Compact Backhoe Is Contractor Tough

By Larry Stewart, Executive Editor | September 28, 2010
Kubota's B26
Kubota's B26 is the only backhoe in the 25-horsepower range that can be bought with a bucket thumb and auxiliary hydraulics.

Kubota replaced its 10-year-old B21 compact backhoe loader with the much larger B26, positioning it between other compact TLBs in the mid-20-horsepower range and Deere's 41-horsepower 110.

A 26-horsepower Kubota diesel delivers 23 percent more horsepower and 18 percent more loader lift capacity than the B21. Backhoe digging depth increased 9 percent to 8 feet 2 inches, and lift capacity increased 18 percent to 780 pounds.

The 5,500-pound B26 is at least a ton heavier than all its contemporaries except Terramite's T7. It outweighs the T7 by 25 percent. The new Kubota is also the only four-wheel-drive tractor in its horsepower class. Differential lock on the front axle promises flexible traction control.

Hydrostatic drive is common in the 25-horsepower range, but Kubota adds a three-range hydrostat with rocker-style pedal more like compact backhoes with 40-plus horsepower.

The B26's 11-gallon-per-minute hydraulic pump flow is half that of Deere's 110, but at least three gallons per minute more than its contemporaries.

Spill-guard hydraulics keep the bucket level as the loader arms raise to prevent spilling the load back on the tractor. The loader comes with a skid-steer-type quick-attach coupler and is available with auxiliary hydraulic lines to power various tools.

Auxiliary hydraulics capable of pushing 7 gallons per minute are options on both the loader and the backhoe.

The curved, excavator-style backhoe boom; the stick; and bucket are all now under the command of a refined inching valve designed for smoother, more precise functions. The differences in performance are subtle, but after some practice on the B26 and its predecessor, even this inexperienced operator could multi-function the stick and boom through a level cut.

Kubota says it takes two people five minutes to detach the frame-mounted backhoe and set the three-point lift arms in place. Two product specialists demonstrated the change in less time. The three-point lift arms produce nearly 60 percent more power than the B21.

Close inspection of the B26 supports Kubota's claims that it was designed from scratch as an integral backhoe-loader for hard work. Despite the considerable jump in size from the B21, it is said to be priced less than 2 percent more than that model.

B26 Backhoe-Loader vs. 25-horsepower Range
Engine/Net HP Bucket Dig Force (lbf) Stick Dig Force (lbf) Loader Bucket Force (lbf) Operating Weight (lb.)
JCB MINI CX JCB/20 2,884 3,320 3,607 3, 373
Kubota B26 Kubota/23.3 4,211 2,123 2,344 5,531
Allmand TLB-225 Kubota/23.5 2,875 2,265 2,600 3,211
Lay-Mor Digmaster Honda/24 4,100 2,500 2,200 3,080
Terramite T7 Kubota/26 3,100 2,800 4,400 4,180