Honda’s Cruise Control Hydrostatic Transmission: Making Mower Control Easy


Hydrostatic motors are used in most riding mowers, but walk-behind models have been stuck with clunky geared transmissions. Honda is changing that with their Cruise Control Hydrostatic Transmission. This exclusive feature makes mower speed fully adjustable for better control on hills and around obstacles, and it works with other mower features to make stops and starts easier.

Why Use a Hydrostatic Transmission?

When you want to change your speed when driving a car, you can shift gears or use more or less throttle. You can also do the same thing on a mower, but there’s a problem: if you close the throttle, the engine won’t spin the blade as fast, reducing cutting performance. Instead of setting the speed exactly where you want it, you have to shift the transmission into gear and work around whatever speed it’s going. This makes mowing awkward when going over slopes, as the mower ends up going too slow or too fast. The gears are also too high for slow speed maneuvers, forcing the operator to shut off the drive system and push the mower when operating in narrow spaces and around landscape features.

Hydrostatic transmissions commonly found on riding mowers and wide-area walk-behind mowers get around this by using a hydraulic pump to control drive speed. By changing the amount of fluid pumped by the hydraulic system, the speed can be varied independently of the throttle. The Cruise Control transmission works the same way, but it’s small enough to be used in a regular walk-behind mower.

How Does it Work?

Instead of driving gears, the engine drives a hydraulic pump. This pump has a set of pistons connected to a swash plate. By changing the angle of this plate, the distance the pistons travel changes, increasing or decreasing the amount of fluid they pump. That fluid is used to drive a hydraulic motor connected to the wheels. In effect, it’s like having a second throttle independent of the engine.

With the pump running at its full flow rate, the pump in the Cruise Control transmission can drive the hydraulic motor fast enough to reach a speed of 4 mph. That’s a brisk walking pace.

Less Complicated Than It Sounds

Hydrostatic drive systems in riding mowers often use a combination of pumps, hoses, filters, and motors to drive the vehicle. However, Honda was able to design a complete hydrostatic drive system including the pump and motor into a single unit that’s no larger than a geared walk-behind mower transmission.

This drive unit is sealed, so it requires no maintenance. There’s also no clutch to wear out, nor is there a belt connected to the engine that can slip and break. That means these mowers require less maintenance and have fewer points of failure than a walk-behind with a geared transmission.

Using Hydrostatic Cruise Control

The bail on the top of the handle changes the swash plate angle, increasing speed as it’s closed. The cruise control lever below it limits plate movement, offering 9 settings for maximum speed. Usually, the bail will be fully engaged, so the mower speed will be the maximum set by the cruise control. The lower the cruise control setting is, the finer the speed adjustment is using the bail. This gives the mower precision control when operating in areas filled with obstacles without being erratic at high speeds.

All models that have a hydrostatic transmission also come with the Roto-Stop blade stop system. This uses a clutch between the blade to the engine shaft, stopping the blade when the operator leaves the controls. With both the blade and bail disengaged, the engine can keep running without cutting or rolling away. When you return to the mower, you don’t need to restart the engine, and you can squeeze the bail to return to your original mowing speed as set, using the cruise control lever.

Which Models have a Cruise Control Hydrostatic Transmission?

Currently, Honda fits this transmission to the HRX217HYA, HRX17HZA, and HRC216HXA.

When You Think “Honda,” Think “Honda Lawn Parts”

Honda Lawn Parts is an authorized Honda Engines and Honda Power Equipment dealer so we can supply you with what you need for your mower, generator, snowblower, pump, trimmer or engine. Our site has factory information built-in including parts diagrams and descriptions, making it easy to find exactly what you need. Whether you’re in the US or Canada, you have parts shipped to your door by visiting

How Honda Develops Engines

High Altitude Honda Engine

How does Honda develop their world-renowned small engines? It takes an effort spread across research and development facilities across the globe. Borrowing design tools, materials and other developments across the company, engineers both here and abroad work to make sure that each engine fits their applications and each application fits their engines, even if they aren’t made by Honda.

Developing Engines Hand-in-Hand with Applications

Honda introduced their first general purpose engine just 5 years after opening their doors, and they started making waves in 1954 with its follow-up, the four-stroke T-type. In a market dominated by two strokes and big diesels, this engine stood out for its ease of use. It was first used in backpack sprayers shipped to Brazil, but the engine would find its true place in the domestic market. With more people heading to Japan’s cities to find work, farmers needed a way to do more work with less manpower. Demand for labor-saving devices skyrocketed, leading Honda to start building their own small-scale farming equipment.

From that point forward, the small engine division and the power equipment division were linked. While other engine manufacturers acted independently, Honda was able to find and address issues in their engine designs by developing them side-by-side with equipment. This can be seen in their entry into two markets: compact generators and lawnmowers.

Sony introduced their portable Micro-TV in 1962, leading Honda to develop an equally tiny generator prototype to use this portable television on the go. Seeing the potential for such a device, they launched the world’s first compact generator, the E300, in 1965. To get this new design to work, they designed a new 50 cc engine specifically for the application and in the process introduced the world’s first timing belt.

50ccWith the release of their first mower in 1978, they introduced a unique blade brake clutch system that would shut off the blades if the operator lets go of the handle. This made the mower safer and ended the hassle of restarts required with competing systems. This feature is still built into some of their lawn mower engines today.

Developing an Engine

Honda’s small engines start their development at the small equipment lab at Honda R&D Co, Ltd, located in the outskirts of Tokyo. Sitting between two elementary schools, this small office building houses everything you’d expect to see in an automobile development lab, but on a smaller scale. Advanced CAD and simulation software is used to develop prototypes which are put through a battery of tests on-site. These tests include everything from cold weather testing in a room that has artificial snowfall to a high-temperature room that can stress and prematurely age engines to quickly identify the sources of common breakdowns. The quietness of Honda’s engines is the result of tests in an anechoic chamber. It blocks all outside noise so engineers can isolate and identify where noises come from inside the engine.

These designers are able to use production techniques and materials developed in Honda’s labs across the globe. In the U.S. alone, Honda has 14 research and development centers working on everything from jet engines to new materials. Honda also performs final small engine development for North America at a research center in Haw River, NC. Established in 1993, this 11,000 square foot facility makes sure each model can tolerate our widely varying weather conditions while meeting emissions standards.

Working with Equipment Manufacturers

When an equipment company wants to use a Honda engine in their products, they don’t just order a few units and bolt them on. Instead, they go through a development process with Honda to make sure the engine and equipment are fully compatible.

First, the manufacturer contacts a regional distributor. Together, they work out what engine will best fit the application as well as pricing, availability, technical requirements and other issues.

Once the manufacturer knows the basics, they can build a Honda-powered prototype. This equipment is then tested at the Haw River lab to make sure the engine will work properly. This includes factors like oil temperature, vibration, operating speeds and engine loads. Wiring and mounting systems are also inspected to make sure they’ll be reliable.

Maintaining the Quality of Your Honda Engine

Want to maintain the quality engineering of your Honda small engine? When you need parts, visit As a certified dealer, we’re able to offer the full line of OEM parts, letting you keep your engine running just like it did when it left the factory. Our site even has factory information including parts descriptions and exploded diagrams so you can quickly find what you need. We ship across the U.S. and Canada.

HS928 and 1132 Two Stage Snowblowers

HS928 and 1132 Two Stage SnowblowersHow powerful can a walk-behind snowblower be? Honda’s biggest two-stage models don’t just have augers that can cut through large snow drifts, they have the power to move even the heaviest accumulation. The HSS928 and it’s high-powered stablemate, the HSS1332, deliver the performance, reliability and pragmatic design demanded by professionals. In some cases, they may be able to replace small tractor-powered snowblowers, providing the same clearing power without the added expense, complexity or maintenance of a PTO-driven unit.


The 928 is powered by a GX270. These commercial engines come with an automatic decompression system, making it easy to start, even in extreme cold. The HSS928ATD and HSS928AWD come with an electric starter powered by an onboard battery, so there’s no need to find an outlet to get the engine running.

A heavy-duty serrated auger busts through ice and hard pack snow, picking up snow as high as 21.7 inches in strips up to 28 inches wide at a rate of up to 1,900 lbs. per minute. The auger housing rides on reversible skid shoes, while a small LED headlight mounted next to the chute helps with visibility. Maximum throwing distance is 52 feet. The chute has 198 degrees of rotation and its angle and pitch can be controlled with an electric joystick located next to the handles.

This line of snowblowers uses a hydrostatic drive system with independent control of the drive wheels, helping to both move and turn the snowblower. Once the snowblower is lined up for a pass, the levers can be locked to provide equal power to both wheels using one hand, leaving the other hand free to make adjustments to the controls.

Both the HSS928AW and AWD ride on 14-inch pneumatic tires with a new tread pattern designed for grip on slick surfaces. This is a great choice for use on flat surfaces like parking lots. For owners who need to deal with slopes, The HSS928AT and ATD come with a track drive system paired with an auger height control system supported by pneumatic strut for smooth adjustment. By lowering the auger, it can dig into hard packed snow that other snowblowers would drive over.


The 1332 is powered by a GX390, which is simply a larger version of the GX270. The size of the main auger remains the same, but the added power from the bigger engine lets these snowblowers move up to 2,750 lbs. per minute, making it a good choice if you regularly deal with slushy or hard pack snow. The HS1332ATD includes an electric starter along with an hour meter and auger lock indicator. Honda only sells the HSS1332 with the track drive system.


Honda covers these snowblowers and their engines for 3 years of residential or commercial use.

Maintaining and Repairing Honda Snowblowers

Whether you have a small single stage model or a large commercial two stage blower, you can get everything you need for your Honda at As a certified dealer for Honda Engines and Honda Power Equipment, we’re able to provide OEM replacement parts for everything on your equipment, and we can ship your order to any location in the U.S. or Canada.

The Difference Between Aftermarket and Genuine Honda Parts

Aftermarket parts, being slightly less in cost than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, may at first seem very appealing. The internet is full of places that sell them, and hundreds of companies manufacture them. However, on closer examination, their allure is deceptive. Aftermarket parts are riddled with serious problems and drawbacks.  Continue reading