Zero-turn riding mowers, or ZTRs, are among the most convenient types of mowers. They mow faster, better, and require less effort and time than regular mowers. They also make clean and tight turns, making them perfect for lawns with lots of ornamentation.
However, these rideable machines aren’t very easy to transport between jobs due to their size and weight. So, will a zero-turn mower fit in your truck bed?
The short answer is most zero-turn mowers will fit into a truck bed, but that depends on the size of the mower’s cutting deck and the type of truck.
Which kinds of zero-turns can fit into a truck bed? Are there certain trucks that might not fit average-size ZTRs? And how do you even get a zero-turn on a truck?
This post will cover all these questions to help you choose the right zero-turn size for your truck. We’ll also cover ways to load a zero-turn onto a truck safely.
Will a Zero-Turn Fit in a Truck Bed?
There are many different types of both trucks and zero-turns, so there isn’t a one-answer-fits-all to whether zero-turns fit into a truck bed.
However, the variety of choices means that you can find something that works for your truck.
Which Zero-Turn Mowers Can Fit in a Truck Bed?
Average zero-turn mowers can range between 36 and 60 inches, but there are ZTRs on both ends of the scale. You’ll find models as small as 28 inches and others 70 inches in size with certain manufacturers.
Fitting anything larger than a 50-inch zero-turn in a truck bed is not really possible. Truck beds often don’t have more than 50 inches between the wheel wells, which is where your zero-turn will end up.
These numbers can be a bit misleading, though, since they don’t measure the actual width of the whole machine; they just measure the cutting deck width. So if your truck bed has precisely 48 inches of space between the wheel wells, you’ll need a zero-turn that’s at least one size smaller (46 inches.)
Any mower below 44 inches is likely to fit into most full truck beds, but you must measure your truck bed’s width as well as the zero-turn machine itself. So don’t just rely on the number in its name!
Which Type of Trucks Can Fit a Zero-Turn Mower?
Figuring out if your truck has enough space is as easy as measuring it, but other equally important considerations exist.
Full-size trucks average between 48 – 50 inches in width between wheel wells in terms of width. Compact trucks are usually smaller by 5 inches or more.
To figure out if your trucks will fit a zero-turn, measure the distance between the two wheel wells and go for a zero-turn that’s 2 inches smaller.
Besides dimensions, having the right equipment and setup to load ZTRs into your truck is essential. Some modified truck beds, for example, may not fit a zero-turn at all.
Finally, make sure your truck can handle the weight. All half-ton and one-ton trucks should fit a zero-turn with a cutting deck of 46 inches or smaller. They’ll also comfortably carry 1,500 lbs with no problems, as they have a payload anywhere between 3,000-7,000 lbs.
Compact trucks, however, will hardly be able to handle this weight or even have the correct width for that matter. They usually have a width of 42-46 inches between the wheel wells, so they can only fit the smallest sizes.
This works well with the payload rating of compact trucks, as smaller zero-turns can weigh around 800 lbs. Compact trucks can carry a payload of 1,000-2,000 lbs.
How to Load Zero-Turn Mowers onto a Truck?
You can do three things to load a zero-turn mower into a truck, depending on the amount of money and time you have to prepare. We’ve arranged them according to how safe they are.
However, you choose to load your zero-turn onto a truck, make sure to tie it down as soon as it’s loaded. A machine as heavy as a ZTR can take a lot of damage if it starts bumping around in your truck while you’re driving.
Invest in a Utility Trailer
The best way to transport a zero-turn or two is by loading it onto a utility trailer. This won’t take time, but it will require a reasonable budget. However, it’s also the most overall useful solution. And you won’t have to worry about the mower damaging or scratching the bed of your truck.
If you use a towing trailer, you won’t have as much of a headache driving up its ramp as you generally would. You’ll also have space for other things in your truck bed. Utility trailers might be an investment, but they’ll be worth it, given how useful they are.
Ensure you have space to store it and that your truck has the towing capacity for both the trailer’s weight and the weight of the zero-turn.
Buy a Ramp
Ramps are usually the first solution that comes to mind. They won’t take as much money, but finding the right ramp may take some calculations.
You’ll need a wide, strong ramp which is preferably arched to make up for the mower’s low ground clearance.
This arch will reduce the chances of the ZTR balancing on the edge of the truck bed or tailgate and possibly getting damaged. Unfortunately, if this happens, you might also damage the zero-turn itself.
Alternatively, you could buy a long ramp so you won’t need to worry about its degree of inclination. Another option is to use a hill to help you load your vehicle. Park the truck at the bottom of the small hill, this prevents the ramp from being too steep, making it easier to load the mower. In addition, you’ll be less likely to scrape the deck on the top of the ramp.
Watch this video to see how this guy loads his Timecutter riding mower onto the back of his truck.
Finally, remember to factor in your tailgate’s weight limit. Some tailgates can handle thousands of pounds, but others can only handle 400-500 lbs, so they need to be removed. In any case, it’s always best to remove the tailgate when loading machinery as heavy as zero-turns.
Elevate the Zero-Turn
This solution should be thought of more as an impromptu thing rather than a long-term solution.
The truck’s height is the biggest problem you’ll face when loading a zero-turn. However, you can counter that by placing the mower at a higher level than your truck.
Once you’ve done that, you may be able to drive the ZTR directly onto the truck or use wood planks for what should be a minimal distance (less than two feet.)
You shouldn’t load your mower onto a truck this way regularly because a lot of accidents can happen each step of the way. It’s not very safe and can be quite a headache.
The only exception to this is if your location has an area, such as an elevated platform or loading dock of any sort, that facilitates this process.
Zero-turns with cutting decks between 36-44 inches can comfortably fit into a full-size truck in terms of width and weight.
You may want to get an even smaller zero-turn with compact or midsize trucks since they have a smaller space between the wheel wells and a lower payload rating.
If you want anything more significant than that, you’ll need to do thorough measurements. The numbers you need to determine are whether a zero-turn will fit into a truck bed, the total width of the ZTR, its weight, the distance between the truck’s wheel wells, the truck, and the tailgate’s payload capacity.
Once you have these numbers, picking the right zero-turn will be as easy as it gets.