Razor sharp precision

by Andy Bryenton

When Husqvarna approached the drawing board in 1987 to develop a brand new concept in mowing, their inspiration came from customer’s feedback. How can we turn ‘on a dime’ to tackle tight spots, even with a big ride-on mower? How can we follow the contours of the ground and let the driver see exactly what he’s cutting?

The answer came from a panel of engineers, but you can see one of the obvious inspirations in the design of the Husqvarna Rider series, which turns 30 this month. Those triple blade cutting heads out front, all mounted on a suspension-loaded carrier? This machine has the look and the precision of a men’s electric shaver, another device designed to clear away unwanted overgrowth for a neat, clean finish.

Another inspiration was surely the construction industry. Placing the engine in its own pod to the rear, then articulating the centre or ‘waist’ of the machine has long been a trick for big earthmovers to enable even multi-ton machines to turn in a small radius. The chief designer says he saw this first on a child’s toy of a tractor-harvester.

By applying this design to a mower, Husqvarna made it possible to turn in the length of the machine itself.

And with the cutting deck out front, suspended where it can be seen and equipped with guide wheels, the operator can spot exactly where the blades are going, unlike on a conventional lawn tractor. An added bonus of this design is the ease with which the whole blade carrier can be popped up and out to get hosed down after use.

Over the years, additions such as power steering, all-wheel drive and automatic transmission have been factored in, making this one of the most stable, comfortable ways to mow a large area of grass. Lifestyle block owners especially have taken to the ease of operation afforded by the Rider series — a big back yard with its ornamental trees, benches, barbecue areas and other obstacles is very different from a football field or a paddock, and it’s a kind of terrain where that turning precision shines through.

Three decades on, Husqvarna still set the benchmark for innovative front-mount mowing. And they’re even developing entirely electric models for the future.