This is a review of our Cox IQ (also Bushranger or Weibang E-Rider).  I’ve also made a couple of videos, linked at the bottom of the page.

Here in our patch of northern Tasmania we can really grow grass.  Much of our time is spent managing the abundance, especially in the spring!
The bulk of the work is handled by our automatic, self-propelled, grass powered steers.  Foton and Finklewort don’t need much encouragement to polish off perhaps 90% of what we grow.  They also fertilise the ground and selectively weed out many of the undesirable plants (as long as they are tasty).  They even trim the hedges!
But we can’t use the steers around the house and outbuildings, since cattle are rather messy and destructive to home and garden.  This we have to do ourselves, with the help of a ride-on lawnmower.

This little fella has quite a job ahead of him .  Back to work Gimli!

Last year our fossil mower was about 15 years old, hard to start and annoying to maintain.  Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to buy petrol or change oil?
I had previously seen the Ryobi electric ride-on for sale at Bunnings, and decided that now I should buy one.  But apparently they don’t sell enough to always have them in stock, they just bring a couple in every now and then.  It happened that I couldn’t get one locally, so I put myself on an email list to hear when they would become available, and have never heard anything back other than general Ryobi spam…

Looking around I found that Cox were selling a ride-on.  A bit smaller and a lot lighter (the Ryobi has a lead-acid battery), it looked like the Cox would do us fine.  The mower is actually made by Weibang.  They have a couple of electric models listed on their website, but as far as I know this is the only one being imported into Australia as yet.

At the time I was able to order one through our local Cox dealer.  Bushranger also import them, and they cost about $4500 at the time of writing.  Cox have since stopped selling them, but there are Bushranger dealerships all over Australia, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get one.
The local Cox dealer was intrigued, they hadn’t heard of the mower before.  They were happy to order one in and let me try it out before deciding to buy.  They even brought it out to me, so they could have a go on our lawn and see how it goes!

First Impressions

The mower is all metal, a big difference from our previous mower’s plastic covers which cracked after a time.  The layout is what you’d hope for from an electric mower – elegantly simple.  The 30” (76 cm) cutting width is provided by two blades, each with its own motor.  The blades are offset, with the left one being further forward on the mower so that the lawn cut is overlapped slightly as you drive.  Being on separate motors, the blades are quite independent, and can run at different speeds.  You can hear this if you run into some heavy-going on one side.  The sound is like two angry bumblebees.

The construction is solid and sensible.  No covers where you don’t need covers, nothing to catch as you go past bushes, all the controls are where you can get at them.  Importantly, the safety features are there, but don’t get in the way of day-to-day operation.

There is a third electric motor to propel the mower at up to 6 km/h.  No gears, just a throttle pedal and a rocker switch for forward/reverse.  Since the drive motor is separate to the cutter motors, if you get into heavy going you do not slow down.  This is quite different to our former mower, where the petrol engine would labour under heavy load, slowing the blades and drive wheels alike.

Very low speeds are a bit fiddly, as you need to hold your foot on the throttle exactly so to get the minimum speed.  Take your foot off the throttle a bit more and you stop.  Fine once you get the hang of it and learn what is your lowest speed.
When you take your foot completely off the throttle the motor slows you down quite quickly.  Presumably this is done through the controller, possibly with regenerative braking.  If you stop while going up a hill then you are effectively held there by the motor, it inches backwards very slowly.  I find that I use the brake (which is the pedal under the left foot) very little.  See the videos at the end of this page for a demonstration of how this works.

Going into reverse is a simple push of a button.  Groundspeed is somewhat reduced in reverse, and there is a reversing beeper.  By default the blades will disengage when you select reverse, but you can turn this safety feature off and it will let you go forwards/backwards with the blades engaged the whole time.

There is a Cruise Control function, this will hold you at a set speed.  It works for fast speeds but it is very difficult to set at a low speed.  So it is good for transporting to a new section at top speed, but not good for mowing unless you are doing a light section at a good clip.

A unique feature is that you can lift the mower up vertically and sit it on its tail. This gives you very easy access to anything under the mower for cleaning and maintenance. The mower was delivered with blunt blades, and thanks to this ability they were straightforward to remove and sharpen.

How well does it mow?

Quite well!  But this will depend on your conditions.
The blades are engaged by pulling a button up.  There is a safety cutout if you dismount or if there is a blockage stopping one of the blades from turning.  I’ve only seen this type of blockage happen once, when a large ball of tightly bound grass became lodged between the deck and one of the blades.  I’d turn it on, it would run for a few seconds and then cut out.  I could still drive though, my guess is that the power to the blade motors is cut if they draw too much current.
I normally use earmuffs while mowing, but this is mainly because I can’t quite hear my podcast when the blades are engaged! 

The blades are designed to mulch.  Unless you have the exit chute attached, each leaf is cut again and again until the pieces are small enough to fall between the blades and onto the ground.  The cut leaves sit between the still-standing leaves of grass, where they act as a mulch, conserving water and providing nutrients back to the plant.  At least that is the idea.  In practice this works fine if:

  • The grass is dry
  • The cut length of grass is not too long (cut often!)
  • The uncut length of grass is not too short (cut high!)
  • The majority of the lawn is grass, rather than clover or flatweed.

If one of the above conditions is not met, you are at liberty to attach ‘the chute’.  The chute lets the grass out on the right hand side, so it is thrown across the lawn and not mulched.  This is reasonably easy to do – you can carry the chute on the mower and attach/remove it while seated.  Mowing with the chute attached means much less work for the blades, so you can cut lower and also drive faster.  But the clippings sit on top of the lawn and might be tracked inside on your shoes.

In mulching mode, if you are mowing wet grass, it will tend to stick on the underside of the cutting deck, slowly layering up like paper-mache.  This can also happen if you have a high proportion of well-hydrated fleshy plants, such as clover or dandelion.  As they are cut they liberate enough water to be a problem.  The deck is easy to clean by standing the mower up on its tail, then using a stick to scrape away any buildup.  The user manual warns against using a hose to clean the mower!

On really heavy going (waist high grass), with the cutting deck on the highest setting and using the chute, the mower is ‘fair’.  It tends to knock the longer grass over which leads to a certain amount not being cut.  The solution is to run over the area again.  This sounds like a real pain, but isn’t too bad.  Although the first pass is quite slow, the second pass (which the manual suggests to do at right angles to the first) can be done much faster.  For fairly small sections it ends up being quicker than getting out the tractor, hooking up the slasher and running over it with that.  And it does a much neater job than the slasher.

Run time stated in the manual is approximately 90 minutes.  Testing this after a years work showed that it was 85 minutes for me on my lawn.  This included some fairly tough going, so I’m sure you’d get 90 minutes in better circumstances.  When you run out of charge the mower cuts power to the blades and starts to beep.  You have a fair amount of drive time once this happens to get you back to your charging spot.

Charging time is about seven hours via the supplied plug pack.  I measured this as 1.3 kWh, which matches nicely to the stated specifications.

This is a good mower for its intended use – light to moderate mowing for up to 90 minutes at a time.  Use it frequently and it will keep your lawns in good shape.
Watch the videos below to get even more information!

Specifications

72 Volt 18 Ah = 1.3 kWh
Charger is 2.5A, so 7 hrs to charge.  Disconnect charger when charged
-10 – 50°C for storage 0 – 40°C for charging
Cutting motors 800 W
30″ (76 cm) cutting width
No catcher option
145 kg
Guaranteed sound level is 92 dB(A)
The Cox warranty is 3 years except for the battery, which is 1 year

Videos

I made a couple of videos so you can see how the mower goes on real live lawn.

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