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Is the brand new Scag 21” Commercial push mower the right mower for you and your business?
Is the brand new Scag 21” Commercial push mower the right mower for you and your business? Coming off the heels of their brand new and out-of-the-box commercial 30” walk-behind mower released last year, Scag is dropping the SFC-21 which is a brand new 21” commercial walk-behind. How does this new mower compare to the rest of the mowers out there? Toro, Honda, Exmark, and Snapper all have 21” commercial grade mowers. So should we be paying attention to this new Scag? We’ll dive into that, as well as a complete spec comparison with the existing players currently on the market.
Scag brought two prototypes of their new SFC-21 mower to the 2022 Equip Convention. If you don’t know, the Equip Convention, formerly known as GIE, is the largest lawn and landscape equipment convention in the US (maybe the universe 🪐). All of the major manufacturers are unveiling all of their newest technology and equipment. Scag’s simple and extremely practical mower was largely overshadowed by all the fancy new battery-powered zero-turn mowers. Dewalt’s prototype hybrid sit/stand battery-powered mower was probably the hottest 🔥topic on the show floor this year by a long shot. However, I would argue that this new Scag 21” commercial mower is a much more essential and valuable piece of equipment for most lawn and landscape operators.
The most exciting thing about this mower is the engine. Scag picked out a 7hp / 11ft-lbs of torque Kohler for its 30” mower, then went “full send” and put that same beast of an engine on the 21”! It’s honestly in a league of its own. This thing was made for cruising through tall grass without bogging down. Most other 21” commercial mowers are shipping with a much lower spec’d Kawasaki FJ180v KAI or the Honda GXV160. Neither of these engines comes close to the power plant on the Scag. If you’re more concerned about fuel efficiency than pure raw grass blade slashing power, you can be boring and get it with a slightly smaller 5hp Kohler.
Looking at the Scag 21” mower, it won’t strike you as anything fancy. In fact, its design is almost dull. Upon closer inspection, though, you’ll notice that the deck is deep, spectacularly deep. The Scag engineer we spoke with said this deck is at the absolute limits of what stamped steel can tolerate before becoming compromised (what is shown here is a welded deck prototype, but the production version will be stamped steel). However, they wanted to push what was possible because this deep deck, combined with that incredibly torquey Kohler engine, should demolish tall grass. In a mulching situation, the deep deck allows for more grass to circulate. In addition, with the rear discharge adapter, the grass can clear out faster than traditional deck designs. Both situations mean speedier cuts and more efficiency overall.
Scag also put some helpful features that aren’t readily apparent. The first is that it has a blade clutch separate from the engine start/stop switch. This means you can let go of the handle to move aside those pesky kids' toys that your clients left out, and your engine will continue to run. Many commercial mowers have this feature, but not all do. Saving just a few minutes per yard by not pulling that cord to restart your mower over and over is very important for a high-efficiency business.
To be fair, it is not a perfect mower. That deep steel deck and high horsepower engine add weight. The Scag SFC-21 is probably one of the heaviest, if not the heaviest, 21” mowers out there. When I’m “mowin’ and goin’”, I want to be able to whip those 21” mowers around as fast as possible and extra weight could mean more fatigue. I’m also not a massive fan of the throttle and speed controls either. The levers look like they could easily get caught on branches or bushes, but again, this is a prototype and the engineer who designed it said those would get switched. Time will tell if these get bent or broken regularly. I would also prefer a removable plate to side-discharge instead of the rear discharge adapter. I have long strides, and I always kick the rear-discharge ones. However, except for the Snapper, no other commercial 21” mower has side discharge.
The big question on everyone’s mind is, “how much will it cost?” At the time of publishing this article we hadn’t yet received finalized numbers, but the Scag 21” commercial mower with the bigger 224cc engine is expected to run just under $2,000 MSRP. The same frame with the smaller power plant is expected to be around the $1,700 range. These prices are well within the expected range for a nice commercial 21 inch mower. Considering how much Scag is selling the 30 inch walk-behind for, I expected this to be more expensive than it is.
Will this new entry from Scag unseat the reigning champ of 21” mowers? I’m not going to call this one yet. Namely, because the models we tested at Equip 22 were pre-production prototypes. We are planning a full review and comparison once we can get our hands on a production mower that doesn’t have the blade clutch disengaged (they do this for the demos at trade shows). However, until then we have the few minutes we were able to test it to go off of.
There are rumors that Honda is leaving the lawn equipment market altogether, which, before the Scag, would have left only 3 commercial mowers to choose from. Toro has their 21" Commercial Heavy-Duty. Exmark has the Commercial 21 X-Series. Snapper has the downright ancient but reliable 21” Commercial Hi-Vac and Ninja to choose from. Compared to the Snapper 21” Hi-vac Commercial, the Scag is in a whole separate league. The Snapper retails for around $1200 with the Honda GXV160. The Honda engine plus some metal wheels is all that really sets it apart from its residential version. The Toro and Exmark are more similar in price to the Scag, but both only include the Kawasaki FJ180v. That engine was generally accepted as “fine” for 21” self propelled commercial mowers until Scag dropped the news that they were pulling out the stops and putting a monster motor on their commercial 21. We will have to wait and see if the competition responds. I think they’ll have to. Toro and Exmark have also made different design decisions on the deck. Both opted for a cast aluminum deck. There are pros and cons to this decision for sure, and really, it comes down to personal preference.
Well as of the writing of this article you can’t. Yet. Scag expects to release the mower in time for the spring cutting season of 2023. If you’re reading this later and your Scag dealer has this mower in stock then I would absolutely recommend it as a top contender. I’m not sure the new Scag 21” is so much better that you need to set your old Toros on fire and replace them. However, if you are in the market for a new commercial push mower for your business, I think it would be a fantastic small-lot, backyard-gate-killer mower, to add to your fleet. As always, dealer support is of utmost importance and probably needs to carry more weight in your decision than any other factor. I have every expectation that this thing will slay and I’m very anxious to push this mower with the big boy engine on some tall wet grass to see how the mower performs so I can make a solid recommendation. Stay tuned!