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Mowers: rear wheel drive, or front wheel drive? And what does low wheel variable

Howdy, Forums.


Craig here, from the Apron blog. Reader MaryAnne was reading a post we wrote a while back pointing out some of the recognized best lawn mowers we carry at The Home Depot. That prompted her questions about self-propelled mowers.


"Which is better rear wheel or front wheel drive? Also, what does low wheel variable mean, I know it has variable speed, but what does the "low wheel" part indicate?"


Those are some pretty good questions. Experts, what do you say?

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Posted 2012-07-09T20:53:55+0000  by HomeDepotCraig HomeDepotCraig

Howdy MaryAnne,


Choosing a lawnmower can seem a bit of a mystery at first. With just a little bit of information you can make that decision easier.


The two basic kinds or lawmowers are the front or rear wheel drive. 


1) A front wheel drive system is great to flat yards as when you are going up an incline you might need to lift the front wheels off the grounds slightly, taking the propel system out of the equation. A front wheel drive is also particularly effective on lawns which require a lot of turning. 


2) a rear wheel drives are good for  to both flat and uneven surfaces. They are slightly less effective on yards requiring a lot of turning because they are propelled by the rear wheels. However you should choose a rear drive every time if you are planning to go up hill or work on slopes.


As for "low wheel variable" vs "high wheel variable", this is the size of the rear wheels. The low wheels make almost flat lawns a breeze for mowing.


low wheel (400x300).jpg     

 The high wheels are best for lawns with lot's of hills so the blades do not scalp the lawn.

                                                                     highwheel (259x194).jpg


Choosing the lawnmower that is best for you isn't as difficult as you can see.


Either way your better off than the one I used when growing up.




Happy Gardening,



Posted 2012-07-09T23:02:23+0000  by Dave_HD_OC

Ha! You're funny CoachDave. You're so sentimental about your old reel mower that you have a photo of it. I imagine you carry it in your wallet. 


Speaking of low rear wheel vs. high rear wheel, is it fair to say that small wheels in back make the mower easier to turn, compared to large wheels in back? Or am I mowing up a dead end? 


Posted 2012-07-10T18:38:16+0000  by HomeDepotCraig

Hey HomeDepotCraig.


As CoachDave mentioned, the advantage of a larger rear wheel is in its ability to roll over uneven terrain with less deck movement than a smaller wheel can.  Thus scalping is minimized.


From an engineering standpoint, smaller rear wheels are more maneuverable.  The larger the rear wheel, the farther back and up the rear axle pivot point must be, all other things being equal.  As such an operator will have less leverage to lift the mower off its front wheels and turn.  So it is fair to say that the small wheels in back will make the mower easier to turn.


In practice, I don't find this to be much of an issue.  All small gasoline mowers are easy to lift and turn.

Your mileage may vary though...


I hope this helps,





Posted 2012-07-10T19:15:23+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Hi Dave, Chris and especially Craig!

As a mower proceeds up an incline, the weight balance of the mower shifts toward the rear wheels. That shifts the weight away from the front wheels.

Rear drive on a lawnmower gives the mower superior traction every time you need the extra traction. 

Conversely, front drive mowers lose traction as the weight shifts rearward. This weight shift also happens as the bag fills with grass clippings.  

Most drive systems are variable speed, so the problem of unwanted wheel spin can be controlled by slowing the drive as you maneuver the mower. 

The best mowers will be equipped with rear wheel drive.


Posted 2018-08-22T14:28:55+0000  by Travis_HD_ATL
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