Selecting the Right Track for You

Rubber tracks are one of the main reasons why compact track loaders are becoming so popular. Rubber tracks improve the maneuverability and flotation of these machines on soft, soggy, or slippery terrain.

Selecting the right rubber tracks for your compact track loader—and keeping them in pristine working condition—takes effort, however. Before selecting the best rubber tracks, consider the following:  What are the main applications you will be using your compact track loader for and what will work conditions be like? Is the jobsite large or small, hard surfaced or soft and muddy? Will you be working during wintertime or in hot, dry weather?

General duty tracks are available for contractors with cost concerns or for jobs in which the compact track loader isn’t being pushed to the limit. Heavy-duty tracks, meanwhile, come in narrow and wide formats. Wide tracks spread the weight of the compact track loader across a broad surface, offering excellent flotation on soft soil. Narrow tracks concentrate the weight of the machine onto a smaller surface, providing better traction on icy or slippery ground. Narrow tracks are also helpful if your machine needs to navigate tight spaces, say between buildings.

Multiple tread options are available. The block tread, for example, is durable, very popular, and well-suited for working on asphalt, gravel, and other hard surfaces. C-pattern treads are durable and versatile while straight-bar treads are designed with superior traction in mind. Multi-bar treads offer versatility and are helpful in applications involving frequent switches between hard and soft surfaces.

For optimal performance, rubber tracks require routine maintenance. Inspect your compact loader tracks daily and make sure that proper track tension is being maintained (consult the operator’s manual to determine the appropriate track tension level for your machine). If a track is too tight, equipment wear, and mechanical problems might ensue. If a track is too loose, it might “de-track” while the machine is in operation.

The loader undercarriage also plays a big role in track performance. In a rigid undercarriage, track frames are attached to the mainframe to enhance durability and toughness under harsh conditions. A suspension undercarriage has moveable track frames supported by rollers or springs, resulting in a smoother ride but greater likelihood of equipment wear and tear in the long-run.

Operator handling also affects track longevity. Track life will be shortened if your operator drives full-speed all the time, makes abrupt turns and spins the tracks. Slower speeds, three-point turns and avoiding curbs and debris, if possible, will lengthen track life. Given this, consider Kubota’s all-new SVL97-2 compact track loader. Original rubber tracks improve performance and durability while an innovative lug pattern increases traction and reduces soil accumulation. The SVL97-2 has a welded, integrated mainframe and undercarriage and triple-flange lower track rollers, for increased stability and reliability.  An article on the website praises the SVL97-2’s “high performance track system”—something to keep in mind when looking for great rubber tracks on a great compact track loader.