A Guide to Buy the Best Small Skid-Steer Loader


You’re sure to notice a skid-steer loader or a Bobcat near a construction site, farm, or park. You can use these machines for anything from transporting logistics to pouring cement to leveling land if needed. The total North American skid steer and compact track loader market are projected to be around $9 billion by 2024.

But, you may not know that they come in various sizes. So there are small and large Bobcats. If you’re looking to buy a small Bobcat, then this article is for you. Learn everything you need to know.

Manufacturers and Dealers

Most people refer to skid-steer loaders simply as Bobcats. But Bobcat is a brand and not a product category. There are dozens of other companies out there that offer skid-steer loaders. The brands include John Deere, Caterpillar, Gehl, JCB, among others.

The companies work with independent dealers. When looking for the best small skid-steer loader, you need to consider both the manufacturer and the dealer. The manufacturer matters because it is responsible for the product’s quality, while the dealer matters because they will help you find the right options.

With that said, the subsequent sections will help you answer how to pick the right Bobcat for your purpose.

Consider the Size

Since you’re looking for a small skid-steer loader, you first should consider the size. The loaders range from compact machines weighing about 1500 pounds to heavy-duty loaders weighing over 2,500 pounds.

When selecting the right size, you should inspect your open spaces. Do you have adequate open spaces to accommodate large machinery? If not, then moving a large skid-steer loader through tight spaces could slow down your work.

Small loaders are perfect for demolition work, farm use, and transportation. They can also fit into the build-up urban area conditions. When using a small machine, you’ll get less than 50 horsepower. If you need more horsepower, then it’s better to opt for a large or mid-range Bobcat.

So consult with your dealer about the size.

Vertical Lift or Radial Lift

Irrespective of whether you’re buying a small Bobcat or a large one, you need to decide whether you need a vertical lift or a radial lift. If your purpose is to do more grading work or dirt work, then a radial design is ideal. Due to their lift path, they also have superior mid-height reach.

But if your job mostly involves loading, carrying, and transporting stuff, then Bobcats with vertical lift are great.

Rated Operating Capacity

You must look at the Rate Operation Capacity or ROC if you’re purchasing a small Bobcat. ROC defines the amount of load a skid steer can handle before tipping. Smaller units generally have a lower ROC. So you need to ensure that Bobcat’s ROC is higher than the work requirement.

Type of Attachments

The skid-steer loaders work with a variety of attachments. So you need to check the type of attachments you’d need in both the short term and long term. These requirements will determine the size of the machine and the horsepower.

Small loaders have less horsepower, and hence they can drive only a handful of attachments. The small capacity also affects the hydraulic power you can generate. So if you’re buying a smaller Bobcat, your requirements shouldn’t be too big.

What to Look for In Dealers?

Last but not least, you should consider the reputation of the dealer you’re going to buy the Bobcat from. Ideally, they should have a good reputation and years of experience servicing the loaders.

Furthermore, it’d be helpful if the dealer is located in the same town or city as you are. So that whenever a need arises, you don’t have to drive long to get it done.

So whether you’re purchasing a small Bobcat or a large one, it’s essential to keep the above things in mind. With proper maintenance, they will surely last decades.


Latest Issue

BDC 303 Apr 2023