What are the different types of Forklift?

If you’re wondering what are the different types of forklift then read on.

Forklifts nowadays come in all shapes, sizes and specs so it can be confusing trying to figure out which is which.

Each forklift has its own strengths, built specifically for the type of terrain and the surroundings it will be used in.

It’s important not to forget that material handling equipment is classified as a forklift too.

What are the different types of forklift

Some of the most common names of forklifts you might hear include:

  • Electric Forklifts
  • Counterbalance
  • IC Forklifts
  • Order Pickers
  • Reach Trucks
  • High-Capacity Forklifts
  • Pallet Jacks
  • Pallet Stackers
  • Pallet trucks

But for this blog, we’re just going to focus on the 3 most common types and basic types, before we go into more detail later on.

Sound good?

What are the 3 types of forklift

Although forklifts are known by a lot of different names, you can break them down into 3 basic categories to get a solid understanding.

They are designed for warehouse or yard use, limited space or for moving pallets.

Keep reading for more.

Counter Balance Forklift

When looking for a forklift of this type, the most popular and frequently requested type is a counterbalance forklift.

These trucks have a counterbalance weight design, as the name implies, in which a weight is integrated into the back of the vehicle to balance the load.

Read more about the fulcrum point of a forklift in this blog.

With the forks sticking out the front of the machine and no reach capabilities, it offers a very simple operation. The vehicle needs to be driven up to the load’s exact location.

What are the different types of forklift

The three-wheel counterbalance is constructed using the same principles as the counterbalance forklift truck mentioned above, but it has better manoeuvrability because of the single wheel drive that is mounted in the middle of the truck’s back.

They are ideal for usage in small spaces, both inside and outside, because of their added flexibility and capacity to turn in small circles.

The three-wheel counterbalance is excellent for maximising output, so why not check out our Ultimate Guide to 3 Wheeler Forklifts in this blog.

Reach Forklift/Side Loader

Once more, the reach truck  or side loader is perfect for ‘reaching’ as its name suggests.

They are perfect for usage in warehouses since they can extend past the stabilising legs and into the racking. They are also capable of lifting heavy objects above 10 meters while working in confined spaces.

Why not check out our Ultimate Guide to Side Loader Forklifts Blog for more information?

To give the operator a better view, some reach truck manufacturers build a tilt mechanism into their designs.

What are the different types of forklift

Since reach trucks have a limited under-carriage clearance and have difficulty working on uneven ground, they are better suited for inside operations.

Side loaders, which have a similar slender frame to reach forklifts, are excellent for loading and unloading in small aisleways and our partners, Combilift are amongst the world’s leaders in this range.

Due to the fork’s location on the side of the vehicle rather than the front, they enable entry to places where your standard counterbalance could not.

Because of the reduced overhang, which increases safety, they are used to move longer objects like timber or tube and are available in both indoor and outdoor types.

Pallet trucks/Pump Trucks

Pallet trucks are much more mobile and can fit into more compact or unique areas because they are significantly smaller than the previous lift trucks.

They frequently come with the benefit of being less expensive. The disadvantage of these trucks is that, due to their size, they are less effective at transporting heavier loads of objects.

What are the different types of forklift

In addition to conventional pedestrian pallet trucks, powered pallet trucks help move goods and operate with less manual labor.

Instead, if you want to transfer lesser loads, they might be fantastic.

What is a standard forklift called

The most common type of forklift or a standard forklift is the counterbalance forklift.

To help balance the weight of the load, keep the unit steady, and keep it from tipping forward, they typically consist of a unit with tyres at the front and a hefty counterweight in the back.

Counterbalance forklifts come in a variety of different categories, with tiny battery-powered models offering improved mobility and a tighter turning circle to operate in smaller places, or diesel or internal-combustion(IC) powered versions.

Counterbalance forklifts are appropriate for practically all general industries and applications due to the broad variety of models and fuel kinds available.

What forklifts are used in warehouse?

All of the above.

Certainly, counter balance are the most popular because of their versatility and the 3 wheel counter balance even more so with its extra manoeuvrability.

However, more and more warehouses are turning to battery powered as opposed to IC powered counter balance forklifts due to the lack of harmful emissions thus being an eco-friendlier option.

What are the different types of forklift

Equally, reach trucks or side loaders are preferred in warehouses with high levels of racking and narrow aisles. However, they don’t function well on uneven surfaces.

Pallet trucks or pump trucks are used in nearly every warehouse in the country due to their handiness.

Not every load is huge, so pallet trucks save time and money!

What type of forklift is best?

What type of forklift is best is solely subjective in your needs and situation.

If you want to locate the most efficient, productive machine, you need to know how to choose the best forklift for the job.

In addition to size and power source, there are other aspects to consider when selecting a forklift, such as the amount and height the machine can lift, the degree of caution required while handling the load in delicate locations, and whether you buy or rent a forklift.

Maybe rental or hire might be for you? This blog will give you 5 Reasons as to why it might!


Buying a forklift is not a simple process, so doing your research is really important to find the machine you need.

We hope this blog has given you a good idea about what are the different types of forklift from a basic point of view.

Stay tuned to read more in-depth analysis of the different types of forklift.

Check out our website HERE or below.