It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with a classic reel mower’s accommodating simplicity. That hardly guarantees that every mower of the kind is created equal. “Simple” and “foolproof” are not synonyms. Almost any relatively uncomplicated task can absolutely still go sideways with enough applied carelessness or inattention to quality control. A single afternoon spent with a cheaply built motorless mower makes it all the easier to appreciate the virtually flawless Fiskars StaySharp Max in all its worry-free glory. Minimal maintenance and noiseless operation are par for the course among push-powered reel mowers, but you may never own a smoother-cutting manual model.
- Chain-based Inertia Drive reel
- StaySharp cutting system
- 18-inch cutting path
- Inset wheels
- Reversible grass chute
- One-touch cutting height adjustment between one and four inches
- Three-year limited warranty
There aren’t many quantifiable metrics for sizing up a manual reel mower’s performance – not in the same vein as comparing blade RPMs, horsepower or engine dimensions, anyway. That being said, I can respectfully confirm that the Fiskars StaySharp Max is indeed, per manufacturer claims, “60 percent easier to push” than nearly any competing model. The chain-driven IntertiaDrive reel somehow delivers what feels like several times the cutting power exhibited by rival mowers. More amazingly, anyone could propel this 52-pound mower with what would otherwise feel like pathetically minimal effort and at least match the efficiency of any motorless opponent stacked up against it.
Ease Of Use
As a preface, even a world-class reel mower such as the Fiskars StaySharp Max would be a masochistic choice to regularly maintain any lawn more expansive than one-fourth of an acre. For any lawn below that threshold, however, I can’t imagine anything as simple to assemble and easy to use as this outstanding take on a classic landscaping mainstay. Assembling the handle might steal, at most, whole minutes from a hopelessly inept teenager. Maybe. Take a moment to test the blade positions and ensure the cutting surfaces won’t scrape the surfaces surrounding them. Once those perfunctory steps are out of the way, position the ergonomically accommodating handle to your preferred height, and enjoy your productive lawn care-based cardio regimen. With no aural pollution to fret, feel free to whip this mower out in the dead of night, if moonlit maintenance of your turf suits you.
Cut Quality & Options
The Fiskars StaySharp Max owes the lion’s share of its acclaimed cutting quality to the ingenious positioning of its five-blade reel. Placing the array ahead of the wheels channels as much of the force generated from the rear as possible into its rotation. Meanwhile, the inset positioning of the wheels themselves allows the blades to extend along all 18 inches of the mower’s width. That effective use of the cutting path’s complete breadth leaves no uncut strips in the Fiskars StaySharp Max’s wake and facilitates fantastically tight edging no motorized mower could hope to match.
That isn’t to say the Fiskars StaySharp Max doesn’t occasionally fail to rise to the occasion. It may groom such thicker grasses as St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bahia and Bermuda with surgical cleanliness an August greenskeeper would applaud, but it tends to falter against patches of outstandingly tall sod. Even, then you shouldn’t need more than a second pass to tidy out any uneven sections. Fortunately, the one-touch VersaCut system adjusts the reel’s height between one and four inches with both an appreciable ease and surprising range of trimming levels for a motorless mower. While cutting, the reversible grass chute deftly directs clippings either forward and away from the user’s feet or backward and downward, an impeccably neat disposal approach no previous manufacturer has a valid excuse for failing to introduce sooner.
“Maintenance?” What maintenance? Like the vast majority of reel mowers, the Fiskars StaySharp Max needs precious little pampering between jobs. The StaySharp cutting system curtails blade-wear and promotes long-lasting dependable performance like few methods before it by strictly limiting contact between the cutting surfaces and the deck. I can’t stress enough just how drastically that not only fine-tunes the cleanliness of every single slice but diminishes each blade’s seasonal sharpening needs. Otherwise, the terms of the included three-year limited warranty should comprehensively cover most incidental major issues that could arise, though you won’t find many more soundly designed, manufactured and quality-controlled tools than this. The next time someone looks at a decades-old reel mower and claims “they don’t make ‘em like they used to,” hand over one of these and say, “You’re right. Someone made ‘em even better.”
When you stop pushing the Fiskars StaySharp Max, the blades stop turning. To further guarantee safety, let go of the handle. Lawn care doesn’t get any less dangerous.
The Fiskars StaySharp Max’s price could easily deter consumers who are both in the market for a motorless mower and acutely aware that numerous competitors cost half its nearly $200 suggested retail price or less. That’s a shame, because loosening up one’s budget would provide a lawnmower capable of decades of faithful quality service with minimal regular TLC. If your heart is absolutely set on a push reel mower, there’s no recommending this one highly enough.
- Virtually maintenance-free
- Impeccable handling
- Practically silent
- Exceptionally tight edging
- Mostly superb cutting quality
- Struggles with long grass
- Somewhat high-priced for a push reel mower