The History of the Zero Turn Radius Motor

Zero turn mowers comparison

Zero-Turn-Radius or ZTR Mowers are some of the best lawn mowers for landscapers and homeowners looking for something fast and maneuverable that can get around many different obstacles.

Instead of a wheel and pedals like many ride on lawn mowers, commercial and residential zero turn mowers are steered using a pair of levers that allow riders to navigate easily around trees, flower beds and landscaping. Though ZTR mowers may not be able to tackle the variety of tasks that other riding lawn mowers like tractors would, they make for dramatically reduced cutting times.

Zero turn riding lawn mowers were invented by John Regier in 1963. Regier was employed by the Hesston Corporation, a farm and agricultural equipment manufacturer, when inspiration hit. A new device called a swather had just been engineered by his company. The Swather used a series of belts to propel itself forward, cutting alfalfa, hey and other materials and laying them in rows.

Regier was particularly struck by the machines belts and pulleys, which allowed for counter-rotation that current riding lawn mowers were not capable of. He took the idea home and used it to create a mower that could make zero-degree turns.

Though he tried to sell the invention himself, customers were largely baffled by the technology he was offering, and he didn’t make much money off his creation. Eventually, the patent went to Hesston anyway, which would go on to become Excel Industries. Regier rejoined the company after he sold the patent, and the mower was eventually released from an Excel sub-company, Hustler Turf, as the Hustler.

The Hustler was the first zero-turn mower on the market, but Grasshopper Motors was the first company to introduce a commercially viable ZTR mower in 1969, and the term was actually coined by Dixon in with the release of it’s first ZTR mower in 1974.

In 1997, the technology would be updated by Robert D. Davis Jr. when he obtained a patent for a new type of ZTR steering control.

Right now, more than three dozen companies have zero turn mowers for sale with a wide array of customizable features and accessories.
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