John Deere 14SB

The John Deere 14SB lawnmower is another quality, classic piece of machinery from the crew at John Deere. This walk behind, 5 speed, self propelled mower has long since finished it’s production run but is still quite a sought after piece by JD enthusiasts.

It is powered by an FC150 Kawasaki engine, that pumps out 5hp, which is really quite a lot of power for such small lawn mower. Perhaps John Deere made a mistake when they were creating this model and gave it an engine that was far more powerful than needed. The upside to this however is that you can easily take on long wet grass without having to worry that the engine is going to cut out even when you are mulching the grass. It also has the advantage of being able to also take a bagger.

The John Deere 14SB has a 21 inch mower deck, which is pretty standard for a walk behind, self propelled lawnmower. While many people remark on the longevity and strength of this model, the only real downside to it is that it weighs quite a bit. But this is due in large part to it’s engine. The great thing about this model though, like all John Deere models is that even though it may have been over 10 years since one has been produced, there are still replacement parts available for it from John Deere.

Some feel that it’s the reliability of the Kawasaki engine that makes this model so great, while others feel that it’s the John Deere parts that make up the rest of the lawn mower that make it so good. The jury is still out. If you own a 14 SB or have ever used one, please leave your thoughts on it in the review section below.

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19 Reviews of the “John Deere 14SB”

  1. j mead says:


    Year of Manufacture: 1989
    Pros: has lasted 32 yrs and for 7 yrs i cut 9 yds per week with it the kawasaki engine still runs great and maybe the oil filter kit i had installed brand new helped
    Cons: wheels wear out easy,mower doesnt mulch good due possibly to 4.5 hp engine and in 89 i never heard of a mulching mower . most ppl bagged, wheels only adjust to 3 inches max. again due to when manufactured

  2. Sam says:

    I bought my 14SB at auction in 1994 in Virginia for $100 and came with the original owners manual. I used this for the first 10 years I owned it for mowing four rental properties weekly during the summer months. It NEVER failed me, wouldn’t start, or any other problems. From about 2005 to 2015, it stayed with family and saw sporadic use, some would use it for a season or two, then buy their own mower, and I’d get it back. BUT, I was living in a condo, so it stayed in storage just as often as it was being used. Fast forward to 2016.
    I now have a 1/2 acre yard to mow in North Carolina, and the mower gets used about 28 mows per year. It’s now 2021, and the mower was just tuned (by me) for it’s 6th season of use. I take good care of this mower because it’s ALWAYS taken good care of me! I just bought another 14SB to rehab and sell, and I tell folks that know about this mower that I wouldn’t take $900 (the cost of the mower new at my 1994 dealer) for this mower today. I love it, and will never let it go.
    The only things that I have ever had to replace on this mower are the following: the pull starter dogs (plastic) broke years ago and I just wrapped the starter rope around the fan cup (no problem), but later put another recoil on. I couldn’t find a carb rebuild kit in 2018, so I broke down and bought a new carb for it (Kawasaki branded and boxed); this made it run like new again. It’s gotten a couple of spark plug replacements over the years, but a plug properly cleaned and gapped will last at least 3 seasons, maybe more. I found a used 5-spd transmission for it along the way, but have never needed it (stays in the shed “just in case”). I finally had to replace the Warner blade brake clutch last year (over 25 years of use before it began to fail). Blades: I put a new blade on about every two years. That’s it. I lube the cables each season, take the wheels off and lube the bearings and brass sleeves, clean up the drive axles and grease them, make sure the mower deck is always clean after moist mowings, give her clean non-ethanol gas, and watch for any signs of trouble, but I never get any…
    If you find one of these in good shape, BUY IT! You’ll never need to buy another mower if it’s been taken care, and it performs better than any mower old or new.

    Year of Manufacture: 1992
    Pros: I will NEVER sell this mower
    Cons: Cost of JD parts, OEM parts can be found if you look
    Attachments: Bagger & Non-bagging chute
    Modifications: About to add the oil filter to my non-filtered unit

  3. Nick says:

    When new was VERY expensive..($750 in 1996). Was perfect for about 12 years except the Transmission failed under warranty..had it failed after warranty I’d say it was an overpriced piece of junk.
    Started having a little trouble after 12 years and down hill after that.After it failed I looked for another used..we bought 3 of themtwo of those from Craigslist that seemed to work when we picked them up but the low standard of of my fellow human beings failed to disclose problems they were having.
    We tried taking them one by one in for repairs and all were an utter failure including the big Authorized John Deere Dealer in Morristown NJ who should have been the best but mechanic was like a toy boy mechanic and it cost us $300 for repairs..we were right back for the same problem after one use..then again..then they gave up and said unrepairable..but what about $300 we spent for repairs ? Sorry I can give you $50 off on your next mower.
    So it and another we bought we got rid of and tried again this one looked good and ran good. Started using it but trouble to shoppe…trouble again to shoppe spilled something on dech which peeled deck paint..used once then trouble starting ..We went to another fancier shoppe where I figured if I buy a Commercial Honda Mower from them they’ll take care of our 14SB and put some effortinto it…they did carburetor kit and clean..used once at home..trouble starting next time…again mower that wont start.
    The new Honda at least works..the Mower gardeners use $1260..but Mower is too heavy (14SB was a feather compared to this thing) and the engine is I think underpowered. So basically if you can’t fix your own Mower buying a used one is a waste of $..We bought three 14SB used duds and one of the other models with Briggs engine 14PZ or something which worked for a little while but burning oil and neighbor borrowed it one day
    running it with low oil and its another piece of garbage. Between buying the used machines and repairs what has it been $1000 and a lot of wasted time and stress.The 14SB should be reissued exactly the same but with a better transmission and beefier wheels..but at what cost ?

    Year of Manufacture: 1996
    Pros: Was good as a new mower for 12 years or so..light and perfect performance.
    Cons: Transmission failed uner warranty.Buying second hand DOES NOT PAY unless you can repair it yourself has been an utter failure.Parts way too expensive and problems still not solved.

  4. max pressgrove says:

    john deere should again begin making th 14sb or 14se anf also never use the plastic wheels the later jx75 models are almost a copy of the 14sb and never use a briggs motor

    Year of Manufacture: 1986
    Pros: aii were j.d. 21 inch trycyclers with kal enjines which are the very bestyou can buy ! i habe owned probably secenor eight. i had 2 toro mowers which were junf vaper locking problems. mmu first 14sb hac stanless steel wheels with real rubber tread . all later j d had plastic junk wheels . toro had much better wheels. if you adjust the choke properly john deere kal. enjines will always start on one or two pulls.

  5. norbert mildner says:

    Just great, try using non- ethanol gas.
    fires up almost every time. My gut tells me it will run at least another 10 years.

    Year of Manufacture: 1996
    Pros: So far only my carburetor once replaced, and few times cleaned. One set of new wheels. That’s all
    Cons: really none. As one guy stated even high wet grass, no problem. Only cons. paid $750- 24 years ago. But you get what you paid for, right ?
    Attachments: bags, mulcher
    Modifications: none

  6. Randy Z says:

    JD SB14: Unbelievably reliable. In the past few years replaced wheels. Picked up some parts while available. Just bought a new blade clutch as I’m detecting and seeing cut evidence of bladed slippage. During this maintenance will paint deck (JD Silver) and fix/seal minor oxidation on deck.
    Note: I occasionally add just a touch of ZMAX to the oil and gas can. It started to cough a bit ~5 years ago. Suspected carbon’d up valves. It cleared up before finishing the lawn that same day and the old SB14 is running as strong as ever. I always have ethanol free gas. Really, I was so impressed with the Kawasaki motor on the JD SB14 that I bought a Kawasaki string trimmer back when Kawasaki made those. It’s still running too, but I did just ultrasonic clean the carb and install a kit at the beginning of 2018.

    Year of Manufacture: 1997
    Pros: Owned since new and used for 21 years.
    – Kawasaki motor is fantastic.
    – Mulching monster
    – great starting
    Had no idea how long it would withstand time. Simple maintenance. Wish these were still in production.
    Cons: Will never see another like it. Never loan out to anyone. Learned that lesson.
    Attachments: bag w/frame, mulch plug and of course pride.
    Modifications: none

  7. Sam D says:

    Pleasure to use – wouldn’t think of buying any of the new Chinese junk being peddled as “superior”. This mower will run circles around that garbage. If you can find one of these mowers, BUY IT! You will not regret it……..

    Year of Manufacture: 1989
    Pros: I’ve owned a John Deere 14SB for 24 years, having purchased it at auction in 1994 for $100. This mower was used to cut the yards of dozens of rental properties through the 90s and into the mid-2000s, then was put away for 15 years while I lived in a condo – would NEVER think of selling it! It is just that good a mower. Fast-forward to 2016 and I’m back in a house with a 1/2 acre yard and this mower fires up on the first pull EVERY time. All that is done to it for maintenance is yearly oil changes, grease in the axle zirk fittings, and a new filter and plug. About every three to four years it gets a new blade. This mower is solid, reliable, and up to any task you throw at it. I will NEVER let go of this mower!
    Cons: Parts prices from John Deere are through the roof, but they can be found for less if you look (Ebay, Amazon, etc). Other than that, no cons…
    Attachments: Bagger and bagless chute that side discharges to the left of the mower.
    Modifications: JB Weld in the deck to repair holes in the aluminum deck – the repairs have held for over a decade.

  8. Stephen G says:

    Love it

    Year of Manufacture: 1997
    Pros: Reliable and built to last. This was a gift from my father-in-law as it was his fathers. It was taken care of well and starts on the first pull every time. The height adjustments are still true as I measured the height of the blade and grass cut on the highest level and both were 3.5″. My grass is very thick, and this does a good job…never stalled.
    Cons: I wish that it could have a cut height up to 3.75 or 4.0″ I normally cut grass (NW Ohio) at 3.5″ during the summer. If we get a wet few weeks, it’s hard not to let it get up to 5″ and then I’m cutting off too much grass.
    Attachments: None
    Modifications: None

  9. Eric says:

    I got my 14 SB 2 years ago for free! It didn’t run and had been sitting outside for about 4 years round the clock and we do have snowy winters here with gas in it (worst possible conditions). Its made in 1991. I have had to replace the carb, the small kill circuit chip, a few cables, clean out the gas tank, replace the wheels, replace the blade and do a complete tune up, now she starts first pull every time. I do all my own work I used to work in a small engine shop in spare time. Its a heavy pig but she cuts the grass better than any mower I have ever owned. Just recently the Blade Brake Clutch started howling for a bit upon initial engagement so I replaced it too (the only what I call real expensive part $144 from John Deere). But I have a habit of probably spending more than they are worth to fix them up and keep them going but I like tinkering on them. Like I said even-though I have mostly restore this mower it is still one of if not the best mower I have ever owned!

    Year of Manufacture: 1991
    Pros: Its weight and design make it cut grass unlike any other.
    Strong engine.
    Blade brake clutch
    Aluminum Deck (won’t rust out)
    Mows even the tall thick grass without bogging down.
    All parts are available still and most are reasonably priced.
    Cons: Some parts that may be needed to keep them going can be expensive (Blade Brake Clutch)!
    Attachments: Mulch plug
    Bag Assembly
    Side discharge chute
    Modifications: Had to cut grove in engine shaft for third revision Blade Brake Clutch.

  10. Dirk Mudge says:

    More complicated sequence for operation than the single lever bar that TORO uses on higher end models of the same vintage.

    Year of Manufacture: 0
    Pros: Kawasaki engines make this mower. The transmissions are known to fail. Engagement levers and interrelated parts more complicated than high level TORO models. Tread on tires wears down easily and these mowers should have received a higher quality wheel to start with.

    They do have solid decks but the wheel height detents on the deck are known to wear smooth from wear and tear against the steel adjusters.

    Blade brakes had 2 versions which makes buying bearings for them difficult until the entire component is removed and taken apart.

    Graphics on mower are attractive! John Deere logo is bold.

    For the money, I would be inclined to look close at used TORO models.

    Cons: Expensive parts

  11. Ted J says:

    Bought my 1st one in 1992 and loved it. Mower died an untimely death or unknown reasons when engine just locked up. Never found out why and dealer couldn’t figure it out. I’ve always done (and still do) all my own maintenance on my yard machines. Replaced with a JA65 (Same deck, B&S engine) that just sucked. Found another 14SB in 2007 and I’m happy once more. Cold starting has become erratic, but I do have a stash of parts here.

    Year of Manufacture: 1998
    Pros: – Engine has plenty of power.
    – Mows very cleanly.
    – Mulches very well.
    – Bagger empties very fast and is easily operated.
    – Will provide many years of service if maintained properly.
    Cons: – Frequent cleanings under deck.
    – Deere discontinued the ‘special’ mulcher blade, it operated much better for that purpose.
    – Grass clippings gum up the drive gears easily; frequent cleaning needed.
    Modifications: – I added the optional oil filter kit.

  12. Phil says:

    I paid close to $700 for this mower 20 years ago, hoping it would be a lasting investment. I’d say I got more than my money’s worth.

    Year of Manufacture: 1984
    Pros: I’ve been mowing with my 14SB for 20 years now. Every couple of years, I change the oil, the air filter and do the standard maintenance.

    The aluminum deck shows no sign of corrosion or pitting.

    The Kawasaki engine still starts on the second pull every time. Never burns or leaks any oil. The pressurized lube system keeps the engine lubed properly when mowing on slopes. I have a lot of slopes on my yard.

    The mower is very easy to maintain, and parts are still readily available online and through dealers. Construction quality is robust, and made to last.

    Cons: The plastic wheels don’t provide a lot of traction, and wear to the point that they need replacement every 4-5 years. The height adjustment is a bit cumbersome, and the highest setting is not high enough.

    Earlier this year, my blade clutch control lever broke. Fortunately, I was able to easily replace it with a new part.

    Recently, I hit a solid obstruction with my spinning blade, and broke the blade/brake clutch assembly. At $250 repair, totally my fault. But at least I can keep the mower going for a few more years.

    It’s a heavy beast.

    Attachments: Bag, mulch plug.
    Modifications: None.

  13. J Arnold says:

    Awesome! Both of my kids have never had to use a different lawnmower in their life while living at home and the oldest is now 28.

    Year of Manufacture: 1988
    Pros: Kawasaki Engine runs and runs. Now almost 25 years old as of 2013. I and very mechanically inclined and have replaced parts as I have gone along. Paid around 600.00 for and probably another 200.00 in parts but do the math about bang for your buck. When my neighbors have replace there 300.00 mores every 4-5 years they have spent a hella lot more. You will be hard pressed to find anything that will last as long. Just this week I replaced the Nylon Drive gears for 18.00. Newer Deere dealer had the parts. Replace all the cables last year so parts are still available. One thing I do recommend is to put an inline fuel filter on it. Had a lot of problems with the carb cleaning it every other year and put a filter on it an nothing since for probably over 5 years. If you find one used buy it.
    Just sharpen the blade, change the oil frequently, Grease the trans gears at the back and it will run like mine for almost 25years.
    Modifications: Inline Filter and change the fuel lines to automotive type.

  14. Gerald says:

    If you want a great mower, look at garage sales and buy a 14sb. Some people will almost give them away when they start to trouble. They are worth fixing!!!

    Year of Manufacture: 88
    Pros: I love my JD mower, but I many have to move on. My deck broke a huge piece out of it. I’ve been looking for a new mower for a few weeks, but NOTHING comes close to what my 14sb is. This mower was way ahead of it’s time. I will continue to use my inlaws mower till I find a parts mower to fix mine.
    -engine is really strong
    -next to no maintenance ever needed on the mower
    -strarts in 2 pulls
    -love the transmission. The newer ones go to fast.
    Cons: I have nothing bad to say, except my deck breaking apart. Who know how that happened. Maybe years of fatigue.
    Attachments: I always bag, so I have no other attachments for it.

  15. Tom Watson says:

    An excellent mower that gave me 15+ years of weekly service. Blade engagement control lever mechanism finally gave out, otherwise everything still functions. Hardly ever changed engine oil or performed other maintenance, which was dumb on my part, but the engine still runs strong and doesn’t smoke or miss. Always stored it indoors and I think everything except the blade and spark plug is original. It was a mower that was ahead of its time…too bad JD no longer makes an equivalent. Since this is an obsolete design with increasingly limited parts availability, decided to just replace it.

    Went shopping for a new mower and looked at the JD line first, but their current offerings look cheap and don’t have the features I want. Bought a loaded Honda HRX217 instead and will sell the 14SB.

    Year of Manufacture: 1995
    Pros: Powerful engine, aluminum deck, great lawn cut. Always started on first or second pull.
    Cons: Fairly loud exhaust note, drive engages too abruptly. Easy to knock bag loose.
    Modifications: None.

  16. Howard says:

    This is an old school model John Deere no longer produced. The new models are really much cheaper quality.

    I look for these used and buy them up as they are a gold mine for used parts. Many only need simple wheel and gear service.

    These can definitely be rebuilt and will outlast anything in the same class.

    The Kawasaki engine is a beast.

    Year of Manufacture: 0
    Pros: Kawasaki engine is powerful and ALWAYS outlasts the rest of the mower. Clean,even cut, great bagging system, great mulching system, very good on fuel use, 5 speeds, aluminum deck
    Cons: Dirt and mud can get into the drive wheels…prematurely wearing out the the drive gear mechanism. ( springtime )

    Brake clutch bearing seems to get noisy before anything else wears out. It cans scream for a long time before you’ll want to replace it.

    Transmission axle shaft wears out at the bushings if you don’t keep it greased and clean it out after wet spring mowing. …just the axle is around $ 80.00

    Attachments: bagger, mulch plug
    Modifications: none

  17. steve johnson says:

    Had a Little trouble at first because I monkeyed with carburetor for some reason 20 years ago…in the shop once to cure that. Engine and add-on oil filter worked perfectly for 20 more years. Mulched pretty much anything but rocks. All 5 gears work well still and Blade Break System works. Still has some meat left on the clutch even. Loved differential but finally Pinion gears failed and now don’t mesh right and differential doesn’t work. Lug LM around to turn one way. Never burned oil…no smoke…starts right off pretty much on 2nd pull…hardly ever changed oil…very abusive that way but I did drain out gas. Really sad to torque bolt and then bung up threads. Maybe I can throw in a helicoil. Lawn Mower shops wouldn’t consider helping me once I messed things up. Sad…hard to put lots of money into it. Replaced it with a 30 inch dual blade Toro Timemaster…debated a JX-75 but it was only 21 inches and my lawn is now bigger.

    Year of Manufacture: 1992
    Pros: Strong…non-clogging. Back discharge bag never slipped out. Aluminum deck still OK…
    Cons: strange adapter on spindle has a ball bearing that isn’t completely sealed. Didn’t understand how to maintain it or check it. Can’t find anything in maintenance books or even find the part. It confused the last LM mechanic. Never saw anything like it in all his life. Later, I guessed It acts as a “key” safety and gives a bit if the blade hits something because it is a direct drive machine. Didn’t understand how cool this was but after 20 years it got rusty and the ball bearing froze up, apparently. So, when I hit something the other day. The bearing did not move and the blade torqued off leaving the bolt in the spindle and it threw the blade and lower BBC onto the ground. Good reason to wear heavy boots while mowing. Drilling out bold out did not work. Cant figure out BBC to take it off.
    Attachments: Blade Brake System. Kawasake Oil filter on engine…strange standard John Deere blade adapter…bearing made to give way on severe blade impact.
    Modifications: none….oil filter

  18. Kyle Katzmann says:

    The most reliable mower I have ever had. What a great investment this was. When I bought it in 1988, friends said I was crazy for spending that much for a walk-behind mower, but I am still using mine and they are all on their third or fourth mowers.
    So who’s crazy now?

    Year of Manufacture: 88
    Pros: I think I have the best mower ever produced. I purchased the oil filter adapter when I bought this mower and that must have been the reason for its longevity.
    After 5 kids of using it and 23 years of mowing a 3/4 acre yard, this thing still starts on the first pull.
    Now that all the kids have grown up and left, I thought I would go down and get a new one, but after checking them all out, I decided to just save my money.
    I have all the attachments, rear bag, rear grass defector, and mulching plug. Just doing simple maintainance, and keeping it in the shed for the winter, and using premium fuel with stabilizer, has left this unit in top running shape. I am just getting a little to old to be walking behind a mower, but I hope that this will help keep me in shape.
    Cons: N/A
    Attachments: Rear bag, rear grass deflector, mulching plug, oil filter attachment.

  19. Floyd says:

    I have three walk behind mowers that I use on a regular basis. My John Deere 14SB with a four horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine outperforms them all including a new Honda. If I should decide to buy a new mower., John Deere will be my choice.

    Year of Manufacture: 1987
    Pros: Best mower I have ever owned. After almost 25 years I still prefer it to any other Walk behind mower I have used.
    Cons: Is somewhat noisy

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