I test drove a Zeon at the Vermont gathering several years ago and have wanted one ever since. I finally located one out in Kansas this past week, in my price range, and had it hauled over to my yard.
It is my understanding that Hustler is going to or has discontinued production of the Zeon due to poor sales. That is a shame.
We lose another product.
As I get a chance to use it, I will give my opinion of the machine here, in case any of you folks are tempted on down the road to pick one up.
This one was a factory demo with 34 hours of run time showing. The Trojan batteries were date coded Sept '11. It took two gallons of water to top off the batteries as the water level was well below the plates. So, needless to say, it will be getting a new set before I can actually put it to work.
The cause of this, other than neglect, is because of the charging unit they chose. (It is a remote unit. I would prefer an onboard set up.) I was told you have to monitor the charging because the charger will boil the batteries dry. Ya think?
I have a multi-stage, 4-bank, charger I plan to use, which is what they should have used in my opinion. Using a charger that will over charge the batteries will cause the owner to needlessly and prematurely have to replace very expensive batteries and further leads to negative experiences and perceptions of battery products.
Until I actually got it here, I had planned on possibly installing a set of higher amp capacity batteries than the factory set. If they had built the battery box 1 inch longer, I probably could have. As it is, the factory Trojan 31XHS flooded lead acid batteries fit with very little room to spare. Trojan's next size battery, the T1275, has 55 amp/hr more capacity than the 31XHS. The additional run-time would have been nice. More on this later...
The batteries are a little to difficult to get at to service. Access could have been made more handy as you will need to add water occasionally. Especially, if you plan the use the factory unit. As it costs $700-$800 to replace them, I will certainly want to monitor them regularly. To access the batteries, you have to un-thread a locking nut from a stud to lift the seat, then un-thread another locking nut from the same stud to remove the battery cover and small bar that secures the batteries in place. To add water, you have use a large screw driver to unscrew six caps per battery (so, 24 caps). All of this fuss is going to be a regular pain in the rear for battery maintenance.
The machine seems to be very durably built. I can see where some weight could have be reduced by using different materials. Lighter machine, longer run time.
Now... Hustler advertizes 75 minutes of run time. If this is based on a 75 amp draw, then the batteries are completely discharged and you are limping back to the shop to plug it in. You are hoping to get back to the shop. I don't think there is a neutral. So, you won't push or drag it. Otherwise, go find an extension cord and drag out the charger. Actually, the run time should then be limited to half of that for the best battery life span. Certainly no more than 3/4 of the stated run-time. Then, they advertize it takes 16 hours to recharge
As far as instrumentation, it has a digital display which shows the battery state of charge in descending blocks. It is Cutis unit I think. A nice feature would have been a digital volt display for each battery.
When the batteries are discharged down to basically dead, a flashing light comes on. When the battery voltage drops below the controller's operating range, it shuts down and comes to a screeching halt. It does have a seat belt...
I knew going into it, that it will take several charges to mow my yard. That's ok. I usually don't mow the entire yard at one time anyway. Parts of my yard grows at different rates and after an hour of mowing I am ready to get off and go do something else. Just hoping it doesn't take four charges to do it with the Zeon. It may turn out that I do all the trimming and the tight sections with the Zeon and rest with my tractor...
Will add more comments as I use it.