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How we test ride-on mowers

See how we work out which ride-on mowers are best.

ride on mower in garden

Ride-on mowers are the heavy-hitters when it comes to keeping a large area of grass tame or when a push mower simply takes too long or isn't effective enough. But you can't always tell which mowers are best at the job when you're in the store. That's why we put them to the test to weed out any poor performers. Here's how we go about it.

Our expert testers

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 subject matter experts work together to devise our own test methods based on the key aspects that matter to consumers.

How we choose which ride-on mowers we test

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're most likely to see in 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 regular consumer would. We do this so we can be sure what we buy is the same as any consumer would find it, and not 'tweaked' in any way for better performance.

How we test ride-on mowers

We test ride-on mowers on a large property with plenty of long grass, focusing on performance and ease of use.


Our tester scores:

  • cutting performance by assessing the consistency of cut grass, evenness, and whether the ride-on mower distributed cut grass evenly
  • mulching performance based on on whether the ride-on mower produces fine mulch without undue clumping.

Ease of use

Our 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
  • noise, measured at the tester's ear level at full throttle with the blade engaged (this test does not form part of the scoring).

Test criteria explained

For mulching ride-on mowers, the CHOICE Expert Rating (our overall score that determines which products we recommend) is made up of scores for:

  • cutting (25%)
  • mulching (25%)
  • ease of use (50%).

For non-mulching ride-on mowers, the CHOICE Expert Rating is made up of:

  • cutting (50%)
  • ease of use (50%)

Weightings are in brackets.

Our test lab

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".

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.