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Comparison Guide: BCS & Grillo

Article highlights:

  1. BCS and Grillo are similar, but have distinct differences.
  2. BCS's PTO system is much more advanced and heavy-duty, as evidenced by its lifetime transmission warranty.
  3. BCS's PowerSafe clutch design is more "abuse-proof."
  4. BCS's handlebars are more user-friendly.
  5. BCS has been imported into North America for over 50 years.
  6. BCS has a much larger dealer network (700+ vs. less than 50).

BCS is Europe's largest two wheel tractor manufacturer, but one other European brand has also made its way into the United States. Grillo manufactures all-gear drive tractors and attachments that are similar to BCS in some ways, but the two brands have very distinct differences.

PTO Engagement System. In 1995, BCS introduced its current, tapered three-jaw PTO connection design, in which the attachment shaft interlocks with the tractor's PTO shaft as the attachment is mounted to the tractor. Just as in four-wheel farm tractors, the engagement mechanism is internal to the oil bath tractor transmission. Prior to this, the engagement mechanism was an external, dry system in which a splined, sliding coupler from the tractor was extended over the splined input shaft of the attachment.

This is important because the current coupling system is essential to effectively power high-torque implements, such as the Flail MowerBrush MowerChipper/Shredder, and Snow Thrower. And because the engagement is internal to the oil bath transmission, it is far less prone to the wear-and-tear of the old, external sliding coupler. In fact, the components of the current engagement system are included in BCS's lifetime tractor transmission warranty.

By contrast, most Grillo tractor models still have a dry, external slider design similar to BCS's pre-1995 models. Because the importance of the PTO engagement system is so fundamental to the performance of the tractor and its range of attachments, we consider Grillo comparable to a 25+ year-old BCS.

Clutch Design. In 2010, the European Union enacted a revised set of safety standards for two-wheel tractors. The new regulations required two-wheel tractors to (1) eliminate the transport speed and (2) to devise an Operator Presence Control (OPC) that, when released, brought the machine to an immediate halt while allowing the engine to continue running. Because most manufacturers' two-wheel tractors featured both a transport speed and an OPC that utilized an engine shut-off, new designs were required to comply with these standards.

For BCS, this gave birth to the industry's most innovative and durable clutch design: PowerSafe.

PowerSafe is a hydro-mechanical clutch that utilizes hydraulic pressure to compress multiple flat plates and transfer power from the engine to the transmission. Releasing the OPC activates a valve that shuts off the hydraulic pressure; thereby bringing the tractor and attachment to an immediate halt. The bonus is that this "wet" clutch is more durable and maintains a cooler operating temperature than standard dry clutch systems.

By comparison, Grillo complied with the new standards by introducing the “Active” clutch (on model G110), which features a two-way acting cable. When the Operator Presence Control is held down, spring-loaded pressure is used to compress the clutch plates. When the OPC is released, reverse spring pressure disengages the clutch and the engine continues to run. This system is problematic because, if the clutch cable is not properly adjusted, the clutch does not have sufficient positive contact to convey full power to the rest of the machine, resulting in premature clutch wear and failure. And, like all dry clutch systems, the operating temperature when high-torque implements are used for long periods of time is much higher than that of the PowerSafe clutch.

Handlebar Ergonomics. Dedicated to continual improvement, BCS has also paid more attention to its handlebar system. Current BCS handlebars are the best yet, including smooth up-and-down and side-to-side handlebar adjustments, intuitive controls, and longer handlebars for operator comfort when operating all implements. The longer handlebars are especially helpful in front-mount “mowing” mode, as the extra handlebar length prevents the operator from hitting their legs against the engine guard.

Another distinct handlebar difference is the method to rotate handlebars to accommodate front and rear-mount attachments. BCS's PTO engagement and gear selection rods are fastened to the steering column via simple snap clips. The rods can be removed, rotated, and re-installed within seconds, which saves valuable time and aggravation when switching between rear- and front-mount implements.

     It takes less than 10 seconds to rotate the BCS handlebars.


Grillo's control rod design requires the operator to remove a pin and washer within the plastic joint that connects the rod to the shifting levers before rotating the handlebars. Then, the operator must either slide the rods out of an enclosed holder before rotating the handlebars, or let them be suspended as the handlebars are rotated.

Longevity and Dealer Support. With more than 700 dealers in the U.S. and Canada, BCS America supports a large network of dealers. Coupled with its extensive history in North America (BCS has been imported here since the early 1970s), most people can consult in-person about BCS with a nearby service professional, many of whom have sold and serviced BCS equipment for many years.

Purchasing and obtaining service locally is a huge advantage for BCS owners. And, just like purchasing veggies locally supports your regional growers, purchasing from a regional BCS dealer helps support both their business and the local economy.

By contrast, Grillo has been imported to North America since 2005, has only a handful of servicing dealers, and is primarily shipped for order fulfillment, requiring subsequent back-and-forth shipments if extensive service work is required.

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