Push Mower Reviews

Battery-Powered Lawn Mowers

Feature Set
Battery Efficiency
Cutting Speed
Cutting Area
Noise Level
Value
Final Thoughts

In the broad landscape of what's available now for self-propelled battery mowers, Ryobi makes the grade as a worthy option. And with its current $100+ price drop, it's looking like an even better value. 

Overall Score 3.8 Shootout Results

Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek Lawn Mower – 40V Self-Propelled RY40LM10Y


Ryobi has a long and storied career of making affordable and reliable tools for the DIY market, and the brand’s foray into the OPE world has had a similar thrust. The newest additions to their 40V line of lawn equipment have the same sort of feel to them: they’re not breaking the bank, but still meet the demands of the average homeowner. When the Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek self-propelled mower showed up at the shop for our Best Battery-Powered Mower Review, we expected a mower that continues that trend.

But Ryobi is moving up in the world with a new Smart Trek self-propelled drive and build that targets the upper tier of battery-powered lawn mowers. There are actually two versions of this mower currently. The Ryobi RY40LM10Y is what this review is on. Keep your eyes open for its 19″ brother soon.

Pros

  • True 21″ cutting width
  • New sliding deck height adjustment
  • Sliding handle height adjustment
  • Single-point height adjustment
  • Extra battery storage bay

Cons

  • No visible battery charge indicator on mower
  • Super slow charging (5 – 6 hours for a 6.0Ah battery)

Shootout Results

The Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek lawn mower introduces several new designs on standard features. Most of them are easily a win and the Smart Trek self-propelled drive takes some getting used to.

Its performance is right on par for anyone who keeps up with their lawn cutting on a regular basis and we like it as an option for lots 1/4-acre or less. Of course, you can always double that with an extra battery.

In the broad landscape of what’s available now for self-propelled battery mowers, Ryobi makes the grade as a worthy option. And with its current $100+ price drop, it’s looking like an even better value.

Battery-Powered Self-Propelled Mower Ranking: 10th Place

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Performance

Curious about how we went about collecting the data that guided us toconclusions about this mower? Check out our cordless mower shootout! our

Cutting Power

We started out our speed and power testing by measuring the mower’s no-load speed. It gives us a good baseline for comparison when we start adding more pressure to the motor. The Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek mower started off in the middle of the pack with 2836 RPM with a 177.1 MPH tip speed on its 21″ blade.

Yes, I know I used 21″ twice in that last statement, but there’s a reason for it. Some manufacturers list the deck size, not the blade diameter. We’re just confirming that Ryobi really does have a 21″ cutting swath. In fact, only Ryobi and Echo use a true 21″ blade on their battery-powered mowers. Everyone else in our testing used a smaller one.

Moving on!

Ryobi 21" Smart Trek Lawn Mower - 40V Self-Propelled RY40LM10Y

We added a light, maintenance-cut type load to simulate the stress you’d put on a mower during a routine weekly cut. The Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek mower pushed the second-highest speed with a 2838 RPM rate and 177.2 MPH blade tip speed.

Notice nothing really changed for the mower over the no-load test and the light-duty testing. In fact, most of our brushless battery-powered lawn mowers didn’t see much change.

When we put it under a heavy load, this Ryobi lawn mower actually lost a step or two. This model was one of only 3 mowers to drop speed under a heavy load. Other brushless and even some brushed motors kicked up higher when the going got tough.

The Smart Trek finished the heavy load testing down 7.2 MPH with a 170 MPH blade tip speed well behind the 200+ MPH leader. But don’t judge it too harshly just yet. There’s still one more test to run.

Torture Test

Simulated scenarios weren’t enough for us. We selected some of the beefier models from the shootout and chucked them into the deep end with our torture test. After letting our grass grow to obscene lengths (5 weeks of growth), we walked our mowers at a constant 2.5 mph at a cutting height of 2-1/2″. When the blades stopped, we measured how far each one made it.

Ryobi 21" Smart Trek Lawn Mower - 40V Self-Propelled RY40LM10Y

The Ryobi Smart Trek made it 20.5′. That’s on the short side for the cordless mowers. Of course, because grass can be an inconsistent and varied thing, we didn’t include these results when factoring scores for our rankings.

There are a couple of takeaways here. First, Ryobi does an excellent job of cutting when you stick to a regular schedule. It’s also maintaining enough speed to cut through deeper grass. You just need to slow down and cut half swaths or set your cutting height higher until you get things back under control.

Cutting Area

Cutting power is really only half of the equation when we’re looking at battery-powered mowers. We also like to know how long they’ll run for. After all, the world’s toughest mower won’t do us a whole lot of good if it dies within 10 minutes. So, we strapped our mowers up to a maintenance load and recorded how long they ran for until the batteries drained.

Ryobi 21" Smart Trek Lawn Mower - 40V Self-Propelled RY40LM10Y

The Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek self-propelled lawn mower, moving at a constant 2.5 mph, made it 26 minutes before wearing out its 6.0Ah battery (216 Wh). Teasing that information out, we expect it to mow up to 10,010 square feet on a charge. That’s just under a quarter acre (0.23 acre) in ideal circumstances. You’ll likely get less area than that on a charge if you’re grass has grown thicker.

By the time you pop a house and landscaping down, we like this model for lot sizes 1/4-acre or less.

Noise Level

One of the benefits of going cordless revolves around noise. These mowers will almost always operate at a lower decibel level than your traditional gas mowers.

In this case, the Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek lawn mower generated 82 dB(A) under no load. That’s pretty quiet, but for comparison’s sake, it’s in the middle of the range for battery-powered mowers that we tested. The quietest self-propelled mower ran at 78 dB(A), while the loudest rang out at 88 dB(A). On the push mower side, one model dropped as low as 74 dB(A).

With gas mowers that we’ve tested running 86 – 94 decibels, Ryobi definitely gives you a significantly quieter experience.

Feature Set

Self-Propel Drive

One of the big selling points of the 21″ Ryobi Smart Trek mower is the Smart Trek self-propel drive. This feature adjusts the mower’s self-propel speed to match your walking speed. Basically, when you push the handle inward, the drive engages and the mower starts to move forward. The more pressure the mower senses from your push force, the faster the mower moves.

Ryobi 21" Smart Trek Lawn Mower - 40V Self-Propelled RY40LM10Y

It’s an interesting concept and it works well on consistent terrain. When you’re dealing with the bumps and humps on a varying lawn, it can be a bit more herky-jerky. At first, we weren’t crazy about the feel. However, you can reach a happy medium.

If you relax your arms a bit and let the mower close the distance between it and you when you reach inclines or tougher patches, you can reduce some of the accelerations. It’s not a perfectly seamless transition from Ryobi’s previous systems, but it sets up new muscle memory in just a few cuts.

Steel Deck

We generally prefer a steel deck like Ryobi’s, especially when the mower has a self-propel drive to neutralize the weight penalty. The increased durability of steel more than makes up for the lighter weight that plastic would bring, especially when the mower’s doing the hard work of driving itself.

Ryobi 21" Smart Trek Lawn Mower - 40V Self-Propelled RY40LM10Y

Height Adjustment and Range

We also like the single-point height adjustment that we’re seeing more and more of with battery-powered mowers. Moving one lever, as opposed to adjusting a lever at each of the wheels, makes setting your cut height super simple.

Ryobi 21" Smart Trek Lawn Mower - 40V Self-Propelled RY40LM10Y

Ryobi has a solid new concept here. The sliding handle allows you to set the height one-handed and without having to physically lift the mower. It gives you 7 height levels to choose from, ranging from 1.375″ to 4.5″ (that’s according to our measurements; Ryobi states that it ranges from 1″ – 4″).

Handle Positions

Another thing that Ryobi does right with the 21″ Smart Trek mower revolves around the handle design. It looks a little unorthodox, but it feels really comfortable. It has a variable sliding handle adjustment. It’s super easy to adjust – just use the thumb tabs to unlock the handle and then slide the handle to where you want it.

Plus, it folds over really easily to allow for vertical storage. Simply press down on the foot lever to fold the handle over.

Overall, Ryobi’s rethinking of traditional height and handle adjustments is a big win.

Discharge Options

All of your standard discharge options are included on this model. The Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek self-propelled lawn mower lets you mulch, bag, and side discharge. If you’re going the bagging route, Ryobi includes an easy-lift single-motion release and lock on the bag. You just pull the bag up to release it and drop it back into place to lock it back in.

Additional Features

  • LED headlights
  • Self-propel deactivation lock (lockout switch)

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Value

The Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek self-propelled lawn mower is the top of the line for Ryobi right now. It originally came out at the beginning of the season for $599 with a 6.0Ah battery and charger, but Home Depot currently has it for $479.

Ryobi backs it with a solid 5-year warranty.

The Bottom Line

The Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek lawn mower introduces several new designs on standard features. Most of them are easily a win and the Smart Trek self-propelled drive takes some getting used to.

Its performance is right on par for anyone who keeps up with their lawn cutting on a regular basis and we like it as an option for lots 1/4-acre or less. Of course, you can always double that with an extra battery.

In the broad landscape of what’s available now for self-propelled battery mowers, Ryobi makes the grade as a worthy option. And with its current $100+ price drop, it’s looking like an even better value.

Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Specs

  • Model Number: Ryobi  RY40LM10Y
  • Battery: 40V, 6.0Ah lithium-ion
  • Drive Type: Smart-Trek rear-wheel self-propelled
  • Speed: Variable, up to 4.1 mph
  • Deck Size: 21″
  • Deck Material: Steel
  • Cut Height: 1.5″ – 4″
  • Deck Height Adjustment: Single-point adjustment, 7 positions
  • Cutting Options: mulching, bagging, and side discharge
  • Weight: 79 lbs
  • Recommended Yard Size: Up to 1/2 acre (we recommend 1/4 acre or less)
  • Warranty: 5-year limited
  • Price: $599 at Home Depot ($479 at the time of writing)

For more information about the Ryobi 21″ Smart Trek self-propelled mower, visit Ryobitools.com.

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