skid steer loader© Simon Wragg

Three new mid-range models have been added to the Gehl and Mustang-branded skid-steer loader line up – both part of the Manitou Group of companies – offering improved operator access, greater visibility, a choice of hand/foot controls, as well as better access to service parts such as filters.

Starting from £29,700 (which includes HD tyres and sliding side windows) for the three radial lift models – meaning the arms rise through an arc rather than vertically – both the smaller R135 and R150 (presented at the launch event by a £30,700 Mustang 1500R) come with a 46.9hp Tier 3 four-cylinder Yanmar diesel engines as standard.

See also: Lamma 2015 – Manitou updates its Gehl skidsteer loaders

Their larger sibling – the R165 – costs £32,450 and has a 69hp (52.1kW) Tier 4 Yanmar common rail diesel with electronic engine controls and exhaust particulate filter to meet current legislation. This extra power benefits operators whose machines are under constant load, suggests Gehl.

Operating capacity ranges from 612kg for the R135 to 748kg for the R165. This can be increased by around 70kg where a rear counterweight “bumper” is fitted, explains Gehl. Lift height is 2.78m for the R135 to 3.02m for the R165 – sufficient to get a big bale into many diet feeders. Pump flow rates range from 64-71.4litres/min depending on the model.

skid steer loader

© Simon Wragg

Launched to the UK farming press in January, first impressions suggest improved operator access. A lower front sill with robust foot grip, wide access between the tilt ram mounts and forward seating position all help.

Greater visibility is helped by new fore/aft roof windows and better optional side screens (an optional front screen is also available). Both heater with climate control, auxiliary power plug and radio remain optional upgrades.

Inside, the Level II FOPS cab new column-mounted digital colour displays and fault-diagnostic panels help keep the operator’s line of sight where it matters – looking forward.

While the 1500R machine at the launch had traditional foot/hand controls as standard, the Gehl skid steers feature T-bar hand controls. These prove much more user friendly in today’s joystick driven machinery era. Depending on the model selected, buyers can have a choice of T-bar, joystick or dual hand control options.

Hooking up attachments has also been improved with a new wing-mounted “connect under pressure” hydraulic coupling block with automatic pressure relief valve – a welcome development. Hydraulically operated implement locking pins are also available as an upgrade.

skid steer loader

© Simon Wragg

The other area of improvement for owners is access to key service items. Remote filters for diesel, engine and hydraulic oils are welcome. The same can be said for the swing out radiator, allowing debris to be cleared from the core more easily.

For drive-train and pipeline repairs, two bolts at the front of the cab allow it to be lifted clear on gas-assisted rams to enable easier access to in-board components. The final drive still uses Gehl’s tried and tested twin-chain linkage to each adjustable stub axle assembly.