Viking and their range of mowers might not quite be the household name that it should. However, along with their sibling Stihl, Viking are well known amongst gardening professionals and enthusiasts.
I was honoured to be asked to attend the very first press-day at the Viking HQ. Especially being the only tech/gadget blogger on the trip.
This was no doubt to get the brand a bit more visibility. What it also showed me was the amount of pride that everyone at Viking puts in to what they produce. The head quarters not only houses the offices, but the research and development labs, design team and factory. All under one roof.
Viking – a quick history
Not only am I going to keep this brief but the company isn’t really that old either.
In 1981 the company started making shredders and then, in 84, their first mower was produced.
Jump to 1992 and this is when Viking joined the Stihl group.
Then, in 2001 Viking opened its new Competence Centre. This was necessary to accommodate the company’s rapid growth. The new state-of-the-art facility is just 4km from the original site and houses production, marketing, sales and administration. It also has this (above) as a view from its factory floor!
Up to present day now. The motto for the Viking brand is “Love your lawn”.
Viking is a premium brand that designs, develops, manufactures and sells an expansive range of lawn mowers, lawn tractors, scarifiers, garden shredders and tillers.
Viking press day
Our rather small, yet select, band of journalists were treated to some time with Peter Pretzsch, Viking’s MD, Robin Lennie, MD of Stihl GB as well as a number of the Viking staff.
Now, visiting a lawn-mower factory might not sound that interesting to most people. I will admit, I wasn’t sure how much I would get out of this trip either. I am glad I went though.
The main thing that hit me was the amount of research and development goes in to every part of what Viking produces. The latest mower blade is a prime example. Something like 2 years has gone in to this part alone. Not only to improve cutting but damage limitation. You see, when a metal blade strikes a large rock or similar, that force is usually transferred up the driveshaft. This is costly to repair and you could be looking at a new engine and therefore a new mower.
What Viking has done is build in crumple zones to the blade which will deform and save the shaft.
All very clever. But, while they were doing that, they also looked how they could make mowing quieter.
I had no idea that I would be visiting Europe’s largest anechoic chamber at a mower manufacturer! This is the level that this company goes to in order to ensure what comes out of its doors is top quality gear.
What impressed me was that the assembly was all done by hand. Not only that, the workers on the line actually appeared happy, as well as proud to show us what they were doing. As I said, this goes from the shop-floor all the way to the head honchos. That has to make a difference.
New Viking mowers
As well as taking us around their operation, the company also had some new kit to show off.
iMow Series 4
The MI 422 and MI 422 P are specially designed to suit small and medium sized gardens, changing the way home-owners think about lawn care.
Both models feature simple intuitive programming via a NLCD display. This allows you to set up an automatic mowing-plan calculation based on your garden.
What’s more, with adaptive slope speed, both mowers can master even hilly terrain; with the new MI 422 P performing on an incline of up to 40%.
They boast variable cutting height adjustment and, like all of the Viking iMow models, features mulching blades so they fertilise the lawn naturally for lush, well-nourished lawns, without the need to dispose of clippings.
Weather is no issue for iMow. Thanks to a sensor, it automatically reacts to rain. So, whether it has to run for cover because of a downpour or dock because you’ve cancelled today’s mow, it will intuitively make up the lost time another day.
iMow MI 632 PC
It wouldn’t be a robot mower range without an app-enabled version.
The smart and intuitive technology allows you to control the iMow’s mowing operation from wherever you are via an Android, IOS or Windows mobile app.
As well as sending your obedient MI 632 PC out to mow, the app allows you to easily send it back to its docking station, with no need to be there.
A GPS module fitted in the mower means your app will know where your iMow is at all times. You can also change the mowing plan easily from the app, amending the times you would like iMow to go out to suit your lifestyle.
You, of course, still get variable cutting height adjustment and a robust mowing blade which is sharpened on both edges – cleverly alternating the direction of rotation to prevent wearing on one side.
Just like the 4 Series, you can programme it via a NLCD display. So you can set it up to avoid obstacles such as patios, trees, sheds and swimming pools. What’s more, with adaptive slope speed it can master even hilly terrain of up to a 45% gradient. The MI 632 PC efficiently mows lawns of up to 4,000m2 in just a few hours per week.
New for 2017, the Compact Cordless System Viking MA 235 gives homeowners a battery-powered mower that offers maximum flexibility for small to medium sized gardens up to 200m2.
Great news if you already use and of the Stihl Compact Cordless range, as their batteries fit this mower.
This small, quiet mower is perfect for lawns and gardens with tight corners and obstacles to mow around, when a cable might get in the way.
The powerful long-life battery works with an impressively efficient electric drive system. This forward-thinking feature allows the user to mow for longer on a single battery charge.
In addition to all of its technical advantages, the mower is also extremely easy to use. At just 14kg, the machine is lightweight and manoeuvrable. This makes it ideal for mowing in tight areas. Add in the height adjustable ergonomically designed handlebar, it should be a pleasure to use.
The robust 30L capacity grass catcher box has a clearly visible level indicator to show when it is full. What’s more, large recessed grips and an extra-wide aperture in the lid help with handling when emptying.
A feature of all Viking mowers is the central cutting height adjustment. This can be smoothly adjusted in five settings between 25mm and 65mm.
The MA 235 combines Viking premium quality and comfort, material and function, with advanced battery technology from Stihl.
The Viking MA 339 C battery-powered lawn mower is the perfect partner for maintaining lawns, as Lithium-Ion technology revolutionises lawn care for both professional and home users.
The Compact Cordless MA 339 C weighs just 14kg with a cutting width of 37cm. This makes it ideal for smaller gardens where manoeuvrability is key.
The cordless nature of the mower makes light work of lawn care as there is no dependence on a power supply – allowing for greater mobility.
The mower’s handlebar is adjustable to ensure a comfortable experience for any user. This feature is combined with a sturdy die-cast aluminium console, which ensures even force application and minimises the strain on your back.
Whilst the mower may be compact in size it can still carry up to 40L of clippings which is perfect for a medium to large size garden. The grass catcher box can be easily emptied thanks to the large carrying handle and a hinged cover.
Those wishing to mulch their grass clippings can convert the mowing deck quickly and easily using the kit available from Viking’s accessory range, which comprises a multi-blade and mulching key.
The cordless lawnmower is powered by a low-noise, 600W motor. This technology was developed by parent company Stihl.
Owners of cordless, battery-powered Stihl Compact Cordless System tools can use the same battery in this Viking mower too.
Viking Mowers – time to cut and run
I’ve always tried to buy the best of what I can afford. Until recently, I was pretty much unaware of either Stihl or Viking. This is probably due to them not featuring in DIY stores. After using Stihl products and seeing the effort that goes in to the Viking range, I have a feeling that my aged Flymo will soon be kicked in to touch.
Price and availability
Like all Stihl and Viking products, you cannot just grab one at Homebase. Such is the customer service from these companies, you have to pick them up at a specialist service dealer.
Some offer an option to buy online for home delivery or click and collect. The thing is, when you do pick up your new Viking or Stihl product, the people there will assemble it and talk you through how to use it. That’s all part of the service.
MA 235 – RRP £249.00 (machine only) or £369.00 (with battery and charger)
MA339 – RRP £315
MI 422 has a RRP of £999, the 422 P – £1,199 and the 632 PC £2,299
Visit www.viking-imow.co.uk for more information on the VIKING iMow.