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Bobcat's 6 Tonner Ticks All the Boxes

by Nick Drew  |  Thu 14 Oct 2021

Bobcat's 6 Tonner Ticks All the Boxes

Those machines which were the result of over 5 years research and development, have generally been well received in the industry and Bobcat reports of significant gains in the market share since the launch.

The latest R2-Series models have now been launched comprising of 3 machines in the 4-6-tonne class bracket, namely the zero tailswing E50z, E55z and the flagship conventional tailswing E60 model.

All three machines are fitted with Stage V engines, which meet the latest emissions regulations by means of a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and are 100% Bobcat in DNA having been designed, developed and manufactured at the companies state-of-the-art European manufacturing facility in Dobris, Czech Republic.

The E50z R2 is regarded as the Entry level machine in this range, tipping the scales at 4975 kgs, and powered by Bobcat’s own Stage V emissions compliant D18 1.8 litre 3-cylinder diesel engine, which in this application is rated at 31.3kw (42hp).

The E55z R2 is regarded as the Premium model weighing in at 5346 kgs, with power once again coming from Bobcat’s Stage V emissions compliant 3-cylinder D18 power pack, which in this application is rated at 36.4kw (49hp).

The Flagship offering is the 6-tonne class E60 R2 which has an operating weight of 5589kgs, and is powered by Bobcat’s 4-cylinder 2.4 litre D24 Stage V compliant diesel engine, which offers a power output rating of 41kw (55hp), and it was this machine that Earthmovers received an exclusive look around and to test drive what was the very first example to arrive in the UK thanks to Versatile Equipment Ltd, who were appointed as Bobcat dealers for the South and South East of England, on the 1st January 2021 following the demise of Bobcat of London.

On the day before the test drive, I took the opportunity to take a good look around the new E60 machine which replaces the outgoing E55 and E62 models from the old line up, at Versatile Equipment’s stunning new premises prior to it being delivered to site.

Approaching the machine, one is instantly taken by the dynamic styling of the R2-Series models, which is clearly continuing on from the initial R-Series examples. I especially like the angular styling of the composite material corner slats which while looking stylish, also facilitate a good flow of air through the engine bay and cooling packs, and are complimented by the red flash decals on both sides of the machine.

At the rear of the machine, popping the bonnet reveals the aforementioned engine bay, with all filters, including a larger fuel filter than previously fitted, and all daily maintenance points easily accessible from ground level. I especially like the large colour coded yellow engine oil filler cap to the right-hand front of the engine, which clearly makes for easier topping up.

Peering deeper into the bay I spot more quality in the form of the blue-chip component, Bosch Rexroth hydraulic pump, which in this application sits below the exhaust muffler box.

At the top left of the bay, just above the radiator cooling pack, I discover the release lever for the off-side bonnet cover. Once released the entire bonnet flips forward assisted by a gas strut to allow great access to the 15.10 litre plastic hydraulic tank, the Bosch Rexroth hydraulic valve block, associated hydraulic pipework, and the screen wash bottle. A convenient storage holder for the grease gun is also located under this panel next to a small storage tray which can be used to store such things as spare grease cartridges and the like. From here you can also clean any debris build up from the cooling packs as and when required with relative ease.

The 2523mm long undercarriage features the standard 400mm wide rubber tracks, but steel tracks are available as an option for those who require more durability. Five Dual flange bottom rollers are fitted as standard on the E55z and the E60, which offer much more stability during over-the-side working, and also a much improved and smoother ride for the operator when tracking around on rough ground, but also less vibration when tracking on hard paved surfaces, one top carrier roller is fitted. Track motors on this machine are sourced from Doosan, as is the swing motor.

In addition, described by Bobcat as a unique feature, and as fitted to the smaller models in the range, the machine can be fitted with the optional Auto Track Tensioning System (ATTS), which as the name suggests, constantly monitors the track tension, and automatically adjusts to suit, resulting in less incidents of losing a track due to them not being adjusted manually to take up any slack, a great feature and worthwhile having in the self-drive plant hire sector, where “operators” attention to such details can often be rather sketchy, this set up can result in a lot less heartache and downtime for the machine.

Four dedicated tying down points are also integrated into the undercarriage on the outside, and two on the inside track frame for improved safety during transportation.

A 1960mm wide dozer blade is fitted which features a “float” function for ease of levelling, and for those who want extra versatility there is an optional angled dozer blade available as an extra.

At the business end, this machine was fitted with the standard boom and the UK preferred long dipper stick offering, which is factory fitted with steel hydraulic quick coupler pipework. Auxiliary pipework comes as standard and Bobcat state that the machines can be supplied with up to five independent auxiliary hydraulic circuits and can offer in excess of 87-litres of auxiliary oil flow per minute, for running those oil hungry attachments.

The bucket tipping link includes a certified lifting point for attaching rated capacity shackles for dedicated lifting operations. This demonstration model had come direct from the factory and due to Covid induced supply issues, a quick coupler had not been able to be fitted for this test drive opportunity, so it was back to “old school” style direct mount with the Strickland buckets provided.

As with the smaller models in the R-Series, the cabin is provided by German cab manufacturing specialist’s Fritzmeier. The E60 benefits from a slightly wider and more spacious cab than the other two models in this weight class and its very noticeable when sat side by side with the E55z for instance.

The unique ergonomically angled “3D” entry hand rail is once again retained on these larger mini excavators. A nice feature with this on the E60 is that it is bolted onto the cab as opposed to being welded on, which makes life a lot easier if they are accidently bent from any impact, meaning they can easily be removed for straightening if needed. The E60 also benefits from front light covers to protect the LED work lights which are also a standard fitment on these machines. A boom mounted LED is also supplied as standard but customers can also opt for a rear cab mounted LED light if required, especially popular in the Nordic regions. 

I love the large composite material anti-slip side step which aids access up into the cabin, and the uncluttered floor space which looks to offer a lot of legroom even for the giants out there! As in the previous smaller models the foldaway tracking pedals are retained, with the nifty little rubber pads, which when the pedals are folded up, prevent any annoying rattles.

Looking around the cabin it does have a very German automotive feel to it, everything is nicely finished and stylish in black and light grey plastic trim. It does give an airy feel when sat in the cab, both in terms of width and legroom, but once again on a mini excavator, there is virtually no room for a lunch bag behind the sea.

This particular model was a high spec version and featured Bobcat’s HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) which is an automatic climate control unit. This model also benefitted from the new optional 7-inch touch screen control monitor, which offers much more detail and a user-friendly interface than the standard 5-inch display.

To put it all into context, the 7-inch screen has all the features of the 5-inch, plus facility to enter the password for the standard keyless start function, features an integrated radio with Bluetooth device connectivity, enabling the operator to make and receive hands-free phone calls, the ability to enter up to 20 different operator codes, and a back up jog shuttle control dial.

The machine was moved overnight to a large housing development in Canterbury, Kent, where one of Versatile Equipment’s long-standing customers Stilebridge Groundworks, had kindly allocated a spot for our test drive.

On a gloriously sunny morning, I climbed into the cab, appreciating the new wider door entrance and that smart and extremely user-friendly grab handle to my left. Adjusting the seat to suit my little legs, I quickly scanned my surroundings and re-acquainted myself with the controls I had checked out the previous day.

My initial thoughts were that this is clearly a cab that has been put together with the operator in mind, all controls fall nicely to hand, and there are dedicated storage spaces located all around, there is even not one, but two cup holders, so plenty of storage for the morning brew, and that equally important bottle of water to keep you hydrated during a long day in the seat!

The machine has the keyless start set up so I entered the code on the display, and with a turn of the ignition switch the Bobcat engine sprang to life. Leaving the engine to warm up briefly, I spent a bit of time to sort out the air-conditioning, and was delighted to get some refreshing chilled air on my face from the top vent, one of five adjustable vents around the cabin, 3 to the fore and 2 to the rear.

With the engine up to working temperature, I cranked up the rotary dial to the right of the seat just behind the dozer blade control lever. I was pleasantly surprised with how quiet the machine was at full chat, around 77dB(A) according to the specs, and it just thrums away as it goes about its business.

A tug on the Kawasaki electro hydraulic “dual-curve” joysticks and I raised the equipment off the ground, I was instantly impressed with the smooth nature of the controls, and its all that we have come to expect from such blue-chip components in recent years.

Raising the dozer blade and using the substantial flip over tracking pedals I moved off from its resting place out across the field, initially at the default low speed of 2.9km/h, but once out in the open space, with a quick press of the yellow button on top of the dozer blade lever, up into top speed which is around 4.9km/h.

Tracking across to the digging location and a quick glance at the monitor reveals all the information and feedback on the machines status you could possibly ever need, and with the touch screen function its all very intuitive to use.

First task was to see how the E60 R2 performed in the dig, so a bit of trench digging with the 600mm bucket for starters. The ground on this site hard a hard baked top crust, which was a good test for the machine’s breakout capabilities. The digging breakout force with the long dipper is rated at 28405 N and it was certainly put to the test in this dig, it was tough going but this compact powerhouse coped admirably, and once through that top crust, it was a piece of cake.

Having excavated the trench, I then set about backfilling it and finishing off with the dozer blade. Like so many of the these electro hydraulic machine controls the dozer blade was extremely sensitive and light on the touch, which took a bit of getting used to, I opted to use the float function which worked really well for the finishing off work.

We then changed buckets, for the next challenge, opting for a Strickland grading/ditching bucket. I decided to take the machine up on a heap soil to do some de-vegging work, there was plenty of tractive power in the climb and all controls worked well while tracking with very little lag on other services.

I found the machine to be not the fastest when slewing with a rated speed of 8.9rpm, but maybe a tweak on the pressures would resolve that. I wanted to see how it would react with an uphill slew situation, so climbed down the hill and attempted to slew uphill at full stretch, that’s about 6209mm with the long dipper, with a bucketful, which it wasn’t too keen on to be honest, but once I had brought the dipper back into about half way it was fine, once again I think a small tweak on the pressures would probably rectify that issue.

Back on top of the heap I was then trying out the machines grading ability and I’m delighted to report it was as silky smooth as anything else on the market in that department and a real pleasure to drive. In this machine the off-set boom is operated by a rocker switch on the right-hand side proportional joystick, and offers 75o swing to the left and 50o to the right, although I prefer a foot pedal for that function personally, I did find this quite nice and it worked well on this machine, enabling me to slew the upper body and the off-set in unison together.

The visibility is excellent from every angle and there is plenty of glass to facilitate this, I especially like the twin sliding side windows on the offside, always a good addition for those who like the fresh air.

    

The machine is well balanced overall and with a tailswing overhang of just 280mm is equally suited to the confines of today’s ever congested urban sites.

If I had to be picky about this example it would have to be the PVC covered seat, not great for sitting on during hot summers in my experience, so if you are ordering one, specify a cloth seat version. But overall, I found this to be a very nice piece of kit, it is certainly up there with the best of them and if you haven’t tried a Bobcat for a while, make sure you give one of these a shot.

With the appetising prospect of the new 8-tonne class E88 R2 coming down the line, orderable from January next year for delivery in March, it looks like more exciting times ahead for Versatile and Bobcat.

 

             

 

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