The Hustler RAPTOR SD 60″ zero turn mower with the Kawasaki FR730V 24HP engine provides a great top-tier residential mower at a very affordable price. There are a few minor problems which I will address but overall I think this mower provides a great value to anyone with a lot of lawn to mow.
While the RAPTOR SD does provide a premium seat you will still have a bumpy ride if you have uneven or rough terrain. It has a max forward speed of 7.5mph and 4mph in reverse. Very respectable numbers.
There are a couple options to consider, one, you could upgrade the seat to more of a suspension style. This will eliminate a lot of the rough ride and will raise you up just a little bit but shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Secondly, you could consider the flex forks upgrade that is available on either the 54″ or 60″ model Raptor mowers.
These help absorb shock just as soon as your front wheels hit something. This will also help protect all the other components like the deck and frame from taking as much of a beating as well. They are a bit pricey but could be worth it.
I always recommend you try out the mower first and maybe the stock setup is more than acceptable to you. If not, at least you have a couple options to upgrade your comfort.
The Kawasaki FR730V 24HP 726cc motor is what powers this machine. This is simply a great engine as you would expect out of the Kawasaki brand. You cannot find much wrong with it if you search the internet outside of a few minor issues.
I would consider this a top tier engine for this price range. If you were to come across a RAPTOR SD with a Kohler 7000 series I think that would be quite comparable as well. I don’t think you’d be going wrong with either choice.
The engine comes with a 3 year warranty from Kawasaki.
One of the downsides to this mower, for me personally, is it only has a 3 gallon gas tank. I think a 5 gallon tank would have been great to see so you could mow longer without refilling. I know it is rated for a 2-3 acre yard, but that is going to be pushing the 3 gallon tank to the limit.
Another small negative for me would be the oil drain position. For whatever reason, it is tucked away behind the right rear of the driver’s seat on the engine. So you have to snake your hands down in there to put your drain tube on and then use a little stubby flat head to open the drain. If you have bigger hands, this might be a problem, just saying.
The air filter is under a hinged cover, it is connected via hose and clamp so a minor pain to remove and replace, but overall a pretty standard affair.
Mower Handling and Performance
Handling performance comes via way of a ZT-2800 transaxle spinning 20″ rear turf tires and 13″ caster wheels up front. At 671 lbs, this mower should provide plenty of traction but you could also add some water/glycol mix to the tires for a little more weight.
There are some complaints about having to make frequent adjustments to the levers to get the mower to drive straight and also some people don’t like the little slot the levers have to go in for the parking brake to engage. (Basically a tight fit that makes it difficult to get the levers into, but I imagine this will wear in after a short period of time.)
With the bigger rear tires and low center of gravity you should have good traction and handling on slopes and hills. Keep in mind that this is particularly true with the Raptor SD 60″ deck with 20″ tires. I’ve seen plenty of reports that when you get down to the 52″ deck that has 18″ tires the reports of slipping and sliding are much greater. Something to keep in mind.
Quality of Cut
For the most part, there is not any issue with the cut other than I’ve seen several reviews mention that it doesn’t do well in cutting tall grass, that you have to do some serious overlapping to get a nice cut.
Otherwise, in normal grass it seems to cut ok, but some stragglers have been reported my multiple users.
For those reasons I docked it a star.
As you’d expect in a 60″ deck you have 3 blades spinning at around 16,000 RPM (so not quite commercial speed) engaged through a PTO. The deck is fabricated in 11 gauge steel and reinforced so it should be plenty strong for residential use.
The Hustler Raptor SD 60″ mower has a foot pedal to raise and lower the deck from 1.5″ to 4.5″ in 1/4″ increments.
The Hustler Raptor SD does have a spot on the back of the mower that accepts standard tractor attachments like a spreader, trailer, etc. However, it is just a hole in sheet metal so you’d probably want to drill a couple holes and attach a hitch plate bracket like this one or it will probably rip the hole out of the one that is there.
You can also get a bagging attachment for this machine, if that so interests you.
This mower has a lot of positives, the 60″ fabricated deck is great to get a lot of grass cut fast. The engine on the Hustler Raptor SD is top tier. It has a beefy enough transaxle to handle most anything a residential user could throw at it.
On the downside a lot of users complain about paint chipping off the deck and loose fastener issues. (The latter can be easily corrected by checking the machine over thoroughly. It is hard to pin this issue on the mower itself since you have to figure it was the person at the store/dealer’s fault that assembled the mower.) Some people also have issues with the quality of cut, however, most people are generally favorable in regards to the cut and mower itself.
Overall, a few issues to consider but I think the Hustler Raptor SD 60″ provides near commercial specs for at least $1000 less than you’d pay for anything even entry level commercial.