Which loader lift option is best for you?

Updated May 15, 2018

When purchasing a skid steer loader, it’s important to consider what lift style and lift path will work best. The key question: “What jobs will this equipment perform most?” You have two lift choices: radial and vertical. “Both machines have the ability to dig, push and level materials. The difference comes when you start lifting items off of the ground,” says Mike Fitzgerald, Bobcat loader product specialist.

When you pit the machines against one another, here’s how they measure up.

Vertical Path

When raised, it maintains a vertical path from the bottom of the lift cycle to the top. It has more than one pivot point at the rear tower, which allows it to lift heavier items and reach farther than a radial lift when raising the lift arm to full height.

Vertical Lift Untitled 1Applications:

• Lifting and moving heavy pallets, boxed trees and pavers to and from trucks and tall hoppers

• Works well with auger attachments since it maintains a vertical path as the hole is dug

• Can be used to grade, spread rock and prep sites


• It lifts heavy materials and reaches 35-40% farther than a comparable size radius path machine.

• Increased productivity because it has 15% more lift operating capacity

• Provides maximum reach at full lift height

“In a pure lift and carry application, vertical lift reigns supreme,” says Jamie Wright, product man- ager of Terex Construction Americas.


• Higher acquisition cost because of more complex boom design (about 5 to 10% more than radial lift machine in the same class)

Radial Path

When raised, the lift moves in an arc pattern. The lift arm starts its path close to the machine, then moves out and has maximum reach at mid- lift height. As it continues up, the load moves back toward the machine.


Skid Steer Untitled 1• Spreading rock, grading and site prep. The lift arm movement at ground level is slightly slower, so fine adjustments are easier.

• Digging is enhanced because of the lift arm geometry and speed differences.

• Works well at jobs at mid-range heights, such as dumping over a wall, backfilling or loading/ unloading flatbed trucks


• Provides maximum reach at truck bed height

• Better visibility around unit

• Cheaper to maintain because there are less pivot points

• Smaller acquisition cost


• Doesn’t lift as high

• Radius path machines will clear the sides of most dump boxes and hoopers but have limited reach into them.

The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover