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Toro vs Troy Bilt (2021): Should You Get a Walk-Behind or a Riding Mower?

Keeping your lawn neat and tidy used to be a tiresome chore, but ever since lawn mowers were invented, it’s become so easy that even kids can do it. Since its introduction, lawn mowers have received a lot of upgrades and innovations. Now, there’s a ton of choices for power source, engine power, and even the basic design itself.

If you’re wondering whether you should buy a walk-behind mower or a riding mower, then you’ve come to the right place. In this comparison, we’ll take a look at the two mower types (using the walk-behind Toro SmartStow 22″ Recycler and the Troy-Bilt Pony 42, a riding mower, as examples) and see which kind of mower suits you and your lawn best.

Toro vs Troy-Bilt Comparison Chart

ModelToro Recycler 20339Troy-Bilt Pony 42
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
Max Cutting Height4″4″
Min Cutting Height1″1.5″
Cutting Width22″42″
Dimensions39″ x 23.2″ x 17.5″39.75″ x 51.95″ x 67.2″
Warranty3 years2 years


The physical differences between riding and walk-behind mowers.

The Pony (left) and the Recycler (right)

The main difference between the two is their design, which highly influences how they’re operated. Walk-behind mowers are self-explanatory: you have to walk behind your mower to use and guide it along your lawn. Some models like the Toro Recycler 20339 (above) are self-propelled, requiring less of an effort from its user than conventional push mowers. They have smaller frames, usually less powerful engines, and a more compact design overall. This means that they also usually can cut a narrower width per run (as we’ll see in later sections). While this might sound like an automatic disadvantage, there are situations where this seeming weakness can become the walk-behind mower’s strength.

In contrast, riding mowers like the Troy-Bilt Pony are huge. They’re great if your tracts of land are too wide to walk through without getting tired. This mower type doubles as a vehicle, carrying you across your lawn while it cuts your grass. They’re also usually equipped with more powerful engines, since their bigger design both require and can support it. The biggest factor when it comes to choosing between the two types is your lawn’s size. Most online sources recommend walk-behind mowers only for lawns that are a fourth of an acre large or even smaller. Any wider than that and the walk-behind’s cutting width limitations can turn your quick mowing job into a day-long endeavor.

Engine and Speed

Engine size isn’t always equal to faster speed.

A view of the Toro Recycler’s hind wheel and a profile of the Pony

As mentioned above, the engines for smaller walk-behind mowers tend to be less powerful than what riding mowers use. This proves true for this specific comparison: the Toro Recycler has an engine displacement of 163cc (or 0.16 liters) while the Troy-Bilt Pony runs on a 439cc (or 4.4 liter) engine. While a lot of factors go into determining how powerful a mower is, bigger engine displacement generally means that it’s more powerful. This can be useful for situations where you need a bigger kick from your mower, like if you deal with wet grass or muddy areas on a regular basis. More ccs also mean more fuel consumption, regardless of your power source.

One aspect that engine power doesn’t affect as much, however, is speed. Mowers don’t really need to reach sports car speeds, so there’s not much of a difference between the two models we’re comparing. The walk-behind Toro Recycler runs at 3.5 miles per hour (around 5.25 km/h), while the Troy-Bilt Pony can go as fast as 5.5 miles per hour (approximately 8.8 km/h). As you can see, there is a difference, but not really a significant one. If they don’t run significantly faster, you might ask, then how are driving mowers better for larger parcels of land?

Cutting Efficiency

The two are suited for different kinds of land and grass.

The Recycler’s mowing mechanism (left) and a side view of the Pony (right) with its mower visible.

The driven Troy-Bilt Pony model still works better with land larger than a quarter acre because of its wider cutting range. It can cover a width of 42 inches per row, which is almost double that of the Toro Recycler’s 22 inches. Its more powerful engine can handle harder varieties of grass better (and a few twigs here and there too), and you won’t be as tired since you’re seated the entire time. Cutting height ranges aren’t that different, though, so you’ll be getting a neat trim regardless of your choice of mower.

As mentioned earlier, the walk-behind mower can still be a better choice in certain situations despite its weaker engine and narrower cutting width. In fact, it’s precisely because of its narrower cutting width that it’s better for smaller areas. It’ll be easier to turn around corners and get in tight spaces where the Troy-Bilt Pony or any other riding mower can’t. It’s also better your lawn’s slopes aren’t gentle, since you run the risk of a riding mower speeding out of control downhill or not being able to ascend uphill. It’s worth emphasizing that all the advantages stronger mowers have on paper aren’t always good; you’ll always have to take your lawn’s characteristics and condition into account.

Ease of Use

The Toro Recycler’s SmartStow feature makes it easily storable.

Walk-behinds are considerably more space-friendly than riding mowers.

In terms of ease of use, both models in comparison are quite simple to operate even when compared to other models of the same mower type. The Pony’s rear bagger (an accessory sold separately) makes cleaning up after mowing extremely easy since it’s automatically collected. This cut greenery can then be used for compost heaps. The seat on this mower is also designed for comfort, with low back support and a knob for height adjustment. Its 7-speed system also makes it easily adjustable for your lawn. Meanwhile, the Recycler is particularly space-friendly, since Toro designed it with their SmartStow feature. This means that you can store it upright in your garage and it’ll take up barely any space, especially when compared to mowers that can’t be folded.

In terms of warranty, both are protected with a limited warranty of two years. The Toro Recycler does have a slight edge, since the company gives its customers a three year “Guaranteed to Start” warranty. This means that even if your two-year limited warranty has run out, you have an extra year of guaranteed support if your mower doesn’t start after one to two pulls.


Your choice depends on your lawn size and terrain type.

Amazon product

Walk-behind mowers like the Toro SmartStow 22″ Recycler are perfect for those with smaller lawns. Its frame and design make it easy to fit into tighter spaces, and its self-propulsion capability means that you won’t have to put as much effort into pushing the mower than you would with a conventional push mower. Twists and turns are also easier to maneuver, and your constant grip means that steeper slopes won’t be a problem. It doesn’t hurt that these walk-behind models also way cheaper than riding mowers.

Meanwhile, riding mowers like the Troy-Bilt Pony 42 is great for large tracts of lawn that need to be mowed. They work best on flat or gently sloped land. Staying seated the entire time reduces your fatigue, and it’s also more efficient at cutting due to its wider cutting width. They do cost a bit more, but they’ll save you a lot of trouble if you’re working with a huge area.


๐Ÿ“Œ Are Toro and Troy Bilt the same?

Toro and Troy-Bilt are two different brands that both sell home tools like mowers and snow blowers. Both are based in America.

๐Ÿ“Œ Who makes Toro?

Toro tools like the Toro SmartStow 22″ Recycler are made by The Toro Company (NYSE: TTC), who also manufacture Boss Snowplow and Lawn-Boy, to name a few brands.

๐Ÿ“Œ Who makes Troy-Bilt?

Troy-Bilt is owned and managed by MTD Products, Inc., starting 2001. MTD stands for Modern Tool and Die, and they also manufacture Bolens, Cub Cadet, and Yard-Man products.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does Toro make their own engines?

The engine that the Toro SmartStow 22″ Recycler uses is made by Briggs & Stratton, an American company that services around 80% of mowers in the country.

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Mauie Flores

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying, blogger and content creator passionate about writing, music, and good food.