- Riding Comfort
- Mower Handling and Performance on Hills/Rough Terrain
- Quality of Cut
I’m dubbing the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT-1 50″ Mower the Yellow Tank! Look at this beast, it looks like it should just scare your grass into cutting itself. Looks aren’t everything though, how does it fare in the real world?
The folks at Cub Cadet pretty much thought of everything when they designed this mower. They used an automotive inspired seat that is said to be very comfortable. The seat is adjustable front or back also. The steering controls can be adjusted many different ways and/or pivoted for someone that maybe has longer arms.
The deck adjustment is super easy, it is just a turn knob with 1/4″ increments from 1″ to 4.5″. The one thing I did see pointed out is the foot pedal for raising the deck up is a little out of the way. So your knee basically hits the control lever on the right side when/if you operate the deck lift. Probably not much of a problem for most folks unless you are mowing over a lot of hazards.
The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 also comes equipped with a cup holder for your beverage of choice.
As a fun little bonus, it comes with it’s own socket wrench that stores on the mower that can access pretty much any bolt you would need for adjustment (and the deck plate so you can easily remove it to clean out underneath.)
I would say the Kawasaki 23HP FR691V 726cc engine is probably the best engine I’ve ever seen on a mower in this price range. It’s got power for days and is overall regarded as a pretty great engine. It is comparable to the Toro branded engines they are sticking in their $5000+ mowers.
With the electric start and choke you’ll be able to nearly instantly start your mower in hot or cold weather.
Changing the oil on this Kawasaki FR691 Engine is pretty simple, have a look:
Click here to read the full warranty on the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT-1
Service Manual for the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT-1
Mower Handling and Performance – Hills/Rough Terrain
WARNING: You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for mowing hills, usually that means don’t mow a slope over 15 degrees. Try to attack the slope in an up and down manner instead of side to side (if you have to lean halfway off the mower to feel stable you’re probably exceeding recommendations!)
Controlled by an EZT-2200 Dual Hydrostatic Transmission this thing can easily handle any small hills you may have on your property. The 2200s are what I would call a mid range transmission setup. Much better than your cheap lawn tractors but not quite high end. For example, the Toro Timecutter MYRIDE HD 60″ Mower comes equipped with a ZT-3100 transmission, but that unit is almost twice as much as this one…so yeah…
This mower has a max forward speed of 7.5 MPH which is quite fast and a mow in reverse max speed of 3.5 MPH, which is plenty.
The 2″ square tube frame is really beefy (and kind of unusual to see on mowers period.) This thing is a yellow tank! It’s got 11″ wheels up front and 20″ in the back which are plenty for a mower of this size.
You can check out one particularly brave user mowing a small hill on his property for the first time ever. He usually mows in an up and down motion but decided to mow the slope sideways and I’ll say the mower held up quite well. I’m willing to bet if the grass was the least bit wet he would have lost it though. Check it out:
Quality of Cut
Everybody seems to be very happy with the cut the ZT-1 provides. The side discharge is adequate, no clogging issues or anything like that reported. The deck adjustment is super easy with the turn knob and 15 positions from 1 inch to 4.5 inches (in 1/4″ increments.)
The heavy duty 11 gauge steel fabricated deck houses 3 blades to slice and dice those little blades of grass. It does have a free floating hanging deck with a 3 point suspension.
Three anti scalping wheels on the front of the deck keep your lawn looking perfect.
One nice thing about this zero turn mower is the front castors align with the blade edge so you can cut in a straight line much easier. This would save a lot of time because I tend to “guess” where I need to be and probably overlap my previous cut more than I need to.
The Ultima ZT-1 has the Smart Jet deck wash system. This allows you to hook a regular garden hose to the deck to clean out all the grass and debris (with the blades engaged and water on.)
Also you’ll find a pair of LED headlights that come on with the mower so you can mow in the dark, if that’s your thing.
It has a standard garden hitch for all of your regular style spreaders or garden carts. Obviously you would not want to haul too many heavy loads or you’d wear out your transmissions pretty quickly.
A bagger attachment system is available for this mower: Cub Cadet 50″ Bagger System
I feel like I went a little crazy with the videos in this review but this next accessory was just too cool to not show you. It’s a freakin loader attachment for the ZT1. How COOL is that? I don’t even know if they have a website or not, but their phone number is at the beginning of the video. Also, how would this not destroy the hydraulics? But still AWESOME.
Sure, there are cheaper zero turn mowers. But this one is made with quality parts and is built to last. I mean, it’s basically a commercial mower at a residential price.
Really the only complaints out there are some mowers unfortunately have deck vibration due to an idler pulley (very few though.) And someone complained about all the bolts being loose when it was dropped off to him (from a big box store) – but those are fairly minor and could happen with any mower.
I would have no hesitation in buying the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 and neither should you.
Affiliate Disclaimer – if you decide to purchase a mower based on my review, I do get a small piece of the sale. It helps to keep the lights on around here. I am very passionate about lawns and mowers and offer my unbiased review towards everything that goes on this site. I research several pages, specs, videos, forums and other reviews of each mower before I post about it so you don’t have to. If I wouldn’t buy it myself, I wouldn’t recommend it to you either.