best commercial mower for hills

6 Best Commercial Mower for Hills in 2021

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “what is the best commercial mower for hills?” Almost every lawn care business owner must take this into consideration at some point. Unfortunately, the earth is completely flat!

It is important to note that most manufacturers will say a mower can safely hold a 15-degree slope. Of course, many of these commercial mowers can hold steeper slopes. As the old saying goes… just because you can doesn't mean you should.

If that being said, I feel like I should give a disclaimer. This article is not intended to encourage you to take any mower on steep slopes or other dangerous areas. You should always refer to your owner's manual for the maximum slope you should mow.

Now, that that's out of the way let's jump into the details on commercial mowers for hills.

Stand On VS Zero-Turn VS Walk Behind for Hills

All three mowers are different and unique when operating on hills. Each of them can be safe while it can also be dangerous. If I had to rank them in terms of holding hills I would say walk behind, stand on, and zero turns… in that order.

Stand On

A stand on mower is one you stand on a platform either between the rear wheels or directly behind them. A stand on is similar to a walk-behind, except the walk behind usually has a platform on wheels that attaches to the back of the mower.

Most stand ons, with at least a 52″ or larger deck, do well on hills. They usually have a low center of gravity and a wide wheelbase. There are also some stand ons, like the Toro Grandstand, that allows you to walk behind the mower while mowing. This can be a game-changer of very steep slopes.

Zero Turn

Commercial zero turns come in many different forms, as we will look at later in this article. The standard commercial zero turns usually aren't as good on hills as stand ons or walk behinds. This is because the center of gravity is higher than stand ons or walk behinds.

Another downside of a zero turn mower is you are sitting. Of course, there are rollover bars, seat belts, etc. But it is just easier and safer, in my opinion, to step off a stand on or walk behind mower if you lose control and the worst-case scenario happens.

As mentioned above, there have been some major advancements in commercial zero turn mowers in the past couple years in terms of mowing hills. There have been specific mowers built for mowing steep slopes.

Walk Behind

Walk behinds are more like a self-propelled push mower. It resembles the stand on mowers but without the platform to stand on. There are some accessories that can make a commercial walk behind mower similar to a stand on. You can also get a velkie or sulky to add to the mower so you can ride behind it.

Walk behind mowers are usually the best on hills because they have the lowest center of gravity and you can basically mow anywhere you are able to walk. The only downside is they are the lowest way to mow compared to stand ons and zero turns.

Mower Tires

The best kind of mower tires for operating on hills is the 18 to 26-inch all-terrain tires for the rear where the drivetrain is in operation. The top three listed below have grips on them, adding stability while operating mowers on hills.

The width of the tire is the most important part. The second most important part is the thread of the tire. Both of these can make a drastic difference.

Another tire to consider is the Michelin Tweel tires. These have become popular over the past couple of months. They can be expensive but these tires last a very long time and they do a great job on hills.

Factors to Consider

When operating any mower on a hill, these factors must be considered for safety purposes and obtain the best cut on hills. 

  • Slope: Any incline at an angle greater than 15 degrees is susceptible to causing a mower to flip. The greater the incline, the greater the chances of losing control.  
  • Deck Size: The deck size serves as a base for the mower. The bigger the deck, the better stability the mower will have at an incline. The smaller the deck, the chances are more significant for the mower to flip. It adds to the wheelbase of the mower.  
  • Tire Size: When it comes to tire size, traction is the key. The bigger the tires are in on the drivetrain, the better traction the mower will have. If the tires are too small, the mower will have a better chance of flipping or loss of traction on an incline. It adds stability and balance.
  • Engine: The horsepower of the engine is everything when handling hills. If the motor cannot move the mower up and down the slopes, you are in serious trouble. The engine and torque of the transmission should operate together to push the mower through the inclines and slopes whether the PTO clutch is on or off. Vanguard with the oil guard works best for mowers that operate on hills. It adds to the performance of the motor. 

Best Commercial Mower for Hills Comparison

Below is a full comparison of each of the best commercial mowers for mowing hills.

Specs Cub Cadet Z 972 SDL Wright ZXT (Dual Wheels) Wright ZK (Dual Wheels) Altoz Track MowersFerris Z3XHustler Super 88
Cut Width72″ 52″, 61″ & 72″ 52″, 61″ & 72″54″,61″, & 66″ 52″, 61″ & 72″ 88″
EngineKawasaki FX1000VBriggs & StrattonBriggs & Stratton, KawasakiKawasaki, VanguardVanguard™ BIG BLOCK™ EFI with Oil GuardVanguard BigBlock, Vanguard BigBlock EFI w/ Oil Guard
Drive SystemParker® heavy duty HTG 16cc pump / 310cc wheel motor with oversized wheel bearingsHydroHydroHydro-GearHydro-Gear® ZT-4400® transaxles with 8″ cooling fansDual Hydrostatic
SpeedForward Speed
14 mph / 22.5 km/h
Reverse Speed
6 mph / 9.5 km/h
Forward Speed:
13 mph
Reverse Speed:
7 mph
Forward Speed:
12.5 mph
Reverse Speed:
7 mph
Forward Speed:
8 mph – 11 mph
Forward Speed: 0 – 12 mph
Reverse Speed:
0 – 5 mph
Forward Speed: Up to 10 mph
Fuel CapacityDual 7.45 gal. US (28.2 L)15.5 gal. 15.5 gal.  10 – 14 gal. 11 gal. 13.9 gal.
Tire TypeDual wheelsDual WheelsDual WheelsTracksSingle WheelSingle Wheel
Tire SizeRear Tires
25″x9″-12″ HD Traction Tread
Front Tires
16″x6.5″-8″ Kenda K505
Rear Tires
26 x 9.50,
26 x 14
Caster Tires
13 x 6.50
Rear Tires
23 x 10.50, 24 x 12.
Caster Tires
13 x 6.50
Rear:
11″ x 69″ – 82″ Track
Caster
13″
Rear Tires:
24 X 12-12, 24 X 9.5-12
Caster Tires
13 X 6.5-6 flat-free
Rear Tires:
26 x 12-12
Caster
13 x 6.5-6
Warranty3 years1 year1 year2 years3 years2 years

1. Cub Cadet Z 972 SD/SDL

Best commercial mower for hills - Cub-Cadet-PROZ_972_SDL

The Cub Cadet Z972 SD/SDL is almost in a league of its own. This big bad boy is one of the best mowers for inclines and slopes. It is a zero turn mower with a steering wheel, but it is safe and reliable for slopes up to 25 degrees with all the added features. It has the best traction on the market, and just the look and feel of the mower leaves confidence in the operator's hands. 

  • It has a 35 HP Kawasaki motor with 999cc and a 16cc Parker HTG transmission. 
  • Triple 7-gauge steel deck 72″ with side and bottom reinforcements. 
  • Lock-in or out air ride seat 
  • Dual rear wheels with front rims weighted for traction. The broadest wheelbase is available.
  • 3-year commercial warranty

2. Wright ZXT (Dual Wheels)

The Wright ZXT is a new mower that I have really been impressed with. These massive mowers have up to 40 HP EFI Vanguard engines with oil guard systems. Power is an understatement when it comes to the Wright brand name. The deck is a massive 72 inches of fabricated steel for durability, adding to the wheelbase for incline stability. 

This mower is only on the list if you get the model with the dual rear wheels. This adds an insane amount of stability on hillsides.

  • Integrated tow hitch
  • 15.5-gallon fuel tanks
  • Large pulleys for extending belt life
  • A comfortable ride with long-travel suspension
  • Easy access built-in oil plug
  • Hands-free parking brake
  • Dual wheel options for added stability on slopes and large-quality tires
  • Large wheel motors can go up to 13mph. 
  • 8quart Hydro Oil system for hydraulics
  • Fully adjustable seat
  • Compact rear design to maneuver in tight spots and helps to avoid obstacles
  • Aero Core Deck 

3. Wright ZK (Dual Wheels)

The Wright ZK is the largest frame mower built to specs and adds power and efficiency to the cutting experience. Almost all the same features resemble the Wright ZXT Dual Wheels. What separates this mower from the ZXT is a commercial stand-on mower with a floating deck. This mower has massive 23 to 24-inch tires for added traction and is dual tires in the back for stability while cutting on hills.

  • Stand on advantage
  • Electronic Fuel Injection in both Vanguard and Kawasaki engines
  • Suspension platform for a comfortable ride
  • Split Steel Pulleys for long-lasting belts
  • Sealed Caster Bearings for less maintenance 
  • Ball Bearing Controls
  • Large tires for fuel capacity and higher speeds. It also adds to the traction.
  • 16cc Hydro pumps
  • 72-inch deck
  • Dual 15.5 gallon fuel tanks 

4. Altoz Track Mowers

Best commercial mower for hills - altoz

The Altoz zero turn mowers are a unique option that come with track style wheels. These make this mower one of the best on the market for mowing hills. There are choices of stand on or zero turn mowers the consumer can choose from, and they stand behind the traction, safety, and stability of where these machines can go that others cannot.

For the TRX Series:  

  • Enhanced stability
  • Minimal ground measure
  • Excellent traction
  • Able to handle any angle
  • Able to handle any terrain, snow, wet, hills, ditches, and low-lying areas
  • 54-66 inch decks
  • 27-37 HP motors
  • 8-10MPH
  • For stand on TSX series 61-inch cut.
  • 29.5HP
  • Cuts up to 10mph 

5. Ferris Z3X

Best commercial mower for hills - Ferros Z3X

The Ferris Z3X is a stand on mower with superior traction. The deck sizes come in 52, “61,” and 72.” The pivoting front angle allows this mower to grab onto steep slopes as it brings safety to number one in cutting those problematic terrains.

This mower may not be as good on hills as some of the other mowers on this list, but I think it is once of the best on hills while still being able to mow many different types of terrain. The Ferris Z3X is one of the most diverse, all-purpose mowers on the market.

Note: I will say that I don't have the same comments for the 52″ models. These have a narrower wheelbase and the trim edge on the mower isn't very good. For those reasons, I would only recommend the 61″ and 72″ for hills.

  • Up to 72-inch cut
  • 37HP
  • Cuts up to 12mph 
  • Has a 4-year limited warranty
  • Large fuel capacity up to 11 gallons
  • Speed control is adjustable for smooth operation.
  • Suspension platform for added comfort to the ride
  • Pivoting the front axle with a radius rod allows for all four tires to hold the best traction.  
  • Engine Displacement: 852cc
  • Dual commercial Hydro-Gear ZT-4400 transaxles with 8-inch cooling fans for the transmission. 

6. Hustler Super 88

Hustler Super 88

Hustler is a trusted brand on the market, so it is no secret the Hustler Super 88, which is another stand on mower, is on the top of the list of best commercial mowers for hills. This mower features the larger deck on the list. This allows the mower to have a very wide wheelbase. The Deck also supports the mower and helps it on steep hills.

  • 36 and 37 HP Vanguard Motors
  • 88-inch deck
  • Cuts up to 10mph
  • Most versatile stand-on mower 
  • 11-gauge welded steel deck with 2 pivoting wings up to 15 degrees
  • Adjustable speed control
  • Holds up to 13.9 gallons of fuel

Which Commerical Mower is Best for Steep Hills?

This valuable question can only be figured out by the person who uses the mower. The Cub Cadet would have to be the better of the two when compared to the Wright ZK or other mowers. The size of the deck and the wide wheelbase of the Cub Cadet hands down wins between the two when cutting on steep hills.

The only commercial mowers that may be better are walk behind mowers. This is because you can basically mow with them anywhere you can walk. Walk behind mowers are also the safest because you are necessarily standing or sitting on the mower… unless, of course, you're using a velkie/sulky. Even in this case, it is very easy to get off these mowers in case you need to.

Conclusion 

The best thing we can say about all of the best commercial mower for hills listed is that having the dual tires in the back makes the mind a bit easier when hitting those steep slopes. The operator wants complete control in any situation while operating a mower.

Having the latest features adds comfort and self-esteem to handle the machine at any given degree of angle. If there is comfort, then there is control. When the mower is controlled, anything is possible, and rest assured, the job will get done.

What Do You Think?

I hope this list of the best commercial mower for hills is very helpful. What mower do you think should be in the list above? Let us know in the comments!

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For more information on the mowers above, check out Cub Cadet, Hustler, Ferris, Altoz, and Wright.

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