Finally bought a Mantis

exmarJanuary 16, 2011

After hearing about them for years and having used one a couple of times, finally bought one to replace a 2HP Sears "cultivator" that died after 10+ very reliable years.

The reason I'd not purchased one before was the fact that I don't like buying something, knowing I then have to buy additional parts from the dealer for big$$. Specifically, the kickstand. Should be included and not an expensive option. Noticed that had the two cycle with kickstand and edger for $329 and free shipping. The base unit was $299 so this was more in line with my thinking.

Snap to assemble, started right up, haven't used it yet as it's January here....:-) But so far am very pleased.

The tiller will be used for normal garden work, the edger seems an intriguing idea for edging the "inside" of the wife's many (!) flower beds which are built of 4 X 6 pressure treated lumber. Getting the grass which finds it's way underneath and sprouts against the wood is a pain. Hope it works.

I've read some of the reviews and things about this engine being difficult to start. I'll share my "secrets" on life with 2 cycle engines as I've got several here on the farm from various manufacturers. Don't use regular gas, go up one step in octane, makes a world of difference in starting. Don't use cheap oil, get a top notch oil, I like Stihl if the ratios match. Forget Stabil for winter storage, run them dry, pull the plug put a few drops of oil in and crank it a few times. While the plug is out throw it away and put in a new plug and you're ready to "rock and roll" come spring. I've done this for years and I use my 2 cycle stuff, not work on it....

Oh, one last word on "better" oil, most that I've seen have stabilizers included.

The DVD that came with the tiller was instructive but needs to be updated, It clearly stated to buy "proper octane leaded gas" .....:-)

Just Sharing,


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You'll love it. Do you use the synthetic Stihl oil?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:40PM
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i love my mantis but i always keep in mind it's a "boy", so i don't expect it to do a man's job.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:26PM
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First I am a 25 year 2 stroke mechanic. I tell my customers to buy the gas recomended in the manual and the factory oil.Next buy the amount of gas you need on friday dump the gas you don't use into your car sunday night. Then I show them this "spader book time discription 1.2 hours carb clean single. remove carb, clean with solvent, dry with compressed air,replace and test" . at our shop that comes to $ 95.25. 2 stroke oil from manufactures will not hurt your car and it might even help as the new ones are made with cleaners to prevent carbon buildup that use to plague the little motors. I do as I say because I would look pretty stupid working on my own stuff and I have all the toys snow sleds to mantis.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 12:11PM
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Hey Exmar,

Congratulations on your purchase. I had a Mantis for awhile. It did a good job once I learned the tricks to using it. But, since I have a large walk-behind tractor with tiller and I use a Glaser Wheel hoe for weeding, I didn't use it enough, and sold it. The lady who bought it loves it.

Hey Raven,

You've given about the best advice I've ever seen on here regarding 2 cycle engines - "Buy what you need on Friday and dump what's left on Sunday in your car". You should also mention though that they should run the tiller dry, but you kinda did with your "book time" explanation. I hope you don't mind if I steal your excellent explanation...


    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 2:04PM
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Thanks for the input. One of the great things about these forums is sharing what works for you and more importantly what doesn't. I've been using not regular, but the next grade up gas in all 2cycle engines on the farm, (6 at last count, sold the two outboards) for 10 years now. I find that using a higher octane gas makes for easier starting, etc. There have been no "crash and burns" to date.

I've been using 2 cycle engines for over 40 years, anyone remember when you bought a can of 30 weight oil and used it to mix with gas and in the oiler on chain saws? That was the manufacturer's recommendation.

I like your comment about putting the unused gas/oil in your car on Monday. Could get a little pricey though due to the cost of the oil. I think we all agree that whatever we buy at the pumps is a mystery fuel, certainly we all know that your comment about 3 days life expectancy is about right.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 7:36PM
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Ex: Yes recall using the 30 weight dino oil back on the farm in the early 60's with Mac 15 Chainsaw . Later when I bought the Pioneers 2 stroke technology reflected the change to 2 cycle caster based oils . Still have a bottle of Klotz R that I use for Nostalgia , moments lol .

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 10:08AM
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Since we're kicking around oil here, something I've wondered about. Noticed that some 2 cycle oils are "not for marine applications." ??? If it's a quality oil and the ratio is correct.... I've fished all my life and have always had a boat and still do. If I'm running an evinrude motor, use their oil. Never thought there was a difference though.

Yes,my first logging experiences in the 60's on the farm involved a Mcculloch. Boy was that a b---h to start, but the sawdust would fly.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Ex: Yeah the Marine Grade TCW-3 Oils have special rust inhibitors and other additives that are not recommended for air cooled engines , they can promote carbon deposits and cause ring and piston fouling and potential overheating issues . I have pretty well went to full synthetic Amsoil Sabre on all my 2-stroke applications other than my outboards. I'm currently contemplating switching to a Marine Grade Amsoil next spring for the Envinrude and Yamaha outboards at 70 and 100:1 respectively . Your right in that both the Mac and Pioneers both were rather temperamental and required religious servicing and proper starting procedure , but those Ole Girls would cut all day .

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 9:32AM
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Follow up to my original post. Actually used the Mantis today. We've having unseasonably dry and warm (70 today!) weather, so decided to get some spinach and radishes in.

Starting should have been a lot easier, but I persevered and after it warmed up, ran great. Followed the starting instructions explicitally and it was still cantankerous. It would only start and run on half choke till it warmed up. Specifically after it started and had been idling at half choke for a minute or two, pushed the choke back in and it immediately died. I'm thinking the carb adjustment needs to be tweaked, but not going to do that till it's had some break in time, which 20 minutes doesn't provide.

I suppose I'll get used to bouncing it forward and then dragging it back to get it to dig. This is in my garden which is very friable soil.

Going to investigate buying transport wheels or adapting some that I have in the barn. That seems to be the biggest drawback to this machine wheels would make it much, much better. e.g. You've finally got it running and want to run it wide open (liek any other 2 cycle) to get it warmed up but there's no easy way to elevate the tines. Mine came with the kick stand, but you can't "rear" it up on that as it disengages unless you put your foot against it.

Just learning pains I guess,


    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 4:02PM
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Hey exmar,

Most engines require a short warm-up period where the engine needs to be half choked.

What problem are you trying to solve with wheels? I don't recommend wheels for the Mantis. My F-I-L has an inferior knock-off brand I mess with from time-to-time when I'm at his place. It came with wheels which I took off after 5 minutes of use. They just get in the way. Mantis initially didn't offer wheels for their machines, but started offering them only because the knock-offs put wheels on theirs.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 6:04PM
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strelnikov(NE IL)

I have an old Mantis tiller that I inherited from my dad. All he had was the tiller but I bought the crevice cleaner and edger attachments. I use both of these (the crevice cleaner to remove moss and weeds from the sidewalk and brick patio and the edger on the lawn) but hardly ever use the tiller since I have a Simplicity rear mount walk behind and a Roto-Hoe rear mount walk behind.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 7:51PM
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ewalk watch the 100-1 closely. I have been to Mercurys plant 34 test ground. they buy and test everyones motors there. follow break in to the letter and then put at wide open till the engine dies. They then tear down to find fail point. When I was there in 1995 the winner was a 90 hp merc built in 1978. 4800 hours at WOT. (figure about 90 mph) most motors were in the 2000 hour range but the 100-1's were 1200-1500. The engine's were all serviced by the book on hours. We were lucky enough to have our service rep moved up to vp at merc. You would be amazed at what was being tested there. b+s, gm, ect. dyno loaded and computer screens that looked like NASA movies. stuff that did come out of there were the L6 corvet engine and an al. ford with an outboard engine that outpreformed anything but price.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 7:01PM
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The truth has been revealed! This Mantis is gonna get you into trouble!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 8:23PM
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Raven , Thanx for the heads up . The 100:1 ratio will be on the Yamaha which is Rated for this ratio from the Factory . The Older Evinrude has been used for over 5 yrs with 50:1 & 70:1 with Conventional Mineral Oil Marine Grade Oils. I'am Retired former Diesel Mechanic so I always ensure Plug Checks on 2-Strokes for Engine Performance Guide . I just have recently been convinced of Synthetic Oil transition on all my Engine Applications. Actually just did so on my Old F-250 International Navistar with over 350,000 Miles with Rotella-T 15W-40 Dino Oil used since new. However late this Fall I went with Full Synthetic Rotella , even Old Dogs can learn new tricks lol . Thanx for the Note of Caution though Dude , I understand your jest !

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 5:46AM
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I bought a mini 2 cycle mantis for my wife for our downsized garden about a year ago (2011). Big mistake. She won't use it. It is less than one year old, and even I have trouble starting it. You shouldn't have to drain the gas after every use, clean the carburetor constantly, replace the spark plug after a few months of light use because it is fowled. Never had these problems with other 2-cycle engines. Took it to a small engine shop who gave it a tune up ((after one year of minimal use?!?!?)) and it still is hard to start. Dies when you get to the end of the row. Bucks and twists if soil is compacted, and look out if you hit a root or rock! The lack of depth control results in it sitting in one place and spinning, lift it up and it bounces ahead. I have, and have used over the years, many 2 cycle pieces of equipment even though I prefer 4 cycle engines. I regret I ever bought this and won't buy another Mantis. My old tiller was bigger and heavier, but 1000 times better....even in a small garden.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:02AM
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Update to the original. Don't like the Mantis after using it for a season, cranky to start and unless you're in a perfect loam garden difficult to control.

My opinion is that all the folks who rave about them have never used a good balanced tiller, and the mantis is much better than a spading fork and rake. OK, it is light weight, and easy to pick up and stuff, but very, very limited.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 2:31PM
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I bought a Mantis a year ago this May. The main reason I bought it was the one year free trial and I had a lot of ditches to dig. It dug the ditches just fine and it has started like a dream every time I wanted to use it. I started all my equipment two days ago just to make sure everything was ready for this year, everything had last years gas in it and some of the engines did not run very well, but the Stihl and Mantis ran great. The Mantis and Stihl did have the high dollar Stihl oil in the gas, that may have helped. I am not sure if I want to keep the Mantis, but I really dont have a complaint with with it, it does bounce badly when you hit a rock and it is not great in the garden, but I have two other tillers to handle the garden. If I keep the Mantis it will be because my back is too shot to do much work and the Mantis is great when I have any digging to do.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:35PM
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OK, it's been 14 months. I still don't like it. Unseasonably warm here, so went out and filled and started everything. NOTE: Engines had been run dry last fall and a squirt of oil in the cylinder, then turned over to distribute. Started two four cycle tillers, one 2cycle tiller, one weedeater, one chainsaw, one 4 cycle 35 year old push mower, no problem. The Mantis? fought with it for about ten minutes got it to start, sort of, kept bogging down and wouldn't idle. I'm a fanatic about fuel additives to offset "mystery gas" and use stabil. tomorrow will dig out the book and (once again) adjust the carb.

Good news, it has a 5 year warranty, bad news, you have to disassemble and ship to factory in Pa. Local dealers? Yep, warranty only good if you bought it there, otherwise it's pay as you go.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 7:29PM
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