Comparison of Rough Terrain Forklift vs Standard Forklift: What You Need to Know

Rough Terrain Forklift vs Standard Forklift
Rough Terrain Forklift vs Standard Forklift

Forklifts are mobile pieces of equipment for a business that have forks, which are used to lift loads and put them in places that are usually hard to get to, such as a high shelf. Standard forklifts are usually used in warehouses and around loading docks. Rough terrain forklifts are more appropriate for the outdoors where the ground isn’t as smooth.

Rough Terrain Forklift

Rough Terrain Forklift vs Standard Forklift

The tires are small, so the forklift can run around on surfaces that are paved, and they usually run on gas, propane, or diesel. There are smaller standard forklifts that can be run with just a battery. Rough terrain forklifts are made to be driven on unpaved surfaces – thus the name, rough terrain. This type of forklift is usually used at a building or excavation site. The military has also been known to use them for certain tasks.

Rough terrain forklifts have much larger tires than the standard model, but they also run on propane, gas, or diesel, with an internal engine. A rough terrain forklift may have a tower that is vertical so that it can lift a load straight up. They can also be equipped with a telescoping boom. This kind of boom will lift the load out and up which moves it away from the forklift.

A rough terrain forklift dates back as far as 1946 when they would put a two-pronged lift attachment on the forklift. They would attach it to the chassis of the tractor, and this was created to use around buildings that were being built. These early forklifts could lift approximately 1000 pounds, and they could lift up to approximately 30 feet from the ground. By the 1950s they had developed these forklifts to lift up to 2500 pounds and lift materials up to 30 feet high.

In the late 1950s, a rough terrain forklift was built with four-wheel drive. It could lift up to 6000 pounds and go up to 22 feet. Other forklifts could lift up to 3000 pounds and go 35 feet up. In the early 1960s, they developed one of these forklifts that was also equipped with a telescoping boom.

This type of forklift was generally used where there wasn’t much room for movement. They could go straight up and down so it was the perfect machine to gain access to small spaces where a regular rough terrain forklift couldn’t maneuver.

In the 1970s and into the 1980s they made improvements and created an automatic hydraulic frame. This frame increased the stability of the forklift. Around this same time, OSHA created certain requirements for these machines that would improve the controls of the forklift and also the operator cabs.

Nowadays you will see numerous development locales with very unpleasant territory. With these forklifts, they can convey and move solid squares and heaps of plywood more efficiently.

The bigger machines that utilize an extending boom can lift approximately 10,000 pounds and reach approximately 40 feet high. A portion of the rough terrain forklifts can also get into an opening that is only 8 feet, on the off chance that they have to get into the building that is being built.

They are also available with two wheels, four wheels or a steering control called a four-wheel cab.

Raw Materials

The cab, the frame, the body, and also the telescoping boom are normally created by the maker of the machine. The most widely used material to manufacture these parts is steel. Some aluminum castings may also be utilized. Materials other than metal, for example, nylon plastic pieces, are now and then utilized to help get the boom put together.

The rest of the parts are normally obtained as completed items and are introduced by the forklift maker. Bought items incorporate the axles, transmission, the wheels and tires, motor, and brakes, checks, lights, go down alert, hoses, and water powered barrels.

The pressure driven liquid, greases, and gasoline are obtained in mass amounts and are included as the demand is needed.


A conventional extending boom on a rough terrain forklift is low and long with two wheels arranged in the back and two or three wheels at the front. The extending boom is placed at the back of the forklift off a turn that is raised a few feet over the frame.

On the left-hand side of the frame structure, the cab will be placed low and in the space between the tires.

The water-controlled fluid and fuel tanks will be placed on the opposite side of the cab on the right-hand side. The transmission and engine are placed inside the frame by the center line of the forklift.

Past this basic setup, diverse makers of these rough terrain forklifts will most likely have designs that they had specifically produced for their company. Some forklifts use single water fueled barrels to lift the boom, while others use two chambers.

A couple of models have a water driven frame that is side-to-side and has a leveling limit which will tilt the frame approximately 10 degrees regarding the axles to compensate for preposterous center verbalization.

This feature may be used when the forklift has one side on a slope, and the other side is stuck in some kind of opening. Other unusual features consolidate fork connections that swing up to 45 degrees left and right to allow the load to be situated correctly.

Standard Forklift Trucks

Rough Terrain Forklift vs Standard Forklift

Accessible in two principle arrangements, interior ignition (IC) and electric, standard forklifts speak to the best potential for their weight limit – with the deck stacked intensely for IC lifts. Considered the most widely recognized kind of forklift truck, offsets are outlined with a weight that is incorporated into the back of the truck's body.

This balance (regardless of whether it's a real weight or the forklift batteries found in an electric lift) is what balances the load in the front. It is able to handle weights from 3,000 to 120,000 pounds based on the model the consumer chooses.

Most standard forklifts can go as high as 10 to 15 feet, yet other standard forklifts can lift up to 36 feet high. Sit-down models are accessible in a couple of diverse setups such as the 4-haggle wheel.

The 4-wheel models give the best weight limits, while the 3-wheeled assortment is known for its upgraded mobility; particularly in tight regions or around corners.

Basic uses for standard forklifts include running agribusiness, oil refineries, development, fabricating, paper plants, and pipe yards. In any case, inside these applications, the essential distinction between the two types of forklift regularly becomes one of the most important factors.

IC models keep running on an assortment of powers including gas, diesel fuel, and fluid propane gas (LPG), or packed gaseous petrol (CNG). Gas and diesel models can't be utilized inside. Additionally, they should be filled by either an LPG-controlled machine or (in a perfect world) an electric model inside an encased situation.

If you end up requiring a forklift to empty a truck on a solid and smooth floor in a little distribution center, then you will most likely need just a standard forklift. It doesn't make a difference if it’s a battery electric forklift or an LPG, three wheel or 4-wheel style of forklift.

But if you’re going to be working outside in an environment that has more dirt than pavement, you will need a rough terrain forklift to efficiently and successfully complete the job.

Other Distinctions between Rough Terrain Standard Forklifts

  • If you require a 2.5T forklift, you can acquire both a rough terrain forklift and a standard forklift that will both lift a similar limit.
  • Ground Clearance – these forklifts will, for the most part, have a higher ground leeway, which provides better ground freedom and prevents the forklift from getting stuck.
  • When handling loads, these forklifts also remain highly balanced.
  • Standard forklifts only come with a two-wheel drive; whereas you can purchase a rough terrain forklift in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. The four-wheel drive operates like a four-wheel drive vehicle. It enables you to drive over rougher terrain with no problems. These forklifts are also larger than most standard forklifts, so they wouldn’t be appropriate to use for indoor tasks.
  • Because of what they have to do, forklifts that are designed for rougher terrain have a more significant frame than a standard forklift. This helps them to have a higher turning sweep. But it may also give you issues if you only have a small area to use the forklift.
  • A rough terrain forklift will cost you more to purchase and maintain because they are larger than a standard forklift. They can cost two or three times the amount that a standard forklift would cost you. If you are hoping to get one for your business, you should look into using more capital and using the extra expenses for maintaining the rough terrain forklift over its lifetime.

    The other choice is to lease the forklift for the period you require it; although the rental rate for a rough terrain forklift will cost you more in comparison to the standard forklift. If you don’t need to use a forklift on a regular basis, purchasing a quality used forklift could be a better option for you.
  • The Licensing prerequisites are the same – If you are ticketed for a standard forklift, the permit prerequisite is the same as it would be for a masted rough terrain forklift.
  • Because rough terrain forklifts are stronger, much bigger, and more durable than a standard forklift, they will cost more on average. Rough terrain forklifts come in different designs and specifications, and there are also quite a few different options for them. This makes them truly exceptional.
  • Even if you know how to drive a standard forklift, you will need to get some training for this type of forklift because they do handle differently than the standard forklift. To be a proficient, safe driver, and in turn, making it safe for everyone around you, practice is crucial.

Other Considerations

  • The weight you will need the forklift to lift

    The standard forklift can carry 4,000 pounds at a 24 inches load center. The rough terrain forklift can usually carry approximately 6,000 up to 12,000 pounds. You should buy a forklift that has a bigger load capacity than what you think you will end up needing.

    The load center is the distance from the face of the forks to the center of gravity of the load. Most forklifts have a rating of 24-inches for the load center; this means the center of gravity has to be 24 inches or less from the face of the forks.
  • How wide of a load the forklift can handle
  • The materials or product you need the forklift to handle

Be sure the forklift you choose can handle what you want to be moved.

In conclusion, rough terrain forklifts are built to handle rough terrains and difficult conditions as they are stronger and more durable than standard forklifts. They are also very dependable and last for an extended time.

There are attachments available for either kind of forklift that will help to perform specific operations that apply to your business. The fuel options for both of the forklifts are diesel, gas, and electric. Electric forklifts will cost more initially, but in the long run, they are a good option.

You should also be sure to provide training for your operators for the type of forklift you decide to purchase.

Whether you want a rough terrain forklift or a standard forklift, you should always shop around for the best deal and take into account the cost of maintaining either of them for its lifetime.

Ask the dealer any questions you may have to help you determine which the best option for you would be.

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