GIE+EXPO 2016 Show Recap

Compiled by Steve Noe

The 2016 Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO), which took place Oct. 19-21 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., featured plenty of news from several exhibitors.


Altoz introduces first-ever tracked zero-turn mower

Altoz unveiled several new mowers, including the all-new TRX — the industry’s first tracked zero-turn mower — at GIE+EXPO 2016. The Greenbush, Minn.-based company also rolled out three limited-edition models (XR SS, XE SS and XE HD SS), as well as the new HP HD and XE HD mowers. (For information on the HP HD mower, see page 26.)

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_altoz1_trxThe TRX provides first-of-its-kind patent-pending technology for commercial use on sloped, wet and rough terrain. Equipped with rear-mounted tracks and a torsional suspension system, the TRX allows lawn care professionals, utility companies and municipalities to maintain places they simply can’t effectively or safely cut with a traditional zero-turn mower.

“We think the TRX is truly an unprecedented product for the power equipment industry,” said Altoz CEO/Founder Dennis Brazier. “The TRX’s unique combination of traction, stability and low ground pressure with durability, power and handling will make it a valuable asset for municipalities, utility companies, lawn professionals, golf courses and general contractors concerned about safety while tackling a wide range of conditions and terrain.”

The exceptional stability and traction of the TRX enables operators to safely maneuver inclines, side hills, ditches, varying terrain and wet conditions with the agility and comfort found in all Altoz zero-turn mowers. And thanks to its low ground pressure and high traction, the TRX reduces compaction and minimizes ground disturbance while maintaining superior traction.

TorqFlex front suspension and rear torsional track suspension provide a smooth ride by bridging uneven terrain and reducing operator fatigue. Additionally, TRX’s commercial-grade track and flat-free front tires eliminate potential tire damage caused by sharp rocks, glass or debris commonly encountered in vacant lots, roadside ditches and spaces bordering high-traffic areas.

“I was really impressed with the TRX’s ride quality – it was unbelievably smooth and quiet for a tracked vehicle,” commented Todd Gjovik, Altoz dealer. “It felt as if you are actually sticking to the side of the hill with the increased stability, yet it doesn’t rip up the grass, even in sharp turns.”

The TRX will include the option of 61- or 66-inch finish-cut or rough-cut mower decks, as well as a 33-hp. Kohler Command Pro EFI or 37-hp. Vanguard EFI engine. Other features include a Hydro-Gear ZT-5400 transmission; 11-inch-wide tracks; 15-inch, flat-free, front tires; a 14-gallon fuel capacity, 12-way-adjustable, high-back seat with suspension; and a 250-foot-pound clutch.

The TRX will ship to Altoz dealers in early spring of 2017.


Ariens unveils APEX zero-turn mower

Ariens Company showcased the APEX, an all-new zero-turn lawn mower built for the prosumer and large-acreage cutter markets. The APEX is crafted with the durability that the Ariens brand is known for, and brings an all-new set of features to the residential market. Packed with premium features like an outstanding frame and deck sizes available in 48, 52 or 60 inches, the APEX is a unique residential zero-turn built to withstand the elements.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_ariens_apexThe top-tier zero-turn in the Ariens lineup, the APEX incorporates several commercial-grade features like a 10-gauge welded deck design that’s 5.5 inches deep with a reinforced leading edge that provides the airflow needed to tackle tough mowing conditions. The APEX is also built on a large formed tubular frame rail, which serves as the backbone to support the loads of the machine.

The APEX also features Ariens’ new self-adjusting belt-tensioning technology, a system that ensures the belt tension is constant, minimizing wear and heat while providing enhanced belt life with minimal adjustments necessary. Maintenance-free aluminum spindles were also added to improve the machine’s ease of serviceability. The new aluminum spindles reduce bearing temperatures for an overall cooler operation. Also improving accessibility, a flip-up foot pan was added, which allows the operator to access maintenance items on the top of the deck in minutes.

The APEX was built with several considerations that improve the operator comfort, integrating features such as a high-back seat with padded armrests, which helps support the operator who needs to tackle a large job. The machine’s 17 cutting positions at the operator’s fingertips, and other upgrades like the foot-operated deck lift were added to increase operator efficiency. The APEX is also ROPS capable, offering extra protection to the operator.

Larger front and back tires add to the machine’s durability and efficiency, while the easily serviceable Hydro-Gear ZT-3100 transmission reduces downtime. All models are available with a Kohler 7000 Series engine, and the 60-inch model is also available with a Kawasaki FR series engine.

“The Ariens APEX is a huge accomplishment for the Ariens brand,” said Jeralyn Braun, Ariens Company product marketing manager. “What we’ve done is create a machine with features unlike anything on the market today. The APEX is a commercial-grade machine designed for residential consumers, and it includes a lot of the same features found on zero-turns that professionals purchase. This zero-turn is designed for the consumer that has a lot of land to care for, and for the family that doesn’t want to sacrifice quality, durability and innovative design.”

Models start at a list price of $5,355 and are available through authorized Ariens dealers only.

In addition, Ariens Company highlighted its IKON X and IKON XL riding mowers, as well as its industry-first Ariens AX EZ-Launch engine with EFI technology, designed for the Ariens line of Sno-Thro products.


Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power introduces Vanguard Oil Guard System

Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power introduced the Vanguard Oil Guard System to its Vanguard 810 and Big Block commercial engine series, a first-of-its-kind solution for the commercial turf market that offers major productivity gains by allowing landscape contractors to operate a commercial mower for 500 hours between oil changes.

oil-guard-3-620-x-330Initially, the new technology will be available on Ferris brand mowers. The Oil Guard System from Vanguard is the latest in a long line of advancements that Ferris has introduced to the industry aimed at increasing productivity. Most notably, its patented suspension system, which provides a smooth ride on uneven turf, enables operators to spend more time comfortably on their mowers.

“Ferris takes pride in designing equipment that helps landscape contractors increase productivity, and the Oil Guard System certainly raises the bar on how productive a landscape contractor can be on any given day,” said Phil Wenzel, vice president of commercial products at Briggs & Stratton, which includes the Ferris brand. “The Oil Guard System is both revolutionary, yet simple. It increases maintenance intervals by five times, which means fewer oil changes and less downtime, so Ferris owners and operators can keep cutting.”

oil-guard-2The Vanguard Oil Guard System continuously exchanges oil between the engine and a large remote oil reservoir located external to the engine. It’s a revolutionary design for a commercial mower that protects engine oil from thermal breakdown, which extends maintenance intervals of the oil and produces a cooler-running engine. And because operators have direct access to the oil filter and drain tube, changing the oil is quicker, easier, and mess-free. The result is a more productive commercial zero-turn mower.

“Pairing the Vanguard Oil Guard System with Ferris is a perfect fit,” said Rick Zeckmeister, vice president of marketing and planning at Briggs & Stratton. “This technology will alter the oil change forever, but at its core, the system is about productivity — and that is precisely what Ferris has in mind when designing all of its commercial mower models.”

oil-guard-1Contractors operating a Ferris commercial mower with a Vanguard EFI engine featuring the Oil Guard System will increase their recommended oil change intervals from the current 100-hour interval to 500 hours, thereby decreasing their oil change labor and replacement filter costs — by more than 60 percent* per season — while increasing productivity because it can be kept out in the field cutting for longer periods of time.

The Vanguard Oil Guard System is a factory-integrated technology, not an aftermarket add-on, so the 3-year commercial engine limited warranty in its entirety applies**. Ferris will have the Oil Guard System integrated into its commercial models for the 2017 season. Ferris models with the Oil Guard System integrated include the IS 3200Z, IS 2100Z, F320Z, F210Z, SRS Z2 (stand-on), and FW35 (wide-area walk-behind). [FOOTNOTES: *Cost savings based on standard oil maintenance with 100-hour interval versus Oil Guard System 500-hour service interval. **See operator’s manual for complete warranty details.]


Briggs & Stratton Turf & Consumer Products unveils vast array of new and improved products

Briggs & Stratton Turf & Consumer Products showcased several new products in its Ferris and Snapper Pro commercial brands, as well as its Snapper and Simplicity consumer brands.

* Ferris and Snapper Pro: As mentioned in the previous story, Ferris announced that several of its 2017 commercial mowers will feature the new Vanguard Oil Guard System, which extends oil-change intervals to 500 hours. This system will be available on Ferris mid-mount zero-turns, stand-on zero-turns and wide-area walk-behinds equipped with Vanguard 810 EFI and Big Block commercial engines.

Ferris also introduced its most compact mid-mount zero-turn mower, the F60 Fleet Series, for landscape professionals who need a compact, rugged, 36-inch mower in their fleets, as well as its SRS-Z1 Soft Ride Stand-On mower with a 36- or 48-inch mower deck to help landscapers get into tight spaces.

In other developments, Ferris and Snapper Pro commercial zero-turn mowers will be available with a new mower deck drive system that promises longer belt life, reduced maintenance and improved performance. In addition to helping commercial landscapers improve their productivity by reducing downtime, the system offers a three-year, 300-hour limited warranty. It will come standard on all iCD Cutting Systems featuring 52-, 61- and 72-inch mower decks. Ferris models using this system include the IS 3200Z (see page 31), IS 2100Z, F320 and F210 zero-turn mowers. The Snapper Pro line will have the new system on all S200xt models. “The new mower deck drive system is part of our commitment to continuous product improvement for our customers,” said Phil Wenzel, vice president of commercial products, Turf & Consumer Products. “By providing improvements that reduce maintenance and downtime, we keep them more productive and profitable.”

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_snapper* Snapper and Simplicity: Snapper introduced its XD 82V Max lithium-ion battery-powered lawn & garden tool system. A single-battery multi-tool system, the Snapper XD lineup includes a walk-behind mower, string trimmer, hedge trimmer, leaf blower and chain saw. All tools feature a maintenance-free brushless motor and a Briggs & Stratton Battery and Rapid Charging Station. “Snapper XD products are ideal for convenience-oriented homeowners who want reliable, durable, powerful tools to help them easily take care of their lawn & landscape,” said Steve Ryczek, product manager for Briggs & Stratton. “Each tool is hassle free. There’s no cord to plug in, and there is very little maintenance. The 82V Max* Lithium-ion 2Ah or 4Ah** battery works in all Snapper XD tools.” [FOOTNOTES: *Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without workload) is 82 volts. Nominal voltage is 72. **Chain saw for use with 2Ah battery only.] In addition, Snapper introduced the 560Z prosumer zero-turn mower (see page 29).

Simplicity announced that two Prestige garden tractor models – one 2WD and one 4WD — will be available with a 27-gross-hp. Briggs & Stratton 810-cc Commercial Series engine with electronic fuel injection (EFI), saving up to 15 percent in fuel costs. Simplicity also introduced its redesigned Legacy XL sub-compact garden tractor in three models: 2WD with a 31-gross-hp., 885-cc Vanguard Big Block V-Twin engine or 4WD with either a 33-gross-hp., 885-cc Vanguard Big Block V-Twin engine with EFI or a 33-gross-hp., 885-cc Vanguard Big Block V-Twin engine with EFI and 540 PTO. Simplicity also upgraded its Contender zero-turn mower with a few commercial-inspired features, including Briggs & Stratton Commercial Series engines, Hydro-Gear transaxles, heavy-duty fabricated mower decks and an optional cargo bed with a 100-pound payload capacity.


Caterpillar debuts new line of portable generators

Caterpillar announced that it is expanding into the home and outdoor power category with the introduction of the Cat RP Series of portable generators. The RP Series is designed to provide reliable, convenient power for both professional contractors and retail consumers. The North America product launch includes four standard models, ranging from 3.6 to 7.5 kW as well as California-specific variations.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_caterpillar1_cat-rp-series-generatorThe RP Series is now available in the United States and Canada via a select number of regional and local retailers and traditional Cat dealers that are part of the new Home & Outdoor Power sales and service network.

Caterpillar engineering teams based in Illinois and Northern Ireland designed the new portable generators, guided by extensive testing of competing generators, as well as research to identify the design and usability features that customers value the most. The resulting generators include premium features ideally suited for landscape contractors — who often require portable power for landscape maintenance and construction, snow removal and storm response.

The RP Series generators are easy to use. Everything needed to operate the generator is easily accessible in one convenient, lighted control panel. A multi-function display enables users to toggle between lifetime running hours, session running hours, power output and run time to easily monitor generator performance and to determine when it’s time to re-fuel or service the unit. To power multiple devices, the RP5500, RP6500 E and RP7500 E have multiple outlets, both 120V and 240V.

Two models of the RP Series are available with a lithium-ion battery-start option. The battery delivers three times longer life than the standard battery provided in competitive models. The RP Series generators also feature a compact design — up to 4 inches shorter than comparable competitive models — and a low center of gravity to reduce tipping. The design makes maneuvering easier, even on hills and uneven ground, and the generators take up less space in truck beds and storage locations.

The Cat portable generators are built for reliability and durability. The solid steel frame and enclosed roll cage protect generator components from damage. Bundled wires are tucked away in the frame, ensuring wires won’t snag or pull loose when moving in and out of storage and vehicles. Solid, never-flat wheels eliminate punctures on jobsites. The generators also feature automatic shutdown when oil levels drop too low to protect the generator from damage.

The RP Series makes best use of safety systems to help protect people and machines. GFCI-protected, covered outlets and circuit breaker protect against electric shock and generator overload. Automatic voltage regulation (AVR) generates clean power that won’t damage delicate tools or appliances. And an extra-large fuel tank runs a generator for as long as 17 hours (varies by model and load). A recessed fuel well catches drips to prevent fuel spillage on the floor or hot engine.

Caterpillar is expanding its home and outdoor power portfolio and anticipates additional product launches in 2017.


Cub Cadet, professional landscapers unveil new line of commercial zero-turn mowers

As professional landscapers from around the country stood behind the new product line at GIE+EXPO 2016, Cub Cadet officially launched its new lineup of commercial zero-turn riding mowers, the PRO Z Series.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_cub-cadet_pro-zThe professional landscapers didn’t just show up for the announcement – they were part of the crew of landscapers enlisted by Cub Cadet to put the new zero-turns to the test. For the PRO Z Series, Cub Cadet went beyond its robust product development process and engaged 100 professional landscapers in thousands of hours of rigorous real-world testing over the spring and summer months. Their feedback impacted final product design, addressing common setbacks that landscapers experience over long seasons of demanding work, making the PRO Z Series uniquely positioned to address the specific needs of landscape professionals.

“In our 16 weeks of testing, it has done everything we expected, never missed a beat, only in our shop for normal maintenance, and held its own day in and day out,” said H&H Lawn Service’s Daniel Cervantes, who participated in the product testing. “Our operator speaks highly of this machine. It is always his first choice of machine.”

The PRO Z line boasts the market’s only triple 7-gauge deck. Available in 54-, 60- and 72-inch cutting widths, the deck features three layers of 7-gauge steel, a rolled leading edge and side reinforcements, making it the thickest, strongest steel deck in the industry. High-torque Parker transmissions are paired with high-horsepower commercial-grade Kawasaki engines to provide optimal and consistent blade tip speed. The PRO Z Series powers through the thickest grass in a single pass at maximum speeds. Productivity-enhancing features optimize rear weight distribution, including pre-drilled mounting points for attachments and smart fuel pod placement. The steering wheel zero-turn option with four-wheel control increases hillside stability and maximizes job efficiency. High-back suspension seats with lumbar support and padded armrests come standard with added comfort features available on some of the models. The full lineup consists of the PRO Z 100, 500, 700 and 900 Series, designed to meet the needs of different-sized landscape crews.

“It was extremely important to involve the professionals who operate the equipment day in and day out,” said Dave Mullen, VP product marketing, Cub Cadet. “With their help, Cub Cadet has developed a commercial zero-turn mower that not only meets expectations, but exceeds them. This new product line, along with the support of our extensive independent dealer network, underscores our renewed commitment to the professional category and landscapers nationwide.”

In addition to rolling out the new PRO Z line, Cub Cadet announced the first-ever twin-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection (EFI) technology for consumer mowers will be available on its Enduro Series. Specifically, the 679-cc EFI engine will be available on Cub Cadet’s XT2 LX42 lawn tractors (see page 30). Cub Cadet also introduced the SC700 with MaxControl, the first Cub walk-behind mower to feature selectable four-wheel drive.


Dixie Chopper descends on GIE+EXPO 2016 with new BlackHawk series, a golden eagle and more

Dixie Chopper unveiled a new zero-turn mower series, the BlackHawk, at GIE+EXPO.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_dixie-chopper1_blackhawk-hp-mowerThe BlackHawk series includes 11 models of the BlackHawk and BlackHawk HP. Both models come standard with a foot-operated, operator-controlled discharge chute (OCDC), which allows the operator to keep both hands on the steering levers while blocking the chute on the fly.

“We are very excited to launch the BlackHawk series to the industry,” said Chris Vernon, vice president and general manager of Dixie Chopper. “The BlackHawk series is unlike anything Dixie Chopper has created before with a complete cosmetic design update and industry-leading features like the foot-operated OCDC and electronic control panel.”

The BlackHawk comes equipped with up to 24-hp. Kawasaki and 25-hp. Briggs & Stratton engines for a ground speed of up to 9 mph. The BlackHawk features 48-, 54- and 60-inch deck options with a Parker HTE transmission, providing extended life with smooth steering.

Full control is at the operator’s fingertips with the BlackHawk HP’s InCommand console, featuring a blade timer, tachometer, job timer, voltage, fuel level, and “Soft Start” keyless ignition for easier clutch engagement. The BlackHawk HP is available with up to 23.5-hp. Kawasaki and 25-hp. Kohler EFI engine options and 48-, 54- and 60-inch decks.

The BlackHawk HP (see page 30) also comes standard with a full-suspension seat, providing added lateral stability, improved durability, and a 4-inch seat slide to keep the operator comfortable during extended mowing periods.

At GIE+EXPO, Dixie Chopper also introduced its 2017 product lineup, including updates to existing models like the Zee 2, Classic, and XCaliber zero-turns.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_dixie-chopper2_golden-eagleDixie Chopper continued its military theme with several Chopper Army elements carried over in its indoor and outdoor booths. Included in the booths were a mower parachuting in from the ceiling and a live golden eagle.

Dixie Chopper also sponsored GIE+EXPO’s annual concert featuring The Louisville Crashers on Wednesday evening. Dixie Chopper brand ambassadors were on hand during the concert to blast out T-shirts and interact with attendees. Dixie Chopper also hosted a dealer and customer-exclusive party, in conjunction to the concert, at the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Cowboy Bar on 4th Street Live!

On Wednesday, Vernon held a press conference in the Dixie Chopper indoor booth. Topics of the press conference included Dixie Chopper’s new product unveil and the company’s continuous improvement on all sides of the business, including increased sales, dealer growth, and internal hiring.

“In the past year, Dixie Chopper has grown tremendously by investing in our products, people and dealers,” said Vernon. “For the second year in a row, we received the Most Improved Manufacturer award from the Equipment Dealers Association, and we are still committed to improving in every way.”


Echo Inc. launches new products, including ProXtreme 2620 Series

Echo Inc. showcased its latest Echo and Shindaiwa products, accessories and aftermarket products, including the new Echo ProXtreme 2620 Series. Designed for professional landscapers, the line consists of four products: a standard trimmer (SRM-2620), a high-torque trimmer (SRM-2620T), a brushcutter (SRM-2620U) and an edger (PE-2620).

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_echoThe ProXtreme 2620 Series powerhead is what makes this lineup exceptional. It offers a unique combination of high power and low weight. The newly designed 25.4-cc professional-grade two-stroke engine delivers 1.35 hp. The weight reduction is achieved primarily by using military-grade magnesium versus aluminum. Better air filtration is provided by using a two-stage air filtration system. An insulator plate and flexible bellows-style fuel transfer system dramatically reduce heat. That system, combined with a remote fuel tank air vent versus an integrated fuel cap vent, prevents clogging and reduces re-start issues. The larger fuel tank allows for extended run time between fill-ups.

The SRM-2620 trimmer uses a 1.62:1 gear reduction, while the SRM-2620T trimmer features a 2:1 gear reduction. This enables 23 percent more torque than the SRM-2620 for powering through thick, dense ground cover and optimal performance with a cutting blade. The higher torque range of both models eliminates the need to run wide-open throttle to achieve peak torque. This keeps the unit cooler and saves fuel. The units cut 17-inch swaths and use the easy-loading Speed-Feed 400 head.

The SRM-2620U brushcutter’s gear reduction is 1.62:1. The tool-less, adjustable U handle has an integrated throttle lever and can fold parallel for storing and transport. It comes with an additional shield for blade use and shoulder harness. The blade is an optional purchase.

The PE-2620 edger uses a curved-shaft design for better sight lines and more ergonomic tool positioning when in use. The contoured aluminum debris shield with open face reduces clogging. The captive wheel mount hardware enables easy wheel height adjustments with no chance of losing any parts. The 2:1 gear case powers through tough, overgrown grass.

Echo also showcased the new Shindaiwa C262 brushcutter. With a 25.4-cc engine, the C262 formally introduces a Shindaiwa engine series and raises the standard set by the Shindaiwa 270. The C262 features a lighter powerhead and better air filtration, along with ergonomic features.

Echo also expanded its chain saw line with the new CS-501P. Designed with professionals in mind, the CS-501P is the lightest 50-cc saw on the market. The upgraded 50.2-cc engine provides 17 percent more power than the CS-500P.

As for aftermarket parts, Echo launched YouCan maintenance kits, which are designed to extend equipment life and reduce costly repairs. The company also announced the extension of the Red Armor brand into a pre-mix fuel. Red Armor Fuel uses Red Armor Oil as its crucial ingredient. The proprietary oil cleans existing carbon deposits and protects against further carbon buildup, promoting longer engine life.


Exmark expands zero-turn mower line with Radius

With the launch of its new Radius, Exmark introduced its next generation of zero-turn mowers. The new machines deliver the durability and cut quality that landscape professionals need with an innovative new design that will appeal to professionals and homeowners alike.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_exmarkDaryn Walters, Exmark’s director of marketing, said the Radius was developed to give landscape professionals the company’s renowned productivity, quality of cut and long-term durability in a new value-oriented design that achieves a lower total cost of ownership than other commercial zero-turn riding mowers. “We took the lessons learned from the evolution of our industry-leading Lazer Z, combined with the feedback we’ve received from our customers and dealers, and applied them to the new Radius machines,” he said. “As a result, Radius models exude Exmark’s commercial heritage, while demonstrating our commitment to building simple, heavy-duty, professional-grade, zero-turn mowers.”

The Radius is available in three models: E-Series, S-Series and X-Series. Each features a heavy-duty unibody frame that’s fully welded of 2-inch by 3-inch rectangular steel frame tubes for maximum strength and durability. The frame design places the heaviest components, including the engine, fuel tank and hydro-drive system, lower in the frame for improved weight balance and increased stability, traction and maneuverability.

Large front caster tires and rear drive tires offer increased traction, ground clearance and stability, with reduced ground pressure to minimize turf compaction.

Walters said Exmark’s design team worked hard to raise the bar on operator ergonomics and comfort on the Radius models, with features such as an isolated floor pan, which reduces vibration and noise felt by the operator compared to standard flip-up footrests.

“The Radius design positions the operator in a more ergonomic position to reduce fatigue during long periods of continuous operation, and new controls are designed to deliver superior handling and operator control,” Walters added.


General Transmissions launches first-ever variable-speed drives for electric walk-behind mowers

General Transmissions introduced the first variable-speed drives for battery-driven, consumer-grade, walk-behind lawn mowers at GIE+EXPO 2016. The new drives enable electric mower makers to offer automatic speed adjustment controls on self-propelled machines, so users can mow at their own pace. General Transmissions unveiled two new models of the drives at the show.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_general-transmissions1_me-312-element-v-electric-driveThe new models, marketed under the Element V Electric banner, make for a powerful way for manufacturers to upgrade their battery-powered mower lines and meet consumer expectations for added convenience and ease of handling. General Transmissions splits the power distribution duties for ground speed and blade speed between two different, independently controlled electric motors. The drive motor controls ground speed, and lets users change mowing speed steplessly and on the fly. The dedicated blade motor delivers optimum blade speed.

Both models feature dual output shafts with integrated differential effect, eliminating vulnerable, free-wheel systems for mower wheels.

Splitting the power duties between the two different motors also increases the overall operating efficiency and performance of the products, making more power available for mowing.

The new drives are available in two different power configurations. The ME 312 model is a 250-watt drive, and the ME 512 model is a 500-watt drive. Features common to both drives include dual automatic clutch, 0- to 470-rpm output speed capacity, and forward and reverse directional capabilities. The ME 312 can accommodate mower weight up to 30 kg, delivers 3 Nm of continuous torque, and is compatible with 36-volt power supplies. The more muscular ME 512 can handle up to 60 kg of mower weight, with 5 Nm of continuous torque. It also works with 36-volt, 56-volt and 72-volt power packs. Other voltage requirements can be addressed upon request.

Element V electric drives are virtually indestructible, maintenance free, exhaustively tested, and engineered to bring a high level of operating performance and user delight to the battery-powered lawnmower market.


Grasshopper unveils new EFI model for V Series

The Grasshopper Company expanded its compact, economical V-Series of zero-turn mowers with the new Model 227V-EFI.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_grasshopper_model-227v-efiModel 227V-EFI (also featured on page 31) retains the same durable craftsmanship as all other Grasshopper mowers, with features that include 12-cc pump-and-wheel-motor transmissions; 747-cc Kohler Confidant electronic fuel injection (EFI) engines (with a limited three-year engine manufacturer warranty); 5.5-inch-deep decks in 52- and 61-inch cutting widths with foot-pedal and drop-pin height adjustment; large, turf-style drive tires; and fully cushioned Cordura-covered seats with padded armrests.

Grasshopper V-Series mowers provide the agility of a zero-turn mower with a compact size, allowing it to maneuver in tight spaces without the fatigue of a walk-behind mower. These compact power units are well suited for landscape contractors who maintain small-acreage and confined areas, as well as ranchers, farmers and rural lifestylers who want to maintain lawn areas around their homesteads. Its small footprint also allows for easy transport on trailers and space-saving storage in shops, garages or small outbuildings.

Combined with the longest transmission fluid change interval in its class – with no break-in period – self-tensioning belts and no more than five grease points, the V-Series is designed for less maintenance, low cost of operation, extended service life and long-term value.


Gravely partners with Yamaha to launch first-ever Yamaha V-Twin EFI engines for OPE industry

Gravely announced that it has partnered with Yamaha to launch the first-ever Yamaha V-Twin electronic fuel injection (EFI) engines for the OPE industry. The Yamaha EFI engines will be available in the market first on select models in Gravely’s Pro-Turn 200 and 400 lines.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_gravely-yamahaYamaha is launching two engine models on Gravely product this year, including the Yamaha MX775 V-Twin EFI 29-hp. engine and the Yamaha MX825 V-Twin EFI 33-hp. engine. More models will be available in the coming years, with the potential of Gravely expanding its Yamaha offerings to more machines in 2018.

Available immediately, the new Yamaha EFI engines can be ordered on the following commercial zero-turn mowers: Gravely Pro-Turn 260 (29-hp. engine), Gravely Pro-Turn 452 (29-hp. engine), Gravely Pro-Turn 460 (33-hp. engine) and Gravely Pro-Turn 472 (33-hp. engine).

The project between Yamaha and Gravely has been in the works for several years. Gravely contributed to the development process from the project’s inception, helping Yamaha with voice-of-customer development and defining the engine’s specifications for the OPE industry. Gravely has also extensively tested the engine on several models over the course of the past three years.

“We’re honored that such an iconic brand like Yamaha has chosen Gravely to be their initial launch partner,” said Matt Medden, Ariens Company’s vice president of marketing. “This project has been several years in the making, and Gravely, together with Yamaha, can’t wait to see how our customers respond to these new engines. Yamaha has been a trusted name in countless industries for years, and we’re happy to officially welcome them to the outdoor power equipment industry.”

Gravely Pro-Turn zero-turn mowers equipped with a Yamaha EFI engine start at a list price of $11,899 and will be available in authorized Gravely dealerships beginning in early spring 2017.

In addition at GIE+EXPO, Gravely showcased its redesigned ZT HD zero-turn mower (see page 31), redesigned series of Pro-Turn and Pro-Turn 100 commercial zero-turn mowers, and redesigned Pro-Walk commercial walk-behind mower. Gravely also announced new attachments for its Pro-QXT two-wheeled tractor, including a 32-inch snow blower, a 32-inch brush mower, and a 36- and 48-inch finishing mower.


Honda Power Equipment unveils two generators, commercial mower

Honda Power Equipment introduced two all-new open frame inverter (OFI) generators and expanded its lineup of commercial lawn mowers with an all-new model.

* Generators: The new Honda EB2800i industrial model and EG2800i consumer model expand the company’s portable power offering for light construction and home use applications, delivering more of what Honda generator customers have come to expect: quiet operation, high-quality power, fuel efficiency, and long run times in a lightweight, portable package.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_honda1_generators“Market demand for portable generators of less than 4,000 watts is growing, and Honda Power Equipment is meeting this demand by expanding its portfolio of quiet, portable power, with two new open frame inverter models,” said Michael Rudolph, vice president – Honda Power Equipment Division. “The all-new Honda EB2800i and EG2800i models are Honda’s first generators to be assembled in the United States. Both new generators are the lightest weight open frame generator in their class and incorporate Honda’s leading inverter technology and innovative features at an affordable price for both industrial and home users.”

The Honda EB2800i industrial OFI generator, the newest addition to the Honda Industrial Series lineup, was developed to serve the contractor market, providing high-quality power for multiple tool use on the jobsite. At an industry-leading dry weight of less than 67 pounds, the EB2800i was designed with the single worker in mind. The new Honda generator is light enough for one person to load and unload from a truck, operate, and carry around the jobsite, all while providing ample power for a variety of tools, including small compressors, air circulation fans, large concrete drills, multiple hand tools, electric concrete vibrators, circular saws and battery chargers up to 2,800 watts. The Honda EB2800i complies with current OSHA and LA-ETL regulations while ensuring safe operation with GFCI-protected receptacles.

For residential applications, the Honda EG2800i provides quiet operation and sufficient power to keep the basics running such as a refrigerator, freezer, furnace blower motor, several lights, microwaves and TVs during a power outage. The all-new Economy Series model weighs in at an industry-best dry weight of less than 67 pounds and comes equipped with a 30-amp/120-volt receptacle for easy connection to a home transfer switch.

Perhaps the most practical, yet important features of interest to consumers who are purchasing a generator are the amount and the quality of power produced by the unit. The Honda EB2800i and EG2800i models offer a maximum 2,800 watts of electricity with a wave form distortion factor of less than 5 percent. This translates into a generous amount of usable power available for a wide range of industrial and residential applications. Ease of use also is key for any portable generator, and these all-new open frame inverter models include easy-start control panel instructions.

In addition, both the Honda EB2800i and EG2800i feature rugged, full-frame protection and share a number of features and benefits that make these portable units the ideal choice for quiet, dependable power:

* Commercial mower: The all-new Honda HRC216K3HDA boasts outstanding performance and reliability combined with reduced cost and weight. With the addition of this model to its lineup, Honda now offers three HRC models geared to the commercial lawn and garden market. The new HRC216K3HDA fits neatly between the current HRC models, the self-propelled HRC216K3HXA and the push-type HRC216K3PDA.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_honda2_commercial-lawn-mower“This new Honda self-propelled commercial mower expands the popular Honda HRC product line from two models to three, offering more choices of premium, reliable Honda lawn mowers to the professional landscape market,” said Michael Rudolph, vice president – Honda Power Equipment Division. “With reduced weight for better maneuverability; rugged, durable construction; and lower upfront costs, the new Honda HRC216K3HDA commercial mower is a smart choice for lawn and landscape professionals.”

The Honda HRC216K3HDA lawn mower is designed from the inside out for simple starting, easy operation and quick stopping, featuring a host of advanced technologies that users will appreciate.

* Easy start, easy stop: The new model allows the user to save time by starting the engine while standing behind the mower, and the flywheel brake safety system stops the engine and blades when the user lets go of the brake lever on the handle.

* Commercial-grade power: The fuel-efficient Honda GXV160 commercial engine is the source of powerful, quiet operation with superior noise control for operator comfort. At the same time, the precision speed control of the Honda GXV160 engine saves time by maintaining consistent speed across all mowing conditions. The mower’s hydrostatic transmission includes a heavy-duty automotive-style shaft drive that eliminates the belt that can slip or wear out.

* Superior cutting performance: The exclusive Honda MicroCut Twin Blade System offers four cutting surfaces to produce finer clippings, and the mower can be adjusted to eight different heights suitable to all types of grass and mowing conditions.

* Commercial-grade design: The outside of the Honda HRC216K3HDA features a rugged 21-inch steel deck with front axle and bumper protection for additional structural stability and durability. Completing the package are ergonomic heavy-duty steel piped reinforced handles designed for strength and operator comfort.

* Lightweight maneuverability: The dry weight of 117 pounds and operating weight of 121 pounds make the HRC216K3HDA easy to maneuver.

* Commercial warranty: The mower is backed by the Honda one-year commercial warranty (one year for the frame, two years for the engine) and a two-year warranty for homeowners.


Husqvarna introduces professional-grade technology for commercial lawn and tree care experts

Husqvarna unveiled the latest additions to its lineup of professional products and services at GIE+EXPO 2016. The new products optimize operational efficiencies and ensure consistently high performance.

Solutions that were on display included enhancements to the professional-grade battery-powered lineup, versatile handhelds that complete the gas-powered lineup, and redesigned accessories that offer outstanding quality and durability.

“We take pride in offering tree and lawn care service professionals with equipment that’s designed by landscapers, for landscapers,” said Jeff Dewosky, vice president and general manager of Husqvarna North America. “That dedication continues in these new additions to our gas- and battery-powered lineups, and we’re excited to introduce them to our professional customers at this year’s GIE+EXPO.”

New additions to the 500 Series battery lineup

The Husqvarna Battery Series has grown to include more essential handheld equipment for landscape and tree care professionals. One 40-volt, Li-ion, high-performance battery can be used interchangeably among all of Husqvarna’s battery-powered products, making the line a natural fit for on-the-go professionals.

The latest additions to the lineup include the 536LiPT5 and 536LiP4 pole saws, which are designed to be balanced and ergonomic without compromising power. Also new is the 536LiLx trimmer, which has a long-lasting brushless motor and a two-way rotation head that allows users to operate the product in a forward or backward direction depending on their preference. The trimmer’s ergonomic handle makes it balanced and easy to use.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_husqvarna1_536lixp-chain-sawOther highlights from the lineup that was exhibited at GIE+EXPO include:

* The 536LiXP chain saw, which has a 14-inch bar and heavy-duty construction for long-lasting performance; and

* The 536LiHD60X hedge trimmer, which is designed for commercial use and features a 24-inch-long, double-sided cutter bar. A new proprietary motor and a powerful battery will allow professionals to maximize their working time. The pivoting rear handle makes it easier when cutting both vertically and horizontally.

A complete professional gas lineup

Husqvarna’s gas-powered lineup offers professionals both wheeled and handheld solutions. In the professional handheld category, Husqvarna added new trimmers and edgers to its 500 Series of products.

The new offerings continue the tradition of Husqvarna’s 500 Series combining professional-grade performance with the latest innovations. Featuring heavy-duty construction for durability; well-balanced, ergonomic designs to limit fatigue during long-term use; and powerful X-Torq engines that reduce fuel consumption and emissions, these products help professionals get the job done right:

* The 525ES edger features a steel drive shaft, while the 525ECS edger features a curved shaft with flex drive.

* The all-new 522L trimmer is a simplified, semi-professional unit with a steel shaft.

* The 525LK trimmer has a detachable shaft that offers landscapers a cost-effective and versatile option to complete many jobs with one tool and several attachments.

In addition to these new 500 Series offerings, Husqvarna launched the 439 chain saw, which was developed for arborist use. It is extremely lightweight and versatile with an optimized saw body that is devoid of protruding parts that could get in the way of operation.

Husqvarna’s core commercial zero-turn mowers with fuel-injected engines were on display at GIE+EXPO, including:

* The M-ZT 61 EFI, featuring cast-iron spindles for professional-grade durability and a premium seat for rider comfort;

* The P-ZT 60 EFI, which offers a 60-inch cutting width and a foldable, roll-over protection system; and

* The PZ 60 EFI, boasting a powerful Kohler engine, durable cast-iron spindles and a suspension seat for maximum comfort.

Commitment to innovation

Husqvarna Fleet Services, a new cloud-based service, connects the machine fleet and landscaping teams directly to an online portal, enabling landscaping professionals to have insights into their operations at their fingertips. When it is launched in the United States, Fleet Services will feature Bluetooth connectivity. Fleet Services represents Husqvarna’s commitment to innovative technology that makes the job easier.

In addition to these new products and services, Husqvarna displayed several new residential products at GIE+EXPO 2016.


Hustler Turf enters UTV market with patented technology

Hustler Turf introduced the MDV (Maximum Duty Vehicle). The tough, precision-built utility vehicle is the latest innovation from Hustler and combines the industry’s most popular features with patented LEVELIFT bed technology.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_hustler-turf_mdvFlip a switch and the LEVELIFT brings the cargo box up, back, and down, enabling the user to load at ground level or at any point along the mechanism’s arc of motion. Once loaded, the LEVELIFT brings the cargo box back up and into position on the MDV. With minimum time and effort, the cargo is loaded and on its way.

LEVELIFT bed technology also enables loads to be dumped at any height or distance along its arc of motion, providing users with more options for how and where the cargo is unloaded.

“The MDV is truly in a class of its own, creating the maximum-duty category,” said Adam Mullet, Hustler Turf’s vice president of sales and marketing, USA. “It blends rugged durability with automotive fit and finish in a beautiful way. With LEVELIFT technology, we are offering customers more than a way to go from A to B. We are offering a tool that actually gets work done. It has the ability to reduce a two-man job down to one, or minimize back stress since operators no longer need to lift. It’s amazing what the MDV can accomplish.”

The Hustler MDV is available in a standard bed model or with LEVELIFT. The all-wheel-drive MDV runs at a top speed of 37 mph and comes with a wide range of options and accessories available.

In addition, Hustler Turf introduced two zero-turn mowers: the Hustler X-ONE (see page 32) and the Raptor SDX with a 54-inch deck. The company also announced that the Raptor and Raptor SD zero-turn mowers will feature upgraded Kohler 7000 Series engines.


John Deere rolls out new products for professional and residential use

John Deere showcased new landscaping and residential equipment at GIE+EXPO. For landscapers, the company added three compact utility tractors, including two models (2032R and 2038R) to its 2R Series and one model (3025E) to its 3E Series, as well as two Gator crossover utility vehicles (XUV590i and XUV590i SF). For residential users, John Deere introduced additional Z300 and Z500 models to its line of residential ZTrak zero-turn-radius mowers.

OverallThe 2032R and 2038R are large-chassis models that feature a redesigned body for improved stability and a 38-hp. engine, providing more options for any size operation. The wide tractor stance and longer wheelbase of the 2032R and 2038R, combined with increased tractor weight, improve stability when navigating a variety of different terrains. A premium suspension seat, ergonomic controls, tilt steering wheel, cruise control and thick rubber floor mat provide a comfortable operator experience, reducing operator fatigue. Additionally, the 2R Series compact utility tractors are equipped with standard work lights on the fender and an optional premium LED work light kit, allowing operators to extend the workday, optimizing productivity. “Our customers are looking for efficient, durable and easy-to-use solutions that allow them to do more work in less time with less effort,” said Jared Lowe, John Deere product marketing manager for compact utility tractors. “When designing the new 2R Series models, we focused on improving machine stability, comfort and implement attachability to deliver on those needs.”

To meet varied customer needs and budgets, John Deere expanded its 3E Series compact utility tractor line to include the 3025E model. With the addition of a 25-hp. option, John Deere now offers a reliable trio of compact utility tractors all the way up to 38 hp. The 3025E model features an easy-to-use, two-range hydrostatic transmission (HST), increasing tractor performance while eliminating clutching for fast and easy direction changes. Additionally, Twin Touch foot controls provide an automobile-like experience while reducing operator fatigue. “Our 3E Series compact tractors have a reputation for being reliable machines that customers can trust to power through the toughest of jobs,” said Michelle Bentley, product marketing manager. “With the new 3025E, John Deere has combined capability and comfort at an affordable price, meeting a diverse range of needs for our hardworking customers.”

The new Gator XUV590i and XUV590i S4 crossover utility vehicles are designed for landscape contractors who desire performance, comfort and customization. Equipped with a powerful twin-cylinder engine, independent four-wheel suspension and availability of more than 75 attachments, the XUV590i provides an outstanding balance of performance and work capability in the mid-size class. “The XUV590i and XUV590i S4 four-passenger models were designed to get more chores checked off your to-do list, in a more comfortable setting,” said Mark Davey, John Deere marketing manager, Gator utility vehicles. “Professional landscape contractors can move around the jobsite faster with a top speed of over 45 mph, thanks to quick acceleration powered by a 586-cc, 32-horsepower, liquid-cooled inline twin-cylinder gasoline engine.”

As for the residential ZTrak zero-turn mowers, the new Z300s offer more comfortable seat options; premium steering controls; larger tire options for a smoother ride; a foot-operated deck lift option; and Accel Deep mower decks in 42-, 48- and 54-inch widths for better grass dispersion and quality of cut at faster ground speeds. The Z500s have dampened steering efforts for easier and more accurate maneuvering and a larger operator station with higher comfort seating options.


Kawasaki broadens new EFI system availability

At GIE+EXPO 2016, Kawasaki introduced the latest member of its growing family of engines using the most technologically advanced electronic fuel injection (EFI) system ever built by the company. The all-new FX850V-EFI incorporates a fully integrated electronic governor (e-Gov) and an advanced ECU that instantly matches power to cutting load and ground speed. These new features will allow professional landscapers to mow lawns more efficiently with the performance and reliability they have come to expect from Kawasaki.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_kawasaki_fx850v-efi-engineDeveloped specifically with the commercial market in mind, the all-new Kawasaki EFI system is available on select models of the FX Series and FS Series engines, with plans to incorporate it in additional models. The FX850V-EFI joins two other units that currently employ the user-friendly EFI system: FX730V-EFI and FS730V-EFI.

Commercial usage has demanding needs, and this system responds with features focused on those needs. Helping to avoid typical hillside-mowing slowdowns, the load-matching e-Gov system keeps drive wheels and cutting blades working at peak productivity. The elimination of power loss through the entire load range lets operators move quickly through almost any turf conditions. Kawasaki’s outstanding cutting power allows users to cover wider areas at a faster pace, serving up uniform results.

Designed to provide the utmost in support to professional landscapers, these powerplants — ranging from 25.5 hp. to the 29.5-hp. output in the new FX850V-EFI — are feature-laden entries in Kawasaki’s already strong family of engines.

Among some of the design and operational highlights:

* Multi-port sequential fuel injection for high-precision fuel delivery, maximizing power per stroke and fuel economy

* High-pressure “returnless” fuel system offers consistent fuel delivery and smooth operations in high temperature situations

* An ECU that continuously monitors ambient conditions and engine performance, delivering optimum power and efficiency in all situations, regardless of weather conditions

* No need for cold-start choke, automatic enrichment to ensure fast, dependable starts in any type of weather — cold or hot, wet or dry

* Engine temperature monitoring guards against overheating while protecting the landscapers’ investment

* Optimum blade tip speed — critical to reducing the need for re-cuts — is aided via the system’s power/load matching, which helps make for a clean cut on the first go-around.

The open-loop design is at the core of this system’s reliability for tough commercial use. And furthering Kawasaki’s approach to simplifying the job for commercial applications, the all-new EFI is matched by a PC or tablet plug-in diagnostic system for quick and easy troubleshooting, accurate service, and helping to minimize downtime. Kawasaki maintained the same footprint as its carbureted engine models, so upgrading to EFI is clean and easy.

Similar to all Kawasaki engines, the EFI engines feature SAE-certified Critical Power, ensuring that engines deliver a minimum of 98 percent of rated horsepower for the needed productivity commercial users can count on.


Kobi Company introduces first all-season autonomous robot for yard work

The Kobi Company showcased Kobi, the world’s first multi-functional robot for yard work in all seasons. The 3-in-1 autonomous robot can remove snow, mow the lawn, and clean up leaves, relieving users of the arduous and time-consuming task of yard work.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_kobi“People are increasingly searching for ways to improve their work-life balance and spend more time on what truly matters to them,” said Steven Waelbers, co-founder and CTO of The Kobi Company. “Kobi helps them achieve additional leisure time by acting as a personal gardener that’s available 24/7. For individuals who have difficulties performing yard work due to health issues, the convenience is even greater. Snow removal can be a physically challenging task, and is linked to hundreds of heart attacks and injuries every year. With Kobi, people no longer need to go outside in the cold to shovel snow.”

When first bringing the robot home, the companion app enables the user to drive Kobi around the yard or driveway, so the robot can learn the perimeter of those spaces and where any fixed obstacles are located, eliminating the need for tedious boundary wires. The app is also used to teach Kobi where to blow snow or dump leaves.

Kobi uses GPS and a suite of sensors to achieve its inch-level position accuracy and also features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile data connectivity. This level of connectivity makes it possible for Kobi to monitor the weather forecast and know, for example, when it will snow and alert the user accordingly so the robot can proactively begin clearing snowfall as soon as it starts. There are also several built-in safety features, such as Kobi’s camera and ultrasonic sensors that help to detect objects and immediately shut down its operation when necessary.

Starting in December 2016, 10 beta versions of the robot will be available as the company’s engineers gather feedback. The yard-work robots will be available to the general public in the northeast United States in early 2017. Prices start at $3,999.


Kohler Engines develops first twin-cylinder engine with EFI technology for consumer lawn mowers

Kohler Engines, which was the first company to incorporate electronic fuel injection (EFI) technology into high-performance, air-cooled, twin-cylinder engines used by lawn care professionals, unveiled its first-ever EFI twin-cylinder engine designed specifically for consumer lawn mowers.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_kohler_7500-series-efi-engine“Kohler Engines pioneered closed-loop EFI technology in commercial lawn mowers back in 1996,” said Eric Hudak, marketing manager for Kohler Engines. “It was a technology that was developed for – and targeted to – the professional market. Now, we’re rolling this performance-enhancing and fuel-efficient innovation into our new 7500 Series EFI engine, which is designed specifically for consumer lawn mowers.”

Kohler’s new EFI consumer engine is available in 25-hp. or 27-hp. models and is anticipated to be offered on major lawn mower brands in spring 2017. The company’s closed-loop EFI system delivers several benefits to consumer lawn mowers, including automotive-like turnkey starting and better fuel economy. Because EFI systems replace carburetors, carburetor-related issues and repairs are also eliminated – including the buildup of damaging residue and carburetor corrosion that can occur when using ethanol-blended gasoline.

In addition to the new EFI consumer engine, Kohler announced the expansion of its professional line of EFI engines with the launch of the newly modified Aegis EFI engine. Designed for use in utility vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, heavy-duty construction equipment and other applications, this 30-hp., V-Twin, horizontal-shaft, liquid-cooled gasoline engine features Kohler’s latest EFI technology for optimal fuel efficiency, improved power and enhanced reliability. Built to last, the Kohler Aegis EFI’s liquid-cooling system helps maintain consistent running temperatures while keeping oil cool, limiting engine wear and tear. The engine’s new EFI technology comes equipped with advanced sensors, which monitor engine running conditions and environmental factors to optimize engine performance.

“Combining the liquid-cooling capabilities of the Aegis with Kohler’s latest EFI technology creates a stronger, more reliable engine that offers optimized performance,” said William Schnell, senior product manager. “The new Aegis EFI is an ideal choice for those demanding applications that require peak efficiency, reliability and performance.”


Kubota expands commercial mower line with new gas-powered Z400-Series

Kubota Tractor Corporation introduced its Z400-Series zero-turn commercial mower line at GIE+EXPO 2016. The Z400-Series consists of three models — the Z411KW-48, Z421KW-54 and Z421KWT-60 — all powered by Kawasaki FS gasoline engines with 48-, 54- and 60-inch decks, respectively. Kubota’s Z400-Series combines the performance and durability of commercial-grade components with a new, modern design and class-leading speed.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_kubota“Landscape professionals have been asking Kubota for a 60-inch commercial mower with all the features and performance at a more attractive price, and the Z400-Series is our response to this market demand,” said Tom Vachal, Kubota senior turf product manager. “We call this new series the ‘Kommander Pro’ because it bridges the gap between our residential zero-turn Kommander series and larger commercial Z700-Series. Even more, it’s backed by a commercial 2-year unlimited hours warranty for the commercial customer and a 4-year, 500-hour warranty for the residential customer.”

The Z400-Series delivers powerful cutting performance at class-leading speed. Kubota uses Hydro-Gear’s ZT-3400 commercial transmission to provide the optimum combination of speed and torque. The transmission is designed for ease of maintenance to minimize downtime for landscape professionals. A 24-hp. Kawasaki FS gasoline engine powers the Z421KWT-60 and Z421KW-54, while a 22-hp. Kawasaki FS engine powers the Z411KW-48, and all three models come equipped with a 6.8-gallon fuel tank.

The Z400 delivers more horsepower to the deck while mowing on the largest tires in the class, bringing an excellent cut quality to the market segment. The Z400’s large, low-profile tires help the mowers provide outstanding grass-cutting performance through dense turf and across hilly terrain.

Kubota’s Z400-Series is designed to maximize efficiency and productivity, starting with a thick and durable tubular steel frame for strong and stable operation. Each model features a 10-gauge, 5-inch-deep, fully welded deck for added grass-cutting performance. Kubota’s K-Lift deck height adjustment system makes for quick and easy cutting height changes with a simple turn of a dial and press of the pedal.

The Z400-Series continues to offer excellent ergonomics and operator comfort already available in Kubota’s commercial zero-turn mowers. Kubota’s foot pedal mower lift system contributes to operator ease, along with a foot pedal braking system that allows setting of the brake without letting go the steering levers. A deluxe adjustable seat offers operators exceptional comfort, while ultra-smooth steering provides optimum control and traveling speeds up to 10-mph forward and up to 5-mph reverse, allowing operators to mow efficiently while reducing fatigue and producing a high-quality cut. For more information on Kubota’s Z400-Series, see page 32.

In addition, Kubota showcased its recently introduced BX80-Series of sub-compact tractors. The BX80-Series consists of four models: BX1880, BX2380, BX2680, and BX23S, which comes with a standard-equipped front loader and backhoe unit. Combining Kubota reliability and power with its versatility and intuitive, easy-to-operate design, the BX80-Series is ideal for residential property owners.


Propane Leadership Award recipients announced by PERC

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) announced its inaugural Propane Leadership Award recipients at GIE+EXPO. Mike Halloran, owner of Halloran Power Equipment and MowerWorks in Chicago, and Jeff Sebert, owner of Sebert Landscaping in Chicago, were named the first-ever recipients of the award.


Mike Halloran, left, and Jeff Sebert

“The Propane Leadership Award is designed to recognize those in the commercial landscape industry who are not only using propane equipment to better their own business profiles, but who have become propane advocates to their peers as well,” said Jeremy Wishart, deputy director of business development for PERC. “Both Mike Halloran and Jeff Sebert are shining examples of business owners who did their homework and understood the positive impact propane equipment could have on their businesses, both financially and environmentally. Now, they are reaping the rewards of propane while differentiating themselves from the local competition at the same time.”

Halloran and Sebert each received a personalized Louisville Slugger baseball bat to commemorate the award during a ceremony that took place on Dealer Day. Upon receiving the award, Halloran, an equipment dealer, and Sebert, a professional landscape contractor, discussed the benefits propane has had on each of their companies.

For Sebert, considering propane mowers was part of his company’s aim to be greener. He was attracted to the reduced emissions profile propane mowers offered compared to machines fueled by gasoline or diesel fuel. The company began purchasing propane mowers in 2011, and since 2012, Sebert has exclusively purchased propane machines. Currently, it operates 165 propane mowers, which totals 60 percent of the company’s mower fleet. The financial benefits of propane helped his company further its environmental efforts, too. Reduced fuel costs allowed Sebert to add solar panels to trailers, which help recharge battery-operated equipment moving from customer to customer.

The benefits of a clean fuel were a driver for Mike Halloran, too, to add propane equipment to his sales floor almost a decade ago. He saw a growing demand for green practices and an opportunity to differentiate his business, as well as his customers’ business, from companies using traditional fuels. Halloran finds success selling propane equipment when he explains to contractors the long-term financial advantages of propane, in addition to the opportunities to bring down the initial equipment cost through the use of PERC’s Propane Mower Incentive Program.

“Contractors and dealers who take the time to learn about the benefits of propane can have incredible success incorporating propane equipment into their business, whether they’re a contractor or dealer,” Wishart said. “Jeff and Mike are prime examples of what success with propane can look like, and we’re very excited to recognize them as our inaugural award recipients.”


Stihl strikes with Lightning battery systems and more

On Dealer Day, Stihl Inc. stole the show with its traditional Oktoberfest-themed, fun-filled booth and $5,000 giveaway, which was won by Kurt Mechling of Performance PowerSports in Seneca, S.C. The company also unveiled more than 35 new products (its most ever at GIE+EXPO), including its Lightning battery system products and several gas-powered products.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_stihl“For more than 90 years, Stihl Inc. has been defining the future of outdoor power equipment,” said Steve Meriam, Stihl’s director of sales. “We’ve found new technologies that deliver on Stihl’s reputation for power, performance and dependability. Stihl’s pursuit of continuous improvement means we have refined designs to make equipment lighter in weight, more ergonomic, and easier to use. In 2017, customers will be able to pick their power like never before. We’re thrilled to announce that Stihl is applying a legacy of innovation to a new generation of products with the Stihl Lightning battery systems in the spring of 2017.”

The Stihl Lightning battery systems are divided into three distinct lines: AP Series, AK Series and AI Series. The AP Series is equipped with the most powerful and long run times, making it great for professionals and a wide variety of large properties. The AK Series is ideal for maintaining a suburban yard on a single charge. The AI Series is complete with integrated batteries, hence the “I” in “AI,” making it a solid choice for those looking to maintain smaller yards.

In the AP Series, Stihl introduced the RMA 510 lawn mower that gives homeowners the performance of a gasoline-powered mower without any of the hassles. It features a 21-inch deck width and a large-capacity grass catcher, so users can cover more lawn in less time. On a single charge of the Stihl AP 300 battery, the RMA 510 can cut up to 5,100 square feet of lawn. Also in the AP Series, Stihl introduced the 36-volt, 1,148 watt-hour AR 3000 backpack battery. Interchangeable with all handheld tools in the Stihl AP battery line, this sleek, high-performance battery has 25 percent more capacity than the Stihl AR 900, running for up to 13 hours and eliminating exhaust emissions and fuel costs.

The AK Series offers Stihl quality in a variety of value-priced packages. The line’s products include the MSA 120 C-B chain saw (36 volts, 2.8-amp hour and lightweight at only 8.4 pounds); the FSA 56 string trimmer (can trim the length of five football fields on a single charge); the HSA 56 hedge trimmer (can trim the length of three football fields on a single charge and has a 2,800-stroke-per-minute cutting speed); the BGA 56 handheld blower (can clear a sidewalk the length of seven football fields on a single charge); and Stihl AK batteries and charger.

The AI Series consists of the 5.1-pound FSA 45 string trimmer (can trim the length of more than three football fields on one charge); 5.1-pound HSA 45 hedge trimmer (can trim a hedge up to 20 inches wide and a length longer than a football field on a single charge with a 2,500-stroke-per-minute cutting speed); and 4.4-pound BGA 45 blower (on a single charge, clears up to 13 parking spaces with an 85-mph blowing speed and a 235-cfm air volume).

In addition to the Lightning battery system products, Stihl introduced the following gas-powered products:

* Stihl BR 700 backpack blower: The 64.8-cc BR 700 is Stihl’s most powerful backpack blower, delivering 35 Newtons (912 cfm, 165 mph) of blowing force.

* Stihl pole pruners: Stihl updated its pole pruner line with 4 new models: HT 102, HT 103, HT 132, and HT 133. These new models have an updated gearbox design, making them lighter and easier to maneuver. With large 710-cc fuel tanks, each pole pruner provides 30 percent longer run times than the previous models, so users can spend less time refueling and more time cutting.

* Stihl string trimmers: Stihl introduced seven professional string trimmers: the FS 91, FS 91 R, FS 111, FS 111 R, FS 111 RX, FS 131, and FS 131 R. These professional trimmers have powerful low-emission engines, providing 30 percent longer run times than their predecessors. The newest members of the string trimmer family feature a simplified three-step start procedure enabled by the semi-automatic choke lever, saving users time. Each product’s vertical pleated paper air filter allows for better filtration, extended replacement intervals and long service life.

* Stihl edgers: The new professional edger line includes three models: the FC 91, FC 96, and FC 111. With large 710-cc fuel tanks and low-emission engines, this line of professional edgers provides 30 percent longer run times than their respective predecessors, meaning more work between fill-ups. The edgers feature a vertical pleated paper air filter for better filtration, extended replacement intervals and long service life. The line also features one-touch stop and a simplified starting procedure enabled by the semi-automatic choke lever.

* Stihl extended-reach hedge trimmers: Users can choose the ideal length for easy maneuverability from three new short-shaft hedge trimmers with fixed-angle blades — the HL 56 K (0 degrees), HL 91 K (0 degrees), and HL 94 K (0 degrees). To trim difficult angles on tall hedges, users can select either the new short-shaft HL 94 K (145 degrees) or the HL 94 (145 degrees) — with articulating blades adjustable in 13 positions.

* Stihl KombiMotors: Professionals can pack the power of up to 14 tools in one with Stihl KombiMotors. The KombiMotor allows professionals to cultivate, edge, prune, trim, blow, sweep, and conquer lawns. With large 710-cc fuel tanks and low-emission engines, Stihl’s three new KombiMotors (KM 91 R, KM 111 R, and KM 131 R) provide 30 percent longer run times than their respective predecessors, meaning more work between refills.

* Stihl dedicated bed redefiner: Previously only available as a Stihl KombiSystem attachment, professional landscapers can now give lawns and flower beds a crisp, clean edge with the gasoline-powered Stihl FB 131 bed redefiner.

* Stihl backpack sprayer: Ideal for farmers, foresters and pest controllers, the SR 430 liquid-only backpack sprayer delivers 20 percent more spraying range and has a 33 percent larger container opening than the SR 420. The 3.7-gallon container allows professionals to work for long periods of time without stopping to refill.

* Stihl pressure washers: Stihl also introduced two residential pressure washers (RB 200 and RB 400 Dirt Boss) and two commercial pressure washers (RB 600 and RB 800). The 173-cc (5-hp.) engine of the RB 200 delivers 2,500 psi of water pressure for occasional use on tough residential tasks. The RB 400 Dirt Boss delivers additional power with a 196-cc (6.5-hp.) engine that can output 2,700 psi of water pressure at 2.7 gallons per minute (gpm). The RB 600 gets the job done with a high-powered 208-cc (7-hp.) commercial-grade engine, delivering 3,200 psi at a rate of up to 3 gpm. The RB 800 is the most powerful industrial-strength high-pressure washer in the Stihl line, boasting a 429-cc (14-hp.) engine, delivering 4,200-psi water pressure, hitting the toughest heavy-duty commercial cleaning projects with up to 4-gpm water pressure.


Toro introduces products for all seasons

The Toro Company showcased several new products, including the GrandStand Multi-Force snow-only model, a powered bagger for the GrandStand and GrandStand Multi-Force stand-on mowers, a 28-inch hydro-drive brush cutter, and the Titan HD Series of zero-turn mowers.

Due to the positive response to the Toro GrandStand Multi Force stand-on mower, Toro is introducing a snow-only Multi Force model. The snow-only model is designed to give snow-focused contractors access to the snow-clearing capabilities of the Multi Force without having to purchase the mowing deck.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_toroThe snow-only model is built on the same trusted GrandStand Multi Force platform and features the same easy-to-use controls as current GrandStand Multi Force models. The unit comes equipped with the Flex-Ride operator platform designed to reduce operator fatigue and contributes to higher productivity throughout the day. The Flex-Ride operator platform is self-compensating to accommodate operators of different sizes. The snow-only model can be equipped with a 5-foot BOSS snowplow attachment. Snow-only models also come standard with winter tires and have optional light and flasher kits to increase visibility in challenging conditions.

“By creating a dedicated snow-only Multi Force unit, we are able to better serve the snow and ice management market with this versatile and innovative machine,” said Chris Hannan, Toro senior marketing manager. “As we continue to gather feedback from end users, customers can expect to see additional capabilities in the coming years.”

Toro also introduced a bagger attachment for the GrandStand and GrandStand Multi Force stand-on mower product lines. With the addition of the powered bagger attachment, Toro offers landscape contractors the unique ability to efficiently collect grass clippings while taking advantage of all the benefits of a stand-on mower.

The powered bagger attachment was developed with productivity in mind. The compact design of the side-mounted soft twin bagger, and vertically mounted blower, allow for excellent maneuverability in tight spaces and maximum visibility during operation. The powered bagger boasts a 10-cubic-foot (8-bushel) capacity, which ensures fewer trips for the operator to empty the bags. Additionally, the top cover of the bagger attachment opens easily for simple access to the bags, and the quick-release design allows operators to switch from bagging to side discharge.

“Having a machine that can perform year-round, in the case of the Multi Force model, helps drive a strong return on investment for landscape contractors,” said Hannan. “The new powered bagger adds to the versatility of our GrandStand lineup, which helps make contractors more productive throughout the seasons.”

The all-new 28-inch hydro-drive brush cutter is designed for the residential and landscape contractor marketplace. Outstanding durability is a key feature of this new walk-behind model, making it ideal for contractors, acreage owners and hobby farmers.

The commercial-grade, self-propelled brush cutter is versatile and easy to use, and it can handle many applications, as well as operators of varying skill levels. Its durable components and excellent engineering allow operators to level brush, tall weeds, saplings, small trees and heavy vegetation with ease. The Toro hydro-drive brush cutter can handle nearly any brush up to 6 feet tall and most saplings up to 2 inches in diameter. Featuring a pivoting deck, the hydro-drive brush cutter delivers a 3.75-inch height-of-cut.

A two-step blade engagement coupled with a parking brake, ensure the 28-inch hydro-drive brush cutter is as safe as it is dependable. Additionally, the operator can maneuver this powerful machine in both forward and reverse with one hand. Incredibly stable, the standard 6-inch, two-ply, sealant-filled, aggressive tread tires provide effective traction for brush removal projects on slopes or in ditches and culverts.

“This heavy-duty brush cutter really rounds out our offering of Turf Renovation products,” added Hannan. “We believe this will be a valuable piece of equipment for many landscape contractors and large-property owners alike.”

For specifics on Toro’s new Titan HD Series of zero-turn mowers, see page 29.


YARDMAX makes successful GIE+EXPO debut

YARDMAX, a Libertyville, Ill.-based manufacturer of innovative, high-quality outdoor power equipment, exhibited its full product line for the first time at GIE+EXPO. Attendees had the opportunity to see firsthand the premium features that come standard on YARDMAX products – features typically available for an upcharge on competitive products.

1612_ope_fs_gie-expo_yardmax“We engineered our products to meet the high demands of today’s contractors and landscapers,” said Shad Shafer, vice president and partner, YARDMAX. “YARDMAX products are built for durability, engineered for high performance, and priced right for the market. Our goal is to deliver products that give our customers the ability to get the job done right – at the right price – every time.”

Beyond delivering product upgrades at no additional charge, YARDMAX uses metal parts instead of plastic whenever possible for improved durability, performance and life span. The product line – a full range of log splitters, snow blowers, chipper shredders, plate compactors, concrete mixers, power wheelbarrows and power sweepers – offers such upgrades as heated hand grips, safety shields, pre-assembled motors, log cradles and cup holders as standard features.

Standing behind its products, the company offers a two-year residential warranty on all equipment; a 3-2-1 warranty for gas log splitters that includes materials and workmanship for three years, engines for two years and hydraulic parts for one year; and a 90-day commercial warranty. Additionally, YARDMAX provides world-class customer service and maintains an inventory of in-stock, readily available replacement parts – express-shipped if necessary.

“We built YARDMAX from the ground up,” added Shafer. “This means that we control all aspects of the supply chain – design, engineering, production, merchandising and fulfillment. Our oversight and control directly translates to our ability to deliver high-quality equipment at extremely competitive prices. And we back it up with the support every customer deserves.”


For more GIE+EXPO 2016 exhibitor news, please visit OPE’s website at and Facebook page @OutdoorPowerEquipmentMagAlso, please be sure to check out the “Equipment Focus” on riding mowers on pages 30-34.