Mulcher lawnmowers review 2006

Mulching the grass you cut makes a lot of sense, not just for environmental reasons.
 
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  • Updated:9 Jan 2006
 

02.Results

What to buy

  • VICTA Tornado Mulch or Catch TMS484A - $549
  • HONDA Buffalo Buck Mulch and Catch HRU 19D - $736
  • ROVER Mulch 'N Catch 35M92 - $689
  • VICTA Mustang MCA485A - $739

What about the rest?

Most of the remaining mowers had very good to excellent scores for cutting performance, so you’d probably be happy with them as well.

  • The HONDA Buffalo Classic Mulch and Catch HRU 196D has a large catcher, but is more difficult to use: it’s heavy and its controls are stiff.
  • On both remaining VICTAs tested the cutting height is difficult to adjust, as the lever hits the wheel. The VICTA Tornado Mulch or Catch TMS482A left some grass on the ground when mulching, and the VICTA Mustang MCA482A was one of the noisiest in the test.
  • On the even noisier YARD-MAN 404X Mulch & Catch, the catcher is difficult to fit to and take off, and the handle cuts into your hand when carrying the mower.
  • The ROVER Leader 32H160 vibrated a lot in our tests. Its handle is adjustable, but the catcher is comparatively small.
  • The MASPORT Chip Catch 'n Mulch 983843 has a chipper attachment that works well for mulching a few small, green branches.
  • The GMC Mulch & Catch TDL484 has a ‘deadman’s handle’ . It has good controls, but the catcher is a little flimsy and fiddly to attach.
  • Scoring lowest for cutting (in both modes) and ease of use, the TALON Eagle Ultimate Mulch or Catch AM3065 was the only mower tested whose engine slowed when cutting medium-length grass. Its controls are vague and flimsy and although it has an adjustable, very comfortable handle, its weight and bulk make it tiring to push.
 

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Results tables

Performance
Brand / model (in rank order) Overall score1
(%)
Cutting score2
(with catcher, %)
Cutting score2
(mulching, %)
Ease of use
score3 (%)
Noise at 7.5 m /
user’s position4(dB)
Price ($)*
VICTA Tornado Mulch or Catch TMS484A 89 98 100 73 70 / 86 549
HONDA Buffalo Buck Mulch and Catch HRU 19D1 87 98 100 69 69 / 84 736
ROVER Mulch ‘N Catch 35M92 87 91 100 74 71 / 85 689
VICTA Mustang MCA485A 87 96 100 70 68 / 83 739
HONDA Buffalo Classic Mulch and Catch HRU 196D 85 98 100 64 72 / 84 886
VICTA Mustang MCA482A 85 96 100 66 72 / 87 669
YARD-MAN 404X Mulch & Catch 85 99 100 63 72 / 89 599
VICTA Tornado Mulch or Catch TMS482A 84 98 90 69 69 / 85 549
ROVER Leader 32H160 83 91 95 68 70 / 86 599
MASPORT Chip Catch n Mulch 983843 81 98 85 66 69 / 84 599
GMC Mulch & Catch TDL484 79 98 80 64 66 / 83 449
TALON Eagle Ultimate Mulch or Catch AM3065 71 81 73 63 68 / 83 499

Specifications
Brand / model
(in rank order)
Motor type5 Starter toggle6 Cutting positions7 Cutting height range7 (mm) Width of cut (measured, mm) Weight (kg)** Warranty (years, general / motor) Origin Manufacturer /
distributor
VICTA Tornado Mulch or Catch TMS484A 4-stroke On engine 10 15–65 480 26 2 / 2 Australia Victa
HONDA Buffalo Buck Mulch and Catch HRU 19D1 4-stroke Halfway up handle 11 15–75 470 28 ns (A) Australia Honda
ROVER Mulch ‘N Catch 35M92 4-stroke On engine 12 10–60 450 28 1 / 2 Australia Rover
VICTA Mustang MCA485A 4-stroke On engine 10 10–65 480 26 2 / 2 Australia Victa
HONDA Buffalo Classic Mulch and Catch HRU 196D 4-stroke Halfway up handle 11 15–75 470 33 ns (A) Australia Honda
VICTA Mustang MCA482A 2-stroke On engine 10 10–65 480 27 2 / 3 Australia Victa
YARD-MAN 404X Mulch & Catch 4-stroke Halfway up handle 9 10–65 460 28 2 / 2 ns MTD
VICTA Tornado Mulch or Catch TMS482A 2-stroke On engine 10 15–65 480 28 2 / 3 Australia Victa
ROVER Leader 32H160 4-stroke On engine 9 10–55 450 28 1 / 2 (B) Australia Rover
MASPORT Chip Catch n Mulch 983843 4-stroke Halfway up handle 10 10–70 460 28 2 / 2 (C) NZ Masport
GMC Mulch & Catch TDL484 4-stroke Halfway up handle 5 30–65 460 26 2 / 2 Italy GMC
TALON Eagle Ultimate Mulch or Catch AM3065 4-stroke On engine 12 20–60 480 35 2 / 2 (A) China Talon

Table notes

* Prices are recommended or average retail, as provided by manufacturers in September 2006.
** Mower only, not including catcher or mulching plug.

ns Not stated.
(A) Must be serviced according to service schedule.
(B) In order to qualify, the service schedule listed in the manual must be completed.
(C) Housing six years, engine two years, catcher lifetime, all other parts two years.

1 Overall score
This is a combination of the cutting (in both modes) and ease of use scores, weighted as follows:

  • Cutting: 60%
  • Ease of use: 40%

2 Cutting score
We assessed the mowers' performance with catcher and in mulching mode, cutting grass of various lengths without the motor slowing. Both scores include an assessment for appearance of the lawn after mowing short and medium-length grass. Cutting performance and appearance aspects are weighted equally.

3 Ease of use score
The following equally weighted assessments contributed to this score:

  • Vibration
  • Pushing/manoeuvring
  • Controls
  • Cutting height adjustment
  • Starting
  • Catcher convenience
  • Handle comfort
  • Converting from catcher to mulching mode.

4 Noise
We measured the noise of the mowers in catcher mode; they're generally a little quieter in mulching mode. Measurements were taken from the user's position and at 7.5 m from the mower. Although they're all loud, the difference between the quietest and the loudest is noticeable.

5 Engine type
See Four-stroke or two for more on these.

6 Location of starter toggle
See What to look for for more on these.

7 Cutting positions/cutting height range
You can vary the length you cut the grass to by adjusting the height of the blade above the ground. These columns show the number of positions available and the range of approximate lengths you can cut the grass to, based on our measurements of the distance between the blade and the bottom of the wheels. A mower with a comparatively low maximum cutting height will probably have more trouble cutting a very overgrown lawn.