Hillhead/QMJ 2024

MARKET GUIDE: Tracked skid steers

Peter Anderson reports on the latest developments in tracked skid steer loaders

Over the past decade, tracked versions of skid steer loaders have overtaken the sales of traditional wheeled models. Offering far more traction, minimal ground disturbance and increased flotation, tracked variants have opened-up the market for these extremely versatile machines. They are available with either vertical lift arms for predominantly material handling applications, or with working equipment with a radial lift pattern, for digging applications.

However, such machines should not be considered as just loaders, as modern models are specifically designed to be tool carriers, able to work with a huge variety of powered attachments, many with the option of high-flow auxiliary hydraulic services.

The Bobcat range comprises two ranges of machines, the M-Series and the R-Series, with the M-Series comprising the smaller 3-tonne T450 and 3.7-tonne T590 models. Three larger machines make up the R-Series, comprising the T66, T76 and T86 models, with operating weights of 4.3-, 5.0- and 5.6 tonnes respectively.

At 78kW, the T86 model is the most powerful compact tracked loader ever built by Bobcat. This is offered with a choice of three auxiliary hydraulic flow output levels, to match the type of attachment being used. There are also additional hydraulic functions available from Bobcat’s new Electronic Displacement Control (EDC) pump.


There are four models in the Case B-Series range of tracked skid steers in the UK, comprising the TR270B and TR310B radial lift models, together with the TV370B and TV450B are vertical lift machines. These are powered by a 55kW engine, expect for the TV450B model that has an engine rated at 67kW.

The forward speed of these models can be set new 20cm LCD multi-function display, or by buttons on the left-hand electro-hydraulic joystick. There is also a creep speed available, which delivers full power to the attachment while maintaining a low travelling speed, ideal for attachments such as cold planners and trenches.


Caterpillar has recently introduced the first models in a new generation of tracked skid steers, the medium-sized 255 and 265 models. The 255 weighs 3.4 tonnes and replaces the 259D3, while the 5.3-tonne 265 replaces both the 279D3 and the 289D3 models. Both are powered by a Cat C2.8 engine rated at 55.4kW, which delivers a torque increase of 13% for the 255 and a whopping 43% for the 265.

The closed-centre auxiliary hydraulic system allows both models to operate all Cat Smart Attachments, including the Cat Smart Dozer Blade, with the standard auxiliary hydraulics provided. The new models offer increased lift height, tilt and lift breakout forces and rated operating capacity over their D3 Series predecessors.


Italian attachment manufacturer C4 Meccanica has introduced the 2-tonne class TMU40 model, which is powered by a 30kW Yanmar engine. Equipped with a canopy, the TMU40 comes with a full remote control system. The working equipment uses two hydraulic cylinders that can be configured in three operating modes, selectable from the remote control.

The quick coupling was designed to integrate Meccanica attachments to ensure the best combination of load capacity and ease of use. Track width is adjustable from 1,300mm to 1,800mm with each side equipped with a dedicated hydraulic cylinder and replaceable guides. The machine can work on slopes of up to 55 degrees. 


Uniquely, the 5.7-tonne JCB 3TS-8T Teleskid tracked skid steer features a long-reach telescopic boom, the British manufacturer says that this will lift higher, reach further and dig deeper than any other compact tracked loader of this size. The maximum load over height is 3.8m, the forward reach at ground level is 2.25m and a maximum reach at full height of 1.7m, allowing the operator to load or unload a truck from one side.

It provides a retracted tipping load of 4.8 tonnes, retaining a substantial 2 tonnes of capacity with the boom extended. In addition, the boom provides the operator with the option of digging or powering attachments at depths of up to one metre below ground level.


Although not available in the UK or Ireland, in some parts of the world customers have access to a range of John Deere tracked skid steers, including the 317G, 325G, 331G and 333G models, all are vertical-lift designs. With rated operating capacities from 965kg to 1.7 tonnes, the machines are powered by Yanmar engines rated from 45.6kW to 72kW.

Features include a 30-degree bucket rollback together with optional ride control and hydraulic self-levelling sub-systems. Added capacity can be achieved with up to two sets of rear counterweights. An overhead panel presents the operator with machine data on the left and control switches on the right, together with a main LCD control monitor.


French manufacturer Manitou and sister brand Gehl have announced the launch of three VT Series of vertical lift compact track loaders, which have a capacity of 952kg to 1.25 tonnes. The Manitou models include the 2100VT, 2300VT and the 2750VT, whilst Gehl models are named VT210, VT230, and the VT275.

All are powered by Yanmar engines rated at 51kW and 52.7kW. The new models feature keyless start requiring only code activation, LED lighting and a patented Pilot joystick system as standard, adjacent to the operator’s seat. The cab has also been redesigned with an improved version of their unique folding door.


Chinese manufacturer Sunward has entered the UK and Ireland marketplace with a compact tracked loader, the 4.4-tonne SWTL4538 model. This provides a breakout force 3.4 tonnes, a rated operating capacity of 1.2 tonnes and tipping load of 3.43 tonnes. It is powered by a Kubota engine rated at 55.4kW at 2,600rpm.

Control of all functions is via joysticks, but with both an accelerator pedal and a hand-operated throttle. According to the manufacturer, the loader’s suspended undercarriage and tracks provides impressive performance and outstanding drawbar power for operation on rough terrain, with a wide range of attachments.


Five models, a mix of vertical and radial lift machines, are available from Takeuchi, with operating weights from 3.5 tonnes to a fraction under 6 tonnes. They are powered by Kubota engines rated from 47.9kW to 81.8kW, providing rated operating capacities between 835kg and 1.86 tonnes.

Weighing 4.6t with cab the TL8R2 is their latest model, which features a creep speed mode with automatic shift 2-speed travel, together with a redesigned cabin that features a 14.5cm colour monitor and rear-facing camera. There is also a deluxe, high-back suspension seat with multiple height adjustments in the cab, with pilot-operated joysticks to control all loader and travel functions.


The new ST27 tracked skid steer has joined the Wacker Neuson range, which also includes the ST31, ST45 and ST50 models. All are powered by Kohler engines with outputs from 55.4kW to 74kW. Operating weights extend from 3.3 to 4.8 tonnes, while tipping loads are between 2.5 and 4.5 tonnes.

The ST27 features a two-speed travel drive that provides a maximum speed of 14.6kph. The cab features a 14.5cm color display, with the joystick control pattern selectable via a switch in the cab between either ISO or H-Pattern. Joystick sensitivity and machine response settings are adjustable via the control monitor.


Yanmar has expanded its product offering by adding a new range of compact tracked loaders, these are genuinely new models, not just rebranded machines from sister company ASV, which was acquired by Yanmar in 2019. The four model range, the TL65RS, TL75VS, TL80VS and TL100VS, comprises one radial and three vertical lift machines. All are powered by Yanmar engines, rated from 50kW to 77.2kW.

Operating weights range from 3.6 to 4.8 tonnes and feature a suspended undercarriage with a pivot-link systems at the rear axle. This linkage uses a spring load to reduce oscillation and stabilise the machine, helping to improve material retention and ride quality.

This article featured in the January 2024 issue of Earthmovers Magazine

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