Honda Select Drive

oillogger

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I am very interested in purchasing a Honda HRX217 mower. The only issue I have is it has Honda's Select Drive. I already own a Honda HRR216 and am fond of the Honda Smart Drive system. I rather have the Smart Drive from the Honda HRN217 on the Honda HRX217 than the Select Drive the HRX217 now comes with. After looking at the Select Drive mechanism a while I am wondering if you could cut off the downward wingtips tips of the V shaped Select Drive engagement lever (GRIP, CLUTCH (UPPER)) , turn the speed control all the way up, and basically end up with basically a smart drive system. Is this an crazy idea or am I on to something? Also, after looking at the parts diagrams of the HRX217 and the HRR216 it appears it may be possible to just swap out the parts as the top end of the connecting cable looks to be the exact same. Fellows, please let me know what you think.
 

gotomow

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Why are you interested in the HRX217? Maybe it's not worth the trouble
 

oillogger

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I have been looking at the Toro Super Recycler 21382 with the Honda engine also but leaning towards the Honda HRX217 more so. Back story. I purchased a Toro Recycler with a B&S engine and it lasted about 7 years then I purchased another Toro Recycler which lasted 2 years until the Tecumseh engine gave out. In 2006 I purchased another Toro Recycler. In 2008 after Hurricane Gustav I cleaned up my yard and was left with clumps of leaves so I was going to use my mower to finish cleaning up the yard. Made it about 20 feet before the drive system locked up. It appeared the transmission was locked up. Tired after three days of cleaning up after the hurricane and still a large tree to remove, I went to the local HD to buy another Toro Recycler with the thought in mind my other one if not fixable without great expense would become a parts hound for the new one. At HD I told the worker the problems I was having with Toro mowers. He stopped and insisted I try the Honda HRR216 and offered $50 off. I struggled with the decision but ended up with the Honda. The Honda worked like a champ cleaning up my yard. A couple of weeks later I fixed the Toro which ended up the drive belt being off the pulley and jamming the drive system. The issue was hidden under the belt guard and fixing it was a bit of an song and dance due to the way the mower was constructed. From that point on I have cut my yard for the last 12 years alternating between the Honda and the Toro cutting the grass about 40 times a year. When you live in the humid South near the coast your grass will usually get cut during the winter months. Over those 12 years my Toro Recycler has has the rear wheels($45) with the plastic gears replaced three times, pull cord replaced, pull spring replaced, engine stop cable replaced, replaced the bag, and drive belt replaced. For the last four years the Toro requires a routine to start it. You pull back on the engine stop level 40-60 times to wear off the corrosion on the contacts and bounce the front wheels once to unstick the governor. The engine stop contacts have been cleaned and greased which did not last long and you have to remove two engine covers to get to it. (11/06/20) I noticed the Toro has a rust hole in the deck. I will say it took two years longer for the Toro to have a hole in the deck. I live in a high humidity area with a good bit of rain. In the meantime the Honda HRR216 has worked without any repairs until this year. The deck on the Honda developed a couple of quarter inch holes about six inches in front of the engine. I buffed off the paint around the holes on both sides and used JB Weld to patch the deck. (12/26/20) I noticed my Honda HRR216 has 5 more small holes on either side of where I repaired the original holes with JB Weld. The deck is rusting thru in a semi circle on the front part of the deck where the last couple of inches of the blade rotates underneath the deck. I use my mowers at the lowest setting and the Honda has always pulled much better and suck up the grass way better than the Toro. Both the my Toro and Honda have had at times the wheels lock up when pulling the mower backwards. The Toro did it a little more and both now only do it occasionally.

My Opinion Only Honda HRX217VKA vs Honda HRN216VKA vs Toro Super Recycler 21382 (updated 12/26/20)

1. Engine - Honda stronger 200cc new design larger engine vs Honda 170cc 10% stronger new design engine vs Toro older Honda design 160cc engine - 1-HRX217, 2-HRN216, 3-Toro SR

2. Deck Material - Plastic$$ vs Steel$ vs Aluminum$$ - Aluminum will eventually corrode, the plastic will stain from gas spillage, not sure which is stronger or better, steel rusts - 1-2-Tied-HRX217 & Toro SR, 3-HRN216

3. Double blade vs single blade vs single blade - Honda chops better, Toro blades from experience require more sharpening - Tied-HRX217 & HRN216, 3 -Toro SR

4. Select Drive vs Smart Drive vs Personal Pace - Set/adjustable Select Drive, adjustable Smart Drive, Personal Pace, the harder you push the faster it goes - 1-HRN216, 2&3-tied-HRX217 & Toro SR

5. Drive train system reliability personal experience - had better luck with Honda since the belt has jumped off the rear pully twice on the Toro - 1&2-tied-HRX217 & HRN216, 3-Toro SR

6. Bagging - Honda handles wet grass better, sucks up the grass better, and holds more grass than Toro - 1&2-tied-HRX217 & HRN216, 3-Toro SR

7. Wheels - Independent wheel adjustment vs two wheels at a time - Do not feel the two system will be as level - 1&2-tied-HRX217 & Toro SR, 3-HRN216

8. Wheel size - 9" vs 8" vs 8" - prefer 9" -1-HRX217, 1&3-tied Toro SR &HRN216

9. Wheel bearings - All wheels vs back-bearing & front sleeve vs sleeve only - 1-HRX217, 2-HRN216, 3-Toro SR

10. Axle - Sleeve with dust shield vs sleeve with dust shield vs bearings with grease nipples - 1-Toro SR, 2&3-tied-HRX217 & Hrn216

11. Warranty - 5 year vs 3 year vs 5 years - 1&2-tied-HRX217 & Toro SR, 3-HRN216

12. Discharge - Rear vs Rear vs Side - 1&2-tied-HRX217 & HRN216, 3-Toro SR

13. Price - $620 vs $410 vs $600 - Difference mostly about deck material for me - 1-HRN216, 2-Toro SR, 3-HRX217 - $200 less for HRN216 goes a long ways paying for maintenance & repairs

14. Cut closeness to front and sides - HRX217 front wheels out further and sides a tad wider - 1&2-tied-HRN216 & Toro SR, 3-HRX217

15. Bag installation - Honda bag ears face inward and mower slots clog with grass, Toro bag ears face outward with no clogging of slots but in the way for dumping into garbage bags - 1-Toro SR, 2&3-tied-HRX217 & HRN216

16. Bag endurance - Longer life vs longer life still fine vs shorter life 9 years - 1&2-tied-HRX217&HRN216, 3-Toro

17. Mulching - lever variable mulch/bag vs lever mulch/bag vs plug(side wing for side discharge) - 1-Toro SR, 2-HRX217, 3-HRN216 (Ranking is based upon several video reviews between Honda and Super Recycler)

18. Weight - 89 vs 79 vs 85 pounds - All within 10 pounds, not a big consideration since I will not be transporting the mower - 1-HRN216, 2-Toro SR, 3-HRX217

19. Adding Fuel - Wide opening vs wide opening vs smaller opening and vent tube slowing down fueling - 1&2-tied-HRX217 & HRN216, 3-Toro

20. Repair Record - Personal experience of 12 year comparing Honda HRR216 to Toro Personal Pace - 1-Honda, 2-Toro (Toro had numerous repairs whereas Honda only one)

I have relied heavily upon my personal side by side 12 year experience between a Honda HRR216 and a Toro Recycler, humid climate, 45-60 minute grass cutting, almost always bag, cut at the lowest setting, maintenance of fuel/oil/filter/parts only, and extensive search of internet information and reviews. Probably missing quite a few points and would welcome any comments good or bad to help me decide. Thanks to gotomow for helping me get my facts straight!
The Honda HRN216 information was provided as a reference only and the tally currently is:
Wins - Honda HRX217VKA 10 wins vs Toro Super Recycler 21382 6 wins
Ties 4 - HondaHRX217vsToro 21382
 
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oillogger

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I may have discovered the solution for my issue with Honda Select Drive. I always interpreted the way Select Drive worked was to set the speed and when engaged that is what you got. No more, no less. From the Honda manual it appears there is some leeway in the set speed of a little above and below which may be all I really need. They say you can push the Select Drive control a little further into the mower handle for extra torque which relates to extra speed on a flat surface and reduce the ground speed by partially releasing the Select Drive control. This may be enough of a controllable variance in speed for me. If I end up pulling the plug on a HRX217 with Select Drive I may toy later with the idea of cutting off the downward ears of the Select Drive control lever.

I use to love the Toro Personal Pace system but after 12 years of side by side of comparison to the Honda Smart Drive I like the Smart Drive system better. For the Toro Personal Pace system to work you actually have to provide a small amount of pushing pressure and increase it for increased speed so you are actually helping to push the mower. I have always noticed this old man(me) was less tired after cutting the same centipede yard for 12 years with the Honda HRR216 than the Toro Personal Pace Recycler. When the humidity is 70-80% and the weather guy says it feels like somewhere over 100 F it makes a real difference how hard your mower works you.
 
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gotomow

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The SuperRecycler has real grease-able bearings on all 4 corners making it more robust and easier to move than my HRX217. I fitted the blue traction handle that is on the AWD and Timemaster so I can switch between personal pace and hand control operation. If Honda ever offers a mower that eliminates the plastic bushings on their drive train maybe
I'll take a look at it. I appreciate your answer and enjoy your new Honda!

. SD532924.JPG
 

oillogger

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The SuperRecycler has real grease-able bearings on all 4 corners making it more robust and easier to move than my HRX217. I fitted the blue traction handle that is on the AWD and Timemaster so I can switch between personal pace and hand control operation. If Honda ever offers a mower that eliminates the plastic bushings on their drive train maybe
I'll take a look at it. I appreciate your answer and enjoy your new Honda!

. View attachment 54667
Thanks for letting me know about the grease nipples on the wheels. That is a real plus! The Toro drawings appear to show only sleeves for the wheels so it looked like the wheels did not have ball bearings. For the Honda where are the plastic bushings? I have never seen any on the Honda I have now but also have not really looked for them. I have taken a rear wheel off my Honda. I'm still trying to figure out which one I want and your input has been very helpful.
 
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gotomow

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The drive shaft on both the front and rear is supported with ball bearings on the Toro. On the Honda the drive shaft is supported with plastic bushings. The stub axles off the adjuster on the Honda run to the wheels which do have bearings.
IMHO a lot of the Honda's extra cc's enable it to overcome the extra friction that occurs with the bushings.
However if you are happy with the Honda, great. It's definitely good to go with that.
 

oillogger

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The drive shaft on both the front and rear is supported with ball bearings on the Toro. On the Honda the drive shaft is supported with plastic bushings. The stub axles off the adjuster on the Honda run to the wheels which do have bearings.
IMHO a lot of the Honda's extra cc's enable it to overcome the extra friction that occurs with the bushings.
However if you are happy with the Honda, great. It's definitely good to go with that.
gotomow, Thanks bunches for your replies. You are slowly turning me back towards the Super Recycler with a Honda engine. So if I understand what you said correctly, the Toro Super Recycler should have bearings on all wheels and the rear drive shaft. whereas the Honda HRX217 has bearings on all wheels but uses a plastic sleeve for the drive shaft as it passes thru the mower deck. I will change the oil, grease the wheels, sharpen the blade, change the air filter, and only use real gas with fuel stabilizer added. What I will not do is clean the mower. Where I live there will be wet grass stuck to the underside of the the mower deck. Will this cause an aluminum deck to corrode? The steel deck on my 14 year old Toro is holding up better than my 12 year old Honda that this year had rust holes. FYI, the Honda HRN216 is not in the running because of the steel deck and the paired wheel adjustments is much easier to have the far side off in height from bouncing on rough terrain.

i keep updating my list to reflect what you have said.
 

oillogger

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I have updated my pros and cons list and ranking due to additional information I have received. I am still leaning towards the Honda HRX217 instead of the Toro 21382 Super Recycler. I normally(Honda better) bag and rarely mulch(Toro better). Aluminum will eventually corrode if grass is left stuck to the deck and I only do preventative maintenance on the motor. I think I like the Honda drive system better, The Honda engine on the Honda is more powerful than the Honda engine on the Toro,.
 

gotomow

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I think you're going to like the HRX. My issues with mine were that it was very hard to pull back on when trimming. But if you didn't have that trouble with your HRR, then you should be fine. The Honda is more susceptible in dusty conditions which sounds like you don't have. The other reason my HRX was aggravating me was it was very hard to restart when the engine was warm in cold weather. When it came time for leaf pickup here in michigan its often cold.
Be aware that changing the belt on the HRX is an involved process and not at all like the HRR. Give yourself more than a few minutes.
 
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