This is an updated review of the 2016 Simplicity Broadmoor with a 22HP Briggs and Stratton Professional Series Engine with Ready Start and 44Ē deck. I have changed a few parts of the review to reflect a few more opinions that I have gathered over the last month, and I even corrected a mistake or two.
I have had the opportunity to use the 22/44 Regent and the 23/50 Prestige, as a result, this is my 3rd Simplicity so I feel pretty comfortable with respect to stating my opinion and should be able to make accurate comparisons between all of them.
Deck and Quality of Cut:
Itís a Simplicity...thatís almost enough said. The quality of cut is fantastic. Iím a bit of a lawn geek, so I installed the mulch/leaf shredder kit on all 3 of the machines I have owned including this Broadmoor and cut every 3 days because it is whatís best for the lawn. The quality of cut between this Broadmoor and my older Prestige are very similar, really not much of a difference. The cut was totally level with no missed blades and looked as if I bagged the clippings even though I mulched. Because of Simplicityís famous full length roller, the deck laughed at those higher contours where lesser designed decks would scalp the grass. There has been only 1 occasion when the grass blades were extra juicy and the ground must have been a little wet because it rained the day before when the rollers produced those ďgrass pancakesĒ that can occur at this time of year. Those of you who own a Simplicity know what I am referring to. Most of the time this is not a problem. I imagine because the blades of grass are chopped so finely and deposited below the surface of the grass, that they donít have a chance to stick to the roller.
This is the total amount a clippings on top of the deck on both sides. Not bad for 2 consecutive cuts. The only thing out of the ordinary is the white dust from the new belts breaking in.
The quality of cut between this Broadmoor and the Regent is totally different. The Regent would leave a center strip (that only I noticed) of uneven blades, clippings at the end of every row, and the rollers would leave behind over a dozen ďpancakesĒ after every spring/fall mow. I think the difference in quality between this 22/44 Broadmoor and the 22/44 Regent is the double pulley that allows for a dedicated mower belt. The Regent has one belt that is fed between the 3 deck pulleys and the PTO pulley. The Broadmoor and Prestige both have an additional belt that runs from the PTO pulley to the left double pulley to center idler pulley on the deck, and then back to the PTO pulley. In addition, there is another mower belt that connects all 3 deck pulleys that ultimately spin the blades. I canít help but think that this difference in engineering is the reason why the Broadmoor and Prestige both have a higher quality of cut than the Regent.
The electric height of cut has been very nice so far. I know a lot of guys complain/worry that it will eventually fail, but I have talked to many dealers and every one of them assured me that it is very dependable, and that they believe it has proven to be a good design. Being a lawn geek, I was a bit worried about how easily it would be to make small incremental changes, however, this has proven to be very convenient. I especially like that the engine does not need to be started to make any adjustments. The only thing needed is for the parking brake to be engaged and the starter to be pressed and released just once. From there, I can simply press the button up or down to make any adjustment I want very easily. The only thing I would change is the addition of an accurate display of some kind that tells the operator the exact height of the blades. The sticker provided is almost useless. I use a JD tool that is meant to help level a deck. Itís a great tool for any Simplicity owner with a touch of OCD.
The one piece cast aluminum spindles are a nice upgrade over the older steel spindles for several reasons, but not perfect. I like that I donít have to worry about the spindles rusting, not that I really was overly concerned about that in the past, but because I do mulch every 3 days there is a lot of moisture trapped under my deck that has the potential to cause problems. In addition, when I use the wash out port, the cast aluminum should prevent any corrosion or rust. My one question about the spindles is how the blades are attached. The blade is simply placed onto the spindle and held in place with pressure from the washer and nut. There is nothing else locking it in tightly, not a groove or even a notch holding the washer in place. I question the longevity of this simply because it seems that over time it will wear causing the blade to come loose and not spin at an optimum RPM.
On to the washout port. Dealers in my area seem to be split about its practicality. Some warn never to use it and say that it is just a gimmick to keep up with the Jonesís, and others say that they have never seen it cause any problems so to go for it. Out of curiosity I have tried it twice now, with limited success. The amount of grass under my deck after I mulch is amazing, as a result the water that is sprayed around did not remove all of the grass trapped within the voids created by the leaf shredder/mulching kit. Because of this, Iíll be using my trusted plastic paint scraper most of the time.
The 22HP Briggs and Stratton Professional Series engine with Ready Start seems to be great so far in my limited (11 hours) use. It took me a few times on the machine (and calls to 4 separate dealers in addition to emails to both Simplicity and Briggs and Stratton) to figure out how to start it correctly, the manual is pretty useless with respect to starting instructions, but once I did it has started right up with no issues at all. In fact, what is most amazing is that when the deck is engaged there is no drag on the engine, no hesitation, and I would imagine that the RPMís donít change at all (or at least very slightly judging from the sound of the engine). In fact, I can pull the PTO at idle and the deck will engage easily in the same manner as if the engine was at WOT. I have never experienced anything like this before on any tractor I have had the pleasure of using. Itís very impressive.
I have read that many people observe how quiet and smooth the engine is; I agree but only to a point. If these are the only 2 observations a guy would make about an engine, then the 22HP B&S Pro Series reminds me very much of my older 22HP B&S ELS engine on my Regent. Itís perhaps a bit quieter, but it is much louder and no where near as smooth as the 23HP Kohler Command Pro on the Prestige.
Starting and shutting down are pretty simple. The 22HP Pro Series with Ready Start has a single lever for both choke and throttle. Since the manualís instructions are not entirely complete, Iíll give a basic rundown on how to start the engine most efficiently. Move the throttle up about ĺ of full throttle indicated by the traditional rabbit symbol and a notch at that location. Depress the clutch and press the ignition button once and wait a few seconds. I was told by Simplicity that is ďtellsĒ the engine to use the automatic choke, this is the Ready Start feature that is suppose to make the engine start easier. Next, press and hold the start button until the engine runs. At that point the throttle/choke lever can then be moved down to Ĺ throttle for 10-15 seconds, then up to full throttle. The lever can be difficult to move up and down. I believe this is a slight design flaw, but over time I have adjusted to it and it seems easier to move now compared to when I initially got the tractor. At shutdown the engine requires that it idle for 5 - 10 seconds. This allows the muffler to cool and prevents gas from being pumped through the engine and into the hot muffler, causing that fuel to ignite. Itís really not a backfire, but an afterfire. Not a big deal according to my dealer and the Briggs and Stratton website, but annoying none-the-less even though itís preventable. Finally, this should probably be done over a hard surface. The exhaust coming out of the muffler is so hot and pointed at such an angle, that it will burn any grass if just left sitting in one location for more than a few minutes. Ask me how I know!
Briggs and Stratton recommends that the first oil change be done at 5 hours. I performed this change with relative ease. I really liked how the oil drain hose easily detached from the engine housing and allowed for the dirty oil to drain into my container. The only complaint I have is when time came to change the oil filter. The fuel line and filter were simply in the way and made accessing the oil filter more difficult than it needed to be. A small complaint though for such an easy procedure.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about this particular engine having EFM; it does not. The B&S Pro. Series engines rated at 26HP and up come with this feature. The fuel efficiency of the 22HP Pro. Series engine seems to be pretty typical of engines these days, even without EFM. I filled the tank to the very top, about an inch from overflowing. Iím going to estimate that I got about 3 hours of use before it was just about empty and I refueled. I like the fuel gauge much better than the older digital style on my Prestige. The only negative is that it is located behind the seat, which obviously makes it impossible to see as I mow. The under the seat ďsight gaugeĒ on the Regent was simple and easy to seeÖ.it was a window! How easy was that?
This is the fuel gauge after one mow,
about 45 minutes.
This is the gauge again, after a second mow.
The tank was emptied after 3 hours of use.
The Tuff Torq K57 transmission has a great reputation. From just about everything I have read on the Internet and all of the dealers I have spoken to over the last 2 months, all of the Tuff Torq trannys are bullet proof; they almost never fail. With this said, I am a bit disappointed that Simplicity didnít spec this tranny out to be serviced easily. The oil fill cap is located on top of the transmission under the fan. The only way to remove the oil is to pump it out. Of course I could remove the entire transmission, but my point is that the typical homeowner isnít going to have skills or knowledge to perform such a procedure. I realize this is a lawn tractor at heart, and it really should never be used to blow/plow snow or for any type of ground engaging work that would really tax the K57, however, just to have the option of maintaining it properly to insure a long productive life would put my mind at ease.
I have cut the grass about a dozen times, striping the entire .67 acres. The speed of the Broadmoor is very comparable to the Regent, it should be since both share what is essentially the same transmission. I do hear the tranny whining just a bit, especially when going in reverse, but I have yet to have a tractor not whine, so this is pretty typical. In addition, I used the Broadmoor to haul several loads of mulch around the yard each weighing between 250-300 pounds. Again, the tranny whined a bit louder than when I cut the grass, but it never hesitated and could have hauled heavier loads if I asked it to.
This load probably weighed about 300lbs. - 320 lbs.
Automatic Traction Control:
Simplicityís ATC gets a bad rap. A lot of guys complain that it does nothing at all for them and is simply a marketing tool to sell more tractors. I disagree. It certainly will not take the place of 4WD or a locking differential, however, to have this feature available on a lawn tractor is outstanding. There are several locations around my relatively flat yard that my old Regent would spin one of the back tires. I have yet to experience that with my new Broadmoor. The only difference between the 2 tractors is the Automatic Traction Control, so I believe that is the reason why my tires have yet to spin.
The steering has been great so far. I did have to pull the steering wheel and adjust it the day I bought the tractor, but that is the fault of the dealer who put it on incorrectly in the first place, not a fault of Simplicity. Overall the steering is tight and true. Itís certainly not the power steering that was available on my older Prestige (a feature that I miss), however, it is competent and solid. I can easily trace my path back and forth as I create long light and dark stripes without really having to adjust the wheel much at all. I have experienced failure of the steering gear and even the steering shaft in past tractors, like my Regent, and this Broadmoor is engineered with those same components, so Iím not willing to say that it will hold up over the long haul without issues, however, I am optimistic that the heavier spindles and the addition of a bearing at the bottom of the shaft where it meets the steering gear will prolong their lives and prevent the teeth on both gears from wearing as soon.
Iíll start with the seat. A lot of good things have been said about it, and I agree totally. It may look a bit unusual at first, but itís comfort cannot be beat. In addition, itís easily adjustable to accommodate people that are height challenged or too tall for their own good. I think that it might be a bit cold in the winter, however, like I said before, this Broadmoor is a lawn tractor at heart, so that really shouldnít be taken into account when judging its overall performance.
The foot controls are pretty typical of any Simplicity. Personally, I find that the reverse and forward pedals are a bit too close, maybe by ĹĒ. In addition, I find the reverse pedal to be a bit hard to press down on. Other makes on the market have pedals that are much easier to use.
The layout of the dashboard is nice, not too cluttered and up-to-date. I find everything is easy to reach and feels solid to the touch. The only negative I have is about how difficult it is to throttle up and down, but I have already covered that previously. The digital display shows the time of day, which is nice for me, and the hours the engine has been running. Itís certainly not the upgraded display offered on GTís, but at this price point Iím happy.
The appearance of the 22/44 Broadmoor is gorgeous. I tend to bleed orange, so you can take that opinion for what itís worth. I really like the soft edges and the hoodís basic shape, it looks almost aerodynamic. The height of the tires provides a nice ride, but are a bit narrow in my opinion and look a little goofy from behind. I like the raised letters on the hood that spell out Simplicity. This is a nice modern touch that was added a few years ago and should stick around for a while. The only change that I donít particularly like is the Simplicity insignia in the center of the steering wheel is now silver, like Simplicity Orange isnít good enough all of a sudden. The orange would stand out against the black steering wheel and should be changed back to what it was only a few short years ago