Test Drives

BOBCAT® E17 and E20 Excavators


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The Bobcat® brand has long been synonymous with the skid steer loader market, which is unsurprising when you consider that Bobcat Company invented the skid steer loader and remains the number-one selling skid steer loader manufacturer in the global market today.

This is interesting when you consider what has happened to other dominant brands that previously dominated their particular market space. Companies such as Nokia, IBM, Myspace and Kodak, all once iconic household names now relegated into obscurity when their products were reinvented and improved by a newer, more dynamic company. The difference between success and failure often comes down to staying relevant and being hungrier than the competition. The Bobcat Company recognised the potential for the skid steer loader concept, and strategised the development and release of improvements to move with customer acceptance, effectively leading the market. While their key competitors offer a wide array of product lines, spanning a greater range of equipment configurations and weight classifications, Bobcat have stayed true to the compact construction equipment market and it is this undivided focus that has ultimately driven their success.

Somewhat overshadowed by their success in the compact construction loader space, is the Bobcat excavator range albeit equally as good. This is similar in a way to the success Apple have enjoyed with the iPhone, which has made it necessary to promote their other product lines with more vigour so we don’t all subconsciously label Apple as a mobile phone manufacturer. Similarly, Bobcat have focused millions of dollars in research and development to create a comprehensive, versatile and user friendly range of compact excavators to equal the quality of their compact loader range. This way, the combo owners know what to expect, and can benefit from the buying power of purchasing, servicing and trading their equipment with the one dealer. In many cases they can carry common lubricants, filters and other consumables as well as having the added benefit of maintaining all their service records and scheduled oil analysis reports in one location. No other OEM can offer their customers one single nation-wide dealer footprint, from a wholly Australian owned company with a proud history spanning six decades.



Bobcat recently released the new Bobcat E17 excavator, a 1.7-tonne minimal swing unit that sits between the 418 and the E20 models. The first of these machines arrived in Australia during the second quarter of 2016 and the interest from the compact earthmoving fraternity was very positive.

The great thing about the E17 is it weighs just 1720kg and with the right combination of tow vehicle and trailer, it can be towed behind a SUV or commercial utility. Featuring a 700cc Kubota three-cylinder diesel engine, producing 10kW and 42Nm of torque, the Bobcat E17 has the power and reliability you need to get the job done. Normally with a true ‘zero swing’ machine there is always a trade-off between the narrow access you want, the stability you need and the performance you expect. However, this is not the case with the Bobcat E17 because it has a hydraulically widening/ retractable undercarriage to allow for narrow access. Once you’ve arrived at the excavation the minimal rear tail swing counterweight is balanced perfectly to optimal stability in conjunction with the widened track frame configuration. The 980mm dozer blade provides additional stability when lowered and can be widened to 1360mm to match the width of the undercarriage in its widened configuration.

This means you get the best of both worlds in the one light, compact machine.

The Bobcat E17 comes standard with 230mm wide rubber tracks so it can be used in a variety of applications with minimal impact on pre-existing services, paths and kerbing etc. It also features a TOPS/ROPS/ FOPS canopy compliant to the relevant international ISO standards. Dual-flow auxiliary hydraulic lines are fitted enabling a wider range of attachments to be utilised.

One of the really impressive features of the Bobcat E17 is the accessibility for servicing. The complete rear and right side enclosures open completely exposing the engine, cooling package and various daily service items. The operator’s compartment is spacious and the use of what limited space there is has been well thought out. The auxiliary hydraulic pedals can be folded over to create additional space when not in use for added comfort.

The instrument panel and various switches are well laid out for both ergonomics and functionality. The overall fit and finish of panel work, the lustre of the paint finish and decal package are all as you’d expect from a market-leading manufacturer such as Bobcat.



Operationally, the Bobcat E17 is nimble, powerful, quiet and provides good feedback through the controls making it easy to operate well. The swing boom feature adds to the versatility of the Bobcat E17 enabling the operator to put the bucket in places previously inaccessible with conventional configuration. The power in the travel circuit is truly tested with the push blade engaged in the ground. However, the Bobcat E17 has the power to fill the blade and perform levelling and spreading operations with ease.

If you’re a plumber, sparky or a tradie that needs to get down and dirty from time to time, you can’t go past the new Bobcat E17.

Call Clark Equipment and ask about their 0 per cent finance offer – it’s cheaper than renting and you own the asset at the end of the term.




In the tightly contested 2-tonne zero swing excavator market space, there are quite a few options worthy of consideration. There is however, only one manufacturer that pioneered and remained dedicated solely to the compact construction equipment market.

That is of course, Bobcat Company.

The recently released Bobcat E20 is a true zero swing, 14hp, rubber-tracked excavator with 30 litres/minute auxiliary hydraulic flow.

Just like Bobcat skid steer and compact track loader product lines that dominate global market share, the Bobcat E20 is becoming a force to be reckoned with at 1953 kg. Dual-flow auxiliary plumbing as standard enables bi-directional attachments such as augers and tilt buckets to be utilised.

With an unparalleled line up of attachments developed specifically to match the designed capabilities of Bobcat equipment, the Bobcat E20 is whatever you want it to be.

Ever since the first machine displaying the “Bobcat” logo was released to the market in 1962, a focus on build quality, performance and reliability has ensured the brand’s longevity. Unlike many other OEMs, Bobcat really has focused on the smaller end of the market, and have only ever produced hydrostatically powered machinery. You the customer benefits from this in two ways: engineering excellence and customer focus.

The Bobcat E20 is loaded with features making it one of the most versatile and user friendly machines around. The undercarriage is longer than its predecessor, which therefore makes it more stable. It also features a hydraulically widening undercarriage system, enabling the E20 to be retracted into a 991mm width configuration to access tight areas such as doorways and gates.

Once you’re on the job, the widening undercarriage on the E20 can extend out to a gauge of 1346mm for added stability. This feature enhances the use of the boom swing function allowing for heavier loads to be lifted over the side of the track frame. Fine control of the swing boom feature is made easy by way of a proportional thumb switch mounted atop the pilot control lever. The E20 also features an adjustable-width push blade so you can perform pushing, spreading and back-filling operations in either the narrow or wide gauge configuration.



From a safety perspective the E20 has you covered, quite literally. The operator’s canopy is TOPS/ROPS/ FOPS compliant, and one of the most spacious in its weight class. The E20 can be ordered in either open canopy or in an enclosed air-conditioned cabin variant. The operator’s seat is supportive and it allows enough adjustment to achieve a comfortable seating position for operators of various sizes and stature. The instrumentation and layout of the various controls and switches is ergonomically designed to minimise operator fatigue, while the monitor panel is simplistically functional. The overall fit and finish of panel work, the lustre of the paint finish and decal package are all exactly as you’d expect from a market-leading manufacturer such as Bobcat. As is the case with the Bobcat loader range, the hydraulic lines and wiring harnesses are routed neatly to minimise abrasive wear and potential breakdowns.

With a long heritage steeped in quality and reliability, the Bobcat E20 not only upholds Bobcat’s penchant for excellence, it raises the bar.

Operationally, the Bobcat E20 brings all the above features together to produce a fast, powerful and versatile machine that rivals the competition in performance, accessibility and resale value. The controls in the E20 are forgiving enough to allow a novice to use it, yet precise enough to enable an experienced operator to conduct detailed finishing operations. One additional feature that has been well received by their customer base is the auto-locking swing brake functionality.

This allows the upper structure to be locked in an almost infinite range of positions. This is handy when operating on the side of a gradient or while in transit. Serviceability is no issue with the Bobcat E20 either. A generous, side swinging rear door opens to allow easy access to all daily service points.


Filtration system and daily service items are situated for ease of access to reduce downtime and service costs.

The Bobcat E20 can be moved on a trailer behind a suitable commercial vehicle such as a van or ute. Clark Equipment, the sole Australian dealership for the Bobcat product range, are simplifying the process of compiling the package by structuring a ‘Tradie Pack’ complete with a trailer, a range of attachments and customer promo pack. This way, everything you need can be packaged in one convenient payment, and can be tailored to suit the needs of the customer. Ask your local Clark Equipment territory representative about either an E17 or E20 Tradie Pack. With 11 different models under 8500kg, there is a Bobcat compact construction excavator to suit the specific needs of your business.

Bobcat equipment, One Tough Animal.

[colored_box color=” yellow”]For more information on Bobcat® loaders and other equipment from Bobcat Company, contact Clark Equipment on 1300 736 848 or visit www.clarkequipment.com[/colored_box]

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