Vanguard Engines – Hitting Honda Head-on

Vanguard Engines

Vanguard Engines is now the commercial power side of the Briggs and Stratton brand. Vanguard engines build single and v-twin cylinder engines for OEM powerplants, and for repower as well. The new Vanguard single-cylinder engines include several new features, in an effort to be the class leader.

It’s not too difficult to find many Vanguard engines powering multiple OEM zero-turn mowers, with their small block and big block v-twin powerplants. The v-twins are available in a vertical and horizontal shaft, ranging from 479cc (13hp) to 810cc (28hp). With their foot in the door on the OEM zero-turn market, Vanguard engines offer many different bullets to choose from.


Vanguard realizes there is more opportunity in the OPE combustion engine world than just powering large mowers. The single-cylinder engine market, for both the OEM and repower, provides more opportunity for market growth and equipment improvement.

Check out our review of the Vanguard powered EFI 37hp Altoz 660i TRX Zero Turn.

Ground Up Engineering — Not Re-engineered

The easy route for Vanguard would have been to just re-engineer the existing Briggs and Stratton single cylinder engine. With the goal to capture the lion share of the single cylinder market, Vanguard knew they had to start from ground-zero. Market research confirmed the areas for improvement, such as improved starting, reduced maintenance, less noise and vibration, and better service and support.

Vanguard Engines

Proving Grounds – Vanguard 200 6.5HP

Vanguard 200 6hp
Vanguard 200 6.5hp

With the market research a driving factor, proven engineering at work, and proof-of-concepts complete, the new Vanguard Engines single cylinder now lives. First to hit the market in 2018 is the Vanguard 200 (6.5hp), but more are scheduled to follow. While the 6.5hp will ship this year, the additional powerplant models will roll out over the next two years.

By going at this with a clean slate, Vanguard was able to design all-new carburetion, ignition, and combustion systems, hence delivering reliable starting, regardless of temperature or environment. In fact, the new Vanguard engines start in temperatures as low as -20°F. Yes, that’s a negative twenty degrees below zero. Furthermore, all the fuel contact areas of the carburetor include a special corrosion and stale-fuel resistant plating, both to aid in starting and enhance durability.

Honda in the Crosshairs

Reduced Noise and Vibration
Reduced Noise and Vibration

While there are many players in the single-cylinder commercial engine market, currently, one sits atop the hill as king: Honda. The new single cylinder Vanguard engines are aimed at taking out big-red, in more ways than one. First off, the engine dimensions and bolt configuration allow the new Vanguard engines to be a drop-in solution for equipment powered by “other” engine manufacturers.

In addition to the engine mounting bolt configuration and dimensions, Vanguard engines even have multiple connections for controls (ie. throttle and ignition). Repowering with Vanguard engines now reduces or eliminates any need for fabrication.

Sloshing fuel in a fuel tank and carburetor can wreak havoc on an engine, especially over bumpy terrain. With no fuel shutoff, during transportation, typical carburetors may leak fuel past the seals and passages, making its way to the engine oil. Diluting engine oil with gasoline will create undue wear and even cause catastrophic failure. The new TransportGuard from Vanguard is a single ignition and fuel shutoff, designed to stop this fuel intrusion.

Combatting Oil Dillution
Combatting Oil Dilution

Maintenance Savings – Parts and Labor

These new Vanguard engines’ oil management systems allow for maintenance intervals (oil changes) for up to 200 hours. The industry standard for recommended maintenance on small engines is 100 hours, so Vanguard doubles this. Doubling the maintenance interval provides less downtime for maintenance, less labor for maintenance, and a 50% cost savings for oil, filters, etc.

Cyclones for Free – Vibrations Discounted

Cyclonic Air Filtration
Cyclonic Air Filtration

Cyclonic air filtration systems come standard on the Vanguard single-cylinder engines. Separating larger particles from the air filter, with the cyclone effect, extends the air filter’s life for up to 600 hours. Other manufacturers offer cyclonic filtration but typically as an upgrade, whereas Vanguard is standard. Sound and vibration are also addressed in the new single-cylinder Vanguard engines. The engine’s main components are engineered to decrease vibration, enhancing performance, durability, and operator comfort. In addition, engineers not only reduced the decibel levels, they also decreased the perceived annoying tones.

Overnight Supply Network

When dealing with the commercial side of the OPE market, Vanguard also uncovered that customers felt other manufacturers came up short on service and support. Vanguard states they are providing unmatched customer support, from training to warranty processing, allowing their dealers to be more productive and profitable.

Vanguard claims they can provide next-day delivery of more than 50,000 parts and replacement engines to their commercial dealer network.  This is all done through a single national distributor hosting nine (9) different locations in the United States. Training for their dealers can be done online, or through 11 different training centers. Vanguard engines are backed by the industry’s only global 3-year commercial warranty.


Conclusion – Vanguard Engines

We recently visited the Vanguard engines group at the World of Concrete 2018 in Las Vegas. Not only were we privy to presentations from engineers and other higher-brass in the Briggs organization, but we also were able to see “under-the-covers” of the new Vanguard single-cylinder engines. Even though Vanguard may not come out and say it in their literature on the new engines, there is no doubt they are aiming to take away some of the Honda foot-hold in the OEM and repower market. This is a big feat, but we do like the idea of starting from the ground up, allowing for brand-new concepts.

Vanguard Horsepower at Play
Vanguard Horsepower at Play

It’s also great to see that Vanguard is not just stopping at building a great engine. The support and parts network has to be strong and fast, so the dealers feel comfortable with making a change. The 3-year warranty also speaks volumes for the confidence in the new Vanguard single-cylinder engines.

We look forward to getting a working Vanguard 200 in for review, and we’re already working on a few options for equipment repower. We’ll be sure to bring you all the news, pictures, and video of said review, so stay tuned. Click for more information on All Vanguard Repower Engines .

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