Honda Harmony – Troubles From A Leading Residential Mower

Honda has been in the outdoor equipment industry for a long time now, and the brand’s line of lawnmowers has earned (and retained) a sizeable chunk of the market. Homeowners were particularly taken, and they continue to serve as Honda’s primary customer base.

Though Honda Harmony as a name is not a series of Honda mowers today, despite its past track record it still lives on in the current HRS216PKA and HRS216VKA models. The former line price range was $350 – $550 and the current models run from $475 – $500.

Today we will be taking a brief stroll down memory lane as we remember a classic Honda mower: the Harmony. We will discuss this machine’s capabilities and overall value before we dive into a little bit of controversy.

Let’s get started.


Are Honda Harmony Mowers Worth The Money?

Now, before we get started, it is important to note that we are referring to the Honda Harmony walk-behind mower in this article. This is important because Honda also made a Harmony lawn tractor, which was also pretty popular.

The redesigned versions of the Honda Harmony mowers were definitely worth the money and their popularity showed the public agreed. The newer models that relate to the old Harmony line (HRS216PKA and HRS216VKA) are popular and well built machines that are worth the price.

The Harmony II series made its debut in the late 1990s to wide acclaim in both commercial and residential lawn care communities. With a stylish design, user-friendly instructions, and cutting-edge (pun intended) features, this machine was truly ahead of its time.

While sales chugged along, a bit of controversy was stirred up at the turn of the millennium, prompting an unprecedented product recall and, in the process, relegating the earliest iterations of the Harmony a failure. But more on that later…

Honda’s response was to roll up sleeves and bounce back. This time, with an all-new lineup in 2002.

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Honda Harmony Redesign

The Harmony II was available in five specs: HRS216K2PDA, HRS216K2SDA, HRR216K2PDA, HRR216K2SDA, and HRT216K2TDA. All specs featured 21-inch steel mower decks. Three of the specs had self-propelled belt drive systems, with the HRS216K2PDA and HRR216K2PDA being regular push mowers.

Self-Propelled Harmonys

Of the self-propelled specs, only the HRT216K2TDA had variable speed control (3 speeds). The other two were one-speed. Naturally, the 3-speed spec had the highest top speed at 3.2 miles per hour. The other self-propelled mowers topped out at 2.5 mph.

Harmony Specs

All specs also featured recoil starters, rear-wheel ball bearings, and 8-inch poly wheels. They were also powered by the same 5.5-horsepower Honda GCV160 overhead camshaft (OHC) motor.

Despite sharing a lot of features, the differences in the machines were enough to give each spec a different weight than the others. The entry HRS216K2PDA was the lightest at 65 lbs., with the HRS216K2SDA weighing in at 73 lbs. The HRR216K2PDA, HRR216K2SDA, and HRT216K2TDA weighed in at 78, 84, and 88 lbs. respectively. 

All Harmony II specs featured a simple 7/8” handle. Like all the best Honda mowers, you had great handle angle adjustment in addition to full foldability for easy storage. The variable speed control switch for the HRT216K2TDA was also conveniently placed.

The mower’s cutting credentials are also impressive.

Harmony Cutting

The two entry specs of the Harmony came with single blades as standard, with the rest of the lineup rolling out of the factory with a dual blade system. You also had the option to equip a secondary blade on either the HRS216K2PDA or HRS216K2SDA to maximize mulching capabilities.

The Harmony was capable of spectacular cuts, with blades regulated by Honda’s patented Zone Start technology. The deck adjustment had a range of 1-3.5 inches for the HRS216K2PDA and HRS216K2SDA, and 0.75-3.25 inches for the remaining specs. Both ranges have six increments.

Entry Harmonys had side discharge as standard, with 1-bushel bags available as an optional extra. The latter three specs came with 1.7-bushel bags and side discharge as an option. Only the range-topping HRT216K2TDA has both side discharge and a collection bag as standard.

In 2003 the HRR216K2TDA and HRZ216TDA were added to the lineup to serve as the new flagship specs. Both were 21-inch 3-speed self-propelled machines with rear discharge as well as bagging and mulching options.

Harmony Price Range

Pricing ranged from US$339 for the HRS216K2PDA to about $540 for the HRZ216TDA. All mowers in the Harmony II series had a 2-year home-use warranty and a 90-day commercial warranty.

Harmony Series Abandoned?

Nowadays, Honda has abandoned the “Harmony” moniker for its walk-behinds (perhaps due to the confusion with the riding mower of the same name) and has simply serialized its current lineup by the first three letters of a model name (e.g. HRX Series). 

That said, the modern machines with a direct link to the old Harmonys are the HRS216PKA and the HRS216VKA from the HRS series. The former is a push machine with a side discharge and that retails for about $470. The latter is a variable speed self-propelled which also has side discharge, among other features, in a $500 package.

Both mowers have 21-inch decks made of 16-gauge steel, adjustable 1-inch tube handles, and six adjustment increments. You also get easy recoil starting and automatic chokes. Single high-lift blades are also standard.

The HRS216VKA features a Variable Speed Fixed Gear Belt Clutch which helps channel the GCV160 engine’s 5.5 horses to the wheels for a top speed of 4 miles per hour. The added weight of the transmission makes it 5lbs heavier than the PKA, which weighs 64 lbs.

Another difference between the two is the deck height range. The PKA has a range of 1-3.5 inches while the VKA has a range of 11/8-4 inches. 

Both “Harmonys” have a 2-in-1 function that allows operators to toggle between mulching and bagging. You can also install a side discharge assembly if you want to distribute your clippings.

The handles highlight Honda’s commitment to operator comfort. It is light, well balanced, and has all your essentials (speed control. Throttle control, blade control) well within reach to ensure maximum safety.

The modern machines also have better warranties than their ancestors. You get a 3-year home use warranty and a 90-day of commercial use warranty.

Honda Recalls The Harmony

Back in April 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission published a recall notice alerting the public of 25 reports of Harmony II series lawnmowers with compromised fuel tanks.

It turns out some fuel tanks were susceptible to cracks and splits. Some were allegedly wheeled out of retailers with this problem having already materialized. 

Naturally, leaky fuel tanks are a hazard for both fire and fumes. As such, the CPSC ordered Honda and all of its affiliated dealers to halt all sales, and customers were advised to cease use. Luckily, no incidents or injuries related to this structural fault were ever reported.

The models at the center of this controversy were the HRT216, HRR216, and HRS216. The machines had engine serial numbers in the range of 1128495 and 1438098.

In order to be on the safe side, Honda recalled a whopping 112,000 units, making “Harmony-gate” one of the biggest mower re-calls ever.

The Final Touches On The Honda Harmony Walk Behind Mower…

Honda is a premium name brand in the landscaping and lawn care world. Though the Harmony line had problems in the past, the company has move well beyond those issues after correcting them and redesigning the line.

Buying nearly any Honda made product used is a good investment as long as the machine has been regularly maintained.

Purchasing the newer versions of this older line is also a great choice. Many feel that Honda is the BMW or Mercedes of mowers. You may or may not agree, but you will recognize the quality build and design of all of their machines.

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Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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