A FLEET of Bobcats of all makes and models stretched out across the flat North Dakota terrain at the company's summer media event. Bobcat staff encouraged all the journalists attending to drive the equipment. I pushed around dirt with the compact track loaders, cruised through an obstacle course in a new utility vehicle, and dug a hole with a compact excavator.

Having only driven a skid-steer loader before the event, I was pleased to discover that every machine I tried had simple controls and was easy to maneuver. Although the machines were easy to use, they were also loaded with power and versatility. After starting up the first engine of the day, I was ready to ride.

Utility vehicle

The company's new 2300 utility vehicle (UV) with RapidLink attachment system was one of my favorites to drive. An obstacle course had been sculpted out of the flat terrain to challenge the new UV. Deep potholes, steep hills, rutty soil and soft spots — the course included them all, but the 2300 conquered every challenge.

The 2300 has 4-wd with the exclusive IntelliTrak drive system. This enables the UV to send power to all four wheels without the operator having to shift gears. It also features automatic locking differentials. About halfway up a steep incline in the course, I doubted the UV's ability to make it up and over, but thanks to its 20-hp diesel engine, the 2300 climbed the hill without hesitation.

The two-passenger UV also has an 800-lb. load capacity in its cargo dump box for hauling cargo. This machine can haul everything from feed to tools and seed.

The 2300 provides a smooth ride. Even in rough terrain, it maneuvers effortlessly. It also offers operator comfort with a tilt steering wheel and an adjustable driver's seat.

The 2300 has a rustproof aluminum frame, easy access under the seats, hood and cargo box for routine maintenance, and extra storage space. And, yes, it comes with cup holders.

Bobcat's RapidLink attachment system allows the user to switch attachments with ease. It is compatible with five available attachments: bucket, mower, pallet fork, snow blade and whisker push broom. A joystick in the operator area controls each of these attachments. The RapidLink attachment arm can lift loads up to 500 lbs. as high as 2 ft.

Compact excavator

Bobcat's new entry-level 329 compact excavator with conventional tail swing performs excavation, trenching, demolition, and material handling and placement. The conventional tail swing provides tremendous lifting ability. The 329 has a maximum digging depth of 10 ft. 2 in. and maximum reach of 16 ft. at ground level.

The excavator's rubber tracks do not leave ruts like rubber tires do and can handle muddy conditions without bogging down; the tracks are turf friendly. With a 360° house rotation and its compact size, the 329 can go to more job sites and create less disturbance to surrounding areas. An attached backfill blade allows the excavator to fill in a trench or level and grade a job site without using another machine. The blade also can be used to increase dig depth or dump height.

The 329 has a dependable, quiet-running, liquid-cooled 27.7-hp diesel engine and 14 gpm of auxiliary hydraulic flow. The excavator maintains constant digging forces, minimizing lugging, due to its torque-limiting, dual-outlet piston pump.

The excavator's Bobcat X-Change mounting system allows the operator to switch attachments efficiently. At the demonstration, a Bobcat employee switched attachments on the excavator in a little over one minute. Bobcat offers seven trenching bucket sizes for general digging purposes.

The new 329 has hydraulic joystick controls, an extra-wide rear door opening and an optional enclosed cab with heater.

Prices

The new Bobcat 2300 UV with RapidLink attachment system has a standard list price of $15,090. The price does not include attachments, which range in price from $370 to $2,250. Circle 186.

The 329 compact excavator with a standard-equipped canopy has a list price of about $37,500. Circle 185.

For more information, contact Bobcat Co., Dept. FIN, Box 6000, West Fargo, ND 58078, 866/823-7898, or visit www.bobcat.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.