It might seem odd to dedicate an article to handles or handlebars but, if you think about it, they are an important part of your mower. You are going to be holding them, controlling the mower through them and trying to store the mower despite them for some years, so it pays to know what your options are.
Most lawn mowers have what looks like a simple single bar that is a rounded oblong running right from one side of the mower up and across the operator position and down to the other side of the mower (Fig A.) Usually this bar is actually in two or more pieces, particularly if the handlebar is foldable (Fig B)
Fig A.Fig B.
Within this simple structure there are many possible variations on Control, Comfort and Convenience. So here are some thoughts on the 3cs.
Control - The handlebars are where you will, ultimately, control your mower, so think about switch, throttle and lever placement when you looking for a new mower.
Some bars are fitted with ‘bail arms’ that pull in to control the cut, some have switches and throttles. It is worth looking at where these are placed and how easy they are to reach. Look at the shape of the handle.
Some are just a straight across bar (see fig 1.) but some are curved up and over, making them easier to control and more comfortable (see fig 2)
fig 1. fig 2.
Comfort - If you are using a powerful mower for long periods of time, some comfort in the handle is probably going to be important so do consider this when buying. Some budget entry level machines have no grips, just the bar.
As you move up through the models, some handlebars come with moulded plastic grips and some with softer comfort grips, often a ‘spongy’ rubber sleeve to make holding more comfortable and to reduce the effects of vibration.
Some higher spec’ models will even have anti-vibration material built into the handlebars.
Ergonomics have been growing in importance in recent years so the design and shape of the handle bars is gradually changing and many manufacturers are looking at radical ideas and handle shapes to make the mowing experience even more comfortable (see images below).
Many mowers, particularly the higher spec’ models will now have height adjustable handlebars so you can work at a comfortable and back-strain reducing height. This is well worth looking out for.
Convenience - Storage is often an issue with mowers and if and how your mower’s handlebars fold might be a make or break feature if you have a finite space to store them in.
Some handlebars fold straight down, right over the engine/motor for basic storage.
Some are collapsible – that is, they will fold in half before folding over the mower’s deck, for more compact storage. This is often carried out with simple, twistable knobs on the side of the handles.
As you move up through the models and ranges you will often find the folding action is carried out with quick release handles or levers. This is a good feature, worth looking out for and can save time and effort.