Rear engine riding mowers are the entry-level riding mower. Ranging in price from $700 to $3,500, they’ll cut your lawn twice as fast as a pushy and you won’t break a sweat. To choose which model is best for you is easy – we show you the 2 best models below.
Got a bad back? A bum knee? Buy a rear engine mower to avoid hassle and pain pushing a heavy mower around.
A rear engine mower’s deck is 1 – 2 foot skinnier than lawn tractors and zero turn mowers – making them more suited for fenced in backyards without wide entrance gates.
Simply put: these are riding lawn mowers with no “bells or whistles” they’re designed to offer you an easier mow without costing a fortune.
There’s 2 styles to choose from: battery powered or gas engine. Here’s the best of each:
Best Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Mower
Ryobi RY48111 38-Inch w/ 100 Ah (Battery Included)
We tested this riding mower for 4 hours last week mowing for just over 3 hours and doing other equipment testing for the other hour.
We are confident the best battery powered rear engine/battery mower is this model from Ryobi.
As you probably already know, Ryobi is a consumer brand of lawn, garden and power tools offered at big box stores like Home Depot and made by TTi Tools overseas. This has the advantage of hassle free warranty and return policy.
- Mow at least 2 acres on 1 battery charge. This 48V, 100Ah battery powered riding mower will mow for just over 2-hours on one charge. With a mower deck width of 38 inches and max mowing speed of 8.8 km/h you are mowing 1 acre in 40+ minutes or just over 2 acres before you need a battery charge.
- Zero maintenance. With battery power and 3 brushless electric motors there is nearly zero maintenance other than the cutting blades and general cleaning. Compare that with a gas engine requiring oil changes, new filters, a battery starter, winterization and the benefits of zero maintenance add up.
- Quiet. We loved mowing without the loud lawn mower engine. It makes enjoying mowing much easier and you feel much better enjoying your yard.
- Safer. Less moving parts and less noise means you will be more aware of your surrounds and there will be less lawn mowing accidents.
- Have to charge battery every 2 hours.
- Initial cost is nearly double.
Video Walk Around:
Here’s a video walk around of this Ryobi 100AH battery mower.
Who is this for?
- We think this Ryobi is best for people who have nagging injuries preventing them from mowing the lawn with a walk-behind mower. If you have a bad back or buggered knee then this Ryobi is great for your 0.5 – 2 acre lawn.
- If you live in close proximity to neighbours and want a more quiet and also smaller size riding mower then this Ryobi is perfect.
- If you have all other Ryobi tools and equipment and love the brand and reliability and are in the market for a battery riding mower then check out this Ryobi at the link below:
Best Gas Powered Rear Engine Riding Mower
Troy-Bilt 420cc Gas 30-Inch Wide 6-Speed Rear Engine Riding Mower
The best entry-level rear engine riding mower for most people is the 420cc Troy Bilt model.
It can mow at speeds of 1.5 to 4.25 mph, has splash lubrication, 14 gauge stamped steel deck, maintenance free sealed ball bearing in the deck spindles and electric start.
It’s 30-inch cut width and riding mower style means it’s the perfect backyard mower for easy Sunday mowing in the sun.
- Endless mowing as long as your have extra fuel. The main reason to get a gas rear engine ride-on is because you don’t want to be stopped mowing when you need to charge the battery.
- More HP to mow tougher grasses. Even though electric motors are better at providing torque when they are powered by a battery there is a limit to what HP electric motor can be on the mower while still making it practical for home owners. As such the small gas engines are more powerful to cut heavier, longer grasses.
- If you have a remote property and are on solar power it may be better to have a big jerry can instead of draining your solar powered batteries needed for you home.
- Fumes, smoke and noise.
- Extra maintenance.
Video Walk Around:
Here’s a walk around of this model. Note that this Troy Bilt is also sold under the Cub Cadet and Sears Craftsmen brands. Same mower, different sticker.
Who is this for?
- If you want a more affordable option then this is your best bet. It is the cheapest riding mower on the market and nearly half the cost of the above Ryobi.
- It has 30-inch mowing deck making it only 9 inches wider than a normal walk-behind mower. This mean it will be easy to store with under a cover in your garage and easy to get through gates into the back or side yards.
How To Choose Between Battery Electric and Gas Powered?
Rear engine riding mowers are already the most affordable riding mower style. But you can get an automatic (hydrostatic) transmission rear engine mower that approaches on and surpasses the most affordable lawn tractor mowers. However, for the ultimate in mower experience, if you want the skinnier deck width for easier manoeuvrability, then an auto transmission is a a great addition.
So how much are the different styles?
- The least expensive rear engine mower with auto transmission is $1,850.
- The middle of the pack rear engine mower price is $2,100.
- The most expensive battery ride on is $3,700
Ease of Use
These days all the rear engine ride-ons come with automatic transmission and are all easy to use and operate.
- Adjustable cutting heights
- Adjustable seat
- Automatic transmissions
The gas engine will require regular oil changes, air filter cleaning, spark plug replacement and carburettor cleaning.
The brushless induction electric motor requires no maintenance other than blades.
The gas engine is much louder than the electric motor.
If noise is a huge factor go with the battery powered ride-on.
Obviously the point of source emissions will be high for the gas engine and zero for the electric motor.
Other Models Considered
Snapper RE110 344cc 28 inch 11.5 hp Rear Engine Riding Mower
We took a good look at this rear engine ride-on mower but ultimately went with the Troy Bilt above for testing.
The Snapper is reviewed well and if you prefer the Snapper brand it is a good purchase.
Ultimately, Snapper Inc. ended up under the Briggs & Stratton umbrella. In 2019, Briggs went bankrupt and sold off all assets to KPS Capital Partners. Now Snapper only makes two lines of riding mowers not including this rear engine model. In other words, you can only buy it on the used market these days.
Cub Cadet CC30H 382cc Rear Engine Ride-on
We took a good look at the Cub Cadet CC30H model and thought it was a great mower but decided the Troy Bilt was the better option.
Cub Cadet is a company owned by Stanley Black & Decker and makes snow blowers and lawn mowers.
They were originally founded in 1960 as a tractor company and over many years have become a mainly riding mower company. They were long owned by MTD Products – a powerhouse in the lawn and garden equipment space. In 2021 MTD was fully acquired by Stanley Black & Decker.
Cub Cadet CC30E 56V 30Ah Battery Rear Engine Ride-on
Since acquisition by Stanley Black & Decker, Cub Cadet now offers a battery powered rear engine ride-on that lasts 1 hour on 1 charge. We love the idea behind it but they need to work on the batteries as the Ryobi recommended above last 2+ hours on 1 charge because they use 100Ah batteries.
A rear engine riding mower is an entry level ride-on mower perfect for yards up to 2 acres and especially perfect for yards with gates to get through.
To choose which one to buy decide between gas and electric.
The best gas rear engine mower is:
The best battery powered rear engine ride-on is:
Sources and Useful Links
1. Troy Bilt’s product page for the manual rear engine mower. I used this page to check the manual of the mower. Was curious if you could mow in forward and reverse.
2. This youtube video explains and shows what mower deck spindles look like and why they’re needed.
3. How long it takes to mow an acre article was reference. As well as the push mowers page to ensure correct deck widths were known.
4. Took a good look at the Snapper mowers to see if they were better than Troy Bilt or offered the best auto trans mower.