Friday, July 17 2015 20:45

Rockin' the Lawn with the Toro Recycler 22" Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Lawn Mower...

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I am officially a lawn nerd. Perhaps "enthusiast" may be a better term, but when it comes to the landscape here at Rock Father HQ, I'm pretty obsessive about it. Prior to owning this home, I'd either owned or used a multitude of different lawn mowers over the years - mowers of all shapes, sizes, brands and power sources. Prior to the 2015 season, I'd spent a few years doing things the old fashioned way - with a reel mower. I went completely old-school, and while there's a lot that I really liked about doing things that way for a bit, I missed power and precision - that well-manicured cut something that seemed farther and farther off each time. I was planning to power-up this season, so when the folks at Toro got in touch about their 2015 offerings, I zeroed in on the Recycler 22" Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive lawn mower. They sent me one for HQ, and rather than flip some quick opinions, I've taken the past 2½ months to really "get to know" the mower so that I can provide all of you with the most comprehensive feedback.

toro boxed

Right out of the box, assembly was simple. Available at THE HOME DEPOT (your local store, or online) or the Toro Online Store for $399 as of this writing (MSRP $419), the mower comes pretty much ready-to-rock, with the handle and cables folded flat, and minimal assembly required - basically just tightening things up. After filling it up with gas and the oil (included), the new mower was ready to start. Toro gives these a 3-year GTS (Guaranteed-to-Start) warranty for their Briggs & Stratton 7.25 ft.-lb. gross torque 163cc OHV engines - and under most circumstances, they should start with one pull. Under the watchful eye of my next door neighbor (a fellow lawn enthusiast and Toro fan), my new Recycler started immediately - fresh out of the box. The AWD function is something I wasn't used to, but after a few minutes it felt like second-nature, with the dual-variable transmission engaging the front and rear wheels separately (grabbing the blue handle for extra traction if needed), making "Personal Pace" a true function, with an intuitive max speed of 4.8 mph. This was our backyard after the first cut:

Toro - First Cut at Rock Father HQ

While the green grass took longer than usual to arrive this year, that first cut was a beautiful thing, and by the end of May, everything was still looking great.

 I generally cut two (sometimes three) times per week, and the Toro Recycler has been pretty efficient on gas, as just had to refill my 1½ gallon red tank for the first time this season. As we approach three months worth of use, it's starting in one pull as advertised, and has provided trouble-free operation, which is really all you could ask for. There's 3-in-1 action when it comes to the clippings, with on-the-fly bagging available (simply move a lever from bag-to-mulch), mulching or side discharge (which I've never used). For the most part, I'm bagging this season, as I had a really extensive thatch issue. If I just want a quick trim, I'll mulch using the "Atomic" blade, a Toro-exclusive feature that aids in the fine-mulching action, allowing the tiny clippings to settle back into the soil.  It's now mid-July, and this is the front lawn:


When the lawn is cut, I attach our front hose to the convenient washout port and start the engine for a few to get the underside of the cutting deck nice and clean. The kids sometimes like to stand at a distance and watch this, as sometimes the water comes out like "Green Grass Soup."

A video posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

Overall, I'm really, really happy with this mower. It's definitely put some speed in my cut, making the overall time spent get shorter by about half - but the most important thing for me is reliability and precision, and the Toro Recycler has both. And what can I say? The first mower I ever recall was a Toro that my parents had when I was a kid. 

Speaking of which, while I'd never operate this without the kids at a safe distance, sometimes the girls break out their Fisher-Prices Bubble Mower to "be like Daddy."

toro finn

Learn more at Toro.com

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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