Hi there, I'm a 23 year old who has been doing landscaping/lawn maintenance semi-professionally going on 8 years now. At my peak, I cut 40 lawns per week. To put this into perspective, I live in the Washington DC area, so most of my customers have lawns less than 1/4 acre. Actually, it's even smaller than that usually! Typical lawn size is 6,000-9,000 sq.ft. That's roughly 1/7-1/5 acre size. I do have some slightly larger lawns that I do, but I will decline any lawn above ~12,000 sq.ft due to the efficiency of a 21" mower vs. what someone with a "commercial walk-behind" (36", 48", etc etc) could charge.
First, I want to say I bought the Honda (specifically the HXA) because I used "consumer grade" mowers for years. Older Toro mowers from Home Depot usually. Sometimes, I would 'consume' those mowers in a month or two. The FWD gearbox would shread, or the B&S motors would throw a rod. I couldn't afford the reliability of a ticking-time bomb mower, so I decided to step up to a Honda commercial.
My dad has the older, *legendary* Honda HR214 that I have used several times. Those mowers are absolutely insane. Using that mower, I became familiar with a BBC, a shaft drive transmission, and the "Honda way" (referring to certain design patterns and such. Much of the HR214 can been seen in the HRC2163).
I saw a used MY:2013 HRC2163HXA for sale on craigslist for $550 back in 2015. It was a bargain, so I decided to try it. Quiet motor. Very quiet while blade is engaged. Leaves a great cut, BUT the mower is only ideal for VERY regular cuttings. If the lawn is even SLIGHTLY overgrown, you're in for a bad time.
I used that HRC a lot and it was 100% reliable - zero issues until I hit a stump and the motor got an instant rod knock. Unfortunate since it was such a low hour motor and only ~2.5 years old. It surprised me quite a lot since I had become very careless with my equipment with little consequences. I used to run over everything. I used to regularly use my mower to grind up hedge clippings, piles of vines, smaller sticks, and I would occasionally be "alerted" of a brick, rock, chunk of cinderblock, tree root/stump, etc in the yard by the sound of my mower blade. Years, no issues! I pulled my Honda back, and the object it hit was something I would bash into with a Home Depot Toro with no issue! Odd.
Well, that mower was totaled and I went back to the Toro's for a bit since I didn't feel I could justify $1250 for another Honda.
A year later, I got fed up with being unreliable again, so I bit the bullet and bought my 2nd HRC2163HXA - new. On sale for ~$1150 I believe. Remembering how much of a headache overgrown (literally 4" sometimes) grass was, I even tried to negotiate the dealer to throw in the side discharge kit with the deal. No dice.
Again, the twin blade "micro cut" is a blessing and a curse. Leaves a great cut, but if the lawn is even slightly overgrown, it's NoFunTown. I use the bagger maaaaybe 2-3 times per season. It just adds SO much time (will make mowing take 3-4x the time) to the job, but looks fantastic. I was having so much trouble with this Honda and overgrown lawns that I spent the $50 on the side discharge kit. Kinda flimsy plastic, and clogs A LOT. LIKE....AAAAA LLLLLOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTT. It's obscene how easily it clogs. There's actually a little crevice in the mower deck that catches just a few blades of grass, and the clot builds from there. I've thought about someway to cover that crevice up, or weld it somehow, but not sure it's that simple.
Sometimes the chute will clog twice within 10 feet of mowing. No exaggeration.
But I've always made it work and learned to operate and charge accordingly.
So far, I've used the mower (the 2nd one I got new) to cut probably ~600 lawns in 2.5 seasons so far. Zero reliability issues. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS starts on the first pull. I've ridden it hard and put away wet. It is not garage kept (even in winter). It lives in the back of my truck, rain or shine, and under a tarp in the winter. Always starts, no nonsense with a gummed up carb. Real commercial construction, but designed with "mowing golf course twice a week" in mind, NOT the "fast growing grass, stingy customer, every 2 weeks" in mind.
Comparatively, the older Toro's I used, AND an Exmark 30" I just got, handle jungle-like lawns with ease. Sometimes when using my $1250 Honda Commercial mower on an overgrown lawn, I wish I had my $35 "curb-alert" Toro mower to chop it down and then use the Honda to make it look good.
When buying this one, I didn't have many choices for a commercial quality 21" mower. I guess there isn't much market for those? Pretty much, my only choices were the 2 Hondas (HRC2163PDA and HRC2163HXA), and a couple *commercial* Toro mowers (the Toro's I used previously were low-quality, consumer grade Home Depot stuff - $350 new).
I can't figure out why Honda even makes the PDA (maybe again with the 'Golf course only' mantra?). I don't know why anyone would want to spend $800 on a mower that ISN'T self-propelled. ???? Especially for me, since this mower was going to be my only mower. So, with the Honda, the choice was obviously the HXA.
VS. the Toro - the Honda, on paper at least, just won in every catagory. Better price, better motor, seemed to have been designed in this century, not a carry over from 1992. I think the other huge factor was that I had a week of overdue mowing, and the Toro dealers (since they use a silly traditional dealer system) couldn't get me one for 2-3 weeks, but the local Hardware store had 5 HXAs in boxes, in the basement to be picked up with 30mins notice. So....
Legit Commercial quality across the board. Motor, transmission, blade clutch, wheels & bearings, deck, etc.
Always starts first pull
Transmission is nice. Works well. Very intuitive, no weird habits
Leaves a great cut if lawn is mowed every 7 days or less
Even though it's 127lbs, it's still very manageable, and I can even lift it into my truck by myself.
Tolerates a lot of abuse
Great resale value
Very quiet compared to others
A fuel miser!
A bit slow. Specs say up to 4mph, but the 30" Exmark I just got also says 4mph, and that one almost ripped my arms off the first time I used it. Maybe the Honda just needs a cable adjustment.
Overgrown grass is a nightmare, even with the side discharge kit.
No real fuel filter or oil filter. I would say this is the last hurdle between commercial and "legendary commercial"
Twin blades are a blessing and a curse.
Parts prices seem to be quite expensive compared to other commercial brands - Echo, Toro, etc.
I'm a bit worried about the longevity of the transmission, as the lack of maintenance mention in the manual seems to imply a "lifetime fluid" vibe, which is usually a ruse.
Overall, the price kinda sucks for a guy like me, but I would certainly recommend it, especially if someone was starting out like I did or I had to start over from the beginning. If I had this mower when I was 15, I would imagine I'd still be using it, and I would have been a lot more successful to do additional reliability and time saved.