Belt versus shaft driven lawn mowers.
Lawn mowers can be a confusing purchasing consideration. While most car buyers will probably buy up to 10 or more new or almost new cars in their life, buying riding lawn mowers for personal use is hopefully at best, a once in a decade proposition.
And there are so many choices! Heavy duty garden tractors vs a lawnmower, zero-turn mowers, electric vs gas, a 42-inch deck model vs a 48 or even 52-deck model, and more.
Of course, the answer to these questions usually revolves around price, extraneous needs such as towing, a solid reputation for construction, and how large and how hilly is the lawn you will be mowing. But hovering around six grand or so per mower, one obvious question often stands out, do you go with a belt drive or a shaft drive mower?
Why the shaft driven vs belt driven debate matters
Most mowers are operated via a belt drive. This is perhaps an extension of familiar farm equipment such as combines and tractors which are belt-driven, but also a matter of cost. It simply costs a manufacturer less to produce a belt-drive mower.
But what, fundamentally, makes up the shaft driven vs belt driven debate?
Experts say it’s primarily a matter of maintenance costs.
Belts often need to be replaced once every two years or so, sometimes even more often. And belts, made of rubber, get old and brittle over time. Also, the belt guards in your mower, tend to suck in debris underneath them, resulting in a degradation of the belt over time. Finally, the pulleys on your mower may seize up, causing grooves or indentations in the belt, which will shed it sooner or later.
Shaft driven mowers, on the other hand, are virtually indestructible. You can normally expect to drive a shaft driven mower for up to 10 years with virtually no maintenance, other than perhaps replacing the u-joints, which should last you at a minimum of 3,000 hours of driving or more. Shaft driven mowers also tend to do much better at maintaining a proper with a lot of hills.
So why aren’t all mowers shaft driven?
While shaft driven mowers do tend to be indestructible, when they do break, whether it is due to running over a rock or object, or simply bad luck, repairs can be significantly more costly.
Replacing a shaft is also not a simple matter of going to your local garden shop and picking up parts. Often, any necessary replacement parts will need to be ordered from the original manufacturer, and if you are running a commercial lawn care business, lost time is lost money.
So which to choose, shaft driven or belt driven?
If you are mechanical and can replace your own belts, then it’s a toss-up. But, if you need to have your belts replaced at a shop, for overall ease and peace of lawn mind, in general, a shaft drive mower is our personal preference.