JCB 526-56 Loadall Telehandler

The JCB Loadall telehandler offers more than meets the eye, including exceptional lift power and manoeuvrability

  • The 526-56 Agri’s turning circle is an impressive 3.58m
  • A key component to driving a telehandler is knowing where the right rear wheel is
  • Suits most front attachments
  • Engine is mounted to the side rather than the rear for improved visibility and productivity
  • Good towing power

I’d never driven a telehandler before so I took the opportunity to drive the smallest JCB telehandler, the Loadall 526-56 Agri.

In terms of learning to control and drive the 526-56 Agri, I’d say it was about the same to figure out as a 120hp tractor. Not too hard, but it does take a bit of co-ordination to get everything operating in the right sequence and speed.

In saying that, the JCB 526-56 Agri is the base model in New Zealand and therefore has more manual controlled functions than those from further up the horsepower, weight lift capability, and price scale.

The cab

One external step is all it takes to get into the cab, through the two-section door. Inside there’s less space than you’ll find in a cab tractor, because the rear hinged telescopic arm is slightly off-set from the centre of the vehicle, to maximise stability.

The ROPS cage has to be stronger, especially in the roof area, which reduces your overall visibility compared to a cab tractor.

A key component to driving a telehandler is knowing where the right rear wheel is. The JCB has a pair of big rear vision mirrors fitted onto the right front guard to complement the left hand mirror.


The torque converter transmission on this 40kmh JCB has a four speed powershift, similar to a tractor, giving enough pulling power to tow a trailer.

The forward/reverse speed selections are like what you’ll find on a wheel loader – very simple. There are four speeds in each direction, with each speed selected by the turn of a knob fitted to the end of the left stalk, on the steering column.


Beside the seat and directly to the operator’s right is a three-way lever that determines how the JCB will steer.

The wheels need to be manually aligned to make this happen and I could tell when I had them correctly aligned by a couple of display lights on the dash.
Place the lever in the middle position to set the wheels for front wheel steering only, used when transporting the JCB as it offers the greatest straight line stability. Place the lever fully back to engage four wheel steering.

I could turn the 526-56 Agri so sharply that it was turning almost within its own 2.66m wheelbase. The actual turning circle is 3.58m.

The crab steer position, with the lever fully forward, is when all four wheels point in the same direction, and the vehicle ‘crabs’ along sideways and forwards, at the same time, in either direction. This allows the JCB the driver to better line up that bale, etc.

Lift power

The power of the four-cylinder JCB Dieselmax engine was enough to lift a full bucket. The 4.4-litre 100hp motor has an intercooled turbocharger, which also has a hydraulically controlled reversing radiator fan – to clear out any unwanted debris.

Operating this JCB requires the co-ordinated working of the three levers, also located on the driver’s right. One lever lifts the boom and works the crowd; another extends the boom, while the third operates the hydraulic quick-hitch or a third service.

Farmers will find that one of the most handy and essential features of this model is that the bucket remains horizontal when you’re lifting the arm.

A simple scaled, coloured light system indicated to me when the bucket load was getting too heavy for the machine, no matter what part of the reach the boom is in. It’s based off the weight on the rear axle via a load sensor to maintain stability on this 6270kg machine.


This telehandler is built strong. The “one-piece folded” box sections on the boom are heavily fabricated in all of the right places, with unique “keyhole castings” that help spread the load on the individual bushes.

All your usual front attachments can fit onto the telehandler.

Combined with its large diameter tractor-grip tyres, a limited slip differential front axle offers additional traction, particularly for towing, which the JCB is more than capable of.

To read in-depth famr machinery reviews, see the latest issue of Farm Trader magazine, on sale now.



  • JCB “Dieselmax” turbo Tier 3 engine, side mounted
  • 4 cylinder 4400cc max power 74kW/100hp
  • 2-stage air filter with pre-cleaner
  • 145-litre fuel tank
  • Reversible fan for clearing radiator


  • Torque converter drive incorporating 4-speed powershift
  • Electro-hydraulic modulated forward reverse left-hand operation
  • 3 steering modes with mechanical selection + alignment
  • 4WD with 2WD/4WD Disconnect
  • Tyres: 17.5 LR24 Goodyear
  • Front + rear plastic moulded mudguards
  • Road speed 40kph

Boom and hydraulics

  • Lift capacity 2600kg/height to 5.6m
  • Twin lever controls for boom functions
  • JCB low maintenance boom with self-levelling carriage
  • Hydraulic operated quick hitch carriage
  • Quick fit forks
  • 80-litre/min hydraulic pump with 1 auxiliary circuit
  • 8-tonne mechanical tow hitch (without services)

See a range of telescopic handlers for sale here.


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