Lawn-tractor blades tend to cut most evenly when they're designed to either mulch, side-discharge or bag what you cut, not a combination of all three. Since changing blades is a hassle involving tools and tight maneuvering, some manufacturers offer blades intended for two or all three mowing modes but they don't cut as well. Husqvarna hopes to change that with its new Rapid Release Blade System.
At the annual Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo) in Kentucky, Husqvarna displayed the tool-free blade system the company initially debuted for three of its lawn tractors. The procedure requires only a few steps, and we judge it will take some practice before you can reach under your unit and install or remove a blade without looking. But the system makes it impossible to install a blade upside down. When you're installing it correctly, you'll feel magnets guiding the blade into place before you clip it down. Do it wrong, and the holes won't line up.
The lawn tractors that will first get Rapid Release will be the 46-inch YT46LS and the 54-inch GT54LS and YT54LS, three 2013 models with stamped decks. Next year, Husqvarna hopes to add the feature to its zero-turn-radius riders and tractors with fabricated decks. After that? It's too soon to tell, but Michael Jones, executive vice president and head of Americas sales for Husqvarna, told us the company is considering licensing the technology as a retrofit should competitors show interest.
Among other products, Husqvarna introduced models with all-wheel drive: the HU800AWD, a walk-behind mower that will sell at Lowe's and Husqvarna dealers for about $500, and a dealer-only zero-turn-radius rider, $5,300.