The Exmark Vertex S-Series stand on mower is the latest try of Exmark's stand on mower. If you remember, a few years ago they released the Staris stand on mower that did not do well at all. There were many problems with the mower that Exmark has set out to get right this time around.
From humble beginnings in 1982, Exmark has expanded and grown into a formidable force in the commercial riding mower market. Located in Gage County, Beatrice, Nebraska, the company produces a line of mid-sized, walk-behind mowers and turf rakes, as well as a range of commercial riding mowers.
Their aim, “to produce the best commercial-grade machines in the industry”, has been given a huge boost by their latest Vertex S-Series machines. The extensive dealer network and commercial clients will undoubtedly be happy with the improvements we’ve identified below.
Compared with the original Exmark Staris, that are now discontinued, the Vertex S-Series is a huge improvement. There are man features that make this mower much better and competitive in the stand on mower market.
The Staris mower is now only available as a more compact machine, designed for smaller properties and difficult to access locations, the Exmark Vertex S-Series is larger and more robust.
With only 2 models powered by carburetor-fed Kawasaki V twin engines, the Staris is no match for the upgraded S-Series.
The S-Series consists of 5 models, each designed to accommodate a specific set of requirements.
With more power from the larger displacement Kawasaki, carburetor fed engines, and better response and fuel economy from the Kohler electronic fuel injection engines, the S-Series is a big step up from the Staris range.
The S-Series boasts improved air filtering over the Staris with a heavy-duty air filter as opposed to the standard engine manufacturers’ filter found on the Staris range.
The two Staris models are available with 32’ and 48” cutting decks respectively and cutting heights of 1.0″ to 4.5″.
This is in contrast to the 48” to 60” cutting decks and 1.5” – 5” cutting heights, adjustable from the operator’s platform, found on the S-Series.
If you just look at the specs below you may think the Staris S-Series was a better mower. Sure, some of the specs aren't as good… like the speed and fuel tank but I think this is made up for by the redesign of the mower. The Staris was awkward and comfortable to operate while the Vertex S-Series is much better.
Ultimately, the Vertex S-Series reminds me a lot of Wright stand on mowers. It has the same controls and a very similar design.
Exmark Staris VS Vertex S-Series Comparison
|Spec||Staris S-Series (Old)||Vertex S-Series (New)|
|Cut Width||48″, 52″, and 60″||48″, 52″, and 60″|
|Engine||Kawasaki FX or Kohler Command EFI||Kawasaki FX or Kohler Command EFI|
|Transmission||12 cc Hydro-Gear pumps and 12 ci Parker motors||12 cc Hydro-Gear pumps and 14.5 ci Parker motors|
|Speed||10 mph||8.5 mph|
|Fuel Capacity||10 gallons||8 gallons|
|Weight||992 lbs (52″)||936 lbs (52″)|
|Warranty||2 year unlimited hours or 4 year / 1,250 hours||2 year unlimited hours or 4 year / 1,250 hours|
|Price||Starting at $9,999||Starting at $10,899|
The S-Series comes with two engine options:
- The Kawasaki Model FX730V – This is a gas carburetted, 90° V-Twin engine that operates at 3750 maximum rpm, displacing 726cc (44.3 cu. in.). This 2-cylinder engine produces 23.5 hp at 3600 rpm and 39.7ft-lbs of torque at 2400 rpm. For maximum performance in the highly competitive environment of commercial operations, Kawasaki engineered a heavy-duty canister air filtration system into the forced air-cooled, V-twin 4-cycle vertical shaft engine. Finally, it features a heavy-duty shift-type starter.
- The Kohler Command Pro EFI ECV740 – This EFI (Electronic Fuel Injected), OHV Engine operates at 3750 maximum rpm, displacing 747cc (45 cu. in.). The 4-cylinder engine is rated for 24.2 hp at 3600 rpm and 39.9ft-lbs of torque.
You will experience lower operating costs, less downtime for maintenance, and improved fuel efficiency, which ensures that you get maximum use out of this machine.
Overall, both engines provide an excellent compromise between cost, power, and efficiency. Their use in a variety of high-stress applications in the building, timber, and landscaping industries is a testament to their durability and cost-effectiveness.
In comparison to other manufacturers such as Stihl, John Deere, Ferris, and SCAG, the motors used in the Vertex match the industry standards.
Stihl utilizes the Kohler engines as their preferred supplier and John Deere picks and chooses between Kawasaki, Yanmar, and Briggs & Stratton for their lower horsepower engine requirements.
The S-Series relies on the well-proven Hydro Drive system that comprises two hydro-gear, 12 cc pumps powering two Parker 14.5 cubic inch motors.
It has an infinitely variable speed selection up to a maximum of 8.5 mph and a PTO engagement via a Warner 200 ft-lb clutch.
Naturally, maximum speed when cutting grass will average around 5 mph, so what is the point of a 8.5 mph maximum speed you may ask?
Well, it makes commercial sense to move your equipment as quickly as possible between jobs. The higher-end speeds of which the S-Series is capable translate into higher efficiency and turnaround times when loading, unloading, and moving between locations.
The S-Series enjoyed a full re-design program aimed at improving the useability of the machine as well as innovating with new technology in areas where they got feedback from their customers.
The design was simplified to incorporate easier access to all working parts, making cleaning, adjusting, and servicing easier.
The design team focused on durability for a contractor machine, basing the design on the successes and major features of the Vantage and Lazer models.
Integrated Deck Lift
A major innovation was to design the deck lift in such a way that it raises the cutting deck as well as the engine, minimizing the number of moving parts with respect to each other.
For increased productivity, operator comfort was a design-team focus point, with the operator platform receiving rubber donuts as standard with weight-compensating suspension. Extending the platform backward to provide a little more room eases foot placement.
Operator Belly Pad
The operator's belly pad is now thicker than competitors’ machines and is comparable to the thickness of the Staris’ pad. Extra bolstering provides additional side support, especially useful when leaning into the side of a hill.
The operator panel features a center reference bar to assist with balance and control.
Side Hill Stability
Side-hill stability is also excellent, as lowering the cutting deck lowers the engine as well. The resulting lower center of gravity improves the stability of the machine when cutting on an incline.
The battery and fuel tank are also designed and located in such a way as to lower their center of gravity with fuel storage biased lower and closer to the mid-line.
The tires are sourced from the Vantage and have a smaller diameter. The lowered axel frees up space for the battery pack to be positioned lower on the frame.
Ease of Access
It is clear that the design team focussed on improving access for servicing and cleaning. The operator pad now has a hook and tab design that allows the whole pad to be removed quickly and easily, granting full access from the rear.
The pad is held on with rare earth magnets that are extremely strong with a tab preventing the pad from popping up and flying off when you’re trailering it.
The frame is cut away as much as possible to grant easier access to the fans, hydraulic fill points, and filters. The parking brake adjustment is within easy reach and the bottom panel is removable so that, by raising the deck to the maximum height, you get access to the hydro-belt for servicing and inspection.
Deck lift rods are inverted from the front, so the adjustments are conveniently placed for when you pop off the lower rear panel. Adjusting the rake is simple and one can reset the deck very easily.
The frame tubes and cross members take their design cues from the Lazer, with an open front muffler guard helping with heat dispersion and protecting the air boxes as well.
Removable belt shields are standard, as is the battery box with an easy-to-clean top lid opening. This makes maintenance very easy, straightforward, and hassle-free.
The hydro-drive system enables speeds up to 8.5 mph and is infinitely variable, allowing you to accurately match your speed to the terrain.
The Lazer Series 4 cutting deck with 3 blades and much improved, single point of cut height adjustment, takes the cut quality to best-in-class.
Your options include a 48, 52, or 60-inch side-discharge cutting deck with easy rake adjustment and anti-scalp rollers. Flow control baffles optimize air and clipping flow through the deck, resulting in an improved cut.
The cutting deck and engine move as a unit which positively impacts wear and tear, tolerances, and adjustment errors. This keeps the drive belt on the same line as the deck (taken from the Vantage) thereby increasing drive-belt life.
This is a major change from the Staris, where the deck moves independently of the engine with the associated extra wear and tear.
Of course, this is debatable… it makes sense that it prevents wear and dear but it also makes lifting the deck up much more difficult. This is why many stand on mower manufacturers have moved away from this. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the deck and engine moving up and down together.
The full-floating deck has maintenance-free spindles with splined blade drivers to prevent the bolts from tightening when impacting objects.
Idler arm bearing pivots only require an annual service which reduces downtime and thus ensures improved productivity.
The mower is ergonomically designed with driver comfort a priority. The control panel has been redesigned to ensure that all controls fall easily to hand and that the rubber bushings and semi-pneumatic, castor tires provide a comfortable ride.
The comfort of this mower is drastically better than the previous Staris mower. Everything from the platform, handles, and deck adjustment are so much better.
Design cues were taken from the Lazer with additional attention paid to items like the fuel tank that features a fender-like sweep for a sleeker, more aesthetic look.
The mower is built with high-quality welded, heavy-duty 1.5″ x 2.5″ tubular steel and covered with a rust-inhibiting paint.
- Integrated engine and cutting deck.
- Excellent cut quality.
- Cutting speed and top-end speed.
- Zero-turning radius.
- Excellent steering and controllability.
- Heavy-duty construction.
- Ease of access to internal parts.
- 4-year, 1250-hour warranty.
- Mudflaps only cover part of the rear tires.
- It can be difficult to use at first if you’re not used to a stand-on mower.
- Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the “Wright” style controls
|Performance:||(4 / 5)|
|Cut Quality:||(4 / 5)|
|Durability:||(4 / 5)|
|Comfort:||(4 / 5)|
|Price:||(4 / 5)|
|Overall:||(4 / 5)|
The price is dependent on the model that you choose but expect to pay in the region of $11,000 for your S-Series mower. This is a competitive price with most others in the industry.
Wrapping It Up
That's our Exmark Vertex S-Series stand on mower review. The design team has done an excellent job of producing an efficient, quality machine with all the features one requires of a contractor's mower.
The stand-out feature is the integrated engine and cutting deck with a single point of cut height adjustment. This one feature results in improved cut quality as well as enhanced maneuverability.
With a reputation for innovation and improvement in the highly competitive professional turf care equipment industry, Exmark has created an impressive new product for the cost-conscious lawn care professional.
What do you think?
Now that you read this Exmark Vertex S-Series stand on mower review. Which Exmark Vertex S-Series model are you planning to get? Let us know in the comments!
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Images are from Exmark.
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