As you may know if you’re a regular reader, I’ve been the proud owner of a Mantis 2 stroke tiller for some years. I’ve got a large Merry Tiller rotovator, which will happily break up the soil for me but it never gets a particularly fine tilth.
This is where the Mantis steps in. The fast-turning tines break the soil down into a fine crumb structure, which is ideal for sowing seeds in. Although in theory you should not need to turn over raised beds, the Mantis is light, small and easier enough to handle that you can lift it into the raised bed and control it.
There are quite a number of similar small tillers on the market but Mantis are really the Rolls Royce. They’re an American company for starters. The build quality is excellent. It reminds me of when Britain had a manufacturing industry noted for quality. Engineered for a long life rather than the minimum needed to survive until the guarantee expires.
In fact, Mantis are so sure of their quality and customer satisfaction they have a straightforward trial offer. If you buy a Mantis from them and are unhappy with it, just send it back for a refund in the first year. Unbeatable!
Then they back the trial offer up with a 5 Year Consumer Warranty and a lifetime warranty against breakage on the tines. That’s confidence.
Just like the 2 stroke machines, the Mantis has a range of attachments you can buy to cope with various jobs. I’ve got the Planter Attachment, which are narrow tines ideal for digging a potato trench or for earthing up potatoes as they throw the soil to the side.
You can get various lawn care tools, a dethatcher-rake, aerator and border edger, which would be very useful for those with large lawns to keep in top condition. They also do a hedge trimmer bars so you can use the power plant to keep hedges in order. Once again, really useful for the large garden.
So how does the Mantis 4 Stroke differ from the Mantis Tiller 2 Stroke?
The power plant is now a 4 stroke engine, which means it runs on ordinary unleaded petrol rather than mixing in two stroke oil.
The machine is a little quieter when running, but I didn’t find the old one too noisy really.
The new motor runs the tines a little slower than the old but I’m told it gives more torque. I’m no mechanic, so not really sure what torque is, but I did notice it bit into compacted soil better.
The machine is slightly heavier by a couple of pounds which actually helps you control it better. It’s still light enough (24 lb or 11 Kg) to carry around easily though.
The instructions are better. This might not seem that important but on one point I was never sure with the old instructions. The tines have two positions. One digs down and is for cultivating and in the other position they only go a couple of inches down, which makes for a great weeding machine. Especially if the weeds are getting a bit large for the hoe. In this one, it’s very easy to see.
The control cable is now housed in a tube, apparently the old one was prone to getting pinched but it’s never happened to me.
Conclusion – The Mantis Tiller 4 Stroke
I didn’t think the Mantis could get much better, but they’ve actually improved it. Not a lot, it’s difficult to improve something that’s really good.
Yes, I’m like the proverbial dog with two tails today!