Cub Cadet Walk-Behind Mower SC 900 Emerges as a Smooth Operating Shootout Winner
We brought in 24 lawn mowers across gas and battery platforms to see what the current landscape looks like. The Cub Cadet SC 900 comes in on the higher end of the residential class and boasts an impressive feature set. With a 23″ blade and MySpeed self-propelled drive, this Cub Cadet walk-behind mower has a lot to offer.
- 23″ blade cuts more grass on each pass than most mowers
- Adjustable pace self-propelled drive that works with you
- Outstanding fuel efficiency (3.02 acres/gallon)
- Excellent cutting power in the worst conditions
- Cuts 1.13 acres on one tank of gas
- No fuel cut-off valve
We use a variety of tests to come to our conclusions and you’re welcome to take out word for it. However, we know many of you look for quality testing data to validate what we’re saying. You can find those details in our gas mower shootout.
The faster the blade tip speed, the easier a mower can cut. When the grass gets thicker and taller, the engine’s ability to maintain blade tip speed determines how well it can handle it.
With a light load simulating a normal weekly cut, the SC 900 Cub Cadet walk-behind mower hit 195.3 MPH at its blade tip. That’s a few MPH less than the leaders, but still well within an acceptable range to cut well.
Moving up to a heavy load, Cub Cadet’s 196cc engine lost less speed than its competitors, averaging 191.2 MPH. Keeping up that kind of speed ensures you can cut through thicker grass than most without having to slow down to a crawl or cutting half-widths to make it work.
We also ran a real-world torture cut test. We let a section of grass grow for 5 weeks, set the mower at 2.5″ and 2.5 MPH, and ran it until the blade stopped. The Cub Cadet SC 900 made it 54.5′, besting all of the other gas mowers except Honda. Considering it has an extra 2″ of blade width, that’s pretty impressive work.
For residential gas mowers, Cub Cadet is our choice if cutting power is a high priority for you.
While refueling doesn’t take nearly as long as recharging batteries for a cordless mower, it does take time. When you’re mowing a large yard, it can be a long walk back to the garage for gas. Do you push the mower back or walk the gas out and then back again before starting back up?
Ideally, you won’t have to make that choice.
Thanks to its 23″ blade and 48-ounce fuel tank, this Cub Cadet walk-behind mower cuts more area on a tank of gas than its competitors by a pretty big chunk. Setting the self-propelled drive to 2.5 MPH, you can mow around 1.13 acres on one tank of gas. The other residential lawn mowers we tested have smaller tanks and only get as close as 0.83 acres.
When you’re looking for a lawn mower that gives you a lot of cutting on a tank, Cub Cadet comes away as the clear winner.
The larger the lawn, the more gas you need to cut it. And if you’re a Pro, your lawn mowers are in service every day using up fuel. Just like a car, the better the fuel efficiency, the less money you spend on gas.
The Cub Cadet SC 900 is able to run for 5 hours and 15 minutes on a gallon of gas. Since its tank only holds 48 ounces, you have to refill a few times, but that’s how long it runs per gallon. Only Husqvarna (5 hours, 30 minutes per gallon) is more efficient in the residential group.
Keep in mind that the blade sizes aren’t all the same. Because this Cub Cadet walk-behind mower has a larger blade, it’s able to cut 3.02 acres on a gallon of gas, moving ahead of Husqvarna’s 2.91 acres.
It seems like Cub Cadet just can’t do anything wrong in this group of mowers, and it’s an easy recommendation if fuel efficiency is a big deal for you.
MySpeed Self-Propelled Drive
There are several attempts at on-the-fly adjustable drive speeds for gas mowers and Cub Cadet has our favorite system so far. To use it, push the entire top bar forward to accelerate. The way the drive works, you can easily decelerate as you come up to turns and accelerate naturally out of them. While there are other effective adjustable drives, this one is the smoothest we’ve used.
Typically, gas mowers stick with a steel deck and Cub Cadet is no different. It’s heavier but more durable than plastic and the self-propelled drive system eliminates the issue of pushing more weight.
Height Adjustment and Range
This Cub Cadet walk-behind mower is the only gas lawn mower we tested with a true single-point height adjustment. While it’s much easier than adjusting each wheel on its own, some mowers with it feel flimsier. The steel deck keeps the frame nice and rigid, so the single-point system is a win here.
There are 6 different heights you can adjust the mower to, ranging from 1.5″ to 4.25″ based on our measurements (Cub Cadet says 1.25″ to 3.75″). That’s a wide enough range to cover just about any species of grass you might have. Here in Florida, short-cut Bermuda lawns are the only ones that might need to be cut shorter and all of our grasses can handle cuts under 4″.
The Cub Cadet SC 900 sticks with a pretty standard 3 handle positions that lock in at the deck with a spring-loaded pin detent. The middle setting is best for most adults, with the other two making things more comfortable for taller or shorter folks.
Like most residential gas mowers, this Cub Cadet lawn mower comes with everything you need to bag, side discharge, or mulch your grass.
- Deck wash via hose connection
- SureStart recoil starting
The only feature that seems to be missing is a fuel cut-off valve. When the mowing season starts to slow, I prefer to run the gas out of the fuel line since my lawn doesn’t require a full tank to cut. I keep Sta-bil in my equipment fuel, so I’m not worried about what’s in the tank, but I don’t like to leave anything in the carburetor if I can help it.
Depending on where you shop, the Cub Cadet SC 900 runs around $449. While you can find quality mowers under $400 on the residential side, Cub Cadet’s performance and feature set still offer solid value at this price. They also back it with a 4-year warranty—the best among the gas mowers we tested.
The Bottom Line
The Cub Cadet SC 900 put on a clinic in our shootout, winning by a healthy margin over quality contenders from Craftsman, Husqvarna, and Troy-Bilt. There really isn’t a weak spot anywhere in its armor and it earns our highest recommendation for residential gas mowers.
Cub Cadet Walk-Behind Mower Manufacturer Specs
- Model Number: Cub Cadet SC 900
- Engine: 196cc Cub Cadet OHV
- Engine Start: Recoil w/ SureStart Guarantee
- Mulch Plug: Included
- Handle/Bail: Foldable Adjustable Loop w/ Indent and Overmold Bail
- Approximate Weight: 100 lbs
- Bagging: 3.1 bu. rear, dust blocking bag
- Cutting System: Cub Cadet Signature Cut
- Cutting Height: 1.25″ – 3.75″
- Deck Wash: Patented SmartJet high-pressure deck washing system
- Height Adjustment: Single-lever, 6-positions
- Cutting Options: 3-in-1 bag, mulch, side discharge
- Deck: 23″ steel
- Front/Rear Wheels: 9″/9″ new tread wheels
- Warranty: 4-year limited warranty
- MSRP: $449
For more on the Cub Cadet SC 900, visit www.cubcadet.com.