What is a counterbalance forklift? The Hyundai Heavy Line range like this one is just that

What is a Counterbalance Forklift? A Guide.

If you’re deciding on what type of forklift to buy or rent for your operation, then knowing what a counterbalance forklift is is crucial to making the right choice.

Because there are a lot of different types of forklifts out there right now.

Picking the wrong one for your needs might be an expensive mistake!

So what exactly is a counterbalance forklift?

Well, in essence, a counterbalance forklift is what most would consider the standard forklift if they picture it in their heads. It’s designed with a weight at the rear to offset the load at the front.

This enables smooth and stable lifting movements and the design allows it to operate without extended arms, making it deal for warehousing, distribution and manufacturing.

But that is only scratching the surface with them.

Read on to hear about their advantages, where they operate best, their features and more.

what is a counterbalance forklift and what are their benefits

What is a Counterbalance Forklift?

A counterbalance forklift is an absolute workhorse.

Its name is derived from the large weight positioned at the back of the forklift that counteracts the load lifted at the front.

Unlike other forklifts, such as sideloaders, narrow-aisle forklifts and more, they do not require extended arms to stabilise heavy loads.

They are exceptionally versatile and suitable for both indoor and outdoor, coming in diesel, LPG and electric.

Key features include:

  • Versatility: Counterbalance forklifts will do a wide range of tasks, whether that’s unloading deliveries or stacking pallets.
  • Efficient Design: Counterbalance forklifts can come in really compact designs, making it ideal for use in tight spaces. 3-wheel counterbalance forklifts are very popular in warehouse and stores.
  • Fuel Options: Whether you want diesel, LPG or gas-powered forklift, or electric, counterbalance forklifts tick a lot of boxes and surroundings.

From a safety point of view, knowing what the fulcrum point is on a counterbalance forklift is important for all operators.

a counterbalance forklift at work with a load at the front

Why is it called a Counterbalance Forklift?

Understanding the term “counterbalance” involves the forklift’s design principle, where a weight at the back of the truck balances the load lifted at the front.

Ensuring this balance is essential to avoid tipping over while transporting heavy loads.

The counterbalance mechanism enables:

  • Ensuring the forklift remains stable when lifting and moving loads is crucial for enhancing safety.
  • Efficient Operation: Enables faster manoeuvrability and operation without requiring extra stabilisation methods.

This design is crucial for the versatility and importance of the counterbalance forklift in various industrial and warehousing operations.

Other popular names you will hear are side loader forklifts  and also telescopic forklifts to name a couple.

Advantages of Counterbalance Forklifts

They offer a lot, that’s why they are so popular.

Here are some of the main ones:

Enhances Safety

Counterbalance forklifts are designed with a weight at the rear to balance the load at the front.

This design naturally improves stability during lifting and transporting tasks, minimising the chances of tipping over.

The enhanced safety characteristics make them ideal for managing heavy loads, particularly in settings where safety is a top priority.

Adaptable in Surrounds & Terrains

Counterbalance forklifts have a distinctive design that enables them to work effectively in various settings.

From navigating tight indoor warehouses to handling rough outdoor terrain, these forklifts excel in various environments.

They are highly versatile and can be applied across different industries such as manufacturing, retail, and logistics.

Wide Range of Models and Specs

There are various models of counterbalance forklifts available, such as electric, diesel, and LPG options, each with its own advantages.

Electric models are perfect for indoor environments because they produce zero emissions, while diesel and LPG models are great for outdoor tasks.

Moreover, they come in various capacities to meet different load sizes and operational requirements.


Counterbalance forklifts are a practical choice for numerous businesses.

Thanks to their sturdy build and minimal upkeep needs, they help reduce the total operational expenses.

Moreover, electric models can help businesses save on fuel expenses, making them a cost-effective option for companies seeking to enhance their material handling operations.

Easy to Operate & Maintain

These forklifts prioritise operator comfort and convenience.

They come with user-friendly controls and comfortable designs, which help minimise operator tiredness and boost efficiency.

Maintenance is simple, with easily reachable parts and assistance from manufacturers such as Masterlift, guaranteeing lasting dependability and efficiency.

What Class is a Counterbalance Forklift?

Counterbalance forklifts fall into Class I, Class IV, and Class V in the Industrial Truck Association’s classification.

They are:

  • Class I: Electric Motor Rider Trucks in Class I are ideal for indoor use in environments where air quality is a priority.
  • Class IV: Perfect for indoor use on smooth surfaces, Class IV trucks are powered by internal combustion engines and equipped with solid/cushion tyres.
  • Class V: These trucks are specifically made for indoor and outdoor operations on rough surfaces.

Knowing these categories assists companies in choosing the correct counterbalance forklift for their particular requirements, guaranteeing they purchase the most suitable model for their activities.

Examples of Counterbalancee Forklifts at Masterlift

Masterlift provides a diverse selection of counterbalance forklifts to accommodate different operational needs.

Here are some examples for you:

  • 3-Wheel Electric Counterbalance Forklifts are ideal for navigating through narrow areas and are great for indoor applications due to their exceptional agility.
  • 4-Wheel Counterbalance Forklifts provide enhanced stability and are ideal for a wide range of indoor and outdoor uses.
  • Diesel and LPG Counterbalance Forklifts are perfect for outdoor use or well-ventilated areas, offering strong performance for heavier loads.


These models showcase the versatility and efficiency of counterbalance forklifts offered at Masterlift, designed to meet various business requirements and operational settings.


Forklifts are crucial tools in the materials handling and logistics industries, providing versatility, efficiency, and safety.

Having a good grasp of the various types, benefits, and categories of counterbalance forklifts can assist businesses in making well-informed choices when choosing the appropriate equipment.

Masterlift offers a wide selection of counterbalance forklifts to meet various operational needs.

To learn more about forklifts and find the best options for your business, check out Masterlift’s website.