When push comes to shove

by Andy Bryenton

The push mower may be an icon of the Kiwi garden, but there are limits to what one can achieve with manual power alone. Those leaving the city — with its postage stamp quarter-acre lawns — and adopting the lifestyle-block way of life, will soon find that even the most trusty traditional lawnmower is not quite up to the task.

When you have a large area to handle, and especially if your property contains uneven terrain or features such as garden beds, chicken coops or well-established trees, you need a machine which combines the precision of a men’s electric razor with the hard-working rural power of a combine harvester. Oddly enough, that’s just the combo which comes to mind when you first see Husqvarna’s R 316T rider mower. 

Articulated in the middle like a civil works digger and packing a tri-bladed, fore-mounted cutting deck, the R 316T does not look at all like your usual lawn tractor. That’s because the Scandinavian engineers behind some of the world’s best chainsaws and outdoor power tools have re-thought the concept. By putting the engine at the back they’ve added stability, and by putting the cutting deck out front where it’s easy to see, they have made the Rider into a precision machine. It’s like driving an open-wheel race car — with the wheel exposed you can hit the apex of each corner. With the cutting deck taken forward and out from under the control seat, you can place the triple blades with the same finesse as wielding a razor.

Husqvarna sourced a powerful twin-cylinder engine from motorcycle makers Kawasaki to give the R 316T some real oomph, and coupled it to a four-wheel-drive system to handle uneven terrain and slippery lawns. The articulated steering of the Rider series gives this machine a super tight turning circle, and to add comfort it’s power assisted. In fact, clever little innovations abound, including the ability to flip the entire cutting deck up out of the front like a cartridge and lock it into a vertical position for a water blast washdown. Sitting a cut above the lawn tractor but less expensive than a commercial zero turn mower, the R 316T may very well be the perfect machine for the smallblock owner who needs to give the push mower the shove.