbaby.