Review: Manitou MLT 840-137 PS

Farm Trader travels to Whakatane to catch up with Tom and Willy Rowling and their shiny new Manitou MLT 840-137PS purchased a couple of months back from Giltrap AgriZone in Rotorua.

The Manitou brand has been imported to New Zealand by AB Equipment for some time. The telehandler market had previously been dominated by other brands distributed through agricultural tractor/machinery outlets accounting for the marketshare of sales to the rural industry.

This is why they recently appointed Giltrap AgriZone as Manitou dealers for greater Waikato/Bay of Plenty/King Country area to service the rural sector.

Rowling Farms

Tom and Val Rowling, along with son Willy and staff, run an intensive 190-hectare dairy operation about 20 minutes from the centre of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. They purchased the property in the early 90s, and four seasons ago installed four new Herd Homes to house their 440 high producing cows, changing to what I would call a system 5 operation.

The high input system does require more capital machinery, to be efficient you need the right machines to get the feeding jobs done and still allow time for other jobs. A telehandler is the logical choice for the Rowling’s to load their Kuhn 25-cubic-meter mixer wagon.

Until recently they had run a JCB 536-60, which had provided good service. Tom and Willy have a policy of replacing a key piece of machinery each year to avoid costly down time. With no tractor/FEL, the Manitou is a key piece of equipment used every day and must be reliable.


Hiding beneath its bright red exterior, the 840 Manitou is powered by a four-cylinder 4500cm3 stage III B John Deere. Manitou use a variety of engines in their range of telehandlers and the John Deere unit was chosen for the 840 because of the torque offered, while still being efficient. In terms of fuel usage Willy says it is pretty good.

The electronic regulating device fitted to the fan controls the speed of the fan in line with engine temperature which is a big fuel saving with the fan operating as needed. The John Deere engine operates a diesel particulate filter along with an exhaust gas recirculation valve.

Daily cost of ownership is kept down with efficient fuel usage, and extended service intervals (500 hours oil/filter change), daily quick greasing, particularly the head stock as it gets a tough life and also the boom. Hydraulic oil can be checked with a sight glass on the same side as the driver’s door, as well as the battery. Engine oil and coolant needs to be checked around the other side by lifting the engine cover.

Manitou _7


The M-shift gear box of the Manitou is excellent. It gives you the option of fully automatic or locking in the gear with the maximum speed you want to go. Or for travelling applications, fourth or fifth gear with the torque converter lock up function speeds of 23km/hr in fourth 38km/hr in fifth are achievable.

If you prefer more control you can select manual gear selection (powershift) where gear changes are made at the push of a button on the joystick loader control, keeping your other hand on the steering wheel and in control of the machine. The smoothness of the gear changes in manual or auto, coupled with the boom suspension, is what impressed me most in this area.


The JSM (joystick switch and move) is different in appearance to your standard hydraulic operating controls. It’s electronically controlled as opposed to cables, and is very comfortable and easy to get used to, making operation of the 840 Manitou a breeze.

In loading machines, hydraulic capacity is one of the most important things to look at and the 840 Manitou excels in this area with an oil flow rate of 180L/min achieved through its piston pump system. To operate safely you don’t want to be carrying heavy loads extended.

The 840 Manitou offers a hand throttle to get the revs up for better hydraulic function, along with auto park brake when neutral is selected so revs can be added via foot, without the machine wanting to keep moving. The Manitou does have a mechanical/hydraulic park brake to the left of the driver’s seat, which doesn’t need to be applied with the auto park brake operating.


Tom and Willy are the main operators, but other staff also operate the Manitou at times. They also make use of it as a wheelbarrow to tidy up the garden by extending the boom over the fence.

I found the Manitou to be well made as you would expect, the cab has plenty of room with good visibility. Being slightly lower and wider than the previous machine, stability will only be improved. The downside of telehandlers for me is not being able to see the right-hand tip of your bucket, with the boom not extended.

Manitou _1

The rear has a mirror to help connection of trailers and just improves re-wards vision in general. Another big plus is the manoeuvrability offered by the Manitou, with full-time four-wheel drive, steering options of single-axle, four-wheel steer, or crab steer, there shouldn’t be many places you can’t get in and out of, manoeuvrability can be very important in some feed pad/housed animal systems.

The verdict

I was impressed with the ride of the Manitou, it would be one of the first purpose-built loading machines I have operated that I could drive all day and not feel like I have been beaten up, largely due to the boom suspension. I found the build quality to be excellent and offered a very comfortable cab working environment.

The only bad thing Tom (who is English) really had to say about the new 840 Manitou was “it’s a pity it’s made in France”.


  • Pressure release button for third service fittings.
  • Visibility, window wipers front, right hand side of the cab and rear.
  • Auto park brake application when the machine stops moving and neutral is selected.
  • Good ride quality, loading machines are usually bad in this area, the air-ride seat coupled with boom suspension improves the Manitou greatly in this area.
  • Ergonomic electro control joystick, provides all the most used functions at your fingertips, keeping the other hand on the steering wheel.
  • Trailer coupling, one set of hydraulic remotes and trailer brake coupling as standard increases the versatility of the machine.


  • Radio doesn’t work so well when hidden behind the hills surrounding the Rowling farm, the Giltrap team are working on a solution to the problem.

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