Ride-on mowers are the heavy hitters when it comes to keeping a large area of grass tame, when a push mower simply takes too long or isn't effective enough. But you can't always tell in store which ones are best at the job. We put them to the test to weed out any poor performers – here's how we go about it.
CHOICE maintains a highly professional NATA-accredited laboratory and the vast majority of our product testing is done in-house. Our testers are qualified and well-experienced in testing a wide range of products, and many sit on Standards committees and belong to other professional and expert bodies.
For some products there are Australian or international standards, which usually form the basis of our testing for those products. In other cases, such as with ride-on mowers, our testers and content producers work together to devise our own test methods based on the key aspects that matter to consumers.
With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one ride-on mower to test over another? Like with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the popular brands and models on the market and what you are most likely to see in the retailers.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not tweaked in any way.
We test ride-on mowers on a large property with plenty of long grass.
Our tester scores:
- Cutting performance by assessing the consistency of cut grass, evenness, and whether the ride-on distributed cut grass evenly, and
- Mulching performance based on on whether the ride-on mower produces fine mulch without undue clumping.
Ease of use
The tester assesses:
- Control use, including the ease of starting, controlling speed, engaging clutch or drive, brake use, blade drive, changing cutting height, checking fuel level, and steering comfort
- Seat comfort, and
- Noise, measured at the tester's ear level at full throttle, blade engaged (dB). This is not part of the scoring.
For mulching ride-on mowers, the CHOICE Expert Rating is made up of:
- Cutting (25%)
- Mulching (25%), and
- Ease of use (50%)
For non-mulching ride-on mowers, the CHOICE Expert Rating is made up of:
- Cutting (50%), and
- Ease of use (50%)
We maintain climate-controlled labs that are up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results. For tests of outdoor equipment such as ride-on mowers, most of the actual testing is done "in the field".
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.