Tires are primary consideration and will largely be determined by your operating environment: indoors or outdoors, paved surfaces or rough terrain. There are three different types to choose from:
Pneumatic tires (solid/air)
Designed for heavy-duty lifting and outdoor operation, a gasoline or diesel lift truck with pneumatic tires has the same functionality as a standard car or truck. The tires are longer and wider than cushion tires, made of solid rubber, and are either solid or filled with air.
This solid design makes them extremely durable. They won’t pop, puncture or go flat which is why they’re used for a variety of heavy-duty applications, including construction zones, lumber yards, recycling centers, and similar locations that may have metal shards, nails, and other potentially damaging items in the work environment. This indestructibility also makes them more expensive than air pneumatic tires, and justifiably so.
Air pneumatics work well outdoors on asphalt, gravel, and even unpaved terrain, but similar to a car or bike tire, they can be punctured.
Constructed from solid rubber, cushion tires are pressed directly onto the wheel and feature a smaller chassis, sitting lower to the ground than pneumatic tires. This position gives them a big advantage in terms of maneuverability by enabling a smaller turn radius. Unfortunately, the low ground clearance largely relegates them to indoor use as the lift may get hung up on curbs, uneven pavement, and other obstacles outside.
It’s worth noting that forklifts equipped with cushion tires are often less expensive and more readily available, both new and used, than pneumatic forklifts.
Easy to install, polyurethane tires are designed to be pressed onto the wheels of a forklift and feature a low rolling resistance that has been shown to prolong their lifespan. Popular for the excellent traction they provide, they do come with one downside: they can only be used indoors. Polyurethane tires are incompatible with outdoor terrain and are therefore only installed on electric lifts that are used on smooth interior pavements and loading pads.
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