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Bosch Rotak 320
I must confess that in the past I'd been lured in by the promises that it was 'less bovver with a hover' and similar slogans. The reality, though, was that swinging a flymo around was quite hard work, nor did the ones I'd used do a particularly good job. So, belatedly getting my critical faculties into gear, I looked at alternatives. Alternatives with wheels, basically.
Bosch have a well-deserved reputation for quality, and this model was a reasonable price - around £60 from B&Q (it was probably on special offer though, so I'm not sure what the full price would be).
It comes in a large box, and needs a small amount of construction before you can start - basically just assembling the handles, using large plastic nuts and bolts. The whole machine is made of plastic, but seems quite sturdy in spite of this. It consists of a main body, the aforementioned handles which come up to a (variable) height comfortable to push it around and a detachable bin at one end.
It comes with a nice long flex, long enough for most typical gardens I would say, which you can wind and unwind as needed from a pair of brackets. So long as a small amount of care and effort is taken to do this as you work, there is no danger of accidentally cutting through the power cable.
There's also a small handle in the middle, at exactly the right place for the whole machine to be balanced, and thus easy to carry around, so long as the bin is attached. This is handy for us as there are a few steps from the shed to the lawn.
It has four (plastic) wheels, one at each corner in the traditional way. The heights of these can be adjusted to let you cut the grass to different lengths. The axles can fit into one of three slots and are held in place by springs. The springs are pretty strong, so changing the cutting height would be quite difficult for some people. And it's a bit of a bother, so once we'd decided how long we wanted the grass to be we left it in that position ever since.
So, overall, the physical characteristics are pretty good - well designed and appropriate. But, can it cut grass?
Fortunately, the answer is yes! It does a pretty good job, especially in dry conditions. You start it by pressing a safety button, then pulling a lever to start the electric motor and letting go of the button. If you ever release the lever, the motor stops - a good safety feature. The blades cut the grass and a blower deposits it through a tube into the bin for clippings.
When the grass is a bit wet, or very long, or both, the bottom of the mower tends to get clogged up, rather than sending the bits to the bin. This also happens when you forget to empty the bin soon enough. It gets filled up surprisingly quickly, so perhaps it should be a bit bigger. If the mower does get clogged up, you have to turn it over and scrape the mass out with your hands, which is easy enough but a bit messy.
I suppose in an ideal world, waiting for the grass to be dry would be the thing to do, but as I live in Scotland that isn't usually an option. Still, in spite of this, the mower does a reasonable job of cutting the grass short, even in less than perfect conditions. If you happen to run over a stone or a branch there is an almighty clonking noise as the blades try and deal with it. If it meets something it can't handle, the mower shuts itself off automatically - another good safety feature. Slightly annoyingly there is then a period of a few minutes during which you can't switch it back on, even if you've removed the offending object. Apart from anything else it invariably causes stress as you think you've broken it! However, it has always restartable after a while, and the blades - decent, solid metal - have never broken, unlike the flimsier plastic ones in some machines.
It's a fairly noisy machine, though this is probably inevitable. The wheels make it much easier to push around than a hover mower, and for that I am thankful. They do make shallow ruts - again, especially when the ground is a bit wet, but nothing terribly serious.
All in all, I'm glad to have got this machine - it's much easier than a hover, even if the marketing slogan is less memorable.
A lightweight, affordable 'easy to use' mover from Bosch. Good for small to medium gardens. An excellent choice for those just wanting a reliable product that does its job. If you're looking for clever innovation, extra features and a quality cut...look for an alternative or up you budget.
Check the spec description at the top, but basically it's a small mower with a small detachable collection box. Adjustable cut height through 3 options and central cutting blade. 1000w power rating with a clear, visible red power cable. Includes a safety power lever (which cuts the power when released) It easily folds and is lightweight with a handy carry handle.
--This mower is easy to use and can easily be pushed around the garden
--It's simple and cheap, it cost me £45
--With it being lightweight it can easily be turned around. Also it can be hung in the garage without needing re-enforced brackets.
--Good fold away handle bar with 2 nice big butterfly bolt heads which unlock the bar to fold away. They have two thread areas meaning there is no nut.
-- Because it is lightweight once the glass collection box becomes near full the mower tends to topple backwards so you end up making sure all wheels are on the ground as well as keeping your stripes straight.
--A little cheap looking and flimsy
--Not for a big garden, I have a small garden 10meters by 6.5meters which requires the box to be emptied 6-8 times from a 6 inch overgrow.
--Poor front end design as the wheels stick out at the front too much from the cutting blade area meaning you leave about 8 inch worth of grass uncut when mowing up to a wall
--Cutting against a wall isn't too good either, it leaves 1-2 inch uncut.
--Requires the use of a strimmer after a cut
--Grass collection tunnel can get blocked from time to time and not fill the box
If you have a garden similar to me, 2 square small to medium sized patches to cut then it's defiantly adequate but becomes excellent value for money in my opinion. For what I paid its great and as you expect with Bosch it's a good solid build. Would defiantly recommend even though the negatives outweigh the positives in my review its still a great buy and top in its price range.
[Note: before I begin this review, I confess that I've never actually used this lawnmower myself, as my allergy to grass pollen means that Mrs SWSt mows the lawns. However, I have based this review on her opinion of the mower and by way of a thank you will use the miles from this review to buy her a bunch of flowers!]
Let's be honest, no-one likes mowing the lawns, so the easier you can make it for yourself, the better. This great little lawnmower from Bosch will certainly do the trick and if you're in the market for a new mower is well worth considering, since it offers both great performance and value for money.
The mower comes in a big box inside which, sadly, the mower comes in a variety of parts. So, if you're itching to get out there cutting the grass, you're going to have to curb your enthusiasm, as the thing needs putting together first.
Thankfully, for once, the process of putting together your new toy is pretty straightforward. The instructions (Shock! Horror!) actually make sense - there is none of this "insert widget A into slot D and twist 14.67 degrees" nonsense you get with all too many self-assembly pieces of equipment. There was even the right number of parts for the job, so you weren't left at the end wondering why you have seven bits left over and nowhere to put them, or why you don't have Screw D (x6) as outlined in the instructions. It's so easy to set up that even the most non-technical of people (i.e. me) could do it with relative ease (although once again, I have to confess that thanks to my complete incompetence at all things construction related, Mrs SWSt actually did the assembly.) Still, she managed the process with relative ease in well under half an hour and did not emerge from the process stressed to the eyeballs, which is always a good sign.
Once assembled, the various parts fit together really well. I have seen other mowers where parts wobble in an alarming fashion, giving the impression that bits are about to drop off at any moment. With this model, everything clicks together and feels like it's going to stay there until you dismantle it, which is reassuring. An auto-cut-off, meanwhile means that if anything major should ever go wrong, the power to the motor should be cut automatically, hopefully preventing you from accidentally severing your toes or electrocuting yourself.
It has to be said that the machine is not the best looking in the world. With its green plastic body and red buttons, it looks a little garish and cheap. It also a looks slightly insubstantial and our initial fear was that if we bashed it on a wall or ran over a stone, bits of plastic might come flying off. In fact, it is far more robust than it looks, and so far, despite repeated use, has lost no appendages. And let's face it, unless you are the most colour-coordinated or garden proud person in the world, the colour is not really an issue at all.
Using the mower is really easy. Our previous machine was an old flymo, which was really heavy and cumbersome to use. It weighed approximately the same amount as two elephants and required about 15 people to turn it each time it reached the end of the lawn. Thanks to its plastic build, the Rotak 320 is far lighter, weighing just under 7kg and very easy to manoeuvre around the garden. Thanks to a couple of carrying handles, it's also very easy to pick up and carry from the front to the back of the house, without having to employ one of the (now redundant) elephants to help you. The fact that it is on four wheels also helps tremendously with the manoeuvrability, as it can be wheeled along paths easily and, when mowing feels very stable, no matter how many lumps and bumps you have in your lawn. Finally, it is also fairly quiet. Obviously no mower is going to be exactly silent, but this one doesn't sound like a jumbo jet taking off, and is unlikely to be the cause of serious anger from your neighbours (unless, of course, you have really angry neighbours).
The cutting is very smooth, too and doesn't require dozens of passes with the mower to actually cut the grass to a reasonable size. Of course, this will depend to some extent on the quality of your garden to start with. Our back garden has a particularly stubborn crop of clover, and the mower never quite copes with this as well as it does with the rest of the lawn. The height of the cut can be varied between 20-60mm, depending on how short you like your grass and it produces a nice, even cut that looks good.
The grass box also does its job well, so that the bits of grass all fly very neatly into it and you don't have to go around with a brush and rake afterwards. It's also fairly large, so you don't have to stop every five minutes to empty it. Again, this is in contrast to other models I have seen where the grass box is so small and inefficient you wonder why they ever bothered in the first place.
From our perspective, a slight niggle is the size of the lead on the mower. Although it's a reasonably generous 10 metres in length, it's not actually long enough for our garden. Don't get me wrong - we don't live in a mansion, but when mowing the front lawn, the nearest power socket is right at the back of the garage and when mowing the back lawn, the cable has to be plugged in in either the kitchen or the dining room. In our case, this means that a couple of meters of the cable length have been lost before it even gets out into the garden, with the end result that we need to get a separate extension lead out to make sure the cable is long enough to reach the ends of each lawn. This, of course, means that you have more leads lying around, causing a potential trip hazard.
This is only a very minor niggle, however, and won't apply to most people. Overall, this mower is a quantum leap forward on our previous model. Lightweight, easy to assemble, easy to use and it produces a good, even cut. What more do you want from a lawnmower, for goodness sake? Tea-making facilities? Anyway, I'd recommend it to anyone. And so would Mrs SWSt; and she's better placed than me to judge.
Better still; the price seems to be coming down all the time. The original RRP was around £120, we got it for about £70 and it's now available from Amazon for around £60, which is even better value for money. This suggests that maybe it's an older model and stock is being sold off. My advice is to get one sooner, rather than later because at this price, it's a snip (sorry!)
Right. I'd better go and get the delightful Mrs SWSt those flowers now...
© Copyright SWSt 2010
A few weeks ago it became that time of year again, when the grass needs cutting. For me, it also means it is that time of year again when I all too frequently end up purchasing a new lawn mower!
I think I have got through lawn mowers in recent years as quickly as I have got through toasters.
After yet another Flymo hover mower blew up on me towards the end of last summer, I vowed I would never buy another Flymo ever again. I had three in my shed that all went to the rubbish dump recently, all of which had been purchased in the last 3-5 years.
My reason for purchasing Flymo's was basically laziness if I am totally honest. I have tended to always buy them from the supermarket, where basically it has been the only mower available, instead of shopping around and looking at other options. In my experience, I have been lucky to get just over a year out of them however, before they blow up or just refuse to work anymore - usually a couple of weeks after the guarantee has expired. Even when they worked, I found both using them and the results overall, to be nothing special and was never really happy.
So, having decided enough was indeed enough, I decided to browse through the rotary lawn mowers on Amazon and see what else was available.
Bosch Rotak 320
Browsing Amazon.co.uk, I found this Bosch Rotak 320 lawn mower which seemed to come highly recommended by many customers. After comparing it to a few others, I decided this model would be suitable for my needs and ordered one. I was also lured by the price, as although the RRP for this model is £75, Amazon were offering it for only £44 with free delivery.
Product Specification :
* Powerful, Bosch PowerDrive" 1000W motor
* 32 cm cutting width
* Simple 4-wheeled design
* Lightweight at only 6.8kg
* Integrated carry handle
* Tool free height of cut adjustment offering 3 different heights
* Two position fold-down handles
* 2 year parts and labour guarantee
Designed with ease of use in mind, this lawn mower although small, has a generous 28 litre grassbox and also 10 metres of cable.
Assembling the lawn mower was easy, only taking a few minutes after unpacking from the box.
It was simply a case of inserting the handle bottom into the mower and securing with the screws provided. Then attach the handle top with the bolts and wing nuts. The handle top is also height adjustable.
Cable clips are also provided to fix the cable to the handle. You must ensure that sufficient cable slack is available when attaching the cable to the restraint.
The grass box is supplied in two halves which you clip together than attach to the mower by lifting the deflector guard. This again was a simple process which you repeat to remove the grassbox when emptying and reattaching.
Full assembly and operating instructions are provided and full marks are given from me for easy assembly.
Using the Bosch Rotak 320 Lawn Mower
Although this is a lightweight mower and does look quite cheap to look at with its plastic design, it is nonetheless a sturdy piece of equipment.
One thing I will point out however, is DO take the time to read the starting and stopping instructions.
My partner isn't one for reading instructions and thought there was nothing he needed to know about switching the mower on etc, which I suppose is fair enough. After all there is a button and a handle which looks pretty much the same as those on the previous mowers I have used, therefore I can understand him thinking this mower was no different.
A few minutes after heading off into the garden, my partner returned announcing that it wasn't working, before informing me that once again I had bought rubbish!
He went back out and suddenly I heard the mower roar into life and he began cutting the grass. On turning it off to empty the grass box however, he then found it wouldn't start again. It was only when I consulted the instruction booklet I realised that he wasn't following the start up sequence correctly. The first time he got this mower going was just sheer luck on his part.
The correct way is to press and hold the safety button, squeeze the lever, then release the safety button. My partner had been releasing the button at the same time as squeezing the lever, as this was how my old lawn mower would start.
I noticed a couple of customers reported problems with the starting button and can't help but wonder if they too had not been following the correct procedure!
On following the correct procedure, the lawn mower starts immediately without any problems.
I am very happy with how quickly and how well this lawn mower cuts the grass. It seems to handle the slightly uneven surface of one of my lawns very well and I find it is easy to push around the lawn, thanks to it being lightweight.
It is also quieter than my old Flymo and the grass collects perfectly in the box.
I have my mower on the shortest cutting height, but adjusting the cutting height is achieved manually by raising or lowering the wheel to the desired position. Again this is a simple process.
For safety, the motor is protected by a safety cut out which is activated if the blade becomes jammed or if the motor is overloaded. This will reset in a few minutes after you release the switch lever, unplug the mower and clear any obstructions.
Overall, I am perfectly happy with this lawn mower, which is giving me perfect results each time I use it. It feels so much more sturdy and powerful than my old orange mower, which gives me the confidence to think that this lawn mower is going to last me a lot longer than any other I have owned. It also has a 2 year guarantee!
I feel much happier with this lawn mower and therefore I can say it is the best one I have ever bought.
The price of the Bosch Rotak 320 goes up and down on Amazon. Just a few days ago, it was available for £70 and today it is priced at £53.61 with free delivery. So it worth keeping an eye on prices. I paid only £44 for mine and consider it a bargain and well worth every penny.
Having used hover mowers before I thought I would try one on wheels. Hover mowers are a benefit if you havent got a flat garden as it is easier on hills, although this Bosch is very light weight so would be easy enough for the job. The Bosch Rotak 320 is the lower priced model from the Bosch range, and has a cutting diameter of 32cm. It does not have the side cutting facility as the higher spec models for getting a closer cut at the edges.
It has three different cut heights 2cm, 4 cm and 6cm, altering the heights is not too difficult and is tool free, each wheel is spring loaded into cut out slots on the mower and you literally have to pull the wheel out of the slot and move it up or down to the desired slot height and do this for each wheel. At first I thought this may be a hassle but I tend to always cut the grass at the same height so its not something that needs doing on a regular basis. It seems sturdy enough and the thick plastic looks like it will take the wear and tear.
It has a 1000W of power with the Bosch Power drive motor, which means the harder the work required the harder the motor works, which is great if you've let your grass grow to much as it can cope with the longer grass quite easily even up to the advertised 30cm in length. The main bulk of the mower is made of plastic which helps give its light weight of 7Kg. A carry handle in the middle makes it easy to carry round. The wheels and main body are made of plastic with a foldable metal handle. So this is very easy to push about and carry and if weight is an issue or you suffer from back problems then I imagine this would be a benefit.
You need to slot the two extension poles in place (doesnt come with them attached) and then the handle with the power switch bolts on, the bolts allow you to fold the handle down for storage. The grass box has a 28L volume, which I find is big enough (I have a 6m by 6m section of lawn), if you have a huge lawn you wouldn't be buying a small mower.
The grass box is extremely easy to clip on and off and you can use the mower with or without it. Its easy to empty as the grass box has a handle and it packs the grass in well.
The blade is metal unlike some of the lawnmowers with small plastic blades, and so should last a while. The one issue I have found and my only gripe with this mower is the length of the cable at 10m it's not quite long enough and so I have to use an extension lead.
The cut I find really good and I find it gives better results than the old hover mower I was using, it's easy to push around so not such hard work and it's fairly quiet for a lawnmower. You also dont get all the grass spitting out from under which Hover mowers tend to do. It isn't so easy to get to corners or those tricky places. I do find that I dont need to cover the same area as many times unlike the hover mower I used, but I've yet to find a mower which ticks all the boxes. I picked mine up for £49 and have seen it since priced at around £50-60 it's comparable with the smaller flymo and other branded mowers, you can get similar looking budget mowers although make sure you check the power. It comes with a 2 year parts and labour warranty.