Review: Bobcat TL38.70HF-R

New to NZ, the Bobcat TL38.70HF-R delivers speed, power, and smart functions to maximise productivity

Reaching impressive heights with the 7m extendable boom

Already renowned as a leading manufacturer when it comes to earthmoving equipment, it turns out that manufacturing telehandlers also slot right into the Bobcat skillset. The Bobcat telehandler range was updated in 2021, with the launch of seven new R-Series models and a renewed dedication to operator comfort and useability. The Bobcat TL 38.70HF-R is perfectly placed for the agricultural market, designed for heavy-duty and high-productivity jobs.

In short, the Bobcat telehandler is one tough animal, with a fully protected underbody that adds to the stable base as well as protecting components.

Smart stable design ensures the machine hugs the ground for extra stability

The TL38.70HF is a large telehandler that’s placed at the upper end of the Bobcat telehandler range (only the TL40.180 is larger with its 18-metre lift height). Ideally suited to farmers and contractors, the Bobcat 38.70HF equates to a 3800kg lift capacity at a height of seven meters, while HF stands for Bobcat’s High Flow technology. This provides boom cycle times to increase productivity throughout the day.

The panoramic cab gives good visibility all round, including upwards

Tasks for telehandlers are endless (even more so once you have actually had one) and having the ability to undertake numerous tasks quickly is an advantage for any business. The opportunity to spend a few days with this newly arrived Bobcat allowed us to put it through its paces and experience first-hand how the new cab layout helps make the operator’s day more comfortable.

Reliable quality

With Bobcat no stranger to specialising in hydraulic machines, you can trust that reliable components have been used throughout. The 190 litres per minute pump saddled to a four-cylinder Perkins engine provides the oil flow at 255 bar, which results in high-speed operation. The Perkins engine puts out 96kW (130hp), which is a good size for the machine.

Simple and uncluttered cab layout

The best-in-class boom cycle times add to productivity and efficiency throughout the day. A hydrostat drive system is chosen to provide the torque and speed required for all tasks.

Bobcat has set the controls up in such a way that it’s straightforward and simple for the operator to use and control. Having two gears with a high and low shift in each allows the operator to shift on the go, with a convenient button on the top of the joystick.

LED lights all round for excellent visibility 24/7

Heavy-duty Dana-Spicer axles provide the running gear to get the drive to the ground. Featuring service brakes encased in oil along with a limited-slip front diff, the ability to dig and push can be achieved easier. Greaseable kingpins are a bonus that add to the longevity of the machine, which is needed for a high-productivity machine carrying heavy loads on its axles. Steering rams sit on the top of the axles, staying protected from foreign material and helping keep the components clean. This combined with Bobcat’s fully protected underbody ensures all vital components stay well clear of material that can protrude and potentially cause harm. All of these features combine to make it the ideal choice for stacking applications all the way through to dealing with trees and stumps.

The trusty Perkins engine provides the power

The cab of the Bobcat TL38.70HF is a comfortable space with a large access door. One of the first notable features is the panoramic glass that surrounds the operator’s seat. This ensures great visibility of all areas of the machine and having no rear right-hand pillar allows the operator to easily see around what’s usually a blind spot.

The joystick is one of the most important design elements that sets any telehandler apart. Bobcat has designed it in such a fashion that it suits experienced operators while keeping it intuitive for new people to learn.

Being able to rapidly start and get the machine moving is easy, thanks to the electronic park brake automatically releasing itself once a direction is selected. This nifty feature will please even the most seasoned operator.

Boom suspension gives a smooth ride over paddocks

The joystick itself slots into the hand well, with the direction selection residing on the rear while two auxiliaries and the telescope switches reside on the front. A great feature to note is the SHS setting. This essentially makes the machine move slower for precision work. It allows the operator to move the joystick in a manner that won’t rapidly move the boom when precise or delicate movements need to be made. This control precision is excellent, even at full speed with a great flow curve from small movements to large.

A simple selector dial is conveniently placed on the right-hand side, where options can be selected through the control screen. The steering mode is through the same selector, with a quick-access button to minimise flicking through screens to find the right menu. A reverse camera is displayed on the new in-cab screen to give a clear picture of what’s behind. An auxiliary spool on the rear provides the opportunity to do a bit more than just towing. Regarding auxiliary hydraulics, the couplers on the boom are placed in a strategic manner where dust and dirt are less likely to penetrate the oil system.

An impressively tight turning circle with four-wheel steer

Changing implements is straightforward, too. A separate switch retracts the locking pin and needs to be held to remove the tool and re-locks itself once released. This prevents accidental unlocking and potential damage to the machine.

The protected underbody of the Bobcat keeps the centre of gravity reasonably low. This also helps stabilise the machine when the boom is high and full extension. An electronic system protects the machine from falling forward, as it knows its safety limits.

Engine servicing is straightforward with all filters in reasonably easy-to-access positions. Being a non-AdBlue model also has its benefits; one less tank to fill up along with a few filters and extras bolted around the engine. Overall, the components are well laid out with room to inspect all elements of the machine. A notable point is the sealed battery case, which seals against the bonnet as it shuts. A reversible fan is used to keep the machine cool. On set intervals, it reverses itself automatically to keep the grill clean from material.

Stable at full reach with a load on

Bobcat’s range of telehandlers is available in a range of sizes to cover each requirement level. From this, four Agri finishing levels are available to suit basic needs to the highest specifications for precision applications.

The TL38.70HF is a great medium-large sized telehandler with the speed, power, and comfort to please all operators.
The updates that Bobcat has done to
the cab make the machine more comfortable for the operator while providing all-round visibility.

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Photography: Daniel Reymer

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