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Posted: 02/25/2019

How to Choose the Right Tracks for your Compact Track Loader

The tracks of a Bobcat T740 compact track loader move through mud.

The growing demand for compact track loaders is clear. These durable, versatile and cost-effective loaders have continued their reign in the compact equipment industry because of their tracks. The right tracks can improve your machine’s performance, minimize ground disturbance and extend your working season in wetter months.

Tracks can be wide or narrow, are designed with different tread patterns, and can be non-marking. Since there are a variety of options, it’s important to speak with your dealer before buying to make sure you choose the best tracks for your jobsite.

Wide vs. narrow tracks

Most compact track loaders can be outfitted with either wide or narrow tracks. If you want to minimize ground disturbance on your worksite, choose wider tracks. Wider tracks also increase your loader’s flotation, making them ideal for working in softer soils, like mud or sand.

Narrower tracks are a good choice when you need increased traction or force and when flotation is less of a concern. Choose narrow tracks when operating in slippery or icy conditions, or when trying to maximize your loader’s push force on a firm surface.

Choose the right tread pattern for your loader

There are a variety of tread patterns available so it’s important to understand the most common patterns and which best meet your needs.

C-pattern treads

The C-pattern is the most versatile tread pattern. It offers a happy medium between loader traction and flotation. The C-pattern creates less ground pressure than a straight-bar or multi-bar pattern and more ground pressure than a turf pattern. It is a popular, do-it-all tread pattern that offers performance and operator comfort.

Block treads

This tread type works well on hard and abrasive surfaces like pavement or gravel. The block tread operates smoothly on hard surfaces, causes minimal ground disturbance and is ideal for use on clay, sand, dirt, mud, gravel and asphalt.

Straight-bar patterns

A straight-bar pattern creates the highest ground pressure of the four patterns. It’s the best option when traction is a top priority.

Multi-bar patterns

The multi-bar pattern offers greater ground pressure and traction than the C-pattern and is a smoother ride on hard surfaces than the straight-bar pattern. If you need more traction and are moving your machine frequently between hard and soft surfaces, this tread pattern is a good option. The multi-bar pattern is especially popular when operating compact track loaders in icy or snowy conditions.

Turf patterns

Turf patterns create the least amount of ground pressure. These patterns are a good tread choice when working in landscaping and turf management applications where minimizing ground disturbance is a top priority.

Non-marking tracks for sensitive worksites

If you are traveling across hard surfaces such as concrete, driveways, sidewalks and parking lots where visibility is a concern, consider using non-marking tracks. Non-marking tracks are especially popular in landscaping and turf maintenance applications.

Whichever track you choose, maintain it

As a rule, you should consult the Operation & Maintenance Manual to see how often the track tensioning should be checked. Loose tracks can result in de-tracking which causes unplanned downtime. Tracks that are too tight can reduce loader performance and can cause accelerated wear to the rollers, sprockets and drive motors.

Compact track loaders are versatile machines, especially when paired with the right tracks. By following these tips, you can optimize your performance on the jobsite while exceeding the expectations of your customers.

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