Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller
by Meredith L. Phillips
Everything I have seen on TV about the Mantis said this tiller would be perfect for someone like me - easy to use, small, and lightweight. I have become jaded to glossy ads and promise-laden infomercials, but my curiosity got me. Would such a small tiller really get the job done? And would it really seem so small and manageable in these inexperienced hands of mine?
This little beauty arrived in an amazingly small shipping carton. (Yes, I even measured it, as I was so taken with its petite presence.) A very compact 23.5" x 13.5" x 9.5" box held the 4-stroke 25cc, 1.1hp Honda engine and several parts, all waiting to become a Mantis Rototiller. Assembly was an intimidating proposition for this mechanically uninclined gardener but turned out to be quite easy to accomplish with the illustrated instructions. Moving on to the first use was scarier for me, as I had never used a tiller and could see something going terribly awry, like the machine running away from me or subjecting me to great bodily harm. After watching the enclosed DVD and reading the instructions one more time, I finally mustered the courage to start my adventure. My first attempt to start the Mantis failed, so I ducked inside for one last re-read of the steps. After a catching a look of sympathy from my better half, I headed outside, this time full of determination.
Luckily, no gas/oil mixing is required for the Mantis, the gas tank is easy to fill, and the start-up procedure is pretty straight-forward. All safety features are in place to keep the tiller from moving unless you push a safety button and engage the throttle. A variable speed throttle and quick shut-off are conveniently alongside the grips, which are made for comfortable use in hard soil. With a quieter engine and more horsepower than the 2-cycle tiller, the mere 24-pound machine is much tougher than it looks. Patented serpentine tines promise to keep the tiller from bouncing around, despite its lightweight design, and they spin twice as fast as other tillers. Digging 9 inches wide and 10 inches deep, the Mantis works best when pulled back toward yourself, but be careful to wear protective footwear, and be aware of the distance between you and the tines when using or carrying. I personally had no problem keeping my feet at a safe distance. I even managed to maneuver around some returning perennials, leaving them intact while tilling the rest of the plot with ease. The tines can be reversed for cultivating and maintaining gardens, giving even more flexibility to this handy little wonder. Small enough for raised beds and other smaller garden tasks, the Mantis weeds between rows faster and more effectively than a manual hoe. Digging holes for planting trees and shrubs is a breeze. The Mantis also features a carrying handle, because, yes, it's really that light! Fold-down handles and the tiny size make for easy storage. Attachments are available, including an edger, planter, plow, dethatcher, aerator, and crevice cleaner.
By the time my husband came outside to ask if he could help me start the new machine, I had tilled my entire garden and carried the Mantis back to the garage for storage. I had to laugh. I was practically finished before he realized I had started. This handy garden helper is going to become my new favorite summertime tool. Who knew such a small machine could offer so much power and productivity?
The Mantis Promise offers a 1 year risk-free trial, though I can't imagine that any gardener wouldn't appreciate all Mantis offers in its sleek little package. A 5-year warranty on the tiller also guarantees against breakage of the tines for life. Other sizes and an electric model are also available.
4-cycle Garden Mantis is currently offered at www.Mantis.com for $449,
including a free kickstand and a bonus gift.