Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday ToolTalk: Troy-Bilt TriAction Cutting System

Earlier this spring, Troy-Bilt offered to send me one of its six new walk-behind mowers – if only I’d let them know what I think of it. Each member of this new family from Troy-Bilt is equipped with the TriAction cutting system.

Step one is a “rake” edge, attached to the front of the mower.

This pushes grass upright, giving the blade better access. Step two is the S-blade. Lower than the deck, its “smooth arc blade creates more lift in the deck, allowing grass to circulate and mulch more effectively,” according to Troy-Bilt. Step three is the symmetrical deck which “eliminates clumping and discharges as fine mulch” and “allows for maximum trimability by extending beyond the wheels on both sides.”

I opted for the TB210, a 21-inch, front-wheel drive, self-propelled model. In addition to the TriAction cutting system, it comes equipped with:
• 190cc* Briggs & Stratton engine (Some models come with 160cc* Honda engine)
• 3-in-1 convertible - side discharge, mulch or rear bag
• 2-year limited warranty

The mower was practically ready to run right out of the box – which included engine oil. I literally cut the carton end and rolled it out. The handle had to be adjusted and attached in two places, I needed to easily slide the cover over the grass-catcher frame, add the oil and some gas and I was good to go.
· Initially, I thought that the standard 1.86-bushel grass catcher was small but I quickly found out it was more than ample, thanks to the awesome cutting system.
· Both the six-position dual-lever deck height adjustment and three-position height adjust handle make it easy to get just the cut you want.

· An intriguing feature was the deck wash. Screw on your hose to the deck-mounted fitting, let it run with the engine running for at least two minutes and ideally, it cleans the underdeck. While it didn’t do a bad job, it didn’t do a really good job either though I nearly doubled the minimum time. (It’s kind of like rinsing dishes before loading them in the dishwasher.)

What I really liked:
· The TriAction system. It works! Even in tall grass, the mower didn’t even try to stall – it just pushed right on through. The clippings were very finely chopped, even when I did a few passes without the bagger. And, it really did let me get closer to the fence and utility poles.
· No clumping. Another credit to the TriAction system. Even damp grass moves into the bagger without clogging the discharge chute.
· Easy to use. You don’t need an engineering degree to set up or to run this mower, even if you’re not mechanically-inclined.
· ReadyStart Choke System . No priming required. I’ve never seen a lawnmower start so easily. Engage the blade and pull. That’s it. (And it started the first time, every time.)

What I didn’t like:
· Plastic. The rake guard, the side and rear discharge flaps, a guard over the engine, even the grooves to hold the bagger in place … all plastic. Plastic breaks off. And while metal may rust, plastic rots. A machine this good deserves a little metal muscle. However, Stan, Stan the Lawnmower Man assures me that these parts are easily replaceable when they do give out.

Conclusion: An A+ for both ease of use and performance. A B for design, but only because of all the plastic. A B+ for value and an A- overall.
Availability: Lowe’s, Troy-Bilt authorized dealers
Cost: $199-$299 (TB210 retails for $269)

(Full disclosure: Troy-Bilt provided me with the mower described in this review. I was not compensated in any other way for my test run.)


Mama Martha said...

NV - sounds like this is a real winner! We may be in need of a new mower soon, so I'll have to remember this one.

Kate R said...

I agree, sounds like a good mower. Gotta love self-propelled mowers. No priming start is nice, too.

A few questions if I may ... 1) Why did you choose single speed vs variable speed? 2) I've seen you mention before about bagging your grass & then having to dispose of it. Is there a reason you don't mulch in place?

I agree with your concern about the plastic. And Stan may be right about replacements for the next few years anyway, after that I've found it problematic. I have an 11 y/o LawnBoy. Both the plastic frame & plastic insert for my side discharge bag have broken. Even when I could find parts, the prices were ridiculous for plastic. I can still use the rear bagger, but it doesn't hold as much & it's much harder to empty.

Great review NV!

karen said...

great review. Sounds like a winner.

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Karen Anne said...

Have you evaluated a weedeater?

I'm looking for an electric or cordless, and the reviews on amazon for most of them are awful. I bought a Black & Decker, and it was so frustrating (I couldn't get the string to extend more than three inches), that I junked it.

Karen Anne said...

p.s. It's too bad my mower is only a couple of years old. I have a Lawn-Boy 10686 Insight Series 21-Inch walk behind, and clumping is a problem.

It really bothers me to have to use a power mower, but the grass is so thick that a reel mower has no chance. At least I am reducing the size of the lawn. But the various critters really like the grass, so quite a bit of it will remain.

NV said...

MM -- Thanks! Definitely consider one of these babies.

Kate -- Thanks, Kate! Ask away!
:-) 1) I'm not sure I actually even considered that. One of the things about this mower is that there is no "off." If you disengage the blade, it turns off. (My other mowers have all had, HI, LO and stop as options. This may be why it never occured to me!) Initially, I was kind of bugged by this, but this mower is SO easy to restart, it's not even an issue.

2)I've never had a mower that genuinely "mulches" before, even if it is supposed to. I was pretty impressed with how finely cut the clippings were, even though my grass was high. Also, loose grass is a menace. Many of my neighbors blow clippings all over (end up in my carport, on my porch, on my CAR! Eventually, carried into house on shoes.) so I hate loose grass.

Karen, admin -- Thanks!

Karen Anne -- I was trying to think whether I had or not. I certainly SHOULD have but doesn't appear that I did. So you bought a B&D? That's what I have right now and am very happy with it. I had used Weed Eater brand ones (including 2 gas models) for years but they always died out and generally stopped working very well before they did.)

I have a corded B&D Grass Hog (GH600). I bought it at Lowe's summer before last when they had coupons giving you $10 off a $50 purchase. This has been one of the least problematic line trimmers I've ever owned. You don't even have to bump to advance the line. It just does it.

Sounds like you may have had a bad feed lever (little white thing hidden beneath spool)or, if you are using self-wound spool, may have put too much on or wound too tight. I do this sometimes and the machine lets me know by either pulling the line back inside or refusing to feed!

Kate R said...

NV - Thanks so much for answering my questions. Also thanks for the info on weedeaters. My Toro is about to bite the dust & I've been looking for a replacement. I owned a B&D prior to this one & find that I go through them about every 5 years or so.

Karen Anne said...

I just looked back in my stuff I bought file, and it was a Black & Decker CST1200 12-Volt 10-Inch Cordless Electric Trimmer/Edger.

It's supposed to be self-feeding. I never got up to replacing the spool, it bit the dust before that.

Kate R said...

OMG! Seriously!?! SOMEBODY needs to be shot!!