Late last month, Troy Bilt reached out to us and offered a sample unit of their new Troy Bilt FLEX Yard Care All-in-One System for our review. The concept behind the FLEX system is straightforward: use one engine system to power a number of large yard tool attachments (e.g., lawnmower, pressure washer, snowblower) instead of owning each of these tools as standalone machines. The FLEX’s value proposition is two-fold: (1) save space and reduce clutter in your garage or shed by storing attachments (which are mostly smaller than standalone models); and (2) maintain only one engine, instead of two, three, or four, each of which may take a different types of fuel, have differing maintenance instructions, etc. Since the FLEX can be used year-round with tools for all four seasons, you can also avoid the steps required to prep an engine for long term storage as you would for a standalone lawnmower or snowblower each of which is used for half a year or less in most climates.
Troy Bilt let us pick two FLEX attachments for review. Since we already own a working lawnmower and were in need of a new pressure washer and snowblower, we selected those two. Because it’s still summer in Baltimore, this review focuses on the 3,000 PSI Max / 2.5 GPM Pressure Washer. Here’s two pictures of the unit–the first with the pressure washer attachment separated, and the second with the system hitched up and ready to go.
What Other Attachments Are Available with the FLEX?
- Self-propelled lawnmower with 28″ cutting deck.
- Self-propelled two-stage snowblower with 26″ clearing width.
- Self-propelled 1,000 CFM / 150 MPH leaf blower.
Troy Bilt said they are working on developing additional attachments. We could easily see the usefulness of chipper/shredder similar to this standalone model.
The first thing we noticed right off the truck is that the Troy Bilt is solid–very solid. The frame is a thick gauge steel, the components look and feel sturdy, and nothing about it comes across as cheap. And it shouldn’t… as you’ll see below, this all-in-one comes with a sizable price tag, so we expected it to have a premium feel, and it does. It’s also pretty heavy–especially when an attachment is connected. But, because the attachments separate and can be lifted independently, two people can lift the FLEX and its components into the back of a pick-up truck without too much trouble. I view this as a pretty great feature. Having lifted a two-stage snowblower onto the truck with a friend, I can attest that the ability to divide the weight in half is great.
Setting up the FLEX
Setup was simple and straightforward, and the instructions were easy to follow. Setup consisted of removing some components used to secure items during shipping, adding oil, and adding gas. Probably the most important thing we ran into with the FLEX is that you should not start the engine with the pressure washer attached and water not attached and pre-bled through the lines. This can damage the pressure washer’s compressor. Easy enough to follow.
Using the Pressure Washer Attachment
The pressure washer attachment comes with everything a standalone pressure washer should: a hose and gun that take standard pressure washer nozzles, five nozzles each with a different color for easy identification, and a tube for using detergent. The gun, hose, and nozzles store neatly into the top and front of the pressure washer body, which is convenient for storing. The washer can be used with standard pressure washer detergent or without (we opted for no detergent in our use).
The FLEX is easy to start and by following instructions, we were able to start the engine on the first pull. (We had hoped to see an electric starter for the winter… The engine has a switch for starting when it’s colder than 32 degrees outside, so we’ll see how it performs this winter when it’s cold and engines typically have a harder time starting… It may in fact be fine.)
Pressure Washer Results
We used the washer on three surfaces: a brick front porch, siding, and an old concrete sidewalk. The washer performed great – and because it’s 3,000 PSI, we were able to use wider nozzles to make the jobs easy. Here’s a few pictures of the work and the results. The results on the brick were particularly dramatic as this stoop hadn’t been cleaned for a decade.
We were able to stand pretty far back from the siding, which is nice because it reduces splash. (And yes, that siding was melted by a “grilling incident” a few years back)
Here’s a top-down look at the sidewalk in front of our place. The pressure washer took out all the mildew and dirt for a much newer look.
FLEX System Pricing
The FLEX system is priced such that if you are committed to the concept and buy at least three of the attachments, you’ll save a little over buying comparable equipment separately. Obviously, buying the base system and only one attachment will be much more expensive than buying a comparable standalone tool, but that would defeat the purpose of the FLEX system.
(All prices and links are to Lowes.com)
- Base System w/ Engine: $399
- Pressure Washer: $279
- Lawn Mower: $499
- Leaf Blower: $279
- Snow Blower: $298
Who is the FLEX Right For?
- Homeowners who can benefit from high end yard tools — especially folks who have larger yards to cut and a lot of snow to clear in the winter.
- Contractors who want easier engine maintenance and don’t need to use two of the tools concurrently (because you won’t be able to mow the lawn and blow leaves at the same time).
- People who haven’t already bought large standalone equipment or who want to spend the money to get a unified system with less maintenance.
I think it’s a ok concept just not very well executed. Cost of the attachments are priced to high. Since there is no engine with the attachments they shouldn’t have the same cost as a mower, pressure washer, etc. that is a standalone. The mower deck is way to small should have at least been 32″. For those of us living in the South (I’m in SC) we don’t even know what a snow blower is so that’s a attachment that won’t sell here. The blower is two cumbersome for homeowners and most high end homeowners will see this is a novelty and opt for a nice Husqvarna or Echo backpack blower for less or same cost. That blower is fine if you have a parking lot or tennis courts at your home. Maybe a tiller attachment and generator would give us a little more options and lowering the attachment prices. Then it may be me too, but I don’t want one engine issue taking out 3-4 pieces of equipment.
Gary, good observations. There is no doubt that the pricing is the big challenge here. My gut is that if everything were $100 cheaper (and the lawnmower probably $200 cheaper), this would make sense a lot more of the time for people. Sure, you’d still be overpaying for just a pressure washer, but you’d basically be getting a snowblower for the ballpark range of a comparable standalone snowblower and then the pressure washer and lawn mower would be cheaper.
We’ll see what new attachments they develop over time, and if the pricing gets a little more aggressive (not sure what room Troy Bilt has in these prices at this point.. I imagine they are trying to cover the engineering costs of the new system).
I like the concept – even recognizing that one engine problem can take out all the tools, only because I like maintaining one engine and I feel like most of the time our yard tool engines get underutilized… With one system, I’m far more likely to follow the scheduled maintenance plan.
Kudos to this blog for employing such handsome models to demonstrate their tools.
I enjoyed reading this review. However, as one of your other readers have commented, I too believe that the value proposition for this product falls somewhat short. For the prices stated just for the attachments alone, it just doesn’t make sense. I doubt that consumers will buy this product because it lacks a competitive advantage. But then again, you did mention that this flex system is targeted towards high-end consumers and contractors.
I was in the market for a 3800 psi washer, at Lowes was $700, I saw the Flex 3000 psi for $229.00, Lowes has a promotion that if you buy any attachment, the power head is free, so I sacrificed 800 psi to save $469.00, The promotion goes till 10/31, so I went back and bought blower and got a second power head free.
After using washer, it worked great, But after first use, I noticed the outer surface of the hose began to break apart in chunks, due to hose vibrating and sliding across the surface of the ground and allows the hose to kink and rupture.
My thinking is that if engine goes bad, I have second unit to carry onward, I could easily retrofit a bigger engine onto the power head base and also retrofit a bigger PSI pump onto the washer base in the future.
If I could make change, I would have a engagement for washer, so that self propel could be used to area of work without damaging pump.
An auto dump wheel barrel, generator and tiller as other gentleman mentioned, or a giant blender for Margaritas would be excellent.
Thanks Fred for your innovative and effective post. This is such a impressive article that I found.
Worst is no transmition and no reverse the. Real hard to use nevermind the price. Otherwise it’s a great idea