Expert Tips on How to Buy a Bobcat Skid Steer Loader

Every 12.5 minutes, one Bobcat skid steer loader is built.

When it comes to skid steer loaders, new Bobcats are always high up on most people’s lists. It’s a popular brand of heavy equipment thanks to its innovative design and wide range of sizes. This isn’t surprising since the Bobcat has the distinction of being the very first skid steer loader invented in 1960.

There are many different models of a Bobcat to choose from. Therein lies the problem. If you’re looking to purchase a Bobcat, you might be wondering what you need from your skid steer.

Here are several different factors to consider before you buy a Bobcat skid steer loader:

Purpose of the Skid Steer

Before you jump in and buy a Bobcat, you first need to consider how you’ll be using it. This will help you determine whether you need a small skid steer loader or a large skid steer. 

The size difference and functionality between models can be vast. You should always take a close look at the Bobcat specifications to ensure you have the right size and model suited for your project.

For example, a small skid steer can have a horsepower of 50 or less. You’ll also be looking at a lift capacity of around 1,750 pounds or lower. A small skid steer is ideal for towing jobs that are on the lighter side and maneuvering through tight areas.

On the other end of the spectrum are large skid steers. These have a carrying capacity of upwards of 2,2000 pounds. You’ll also have a horsepower of 70 or higher. When you have heavy-duty work to take care of, the large skid steer loader is where it’s at.

Type of Lift on Your Skid Steer

Be sure to know whether you will most often need a vertical lift or radial lift.

When your work deals with grading and dirt work, you will want a design with a radial lift. This translates to the skid steer loader possessing more bucket attachment breakout. Operators are able to achieve better mid-height reach with a skid steer loader that has a radial lift.

On the other hand, if your work requires lots of carrying and loading, then a vertical lift might be best. A Bobcat with a vertical lift arrangement tends to have a higher operating capacity. They are also able to obtain better reach as the arm can extend out to full dump height.

Type of Skid Steer Attachments

Will you need to use different types of attachments on your skid steer loader? If so, you’ll need to know what attachments you plan to use as this will affect what size of Bobcat you need, not to mention the horsepower and hydraulic flow. A smaller skid steer won’t be able to handle an attachment designed for a larger piece of equipment.

A larger Bobcat model has the ability to handle big attachments and perform well under high hydraulic stress. Mid-size skid steer loaders are a popular choice because they often offer the best of both worlds and are more versatile. A mid-size loader boasts excellent engine and hydraulic performance that falls just short of the heavy models, while also having compatibility with a wide range of attachments.

Cab Features on your Skid Steer

Are you in an area that has sweltering summers and bitter winters? Don’t neglect the comfort and health of your operator.

In some areas, a closed cab that provides heat and air might be a necessity. This could make the difference between your operator being able to work for several hours or needing frequent breaks. If you’re in a milder climate zone, then an open cab might suffice.

Additional Features

Skid steer loaders have come a long way. Many newer models are now stepping into the modern age.

If your operator deals with repetitive tasks such as creep speed control or return-to-dig, then it might be worth looking for a model that offers functional support with this.

Job Site Restrictions for Your Loader

The environment your skid steer loader will operate within should always be a factor you consider.

Does your skid steer loader need to maneuver within a tight space? Then a smaller skid steer will be more ideal. Small skid steer loaders are often found for jobs dealing with landscaping and interior demolition.

Now, if the job site doesn’t require turning tight corners or going through a confined space, then a mid-size skid steer might be your best option. Many people prefer a mid-size skid steer since they are capable of powering the vast majority of attachments and can handle most construction needs. However, if you’re dealing with a heavy-duty demolition job, then the large-frame skid steer loader will be the most optimal choice for the job.

Operating Capacity Needs

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the larger the Bobcat skid steer loader is, the heavier the load it can lift.

Consider the type of jobs you’ll need your Bobcat to handle. Every model has a different rated operating capacity (ROC). You can define the ROC as the size of the load the Bobcat can lift before it tips.

The ROC of a model comes from extending the skid steer bucket out fully and filling it with weights until the equipment starts to tip over from the rear wheels lifting off of the ground. This weight measurement is the tipping load, which you divide in half to find the ROC.

When you shop around for a Bobcat for sale, be sure to know what your average lift weight will be for most jobs. Only then can you find a model with the appropriate ROC for you.

Find the Right Skid Steer Loader for You

As with most things, conduct research with due diligence to find a Bobcat skid steer loader that matches your needs. Not every Bobcat skid steer loader will match the requirements of your job site. 

Know the average lift and carry capacity of any loads you deal with, as well as what types of attachments you’ll need for various tasks. Once you have these aspects sorted, you’ll be able to identify a specific Bobcat model best suited for you with ease.

Be sure to also take into account the weight of the Bobcat skid steer loader for transportation purposes.

NEXT: If you are ready to buy a Bobcat Skid Steer, start here.