The flagship model in Cub Cadet’s Zero-turn mower range with steep sloping capabilities is the PRO Z 972 SDL and I had the pleasure of giving the only available one in the country a great workout recently. This is the newest release on the Australian market for Cub Cadet and is looking to be an excellent contender in the commercial market.
With the capability of mowing slopes up to 25 degrees, the PRO Z 972 SDL enables the mowing of large, sloped areas safely and efficiently as well as being suited to flat or undulating terrain. American manufacturing is renowned for its robustness and the PRO Z 972 SDL is no exception with its solid construction that is built for large area commercial applications. The frame is constructed of fully welded 3/8” x 5” steel and the fabricated deck is 7-gauge steel with 7-gauge top and bottom reinforcements making it one of the toughest on the market.
Large dual rear wheels widen the machine’s footprint and provide excellent traction and stability on the slopes it is designed to tackle, as do the weighted front wheels. The machine is a zeroturn but different to most in that it has a steering wheel rather than levers. It is fitted with power steering making it effortless to control with all four wheels steering the machine unlike the rear in a conventional zero-turn. Operating the machine on steep slopes was a little daunting at first but once I was confident with the machine’s capabilities it was amazing. I could easily turn whilst going across and down steep declines with no wheel spin or loss of traction, which would be an impossible task on a conventional zero-turn.
One of the most important features of a zero-turn is operator comfort, so even though this machine is quite bouncy on uneven terrain, the amazing air ride suspension seat compensates for this and it also has another feature I have never seen. Sitting in the air suspension seat was a pleasure with multiple ranges of air pressure adjusted at the push of a button. The seat also has angle-back adjustment, adjustable lumbar support and padded armrests which aid in operator comfort. The most unique feature of the operator’s seat is its swivel platform, which is activated by rotating a pin on the front of the seat enabling the seat to move from side to side and self-level. Whilst mowing steep grades with the seat in the fixed position, it was uncomfortable as I was sliding towards the edge of the seat and having to hold myself upright with the steering wheel but when I activated the swivel mode, it was a different story. The seat swivels and self-levels to keep the operator upright even when the mower is on an excesive grade, which is an excellent feature and made it effortless on steep terrain.
The unit is powered by a 35hp Kawasaki FX 1000V, renowned for its quality and reliability. The steering column tilts giving the operator easy mounting and dismounting access and enables the wheel to be set at a comfortable position to suit any operator. With such a large heavily constructed deck, an electric deck lift is fitted making lifting and lowering of the deck a simple, effortless task. Just the push of a button located on the control panel to the right of the operator’s seat quickly raises or lowers the deck. Located next to the handbrake lever is a hydro pump release lever. This allows the hydro pumps to be disengaged easily with the flick of a lever rather than the often arduous task of accessing pump releases that require tools and are hidden in the depths of the machine.
Other nice touches on this machine are the six LED lights, which provide great vision all around the machine in low light situations and the standard inclusion of a safety beacon on the ROPS. The safety beacon is also adjustable so it can be in an upright position even when the ROPS is folded down.
I have never been more comfortable operating a mower on slopes than I was on the PRO Z 972 SDL. The self-levelling seat makes this unit a stand out from other slope capable mowers ensuring operator comfort on all terrain. Cub Cadet offer an excellent commercial warranty with 3-year machine and engine coverage.