Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1


I often see contractors who are either starting out or maintaining larger residential and small acreage using machines designed for residential use, which I think is a great stepping stone to commercial-grade machines as their businesses and budgets grow. Cub Cadet’s new Ultima Series ZTS1 will suit this type of application as well as the acreage homeowner.

This machine is different to a conventional zero-turn mower because it is fitted with a steering wheel rather than lap bars. I can see people who are not familiar with lap bar operation preferring this option.

Cub Cadet’s Synchro Steer provides four-wheel control where the front wheels steer in conjunction with the rear wheel drive, operating as it would in a conventional zero-turn. The added front wheel steer – rather than castor wheels following and rotating with the drive from the rear steer – creates greater manoeuvrability and ensures good stability on steeper terrain (rated up to 20 degrees on slopes).


I was also surprised about how forgiving it was on turf. I performed some hard U-turns at speed and there was less damage to the turf than would be from a conventional zero-turn. I assume this is because the front steer wheels start the turn and therefore aid the rear wheels and create a less aggressive move with the same zero-turn result.

The ZTS1 I tested was fitted with a 46-inch deck, but it is also available in a smaller 42-inch with both decks fabricated and constructed from 11-gauge steel with reinforcements in the critical areas. The sealed ball bearing spindles are maintenance free and access to the top of the deck is good because the foot pan is removed with one bolt. There is a socket spanner to suit stored in its own holder on the machine for this purpose, which is a nice touch.


I like the deck lift/height adjustment mechanism. A foot-lift pedal raises the deck with minimal effort and a simple, easy-to-rotate dial can be turned to the desired height, so the operator can change height on the go. The foot deck lift also allows the operator to quickly lift the deck away from any potential obstacles that can quickly pop up in the cutting path. The only improvement I would make is an automatic lock in at the highest position when the deck is lifted, rather than having to turn the dial to the maximum height for it to stay in the highest position.

The power plant is Cub Cadet’s own engine – a 679cc V-Twin with good power for the applications I operated it in, however being the middle of winter in Sydney we didn’t have any excessively long or thick grass to attack. Access for maintenance around the engine is easy and a handy oil drain hose is fitted. The 5cm x 5cm tubular frame extends up and wraps around the engine for added protection. It also has automotive grade corrosion protection for longevity.


Cub Cadet has not held back in the comfort department with a nice 51cm high back seat with armrests. The adjustable steering column allows the operator to easily mount or dismount with it in the upright position and then lower to a level to suit any operator or driving technique.

The steering wheel has rubber inserts for good grip and comfort, which made it a pleasure to whip around in tight situations, even at speed. Rubber mats fixed to the foot platform and driving positions create a non-slip surface whilst reducing vibrations adding to operator comfort.

The Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZTS1 proved to be a nimble and responsive machine and enjoyable to operate around tight curved garden edges at my own home.

Cub Cadet offers a three-year domestic warranty and a three-month commercial warranty.

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