There’s absolutely no disputing the pivotal role Flymo have played in the development and popularity of lawn mowers over the last 60 years, and although we don’t buy into everything the company does, there’s no denying the spirit of innovation that runs through the very lifeblood of this great Swedish organisation as they continue to develop new and improved products that appeal to be professionals and amateurs alike.
A large part of Flymo’s success comes from the strength of their brand, and for a lot of people the striking solid orange colour of a Flymo machine is a reassuring and comforting sight, tied up with nostalgia. In the UK in particular the very word ‘Flymo’ is practically synonymous with small, neatly kept suburban gardens complete with a traditional garden shed in the corner – what could be more British?
Flymo – The ‘Flying’ Lawn Mower
Today Flymo have a range of hover mowers marketed at those with small to medium lawns, and all retail at a relatively low price, so the same advantages exist in terms of reduced manufacturing costs, and the same performance advantages also exist – rather than the regimental lines one must take with a wheeled lawnmower, a Flymo hover mower can be ‘swept’ in any direction, which can make cutting a small lawn much quicker than it might otherwise be.
Flymo also produce petrol engine driven lawn mowers that are designed primarily for larger areas, and are in particular useful for cutting banked areas of grass that would otherwise be difficult, or even hazardous to cut with a wheeled mower
The Hover Mower Range
If you decide a hover mower is for you then the Flymo range gives you the best choice of options for finding the right model for you. From the most basic non grass collecting model, to the the most advanced in the range – the ‘Ultraglide’, there’s a hover mower suitable for a wide range of needs.
Hover Vac 280
This is the the most basic model in the Flymo hover mower range that aims to deliver a snapshot of everything a hover mower is capable of. With just a 28cm cutting width, this is definitely only suitable for the smallest of lawns, however it does feature the ability to collect as well as cut grass thanks to it’s 20 litre grass collection box. Crucially, being designed for small lawns only the Hover Vac 280 is less likely to suffer from some of the hover height related ailments of larger models, it’s smaller potential payload causing less fluctuations in weight and thus hover height.
Turbo Lite 330 & Turbo 400
In our opinion these two machines represent the most effective and useful of all the Flymo hover mowers, uninhibited by the perils of having a grass box, what you see is what you get as far as performance is concerned with these two lawn mowers. Yes you’ll still need to rake up what you cut, but the Turbo Lite 330 is only designed for smaller gardens anyway, and we’d recommend the larger 400 model for specialist work on banked areas. The stand out feature of the larger machine is that it has the greatest level of cutting height variation for any hover mower, ranging between 15mm and 41mm, leaps and bounds ahead of the maximum of 30mm that the other models offer, so you might stand a half decent chance of cutting grass that’s long overdue a cut.
Available in 3 size varients, the Easi Glide models are the midrange offering in the Flymo hover mower range, with the basic model offering a cutting width of 30cm compared to the 28cm of the Hover Vac 280. Besides this the Easi Glide models also offer a clear perspex window in the grass collector/compactor so that you can keep an eye on the level of the grass and better determine when it will need to be emptied. Like the more basic Hover Vac, the Easi Glides will only store 20 litres of grass, which may prove to be slightly more of a hindrance on the more powerful 33cm cutting width Easi Glide 330VX which is designed for a slightly larger garden.
Glider 330 & 350
With a 33cm cutting width, these mowers are pretty much on par with medium sized electric mowers from other brands. Whilst they obviously have the advantage of allowing the freedom of movement you get with a hover mower, the biggest drawback is the small 26 litre grass box size. For comparison the Bosch Rotak 32R, which has a 32cm cutting width, has a 40 litre grass collection box. The other issue once we get to this size is that the weight of the grass starts to impede on the performance of the mower.
The most expensive and advanced of all the Flymo models is the Ultraglide, a more powerful and larger beast that is designed to cut larger lawns. With this extra power comes increased weight, so there are still a few hover height issues, but on the plus side it has been designed with a set of wheels on the front to help you manoeuvre it when not under power.
Petrol Hover Mower
Along with the turbo lite and turbo hover mowers, the other great triumph in the Flymo hover mower range is the XL500 petrol model. Designed with professional grounds keeping in mind, this beast is as powerful as they come thanks to its 160cc 4 stroke engine, and it’s this along with the unique sweeping motion you can make with a hover mower that makes this ideal for cutting sloped areas, typically complimenting other activities with a ride on or large pedestrian petrol mower
Wheeled Rotary Mowers
Besides the innovation that gave them their name, Flymo also have an extensive range of conventional wheeled rotary mowers that are in many ways superior to their hovering counterparts. Ranging from between 900 to 1600 Watts, there is a wheeled Flymo lawn mower to suit the very smallest to medium sized gardens. These mowers are, in our opinion much more useful from a grass collection point of view. The very smallest models (Chevron 32, and the Easimo) have the distinct advantage of being some of the cheapest mowers of their size, whilst still retaining the level of quality you would expect from such a world renowned brand.
The larger wheeled mowers, the Chevron series, aim to provide something akin to a more traditional lawn mowing experience with their rear rollers for creating stripes, and grass collection boxes of up to 40 litres. Though otherwise it has to be said they’re pretty devoid of any gimmicky features or unique selling points, such as the grass combs on the Bosch Rotak models, or the cable management and grass compaction systems found on the Black and Decker Edge Max series. You will however pay less for a Flymo Chevron model than one of these.
Flymo were one of the first major players to dip their toes into the robotic lawn mower market, and their lithium ion powered 1200R model is one of the most popular models available today. Like other robotic mowers it doesn’t come cheap, although it is cheaper than almost all others on the market by quite some margin.
Like other robotic mowers the 1200R offers a completely hands free solution to mowing the lawn, and using a ‘little and often’ approach it cuts the lawn such that the clippings are small enough to be left on the lawn unnoticed.
Lawns usually require a bit of tidying up around the edges where ‘no mower will go’, and it’s usually up to the trusty strimmer to get the job done. Flymo are of course some of the biggest players in the strimmer market just as they are in the lawn mower market, and besides being great value, Flymo strimmers are also some of the most visually stylish and user friendly, for example the Mini Trim ST, the most basic model in the range, can be operated using just one hand.
Going up through the range the features get more impressive, with cordless options coming into play, as well as swivelling heads and ‘edging wheels’ to enable you cut the lawn effectively along borders with flower beds as in the case of the largest and most power of the strimmers, the Contour Cordless 24V
Sir Christopher Cockerall invented that great British invention the hovercraft in the 1950’s, and off the back of this quirky idea a Swedish Inventor by the name of Karl Dahlman took the basic concept of a vehicle that rides on a cushion of air, and cleverly integrated it into a lawn mower that could glide effortlessly over a lawn with the distinct advantage of not leaving any wheel marks or other imperfections. Dahlman ultimately won a Gold Medal at the 1964 Brussels Inventors Fair for his design, and was soon keen to capitalise on his idea.
A distinctly British idea needed a distinctly British manufacturing capability, so in 1965 manufacturing of the first Flymo (incidentally a portmanteau of ‘flying lawn mower’) commenced in England. Due to the runaway success of the idea, it wasn’t long before Swedish manufacturing giant took an interest in the idea, ultimately buying the Flymo brand in 1969.
Early Flymo lawn mowers were innovative in many respects, the simplicity of the design meant they were cheap to produce, with no wheels to worry about they were more or less just a plastic tray with a blade and motor mounted to them. This also meant they were fantastic from a storage point of view, you could simply hang the mower flat against a garage or shed wall, which took up a lot less room than any other mower available at the time. In a move that would be considered sexist today, the design was marketed primarily towards women in the early days, with the implication that mowing was now ‘as simple as using a vacuum cleaner’.
Of course for all those advantages there had to be a few cons, and early Flymos offered no solution for collecting grass, meaning that you’d need to rake up the grass clippings once you’d finished mowing. Later models would address this issue, and now there are several models in the Flymo range that do include grass collection boxes, although these are typically smaller than those found on conventional mowers. The other major drawback with early models was that the limitation of the mower ‘hover height’ meant that you had no control over the cutting height, and ultimately limited you to cutting grass below a certain height. This is still an issue today, and although modern models are a slight improvement, the key piece of advice is that if you have an area of long and overgrown grass, a hover mower isn’t going to be of much use to you.
Since those early days the company has grown into one of the most instantly recognisable brands in the gardening world, they’ve continued to not only develop the hover mower concept- taking it in various different directions (some more successfully than others), but also to become key players in other markets such as conventional wheeled lawn mowers, strimmers, and leaf blowers, now sitting as one of the ‘Big Three’ in garden power tools alongside Bosch and Black & Decker.