Dedicated Track Undercarriage Vs. Over the Tire (OTT) Tracks

Rubber MTL Tracks

Compact Track Loader (CTL) with a dedicated track undercarriage or a skid steer outfitted with over the tire tracks?

To determine whether or not to go for a Compact Track Loader (CTL) with a dedicated track undercarriage or a skid steer outfitted with over the tire tracks, it is first important to assess the type of application and ground conditions you will be working with.

Skid steers have been around for much longer than CTLs. OTT tracks were designed to give skid steers enhanced traction and flotation capabilities. CTLs are particularly great for maximizing flotation and also offer enhanced traction and stability. Both CTLs and skid steer loaders use, more or less, the same type of attachments - augers, trenchers, box rakes, levelers, buckets, dozer blades and many more. Depending on the surface conditions and terrains you will be working with, sometimes a CTL may be best suited for a job and other times, a skid steer loader with OTT tracks may be the better option.

OTT (Over The Tire) Tracks
OTT (Over The Tire) Tracks
CASE Skid Steer Tracks
CASE Skid Steer Tracks

Let’s take a look at some pertinent factors to consider before making your choice and compare both track options to see how they measure up.

Cost

If we only considered the costs associated with both equipment, hands down, a skid steer loader equipped with OTT tracks would be the better option. CTLs cost about 30-40% more than a comparable skid steer. The additional costs of the OTT tracks for skid steers still make them a better, cost-effective option when compared to CTLs.

It is important to note, though, that with proper maintenance practices and correct operation of a CTL, you can sometimes get the full value of your CTL in about 18 months, which means that in the long-run, a CTL can also be a cost-effective option to consider.

Versatility

In terms of versatility, a skid steer loader is basically a 2-for-1 equipment. You can install and remove the OTT tracks as needed, so that you can still enjoy the particular benefits that skid steer tires provide as well as the increased flotation and traction an OTT track system offers. It takes a little under an hour to install or remove an OTT track system. Skid steer OTT tracks are great for an operator who does not plan on using them all the time.

Also, there are different types of OTT tracks to choose from - rubber, metal and metal-rubber fusion OTT tracks. Each come with unique advantages and serve specific purposes, further increasing the versatility of the skid steer. Rubber OTT tracks are great for hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt as they minimize damage to these surfaces. Metal or steel tracks are fantastic on rough, demanding terrains and provide great traction in deep muddy terrain.

CTL rubber tracks come in different tread patterns. There are CTL rubber tracks that are specially engineered to operate on sensitive surfaces like turf while there are aggressive tread patterns available for operations in harsh environments. If an operator will be using tracks all the time, a CTL might be the better option.

Maintenance

A CTL’s undercarriage generally tends to require more maintenance. To prevent equipment malfunctions and avoid accidents, an operator must check that undercarriage components are not worn out and replace them if they are. It is important to routinely clean the undercarriage after use to remove debris and prevent machine damage. There are also higher costs associated with maintaining a CTL’s undercarriage. Of course OTT track systems also need to be properly maintained but they do not require as much upkeep as CTL undercarriages. All things considered, with the higher maintenance costs associated with a CTL undercarriage, a skid steer loader equipped with OTT tracks will most likely give you a better ROI.

Positive Drive

Positive drive essentially refers to movement of a track system without incidences of slippage. Compared to a skid steer loader outfitted with steel OTT tracks, CTLs have positive drive as slippage is more likely to occur between a steel OTT track and the skid steer tires. Also, CTLs are heavier than skid steers and this added operational weight make CTLs much better at producing pushing power and less likely to tip over when a bucket, for instance, is attached.

Speed

Skid steer loaders, due to their lighter operational weight, run faster than comparable CTLs which is a plus for applications that require fast forward motion such as pushing snow. Skid steer loader are also able to make tight turns in tight spaces.

In summary, while it is true that CTLs and skid steer loaders occupy the same market space, as you can see, there are a few differences between the two that should be considered before making a final decision on what to use on your operations. Skid steers on their own are already versatile equipment but have even more versatility with the option of equipping them with steel or rubber OTT tracks. They are also a cheaper investment, especially in the short run, when compared to CTLs. That said, CTL also have their advantages over skid steer loaders with OTT tracks. They offer enhanced flotation and stability, having the ability to work efficiently and safely on sloped and hilly terrains. They also generate more pushing power and are specially constructed to perform optimally on demanding ground conditions. They are great for digging trenches as well as backing out of them and for lugging and dumping heavy loads.

If you still have questions regarding what option to go with, the professionals at Monster Tires can guide you in making the correct choice. We will assess the various applications and operations you will regularly be using your equipment on and the budget you will be working with so that you can make a well-informed decision. Monster Tires also stocks both premium CTL rubber tracks and OTT tracks for skid steers at very affordable prices. We will be more than happy to help you with all of your track solution needs. Call Monster Tires today!