My journey with zero turn mowers and lawn equipment began over 15 years ago when I managed the lawn and garden service division at Ag Pro, a local Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) dealer. Around 2003, while working for a local non-profit, I started my own professional lawn business. I hired ex-cons and provided them with much-needed employment opportunities. While I gained extensive experience with zero turn mowers, it was only when I started purchasing and maintaining them myself that my interest truly sparked. If you want to witness tools being put to the test, give them to individuals who have recently been released from jail and are desperate for work. They work laboriously, but it comes at the expense of mowers, trimmers, and blowers. It didn’t take long for me to figure out which tools were durable and reliable. That’s why the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 zero-turn mower caught my attention.
The Features of the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero Turn Mower
When Husqvarna sent me their brand-new M-ZT 52 zero-turn mower to try out, I was eager to see what it was capable of. This model serves as the company’s entry-level commercial zero-turn mower, priced at around $5,500. Given its reasonable cost, I was curious to see just how well it performed. We picked up the mower from the loading dock and towed it back on a trailer to commence our testing.
The first thing that struck me about the M-ZT 52 was its size. It possesses the appearance of a genuine commercial product, and it sits high enough to provide a better view of the cutting area. Moreover, this mower is constructed with ample amounts of steel. Notably, the wheels are attached to the chassis that runs along the entire side of the mower, giving it a sturdy frame and an impression of durability. This design is superior to other mowers where the wheels are connected to either the steel crossbar at the front or arms bolted to the frame. I don’t plan on using the mower as a bumper car, but it’s reassuring to know that the Husqvarna is built to withstand heavy usage and potential abuse.
Jammed and Jelly Tight
One issue I’ve encountered while using zero turn mowers is that certain items tend to get in the way during the cutting process. For instance, on one of the mowers I previously owned, the air filter was located in a raised position, resulting in it getting knocked, damaged, and replaced multiple times. However, on the Husqvarna M-ZT 52, the filter is seamlessly integrated into the back of the Briggs & Stratton motor. It’s out of harm’s way, making it almost impossible to damage. Furthermore, the muffler is situated inside the chassis frame, ensuring that it won’t be hit or cause burns. Though this may seem insignificant, living in Florida where shorts are the norm for three-quarters of the year, this attention to detail is appreciated. Even the gas cap fits snugly into the plastic shroud on the left, preventing it from being damaged or broken. You could drag a branch across this mower, and it wouldn’t cause significant damage. That’s good engineering and design. The only notable exception is the oil return line, which tends to pop off the top of the plastic tank if it encounters a bump.
The Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero-Turn Mower truly lives up to its name as an accurate zero-turn mower. It boasts features such as a foot pedal that allows for easy maneuvering over uneven terrain. When it claims a cutting height of “2 inches,” it genuinely means it, which is crucial for consistent and appropriate grass cutting. In Florida, where the heat is intense, we cannot cut the grass too short; otherwise, it will quickly burn out. The M-ZT 52 offers various options for cutting table height, adjustable from 1.5″ to 4.5″ in 1/4″ increments. The pin adjustment system requires a bit more effort, as you have to push it through two holes instead of one. Nevertheless, it’s a minor inconvenience that one can easily adapt to. It’s better to have a thicker piece of steel with a hole for the pin.
One aspect of the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 that particularly impressed me was its turning radius. It’s compact and the increased height affords a bird’s-eye view of the cutting area. Navigating through the crepe myrtle trees in our neighborhood and cutting along curved flower beds was a breeze. Additionally, the mower feels well-balanced, providing stable traction on inclines and descents (which I managed to find, even in Florida). Surprisingly, the front tires are significantly larger, measuring 13 inches in height and 6-1/2 inches in width. This design prevents the tires from digging holes or leaving ruts, even when traversing wet grass. The weight distribution is definitely better compared to mowers equipped with smaller and thinner front wheels.
However, I did encounter some difficulty with the higher seat. While it provides a better view of the cutting area, it brings you closer to shrubs and branches, posing a risk of collision if you’re not cautious or accustomed to the heightened position.
Under the Surface
Unlike some older zero turn models, the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 is equipped with a parking brake, a valuable safety feature. It proves useful when temporarily stopping the mower on a slope. To access the top of the deck, where you can clean off debris and inspect the pulleys, you need to unscrew the locking bolt. While the bolt has a plastic top, which I am sure I will accidentally kick with my boots someday, this is a minor inconvenience. Whenever I encounter a detachable component, I know there’s a chance I might misplace it. However, once the bolt is removed, you can effortlessly lift the deck and access the components below.
From an internal perspective, I noticed that the belt and pulleys of the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 provide superior protection for the grass compared to other mowers I’ve used. The mechanisms are more enclosed, resulting in less debris and reduced wear and tear on those parts. Moreover, Husqvarna utilized a cast iron spindle housing for the blades, a feature typically found on commercial-grade mowers. This attention to detail ensures a longer lifespan and improved performance.
Details, Details, Details
In addition to its outstanding performance, the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 zero-turn mower boasts several small yet significant details. Although it only has a single 5-gallon fuel tank (dual tanks are a rarity at this price point for any zero-turn mower), Husqvarna effectively utilizes the opposite plastic shroud to create a spacious compartment. The seat is easily adjustable and exceptionally comfortable, allowing for extended periods of use without experiencing soreness or excessive vibrations from the cutting deck or motor. Additionally, there’s a safety strap included; however, I rarely have the need to use it since I primarily operate the mower on flat surfaces.
Husqvarna also incorporated a steel cable to prevent the mower from tipping forward when the seat is flipped up to access the battery and other components. Although a small feature, it demonstrates Husqvarna’s consistent attention to detail.
Grease Points and Hooks
The front and rear greasing points are conveniently accessible, making maintenance easier for those who handle their own equipment. Both the tension and height of the drive arms are easily adjustable, allowing for optimal customization. Husqvarna has thoughtfully placed non-slip tape on the mower where necessary, ensuring secure footing when stepping onto the mower.
On the back of the mower, I couldn’t help but notice the presence of a basic hitch point. Given the torque available, it can effortlessly pull a small cart. Initially, the anti-roll bar that came with my Husqvarna mower rattled, but I quickly resolved this by tightening it with a 15/16 inch socket at the fold. If you frequently fold and unfold the bar, rattling may become an issue. Once adjusted, it was evident that the M-ZT 52 is a compact and well-built product. Unlike other mowers I’ve had the displeasure of describing as “rattlers,” this one vibrated significantly less during operation.
If there’s something the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero Turn can’t offer, it’s the features found in commercial models. However, Husqvarna manages to deliver impressive performance and features at an attractive price point. While each individual feature may not be groundbreaking, when combined, the M-ZT 52 proves to be an exceptional mower. It’s evident that this well-designed mower was created by someone with an extensive understanding of zero-turn operations.
In terms of performance, I have no complaints about the product. It cuts quickly and effortlessly, even when dealing with areas filled with new oak growth. When approaching from the right side, it’s easy to lift the exhaust cover and tighten it. The mower’s acceleration is also impressive. With a top speed of 10 mph, it may not be the fastest zero-turn mower I’ve used, but it surpasses other models at this price range and provides a snappy experience. Moreover, the mower never outpaces its blades, effectively maintaining a balance between speed and cutting efficiency.
Prices and Expectations
The biggest “problem” with the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 mower is that it looks, rides, and operates like a commercial zero-turn mower. In fact, you might forget that it’s only $5,500. It’s easy to start expecting features like dual fuel tanks or a top speed of 13 mph. Nevertheless, the mower already surpasses many others in its class, featuring a larger fuel tank, higher top speed, and superior build quality. In my opinion, it offers incredible value, combining commercial-grade quality and features at a price that is appealing to small business users. For these reasons, I highly recommend the M-ZT series of mowers.