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small tiller/cultivator recomendation

Posted by exmar 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 15, 10 at 14:20

Hi Folks,
I originally and incorrectly posted this in the Garden Tractor section--got some good responses too...:-) I'm new here obviiously.

My situtation is that my Sears 2 cycle, 2 HP tiller after 12 very dependable years died due to broken gears in the trans. No parts are available as it was originally built by AMF, who is no more. Sears will however sell me the complete trans for $189+tax, S&H. Nope.

I use the small machine for tilling between rows in the veggie garden and occasionally spot tilling in the wife's flower beds. I have a big rear tine beast for the "heavy hauling."

When you look at small tillers, immediately, the Mantis chorus starts, leaning toward getting a 2 cycle machine from them. 1 year full refund and 5 year warranty is tough to beat. Also Amazon has this machine for $309 with free S&H.

My cncern with Mantis is simply that it would seem a machine that small (weight) would probably work best when pulled backwards and my application is simply steering it down rows in the garden. I've read reviews that they tend to bounce when going forward. This soil has already been worked and is very friable so input from Mantis owners would be appreciated.

Any other brands I should consider? Not impressed with the current craftsman line, and the Stihl machine with a dozen attachments doesn't impress me as I like "purpose built" machines. IMHO you can do one thing well, or a lot of things not so well.

Thanks for your time,


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: small tiller/cultivator recomendation

As a follow up to my original post, does anyone know anything about ARDISAM? The company is in Wisconsin, however the tiller is manufactured in China ( :-( ) "with our QC there 24/7" quote from an email from Ardiam. What intrigues me is that it has a drag stake and wheels, both independently adjustable which seems like someone knows something about tiller usage.
That is the link to Northern Tool where I found this machine. Ardisam states they have 550 service centers across the lower 48. I like the wheels and drag stake, but know nothing about the brand? They seem to make or at least market a lot of stuff, ice augers, chain saws, power washers, etc. etc. Price is #199 + S&H but cheaper than Mantis doesn't mean much if it doesn't hold up.

Thanks for your time,


RE: small tiller/cultivator recomendation

All tillers bounce when tilling hard ground, including the Mantis. But in well-tilled soil where the purpose is weed control, there isn't anything for the Mantis to bounce off of.

I'm not going to tell you that it is a highly steerable tiller in the forward direction because it isn't. However, IMO you won't find any small tiller that is. The beauty of the Mantis is its light weight. You can walk it forward and then pull it back during the tilling operation very easily. When that part of the row is done, you just repeat the process.

Like any power or hand tool, it takes some practice to figure out the best procedure but you will be hard-pressed to find a tougher, more durable or harder working tiller than a Mantis. Go ahead. Do your research but when it comes down to the crunch, you will end up buying the Mantis. However, when you get it....spend some time getting to know it. Do not judge it after the first 5 minutes of use.

The throttle lever is at your fingertips for a reason. Use it to help you control how the Mantis performs. It's not necessary to keep the tiller running wide open all the time. With some practice while trying various techniques, you and your new Mantis will begin to come together as a team and from that point on, you will be a believer.

RE: small tiller/cultivator recomendation

I love my Mantis. I have the Honda GX25 engine. You can even buy buy the new one with the Honda GX35 35cc engine.

It takes pratice. Do it on some bard dirt to get use to it. At first, it was jumping kind of bad. Took me like a day or too. Now I can move forward, then pull back to till, then move forward to a new spot and pull back to till and no bouncing at all.

Check out their dethatcher tine, work beautifully. Buy direct from Mantis, there warranty service is second to none. I have the best experience with them. They ship replacement parts direct to you and arrange to pick up the broken parts in a few days. You don't even have to step out the door or arrange anything.

If you don't want to mix oil, get the Honda engine. It is quiet. They have the new 35cc that suppose to be heavier and more powerful. But I never feel I need more power than what I have and NEVER read anyone complain the 2 cycle engine not enough power either.

one more hint for you.

A lot of times the Mantis come with the edge tine free. It has one tine and one wheel that you attach on one side and use one tine to edge. The edger tine is known not to work well. BUt for tilling very narrow strip, I actually put the wheel on one side and put a tine on the other side and use it to till between narrow space. The wheel support the tiller and glide along. It really works. I have long row of hedges along the cement side walk, there is a thin line of dirt in between and weeds grow. I let the wheel roll on the cement and let the tine till the thin strip between the hedges and the side walk. It really work. I use it to till in between plants to.

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