Counterbalance vs Reach Truck Forklifts

Counterbalance vs Reach Truck Forklifts


There so many types of forklift trucks with their own unique characteristics and jobs they are suited to, each designed to fulfil its purpose based on different requirements. We would like to put together a comparison of the most commonly used forklift trucks throughout a variety of industries – Counterbalance Forklifts and Reach Trucks.



When someone mentions a forklift, what do you picture? That’s right, you are more likely instinctively imagining a counterbalance forklift. No doubt they are the most common trucks and widely used in all kinds of warehouses, manufactures or storage facilities. Its name refers to ‘Counterbalance’ and derives from its design where the large weight placed at the back of the truck to balance the load forklift from weight carries the front.

Counterbalance forklift trucks are extremely manoeuvrable and transport your goods with the utmost reliability. They come in three and four-wheel variety and can be operated both indoors and outdoors. Counterbalance forklifts allow you to deal with different load capacities, handle different terrain, and can be powered by Electric, LPG Petrol and Diesel.

Main uses of counterbalance truck designed for loading, unloading and transportation of goods. They can also be used for storing goods in direct locations but have limitations on lift height and aisle width.

There are two main variations of counterbalance forklifts:

The term counter-balance forklift is derived from the units design where the forklift has a heavy counterweight that off sets the weight of the load being carried on the forks out in front. In combustion forklifts the counter-balance is integrated to the rear of the forklift, while battery electric forklifts are counterbalanced through the additional weight of the batteries installed into the unit. Without the counter-balance forklifts would become extremely unbalanced when picking up heavy loads with a heightened risk of the unit tipping forwards or over with the extra weight of the load on the forks.


Another common piece of material handling equipment is a reach truck primarily used in warehouses. They offer two major advantages: the first is their compact construction, while the second is the amazing lift height of up to 13 metres. When picking up loads, the reach truck moves its mast forward until the forks are positioned in front of the truck. This is known as “forward reach”. The goods are then “pulled back” between the front and rear axles for subsequent transport. This operating principle reduces the overall length of the truck, making it extremely agile. It also improves driving stability and minimises the need for stability compensation via counterweights. Reach Trucks allow you to transport different loads capacities quickly and safely to their destination.

Reach trucks can be both stand-up and sit-down versions.


Reach trucks are designed to work in narrow aisle warehousing spaces. They have two outer straddle legs that distribute the load weight, with a wheel configuration of two or one load wheels per straddle or leg. The drive wheel is generally located under the operator’s seat and the driver normally sits sideways when operating the machine. Some units will even have castor wheels or skid plates if the machine were to ever become unstable, this will help prevent from tipping the machine over.

The wheelbase of a reach truck is a similar length as a normal counter-balance forklift, however, the body is more compact. When lifting a load, a reach truck moves the load back within the wheelbase, meaning less of the load is protruding from the reach truck, allowing the reach truck to work in a much narrower aisle.

What type/model of forklift truck will boost performance of your warehouse?

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