Out with the old, in with the new!

cruzenmike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Threads
38
Messages
693
Good Morning All.

Sold my HRS215K5PKA to get a HRS216K6VKA.

Updates from the K5 to the K6 include an adjustable, folding handle and a 1/2" higher cut. The difference in the PKA and VKA models is the self propelled drive system. I was injured in an automobile accident in 2018 and am still not healed; the changes in the handle and drive system will make it easier for me to mow. Until recently I was dead set on getting an HRX217 but to be honest I am NOT a fan of the Select Drive system. Also, I primarily use this for a trim mower on my acre or so of grass and the HRX is much too pretty of a machine to get beat up shoving it up pine trees and what not.

Plans for this mower include:
- Ensuring/setting up engine RPM to the correct 3,100 +/- 150
- Swap over to high lift blade as I only side discharge
- Front wheel ball bearing conversion
- HRC air cleaner upgrade

I am quite certain that this new mower will only exceed my expectations.
 

cruzenmike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Threads
38
Messages
693
Just finished using the mower for the first time. I cut my 1 acre lawn and in doing so cut the back yard twice. I thought I would give some initial impressions of the machine based on my experience. I have broken this down into overall build quality, mowing performance, pros and cons.

Overall Build Quality:

I am a bit biased in this regard because I LOVE Honda mowers and truly believe them to be the best on the market. That is not to say that they have every feature, or that they are exceptional in all areas of what a mower can do, but overall they are good machines. As for the HRS216K6VKA, the overall build quality seems to be Fair to Good but not Excellent. The one piece metal shell which makes the deck and holds the engine could be a bit more rigid. I noticed that the opposite front wheel lifts when pushing the handle bar down from just one side. This flex is also noticeable when walking with it across flat cement; one wheel will go into and come out of contact with the ground as your arms/hands are bobbing on the handle. This does not affect the performance of the mower, just surprising considering that some lesser expensive mowers do not have this problem. At the same time, this mower is also quite light so the trade-off might be for increased maneuverability. I also had this same problem with my older HRS, the front wheels do not have bearings. The front wheels do cause noticeable drag when pushing. So much so that other mowers without bearings in any of the wheels still push easier (e.g. Toro Super Recycler). Lastly, I have noticed that when engaging the transmission to propel the mower, it will some times make a clunking noise. This may just be an issue of adjusting the drive cable, or it could be something else. I will look into this and report back if this becomes an actual problem or if I can resolve the issue.

Mowing Performance:

The HRS comes with a 2-1 blade made for either mulching or side discharge. While the blade does not have a wavy design, nor does it have a high lift sail, it does not excel in either mulching or side discharge. This mower has 3 different blade setup options: the original 2-1, high lift or Quadra-cut double blade. Due to the recent rains and lack of mowing I opted for the high lift blade and side discharge for the clippings. In thick, lush grass, the mower seemed to cut nicely, throwing clippings out far enough to clear the deck and did not miss any blades of grass. I did however notice that in areas where the grass was shorter and there were many tall dandelion stems, it would push the dandelion down and would miss cutting it. This might be due to the lift of the blade not being able to overcome the weight of the dandelion stem. DISCLAIMER, I am also mowing at 3.5-4" which lends itself to a little less lift since the deck is so far off the ground. When I was finished mowing the area of my lawn with the longest grass (~5-6" tall), I swapped over to the original 2-1 blade and closed off the chute to mulch the long clippings that were laying on top of the grass. After a second pass in mulching mode I was able to hide the formerly visible clippings. The overall cut and finish of the lawn was satisfactory. I will admit that I am now interested to see how the Quadra-cut setup works since it is a combination of the high lift blade with the extra blade on top making 4 cutting surfaces.

Pros:

- Engine starts with ease. I was able to get my wife outside and teach her how to cut the lawn. She had no problems at all starting it. I did even notice that when warmed up it would start with even less effort than when it was cold.
- Engine is fuel efficient. This mower has a .25 gallon fuel tank and I was able to cut nearly half an acre on one tank of gas.
- Mower is lightweight. Coming from the manual push HRS I noticed no difference in maneuverability and when compared to the HRX it is easier to get around and under obstacles.

Cons:

- Front wheels do not have bearings. Surprising omission from a $429 2-1 mower.
- Handle lacks 3 height adjustments found on the HRX, albeit the HRR and HRN only have two adjustments as well. it would just be nice since my wife is much shorter than I.
- Shell could be more rigid.

Overall I am neither impressed, nor am I disappointed with the mower. I could have certainly spent less, or had 3-1 capabilities with a HRN model or comparable Toro, but I wanted a Honda engine first and foremost, and rear wheel drive for the few hills and inclines that I mow on. When I narrowed down all of my needs and wants, this mower was the most logical choice.
 

cruzenmike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Threads
38
Messages
693
Yesterday I decided to start off with some trim mowing on a berm that has some pine trees in it. I had the deck height set to 3" and during the cut I accidentally hit a mound of dirt and bent my new high lift blade. I still had a lot of mowing to do so I put the original 2-1 blade on so that I could finish the berm and the rest of my front yard. 20,000 steps later and I am done. At this point I estimate that I have about 5 hours on the HRS so I decided to do the first oil change. Before that, I will point out some observations. The 2-1 blade is noticeably quieter than the high lift blade as to be expected, and while reducing the blade's lift there was also noticeably less discharge velocity and more clippings packed to the underside of the deck. I normally wouldn't use the 2-1 blade for the type of mowing that I was doing, but I needed to finish and it was the only working blade that I had. Now on to the oil change. I am a bit OCD when it comes to equipment maintenance. With the machine still warm I drained out the original 10w30 oil that was supplied with the mower. I have seen many complaints about the oil coming out of Honda mowers having a very lustrous appearance and I can tell you from my experience with 3 Honda mowers and a Honda single stage snowblower, they have all done this on the first oil change. These are all aluminum engines and it is to be expected that very small aluminum particles will make their way into the oil on the first change or two. Anyway, a couple days ago I picked up a quart of Honda SAE30 oil from my local dealer. I always do a flush of the engine when changing the oil. Since the GCV160 takes only about 16oz of oil in a change, why not use whole quart and do a flush and change at the same time? During the warm up with the flush oil, I decided to check and adjust the engine RPM. I had set the RPM at ~3,250 out of the box in an effort to get the BTS as close to 19,000 while still being within the operating range of the engine. I decided after I bent the blade on the mower that I was going to try out the double blade Quadracut setup so I adjusted the RPM down to ~3,000-3,150 since these engines lose torque as they gain horsepower and the double blade setup will not only be heavier but will be making 4 cuts at once instead of two. I also took this time to adjust the Smart Drive controls again. I adjusted them the first time from memory (as I recalled from doing on my HRX) and I realized on the second adjustment that I had not positioned the handle correctly. The manual also offers two different ways to adjust the drive controls so I opted for adjusting to complete lockup and then backing up the adjuster 8 complete revolutions. From what I can tell, this has resolved my issue with the clunking sound that I was hearing before. After that I drained the flush oil and topped the engine off with the remainder of the quart of SAE30, checked and brushed off the air cleaner, and put the mower away for the night.

This afternoon I set out to cut just my back yard with the new Quadracut blades on. This is the 3rd time that I have cut this area this week, but given the rain that we have had, the grass needed it. I had the deck set at 4" when doing this cut; I will note that on this mower, the cutting height is actually 1/4" lower when using the double blade setup. What I observed with the Quadracut blades is that while the discharge velocity is not quite as good as the high lift blade (and yes I know I just slowed the engine down a bit), I did notice that the clippings were noticeably smaller as stated in Honda's marketing information. I did also notice that the added weight of the blades and possibly the extra work needed by the engine to turn them did force me to slow my walking down a bit in order to process the clippings being removed from the turf. In the end this proved to be okay as the final result of the cut was more than acceptable. I only saw small amounts of visible clippings in the really heavy growth areas like where my septic drains and where the downspout from my gutter empties. I do not know for certain as to whether not not I will try the Quadracut blades with the chute closed off, but my feelings are that the mulching performance might suffer slightly as the bottom high lift blade will work against a closed off deck when they are normally meant for discharge and bag applications. One other thing to note is that the Quadracut blades have cutting edges that are directly above each other. The last two generations of the HRR mower and all generations of the HRX with the MicroMulch blades have a bottom cutting edge that is raked back from the top blade's cutting edge. I have never been able to confirm whether or not HRX blades will actually fit or work on my mower, but it might be worth picking up a set of blades to give it a try.

Lastly, I have included some pictures of the various blades that are available for this mower. There is a picture of the blade that I bent hitting the dirt mound and also a picture of my back yard after I finished cutting it today. Please do not judge the crooked lines or the strange coloring of my lawn; this is over a rather uneven septic field.


2in1 vs High Lift.JPGQuadracut Double Blades.JPGNew vs Bent High Lift.JPGBack Yard HRS Quadracut.JPG
 

cruzenmike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Threads
38
Messages
693
Well, I think this may be my last post on this thread. I have one final update on the mower and the blade setup. Following the 1/3 rule, I was ready to cut my front and back yard again today. Here is a breakdown of both areas, how I had the mower set up and what my experiences were:

Back Yard

The mower was set at 4" with the Quadracut double blades on and mulching blocker down. This is the first time that I have tried this setup and all that I can say is BLOWOUT, BLOWOUT, BLOWOUT!!! Clippings were coming out from everywhere and by the time I was finished there were handfuls laying on top of the mower deck. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was not certain as to how well this setup would work due to the presence of a high lift blade on the bottom. As I suspected, the deck was not capable of keeping the clippings inside and dropping them back down like a low lift or wavy mulcher would. With the exception of a really tall dandelion stem, this is the only time that I was actually seeing blades of grass being missed by the deck, even when moving a bit slow in the dense areas. Honda markets this as "The exclusive twin-blade QuadraCut System™ that uses four cutting surfaces for superior mulching and bagging." Owning an HRX with the MicroMulch system (also double blace), I can attest to the great bagging capabilities and I am sure that the Quadracut blades on the K1-K8 HRR series of mowers probably bag well too, but I do not see how these blades can provide superior mulching in a closed off deck like that of the HRS.

Front Yard

The mower was set at 3" with just the high lift blade and discharge chute on. The mower worked near flawlessly with the clippings being thrown out 3-4 feet from the mower and leaving only small amounts of visible clippings laying on top of the turf. I did have to slow down a few times where the turf was really dense, but in the instances where I kept moving along at full speed it seemed to have no issues. I could certainly hear the engine tying to keep up with the grass being cut, but no blades of grass were being missed. I also passed over a couple dozen pine cones with the mower and it broke them down into respectable pieces. By the time I was finishing up the front yard I had been running the mower for nearly 100 minutes and did start to notice a bit of fatigue in the Smart Drive Transmission. I never had this issue with the Smart Drive system on my HRX, but then again I do not think that I ever ran it for that long in one single cut. Since I do not plan to cut in long sessions like this much longer I am not going to worry too much about it. Besides, there is plenty of adjustment left in the cable if it needs to be tightened up.

So, in conclusion, a few final words on the Honda HRS mower. It is a bit pricey, but with proper care and maintenance it should last many years. The engine is quiet, smooth, durable and more than capable of powering this mower through various turf conditions found in SE Michigan. The build quality is pretty good, but does leave a little room for improvement. I honestly do not think that you will find any push mower that is perfect in every way at the $400 price point. Lastly, if you are going to be using any HRS mower to mulch, stick with the factory installed 2-1 blade and be sure to keep to the 1/3 rule. If you are going to do any side discharging with the mower, do yourself a favor and get the optional high lift blade, part number 72511-VE1-020.

I hope that sharing my experience with this mower will help someone on here in either making up their mind to buy or not buy a Honda HRS216VKA.

Thank you.

Mike
 

logert gogert

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Threads
15
Messages
459
HRS216K6VKA
Yesterday I decided to start off with some trim mowing on a berm that has some pine trees in it. I had the deck height set to 3" and during the cut I accidentally hit a mound of dirt and bent my new high lift blade. I still had a lot of mowing to do so I put the original 2-1 blade on so that I could finish the berm and the rest of my front yard. 20,000 steps later and I am done. At this point I estimate that I have about 5 hours on the HRS so I decided to do the first oil change. Before that, I will point out some observations. The 2-1 blade is noticeably quieter than the high lift blade as to be expected, and while reducing the blade's lift there was also noticeably less discharge velocity and more clippings packed to the underside of the deck. I normally wouldn't use the 2-1 blade for the type of mowing that I was doing, but I needed to finish and it was the only working blade that I had. Now on to the oil change. I am a bit OCD when it comes to equipment maintenance. With the machine still warm I drained out the original 10w30 oil that was supplied with the mower. I have seen many complaints about the oil coming out of Honda mowers having a very lustrous appearance and I can tell you from my experience with 3 Honda mowers and a Honda single stage snowblower, they have all done this on the first oil change. These are all aluminum engines and it is to be expected that very small aluminum particles will make their way into the oil on the first change or two. Anyway, a couple days ago I picked up a quart of Honda SAE30 oil from my local dealer. I always do a flush of the engine when changing the oil. Since the GCV160 takes only about 16oz of oil in a change, why not use whole quart and do a flush and change at the same time? During the warm up with the flush oil, I decided to check and adjust the engine RPM. I had set the RPM at ~3,250 out of the box in an effort to get the BTS as close to 19,000 while still being within the operating range of the engine. I decided after I bent the blade on the mower that I was going to try out the double blade Quadracut setup so I adjusted the RPM down to ~3,000-3,150 since these engines lose torque as they gain horsepower and the double blade setup will not only be heavier but will be making 4 cuts at once instead of two. I also took this time to adjust the Smart Drive controls again. I adjusted them the first time from memory (as I recalled from doing on my HRX) and I realized on the second adjustment that I had not positioned the handle correctly. The manual also offers two different ways to adjust the drive controls so I opted for adjusting to complete lockup and then backing up the adjuster 8 complete revolutions. From what I can tell, this has resolved my issue with the clunking sound that I was hearing before. After that I drained the flush oil and topped the engine off with the remainder of the quart of SAE30, checked and brushed off the air cleaner, and put the mower away for the night.

This afternoon I set out to cut just my back yard with the new Quadracut blades on. This is the 3rd time that I have cut this area this week, but given the rain that we have had, the grass needed it. I had the deck set at 4" when doing this cut; I will note that on this mower, the cutting height is actually 1/4" lower when using the double blade setup. What I observed with the Quadracut blades is that while the discharge velocity is not quite as good as the high lift blade (and yes I know I just slowed the engine down a bit), I did notice that the clippings were noticeably smaller as stated in Honda's marketing information. I did also notice that the added weight of the blades and possibly the extra work needed by the engine to turn them did force me to slow my walking down a bit in order to process the clippings being removed from the turf. In the end this proved to be okay as the final result of the cut was more than acceptable. I only saw small amounts of visible clippings in the really heavy growth areas like where my septic drains and where the downspout from my gutter empties. I do not know for certain as to whether not not I will try the Quadracut blades with the chute closed off, but my feelings are that the mulching performance might suffer slightly as the bottom high lift blade will work against a closed off deck when they are normally meant for discharge and bag applications. One other thing to note is that the Quadracut blades have cutting edges that are directly above each other. The last two generations of the HRR mower and all generations of the HRX with the MicroMulch blades have a bottom cutting edge that is raked back from the top blade's cutting edge. I have never been able to confirm whether or not HRX blades will actually fit or work on my mower, but it might be worth picking up a set of blades to give it a try.

Lastly, I have included some pictures of the various blades that are available for this mower. There is a picture of the blade that I bent hitting the dirt mound and also a picture of my back yard after I finished cutting it today. Please do not judge the crooked lines or the strange coloring of my lawn; this is over a rather uneven septic field.


View attachment 52452View attachment 52455View attachment 52456View attachment 52457
That's some beautiful grass!
 

gotomow

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2018
Threads
4
Messages
221
Well, I think this may be my last post on this thread. I have one final update on the mower and the blade setup. Following the 1/3 rule, I was ready to cut my front and back yard again today. Here is a breakdown of both areas, how I had the mower set up and what my experiences were:

Back Yard

The mower was set at 4" with the Quadracut double blades on and mulching blocker down. This is the first time that I have tried this setup and all that I can say is BLOWOUT, BLOWOUT, BLOWOUT!!! Clippings were coming out from everywhere and by the time I was finished there were handfuls laying on top of the mower deck. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was not certain as to how well this setup would work due to the presence of a high lift blade on the bottom. As I suspected, the deck was not capable of keeping the clippings inside and dropping them back down like a low lift or wavy mulcher would. With the exception of a really tall dandelion stem, this is the only time that I was actually seeing blades of grass being missed by the deck, even when moving a bit slow in the dense areas. Honda markets this as "The exclusive twin-blade QuadraCut System™ that uses four cutting surfaces for superior mulching and bagging." Owning an HRX with the MicroMulch system (also double blace), I can attest to the great bagging capabilities and I am sure that the Quadracut blades on the K1-K8 HRR series of mowers probably bag well too, but I do not see how these blades can provide superior mulching in a closed off deck like that of the HRS.

Front Yard

The mower was set at 3" with just the high lift blade and discharge chute on. The mower worked near flawlessly with the clippings being thrown out 3-4 feet from the mower and leaving only small amounts of visible clippings laying on top of the turf. I did have to slow down a few times where the turf was really dense, but in the instances where I kept moving along at full speed it seemed to have no issues. I could certainly hear the engine tying to keep up with the grass being cut, but no blades of grass were being missed. I also passed over a couple dozen pine cones with the mower and it broke them down into respectable pieces. By the time I was finishing up the front yard I had been running the mower for nearly 100 minutes and did start to notice a bit of fatigue in the Smart Drive Transmission. I never had this issue with the Smart Drive system on my HRX, but then again I do not think that I ever ran it for that long in one single cut. Since I do not plan to cut in long sessions like this much longer I am not going to worry too much about it. Besides, there is plenty of adjustment left in the cable if it needs to be tightened up.

So, in conclusion, a few final words on the Honda HRS mower. It is a bit pricey, but with proper care and maintenance it should last many years. The engine is quiet, smooth, durable and more than capable of powering this mower through various turf conditions found in SE Michigan. The build quality is pretty good, but does leave a little room for improvement. I honestly do not think that you will find any push mower that is perfect in every way at the $400 price point. Lastly, if you are going to be using any HRS mower to mulch, stick with the factory installed 2-1 blade and be sure to keep to the 1/3 rule. If you are going to do any side discharging with the mower, do yourself a favor and get the optional high lift blade, part number 72511-VE1-020.

I hope that sharing my experience with this mower will help someone on here in either making up their mind to buy or not buy a Honda HRS216VKA.

Thank you.

Mike
On my HRX217 the plastic drive shaft bushings heat up on long runs causing friction between the bushings and the driveshaft, thus slowing the mower down. Not such a big deal now that I have the JD and the HRX is basically a trimmer.
But now that the HRX is a trimmer and I do pull back on it enough, and of course it's the hardest mower on the market to pull back on I'm thinking of getting one of the new redesigned HRN's. Which Honda says: " Improved Maneuverability
2-Way Ratchet System improves maneuverability and reduces effort to turn in a tight radius, drastically reducing pull-back force"
 

cruzenmike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Threads
38
Messages
693
On my HRX217 the plastic drive shaft bushings heat up on long runs causing friction between the bushings and the driveshaft, thus slowing the mower down. Not such a big deal now that I have the JD and the HRX is basically a trimmer.
But now that the HRX is a trimmer and I do pull back on it enough, and of course it's the hardest mower on the market to pull back on I'm thinking of getting one of the new redesigned HRN's. Which Honda says: " Improved Maneuverability
2-Way Ratchet System improves maneuverability and reduces effort to turn in a tight radius, drastically reducing pull-back force"
I owned an HRX for 7 years and I never recalled having an issue pulling it back. In all the years of owning it, all I ever did was hose off the back sides of the wheels and maybe made 2 adjustments to the drive cable. I did not even realize until recently that you could take the back wheels off and grease the gears. Since the mower always worked I never looked into it.

As for the HRN it would certainly be advantageous to have something easier to pull back on but if you are only using it for trimming you might not fully appreciate the improvements made.
 
Top