Forklift review: JCB 525-60 4x4 telehandler
JCB marches to the beat of its own drum and the proof is in its pocket-sized 4x4 telehandler, the Loadall 527-58
Materials handling vehicle maker JCB is set to unveil a compact telehandler that aims to provide the performance of a full-sized unit.
The 527 is a baby telehandler that tips the scales at 5.5 tonnes unladen and measures less than 2m in height and is just 2m wide and 4,420mm in length (not including fork tynes) making it a perfect fit for truck mounted operations such as brick and turf transport and deliveries.
While there are pros and cons to the different types of transportable forklifts on the market,
the 527 does have a lot to offer in this kind of role. Its low profile helps with stability when loaded but, unlike some of its competition, the 527 has a 3m reach with a safe working load (SWL) of 1,250kg at full stretch.
This comes in handy when finding space to dump a truckload of product, especially in tight residential areas.
It also has a maximum lift height of 5.8m for elevated access inside structures or on tricky sites. The little yellow machine can lift up to 2,700kg with the boom fully retracted.
The 4.4 litre Dieselmax 100hp (74kW) turbo-diesel engine has been developed in conjunction with famed British engineering firm Cosworth and is side mounted to increase visibility and lower the centre of gravity of the machine.
Torque is a handy 440Nm. JCB went to side mounted engines back in 2004.
Cab and Controls
The boom pivots for the telescoping arm are also mounted low to minimise the right-hand side blind spot of the machine.
The 527 is available in lower spec construction and hire guise and this model runs on 18-inch (46-cm) wheels, while the higher spec Agri version runs on 20-inch (51cm) wheels.
The baby JCB is surprisingly well-equipped and some of the standard kit on the machine really does increase its versatility. For example, quick release hydraulic fittings are standard making attachment swaps quick, simple and straightforward.
A hand throttle, suspension seat and radio kit are all optional as well as a low profile cab, sun blinds and cab guards and roof mounted air-conditioning.
I had the chance to play with the higher spec 527-Agri at JCB Construction Equipment Australia’s (CEA) headquarters in Dandenong South recently, which gave me the opportunity to have a closer look at the pint sized telehandler.
The 527 feels very sure footed and after a few minutes of being in the driver’s seat I was searching in vain for a big pile of dirt to scale. Unfortunately I had to make do with a disappointingly flat expanse of concrete.
The 527 uses hydrostatic wheel motors on all four wheels to get the yellow machine moving and, as you would expect with this type of machine, you can select from two-wheel steer, four-wheel steer and crab steer depending on your surroundings.
The steering also has an auto align function to straighten the wheels when changing to two-wheel steer.
This may not seem like a big deal but it does come in handy in situations where the operator is driving the machine on and off truck and trailer decks on loading ramps regularly.
This added to the 527 diminutive dimensions makes for a very nimble machine, indeed. However my first impression was the lack of noise. Even with the cab door locked into the open position, the JCB engine beside me was surprisingly quiet.
Applying power and operating the hydraulic functions at the same time didn’t even really bring out much of a hydraulic whine.
Depending on wheel and tyre spec the telehandler is also capable of speeds up to 40km/h. And it’s quite a zippy machine to drive.
The JCB’s cab is quite well-appointed and there’s some storage available as well as the all-important cup holder. There’s even a 12-volt power outlet.
The company propaganda is correct, the boom is set quite low, which helps visibility immensely. The pivot points are also set quite a fair way back in the machine. This gives quite a commanding field of view with the boom fully raised.
While all this may seem quite obvious, there are some telehandlers on the market that have appalling visibility regardless of what position the boom is in.
The joystick controller uses servos for all hydraulic functions and is simple and intuitive to use and will be familiar to anyone with any experience of these machines.
As you would expect, transmission selection is via a steering column mounted wand, which adds to the intuitive feel.
A load movement indicator senses load on the rear axle of the machine and sends out an audio-visual warning if the Loadall is in danger of toppling over.
Low speed control of both the drive and the hydraulics is excellent and are well suited to delicate tasks such as jib work where a load may be dangling from a sling out front.
Access to the side-mounted engine compartment is very easy and all daily checks are easily accessible. Even service items such as filters are within easy reach. There’s no hooking your arm around a dirty engine bay to check the oil.
As these machines tend to operate in dusty environments, the radiator is also easy to get to if in need of a compressed air blow out.
I may sound as if I’m gushing about this little machine, and if true, that’s probably a sign I should get out a bit more.
But as far as pocket sized telehandlers go, the 527 is a cracker, though one that admittedly resides at the premium end of the market.
It’s very quiet, easy to operate and easy to jump in and out of safely throughout a working day.
And at this size it’s even quite portable. There are other machines that will take up less deck space on a truck for delivery roles but the 527 makes up for this in performance, stability and versatility. I’m just waiting for JCB to take one to Bonneville for a record attempt.
- Quiet, ergonomic
- Excellent performing powerplant
- Great visibility
- Not the cheap option
- Takes up a bit of room for truck mounted roles
Make/model: JCB 527-58 Loadall
Engine: 4.4 litre JCB Dieselmax turbo-diesel engine
Power: 74kW (100hp) @ 2,200rpm
Torque: 440Nm @ 1,300rpm
Transmission: Closed loop variable displacement hydrostatic drive
Lift capacity: 2,700kg @ 500mm load centre (full stretch 1,250kg)
Maximum reach: 3,000mm
Unladen weight: 5,500kg