LM2021 Review, POWER+ 20" LAWN MOWER WITH STEEL DECK

  • 4
  • Article
  • Updated 2 years ago
  • (Edited)
Review time...

I have a batch of first gen equipment and it was time to swap, so all new 4th/5th gen?

20" steel mower, backpack blower, and the new mutli-tool systems.

First up and most important, the LM2021 mower.

The good:

Glad to see they implemented nearly all the changes I recommended since the first model.  No more lost key.  No more huge nose on the front of the mower that makes it difficult to move. Etc.

Motor wise, the new brushless is substantially different from the first gen.  The first gen (for lack of better way to describe it) sounded like a very loud weed wacker.  Was it quieter than a gas mower, absolutely, but nothing that was mind blowing.  This new motor is substantially quieter in operation, like the blower on lowest setting.  It also has a sucking/hissing sound like a dyson vacuum cleaner.  Power wise, I haven't been able to stress it much due to some major design limitations (we'll get to that in a minute), but it appears to pack quite a bit more punch.  I purposely put it in the dirt and sections where it should bog a bit and it kept rolling through.  As expected, this all looks good.

Much more solid of a unit due to the steel deck, but it's not too heavy.  It still feels substantially less weight than a gas model, but still has the ease of maneuverability like the previous plastic/poly models.  Should hold up well long term and allow for a bit more ease of cleaning.

The bad:

Possibly wheels, to be determined.  I was concerned with nearly 100% plastic wheels on the old model, but they held up incredibly well.  A common issue with gas mowers due to weight, is the wheels developing a horrible wobble to them.  I HOPE with the added weight of the metal deck that this does not become an issue now with this model.

Same lazy, head in the sand, designers built some of the electronics.  There is so much tech already built into the mower and battery, yet EGO continues to completely ignore customer requests for something other than GREEN GOOD RED BAD.  I can get this option in a $5 flashlight EGO, come on.  This technology exists in the current model, in the chargers, and numerous other applications, could very easily and very inexpensively added, but they are too lazy or are just ignoring customer requests.  I don't need a 10" LCD panel with RPM's, temperature, humidity, time, soccer scores, my heart-rate, oh and by the way the battery status... Just give me a percentage, or we'd even settle for 4-10 LED lights showing a countdown.  Nothing stinks more than trying to finish a job, only to have 1/3 left to do in the front yard and RED CIRCLE OF DEATH appears.

Let's be honest, there is no 100% appeasing everyone when it comes to ride height.  Us southern guys/gals will state that we need to scrape the dirt while drinking sweet tea, and the notherners ZERMEHGERD CANT CUT LESS THAN 8" HIGH OR WE WILL ALL DIE (hehe, born and raised there, simmer down, it's a good joke).  That being said, again so many possibilities for greatness, so many lazy engineers.  This unit cuts at 1.5-1.75" MINIMUM which is WAY too high for the spring dense grasses like bermuda.  Basically bermuda and other southern grasses basically die off on the surface but the roots stay alive.  Early spring, everything starts to "sprout" from the soil again.  In order to ensure the lawn grows OUT and not UP, in turn filling in nice in thick, you want to cut it often and low.  I cut with my old mower 6 or so days ago, we've had good rain and the grass is filling in, and in lowest setting the new mower barely touched the tips of the grass.  It should have cut a good .5-.75 off ideally.  The new lift system is MUCH better than the old, and they had so many options to put in more settings!  There are HUGE gaps where if they put a slightly smaller lever and thicker metal, they could have put 10 settings on this thing!  There is no mechanical reason not to have done so!  So moral of the story here is, due to lazy engineers, those of us with thick short lawns need to be prepared to waste excess time mowing the lawn every couple of days throughout the spring to get a healthy lawn re-started, buy a different mower, or get ready to start some modifications out of the box to get it to work where it should be.


So the summary, looks great, will perform well, still need to fire some of the designers who ignore the obvious :D



Part of the new fleet:


Too long for early spring bermuda:


Shortest setting:


So much possibility wasted!


Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb

Posted 2 years ago

  • 4
Photo of TK

TK

  • 4,196 Points 4k badge 2x thumb
Wonders why the change to a steel deck? How much is the added weight? Thanks
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
To be honest, not 100% sure.  The manual on the website and that shipped with the mower do not match the part number, so I'm not positive the information is correct.  If it is correct, it doesn't appear to be a huge change in weight.  Moving and lifting it it feels like more, but that could be psychological.
Photo of Mr. J

Mr. J

  • 118 Points 100 badge 2x thumb
Thank you for the information on the new mower. Just wonder, has the mulching improved over the other models?
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Can't comment yet, will once the grass gets longer and into a real mulching mode.
Photo of ClarkM

ClarkM

  • 1,544 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Grow...Faster...
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Mulching I can not comment, but I can definitely say the power is MUCH higher than the gen1.  Spots my gen1 would have bogged down and gone yellow light, this one didn't even change RPM.  Power is drastically increased from what I can tell.
Photo of David HD

David HD, Champion

  • 34,626 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
I would be very curious to it's ability to mulch cut, as I do mostly mulch cut on my lawn all season long - except the first Spring cut and last Fall cut. Please keep us posted ... :-)
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
Thanks for a good first look at the new steel deck mower!

You aren't the first to complain about the minimum height being too tall.  I wonder if there's more to it than what we can see?  I.E. some other legal/functional/mechanical reason for keeping the blade higher off the ground?  Dunno, but it seems like it would be easy to make it cut lower.

Agreed 120% on the battery power indicator.  When Ego first launched I figured they would introduce a new battery design two years in to entice upgrades.  Here we are in the fourth season and still, the one universal complaint about Ego, mentioned in the vast majority of all product reviews, is the two-stage battery power indicator.  A three or four stage indicator could be implemented without even changing the three color LED already used in the battery.

Why Ego, why?
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
I really don't see a mechanical reason for it, but it is certainly possible there is a regulatory reason somewhere in the world.  However, this doesn't seem to be the situation with other mowers in the US market at least as noticed via walking around various home repair chain stores.
Photo of Ken

Ken, Champion

  • 71,612 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
I'm wondering whether pushing the blade so close to the ground, where the grass is denser, would just bog down a battery-powered mower. That's just speculation on my part, though.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Previously EGO models, with less power/efficiency, already had this design.  As mentioned, I think the low setting on my last mower was functionally a good 1/2-3/4" or so lower roughly, which is a pretty significant change for this type of grass.
Photo of (a)Typical Engineer

(a)Typical Engineer

  • 26,452 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
The correct mower design for cutting putting greens is a reel mower, not a rotary mower.
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
Here are the cutting heights for the 20" and 21" mowers from David Cline's post:

https://community.egopowerplus.com/eg...



And here are the specs for the new 20" steel deck:



So it combines the lower height of the original 20" with the 4" height of the 21".
Photo of David Cline

David Cline

  • 36,932 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
Looks like it's time for me to update the old comparison table!

Personally I would rather have seen a 7th height added to keep the height differences smaller. Nothing like starting to cut at your desired height, getting 1-2 passes in before realizing you need to raise the height, and leaving a 3/4" height difference in the middle of your yard!
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
I noticed the step from 1-2 is now only 10mm with the new mower. Perhaps that's why, to give a little finer adjustment at the lower heights?

If you do update your chart you might want to re-visit your metric conversions... 25.4mm = 1.0"

Sorry to be a stickler, it must be a Canadian thing. :-D
Photo of David Cline

David Cline

  • 36,932 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
Those were from the manual (conversions as printed), so it must be wrong in the manua (s). It didn't even occur to me to check them. It is interesting that the equal spacing on the first generation was 15mm, then equal spacing at 0.5" on the second generation. Now third generation is not even spacing and appears to be designed in mm with conversions to US (fraction, not decimal) measurement.

Three generations... 1, B, III
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Amusing response (a)Typical Engineer, that gave me a chuckle.  Thankfully putting greens are not even remotely close to this grass height, but again amusing none the less.

Now this is interesting.  This is precisely why I was surprised as I know I glanced at the ride heights before I purchased and didn't expect much of an issue.  I should have not seen a substantial difference in ride height between old and new.  Going back on my notes, my old mower was actually a bit lower than the 30mm advertised (actually about 25mm).  

Great info on the heights and screenshots, however completely wrong unfortunately!

Busting out the remote control ride height tools I did some measurements on a flat surface (checked with a level).  These are tools that click at 1mm increments that we slide under the chassis at different locations to confirm the different levels of ride height on all four corners to modify the handle characteristics via shock/spring/oil/droop changes.  A 1-2mm difference when propelling a 8lbs electric 1/8th scale buggy at 50mph down a straight and heading into a high speed sweeper could either cause lack of steering due to the front pushing or excess front grip causing the vehicle to turn in too aggressively.  For a simple tool, they are incredibly accurate also.

Before you question if the blade changes height when spinning, etc... I placed the mower at different spots in the lawn today and the blade is right at the tip of the grass, so I think there is very little vertical change between mowing and stationary.

So here is the REAL ride height data for the steel mower.  #1-2 are incredibly accurate as measured by the gauge.  #3-6 honestly, less so as the tools I have only go up to 55mm and I used a small square to visually inspect at the higher heights (probably +/- 1mm).

1- 38mm / 1.5" (+8mm off from spec)
2- 47mm / 1.85" (+7mm off)
3- 65mm / 2.55" (+10mm off)
4- 74mm / 2.91 (+4mm off)
5- 93mm / 3.66 (+8mm off)
6- 107mm / 4.21 (+7mm off)

This explains why I was surprised with the height last night on the initial mow.  The entire system is 4-10mm off at different settings and I'm looking at a difference of about 13mm between the mowers of I believe the same spec'd ride height between a previous model and current model.

(Edited)
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
Waddaya know, the 107mm number from David Cline's original chart was right on the money!
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Just the wrong mower, chart, and specs ;)  It doesn't really match any of the available charts, but is certainly closer to the higher 21" chart than the lower 30mm it is suppose to be.
Photo of (a)Typical Engineer

(a)Typical Engineer

  • 26,452 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
Maybe at some point Ego will introduce a digital height gauge (accurate to 0.01mm); and here I thought we were cutting grass, not making a Grand Piano...
Photo of Jacob

Jacob

  • 64,508 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
Ha. Good point
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Dismiss and poke fun if you would like (a)Typical Engineer, to people who don't have turf grasses this isn't an issue.  I lived in the midwest, I was able to mow my bluegrass and rye anywhere between 2-5" and it as perfectly happy year round.  I will never use settings 4-6, and even at 95-105 degree seasons we are still maxing out at about 2-2.5"  So joke away, but it does matter to us.

It's the same argument about people who thought those of us that were asking for edgers were crazy.  Here, if I do not edge for 3-4 months, the grass will grow completely over my driveway 12" or so.
Photo of David Cline

David Cline

  • 36,932 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
I am confused where you got your specs—the chart I made is from the manual and most of your measured heights match exactly. Those that are off are all within 3mm difference.

What are you looking at to say they are off by 10mm??
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Negative, looking at the paper manual in front of me now.  This is the 20" steel, which has the 30-100mm, not the 41-107mm advertised.

1- Actual 38mm -- Manual 30mm (+8mm off from spec)
2- Actual 47mm -- Manual 40mm (+7mm off)
3- Actual 65mm -- Manual 55mm (+10mm off)
4- Actual 74mm -- Manual 70mm (+4mm off)
5- Actual 93mm -- Manual 85mm (+8mm off)
6- Actual 107mm -- Manual 100mm (+7mm off)
(Edited)
Photo of David Cline

David Cline

  • 36,932 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
It is uncanny that the updated specs are so far off, yet nearly perfectly match the previous specs. Almost like they published the wrong chart.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
It is still off quite a bit, but certainly closer for sure.
Photo of Amber F.

Amber F., Official EGO Rep

  • 67,942 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
Guys, we checked with our experts and the specs are not off. Our measurements are taken when the mower is resting on all four wheels. The way you’ve been measuring, with the mower on its side, does not include the wheels’ small tolerances.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Negative Amber, sorry your experts are wrong, or they are verifying a mower that does not meet (even close) the specs of the one I received.  The original post was eyeballed yes, while leaning on it's side.

However on the post with the mm measurements, they were not.  I took a measurement using a ride height gauge, on a flat surface, with the wheels on the ground, with the ride height gauge between the table and the bottom of the blade.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Recording a video now I will post to show you the measurements and stats.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Amber, you can show this to the experts, as I explained how I was measuring.  It's a hidden video, but you can use the link directly.

https://youtu.be/Rq0UX9EGDlU
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
Eric, it looks like the height adjuster handle that locks into the selector is a piece of bent rod (a screen capture from your video):


Am I seeing that right?  If so, do you think you would be able to "tweak" it a little to get the height in line?  I'm wondering if there's a slight variation in how it's bent, or whether it could have somehow been bent after manufacture, that could affect the height?

Just thinking out loud again...
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Certainly possible the rod is somehow bent out of spec or not correctly aligned.

As well, let's just say I also found "ride height position 0" ;)  I will post on that when I take some pictures.
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
I think I may be able to guess... :-)
Photo of Jacob

Jacob

  • 64,508 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
Hover mode. Hehehe.
Photo of Amber F.

Amber F., Official EGO Rep

  • 67,942 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
We have passed your comments and video on to the team. They are double-checking everything as we speak. 
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
No problem Amber, glad to help.  For me, I'm okay as I have some workarounds for now.  I'm sure however they will want to follow up with spec clarifications and/or the manufacturing partners if something is off.  Let me know if they need anything else, or you can pass my info on to them if they want to speak directly.
Photo of Amber F.

Amber F., Official EGO Rep

  • 67,942 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
We have thoroughly investigated the matter and can conclusively say that we’ve gotten to the bottom of it. 

First off, just to be clear, let’s define cut height as the length of the grass blades left right after being cut by a mower. With this in mind, the next step would be to measure the height of the mower’s blade tip when it’s on its lowest position. You’ll want to note here that any given mower’s blade is NOT perfectly horizontal, but rather tilted forward a bit. Thus, the lowest cutting position of a blade is at the front of the deck.

Now that we’ve established the ground rules, cut height can be measured as the distance from the ground to the blade’s tip (from its front position). Keep in mind that there is a slight degree of tolerance here. Furthermore, this is the same method used by other popular mower brands like Honda and Toro.

We’re pretty sure the discrepancy between our figures and those proposed by the community stem from measuring the blade’s tip when it was not in its lowest position. 

Whew! So that’s how we determine cut height, in a nutshell. Thank you guys for being so savvy!
Photo of David Cline

David Cline

  • 36,932 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
Thanks for the answer Amber, but this seems like a strange design. Wouldn't this lead to a wavy cut pattern with the grass near the wheels cut longer than the grass at the center of each pass?  How much lower is the center front than the sides?
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
This is great information, a completely wrong answer to the problem, but great information hehe

I just tested and there is indeed a difference from front to rear of about 1.5mm total (so .75mm center to front, .75mm center to rear).  So this is really a VERY small forward tilt, nothing drastic at all that would have even a noticable difference on cutting height.  That still makes the front of the mower height 37mm in setting one, 7mm off spec for this model and 2mm higher than spec for the taller (35mm) mowers (which this is not suppose to be).

Experts back to the drawing board... Experts back to the drawing board... ;)
Photo of szwoopp

szwoopp, Champion

  • 93,924 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
What is the point of all of this.  I move the height adjustment to a lower number and my grass is cut shorter.  I move it to a higher number and my grass is cut longer.  Thus the adjustment lever works as designed.  I never considered checking the height back to to the manual.  Do you guys actually care if your grass is 30mm or 38mm or 40 mm. I just don't understand.

Creating an additional setting zero to add an additional option - that makes sense to get a lower desired cutting height. 

But that it cuts at 30 mm instead of 38mm - did you look up the heights before purchasing the mower to make sure it had the one you wanted ?  If not - why does it matter
(Edited)
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
All the info is right here for reading. Short answer, yes with turf grasses the low settings are quite important and being quite a bit off from advertised matters. Images and all are right here explaining.....
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
It is just as important as additions of higher settings on current models (in comparison to original) because it was scalping long grass.
Photo of TK

TK

  • 4,176 Points 4k badge 2x thumb
scwoopp, I agree..  Many just want to be right with their theory.
Photo of Jacob

Jacob

  • 64,508 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
Get a reel mower if you need that kind of accuracy. Seriously.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Amazing... people flipped their (#%@(*&# over the original model because it didn't cut high enough, pitchforks and all, knowing that when the bought the mower to start with. That half inch, (less variance I'm talking about), and built to spec, was the life and death of their lawn. However, those of us that just want it to cut as advertised (and yes, specs were looked at) because we have turf grasses, we're just being picky and unrealistic and should just buy a different product.

Amazing how people can hop on the "get over it" bandwagon, until it impacts them directly then somehow it's a major problem.  This is the case even after being shown WHY it actually matters to those of us that have turf.

And no problem that I've probably called out a QA, design, or documentation issue.  I'm just pursuing my "theory" (of facts).

Fact: The mower can and does work, but it needs modification to do what it claims it can do out of the box, but doesn't.  Somehow I'm the problem here... 
(Edited)
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
The tread on the tires is about 1/8" deep, so if you figure that sinks into the lawn instead of elevating the mower you're down another 3mm... only off by 4mm now. ;-)
Photo of szwoopp

szwoopp, Champion

  • 93,924 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
Eric I was just asking as it made no sense to me.
Asked and answered. Have at it until it satisfies what you need.
Photo of Amber F.

Amber F., Official EGO Rep

  • 67,962 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
Eric, positive or negative, it’s thoughtful feedback like this that makes this community great.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
No problem Amber.  End of the day the brand is great, but still new and hopefully ready to continuously improve.
Photo of TK

TK

  • 4,196 Points 4k badge 2x thumb
Tune in for the next episode....
Photo of TK

TK

  • 4,196 Points 4k badge 2x thumb
Ok, so the blade ANGLE is like an airplane prop with a fixed angle of pitch. The greater the pitch the more air you draw.
Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
Amber is referring to the angle of the axis the blade spins on. The axis isn't perpendicular to the ground, it's tilted towards the front of the mower slightly so the leading edge of the blade cuts slightly closer to the ground than the trailing edge.

She's saying the front of the blade is the closest point to the ground and the cutting height should be measured there, not at the side or rear of the deck.
Photo of Dave .

Dave .

  • 20,430 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
What kind of gas mowers are you talking about that have wheel wobble?  I've had mowers with more than 10 years on them without wheel wobble.  Are you talking about el-cheapo brands?
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Troy Bilt with Honda motors, etc.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Update and new items...

I forgot to mention this originally.  It's semi cosmetic, I can fix it, but it's the little things that make "joe consumer" irritated when they spend 2-3x the price of a normal mower.  On the folding engagement handle, the pin is too big or the holes are too small.  Normally you squeeze the handle, but in this case once it's lined up, you have to pull the handle in the wrong direction where you normally wouldn't, in order to force it into the hole all the way.  Won't take me but a minute or two with a dremmel, but simple things like this should easily be found during the design and QA testing.  If they had performed extremely basic QA function testing, they would have immediately realized the parts didn't match up properly.  The shine isn't glare from the sun, it's where the surface has already worn away and the metal is getting scrapped away as it's forced in.  Simple fix on my part, but something that shouldn't happen.



So back to the height issues.  I inspected the unit and found no signs of any breakage, bending, or anything that would accidentally lead to excess height my mower has.  It is certainly possible the rod was not bent at the right angle (and honestly I fully expect this to be the explanation the "experts" come back with).  None the less, on my mower, I found the undocumented "setting zero" that is missing in the manual ;) A little dremmel work to create a notch and to move the handle lower than it should go and I have 29mm ride height (1/2" from where setting one is, but only 1mm height wise from where the spec should be).  Grass is much happier.



So for those poking fun because they don't get it, here is the difference between a healthy spring bermuda grass vs an unhealthy.  The line in the middle you can see is the property line.  The grass in the picture gets the exact same water (my sprinkler system throws into their yard), same fertilizer (I go into their yard a bit), etc.  These pictures are 12" away from each other. Healthy bermuda will actually choke out weeds. Also, if it gets longer, I can cut 2 inches off without issue. If they do that next door in another month or two, it will cut nearly 100% of the green off and be left with a completely brown lawn that has to then try to recover. In about a month when the rest of the lawn finishes filling in heavy, I will go up one setting on the mower. When it gets dry and we hit 95-105, I will go up another. As I said, this isn't like keeping of kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye. ;)



Photo of Blue Angel

Blue Angel, Champion

  • 178,712 Points 100k badge 2x thumb
Looking good, Eric.  Nice job on "setting zero". :-)
Photo of Oregon Mike

Oregon Mike, Champion

  • 62,112 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
Ooo, that shorter nose would be nice. 
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Not sure if you meant notch or nose, but yes either way :D  The silly long nose handle was a huge fail in the original design IMO, part of my call out on the gen1.  I was really glad to see that gone.  If you mean notch, just check and see if your mower is anywhere near spec before modification heh.
Photo of Oregon Mike

Oregon Mike, Champion

  • 62,112 Points 50k badge 2x thumb
I meant nose for sure. 
Photo of rob shoaf

rob shoaf

  • 160 Points 100 badge 2x thumb
I had the same issue getting the pins to engage more than just a bit on the handle locking mechanism also.  Eventually with fussing around they engage but took a few tries and pins would pop out and handle tilt up at first.
Photo of Eric

Eric

  • 1,968 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Latest updates.  Grass is getting longer, super thick, I'm now up to the official "1" slot vs my modifications (1- Actual 38mm -- Manual 30mm), I still haven't bothered to sharpen the blade from stock, and I still haven't once had it bog down.  Power is still greatly improved over gen1.

Mulching, I'd say a TENTATIVE thumbs up-ish.  I was in Munich for a week and it's been raining, so I had to actually cut about 2" off of bermuda in spots, so this is quite a bit of grass.  Overall (even with a stock blade), it seemed to have a lot less clumps and long clippings that I would have expected.  But this is just once so far, so again I'll give it a hypothetical thumbs up in mulching for now until I get repeated results.

Still nothing about the QA issues, the fact it doesn't meet the spec sheet, but assume I never will.  My mods will work for my use and I'll just continue to warn users getting the new mowers that they might not get what they should expect if they have turf grass.
(Edited)