Flymo Glidemaster 380

Flymo Glidemaster 380 Electric Hover Mower

Flymo Glidemaster 380 Electric Hover Mower

PRO‘s: Grass box is easy to empty, neat cable storage solution

CON‘s: Struggles with uneven surfaces and collection of cuttings

VERDICT: Unless your lawn is like a bowling green look elsewhere

OUR RATING ★★☆☆☆ 

The Flymo Glidemaster 380 is the largest of the Glidemaster range of electric hover mowers. It’s a striking looking machine and has several excellent design features such as an easy to empty grass box and a neat cable storage system but how well does it cut grass ?

Badly, in a word, is the answer.

We tried it on a variety of grass types from short grass (it hovers too high to cut it properly) to medium length grass (it cuts reasonably well but leaves cuttings everywhere) to long grass (again it cuts reasonably well but struggles to pick anything up).

This inability to pick up the cuttings was very disappointing and quite surprising as Flymo have stuck with this basic design for many years now.  To explain why it struggled, we need to look at how a hover mower works.

All hover mowers work by riding on a cushion of air which is drawn in from above the cutting deck and is pushed out beneath it. Usually, the air is sucked in through the motor which has the added advantage of cooling it. Now the heavier the mower, the more air is needed to hold the mower up and the more powerful the motor needs to be in order to move this amount of air. And, the more heat that it generates and so the more air is needed to cool it.

As you can see, the design of an electric hover mower is a series of compromises.

So far we haven’t considered the cuttings and what happens to those. In the case of the basic hover mowers they just get chopped up and blown out of the bottom of the mower.

For a hover mower to collect the cuttings it somehow needs to suck them in whilst at the same time expelling air. To achieve this the Flymo Glidemaster 380 has a slot at the back which sucks air (and the grass cuttings) in through the grass box.

Whilst this is fine in theory it just doesn’t work in practice as firstly it only works if the mower is moving forwards, secondly a significant amount of the cuttings escape out of the sides and front of the mower, and thirdly for the mower to stand a chance of collecting all of the cuttings then it needs to suck them up across the full width of the rear of the mower.

Unfortunately the Flymo Glidemaster 380 only sucks them up across a narrow portion which means that the bulk of the cuttings are left behind. The only way to collect the bulk of the cuttings is to keep going over the same section of grass several times or to cut once but at a snails pace.

Note that we said ‘bulk of them’ and not ‘all of them’ because if you’re cutting the lawn edges then cuttings will be flung over those since cuttings escape from the front and side of the mower too.

But the poor cutting collection isn’t the only drawback with this mower.  It’s also unable to deal with lawns any less than as flat as a bowling green. Because it rides on a cushion of air, as soon as you go over a bump in the lawn a larger gap appears under one side of the mower and the air escapes causing it to ground out. This is particularly true when cutting up against lawn edges – if you get too close the mower just grounds out and scalpes the grss as the air beneath it escapes.

In theory, with its 38 cm (15 inch) cutting width the Flymo Glidemaster 380 would be suited to use on medium sized gardens but the grass box is just way to small.  It’s certainly easy to empty but knowing when to do it is tricky as, despite there being a window into it, it’s very small and not easy to see into.

Adjustment of the cutting height is, like all hover mowers, done by unbolting the cutting blade and fitting plastic spacers underneath.  This is time consuming and fiddly and nowhere near as convenient as on a rotary mower on wheels where it’s done quickly and simply by one or more levers.

And whilst we’re complaining, the handle height was too low for testers over 5′ 10″ although it does fold in half for storage which is good.  And talking of storage, we like the way that the 15 metre long power cable winds into the top of the mower so you never have the aggravation of digging out the lawn mower at the start of the year but not being able to find the power cable.

In its defence the Flymo Glidemaster 380 is light weight at just 14 kg and it’s easy to move around the garden thanks to the small rollers built into the front of the cutting deck although these aren’t without there problems: we found long grass would get caught up in them.

If it’s sounds like we’re being negative, well we are.  Whilst this mower would work for some gardens where the lawn is close to perfectly flat, on most typical gardens it’s just has too many niggling issues.

If you specifically want a Flymo mower we suggest buying one with wheels such as the Flymo Chevron 34VC or a larger variant.  If you’re not loyal to Flymo, then consider any of the Bosch Rotak lawn mowers as they are all excellent.

Whilst they aren’t as manoeuvrable because the motor doesn’t have to carry out the conflicting tasks of lifting the mower off the ground whilst sucking up the grass cuttings you’ll get a better cut, less cuttings and overall less stress.

Flymo used to say that “It’s a lot less bovver with a hover”.  In the case of the Flymo Glidemaster 380 we’d have to disagree !

Todays Latest Prices for Flymo Glidemaster 380

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