Battery powered landscape maintenance tools are becoming popular and many of the traditional petrol-powered manufacturers are now venturing into this ever-growing market. Outdoor power equipment giant Toro is soon to release its new 60-volt Flex-Force walk behind mower aimed at the Premium Consumer market.
A 60-volt brushless electric motor with 6.0Ah battery is the power plant attached to Toro’s new walk behind mower. Bolted to an existing range Toro steel deck, the Flex-Force power plant brings a different perspective to a self-propelled, walk-behind mower.
A wide 22-inch cut makes it a very productive, versatile machine, suited to a variety of tasks as it catches, mulches and side discharges. The single bar blade produced a neat cut and packed cut grass nicely into a large fabric catcher. With the flick of a lever located on the top rear right-hand side of the deck, the mowing capability can be changed from catching to mulching instantly. No need to remove the catcher and install or remove a fiddley mulch plug – this is a great time-saving feature. For longer grass a flip-up flap on the side of the deck enables a chute to be fitted without tools for side discharging.
When the safety lever on the handle is depressed a push button starter fires up the quiet motor. The self-propelled drive is activated via Toro’s Personal Pace system, which is much easier than many other walk-behind mowers that are fitted with two or three set speeds. Easy operation and greater control is ensured because the mower drives when the sliding handle is pushed, and the further it is pushed the faster the pace.
Height adjustments range from 1 inch to 4 inch via four individual wheel adjusters. I would prefer a single height adjusting lever and a slightly lower bottom height.
The front of the deck has a replaceable plastic bump strip to protect the deck and a snap-on hose wash port is fitted for cleaning any built-up debris.
An advantage of battery power is reduced weight and the 60-volt Flex-Force is exceptionally light for a mower of its size, which makes it not only easy to manoeuvre but easy to load for transporting between jobs. Other obvious advantages are reduced noise and fumes so the operator and bystanders have a more pleasant experience, and of course reduced running and maintenance costs.
The handlebar has two operating positions that can be selected instantly, total upright handle position for storage, and a fully forward-folded position with no fuel or oil leaks, making it much easier to clean under the deck and service the blade.
Run times are always important and the battery lasted 45 minutes working the machine on what I would call ‘normal conditions’. Charging time of the 6.0Ah battery is quite long at 150 minutes so multiple batteries will be required for contractors.
Toro’s Run Smart technology senses when the mower is cutting different material and increases engine speed when the grass is thicker, then decreases when lighter material is being cut. This provides a burst of ample power for tougher conditions and conserves battery in lighter conditions because the engine is running only at the power it needs.
The 60-volt Flex-Force walk-behind mower from Toro proved to perform as well as its petrol powered counterparts with much less operator effort. It was easy to manoeuvre for a mower of its size. A 2-year mower and 3-year battery warranty provide peace of mind for the operator.