Innovative Iron Awards: ASV’s RT-135 and RT-135F Forestry Track Loaders

ASV RT 135f

The Top Construction, Landscape and Rental Equipment Launched in 2022

Throughout 2022, the Compact Equipment crew traveled the countryside (tradeshows, product launches, zoom interviews, operation opportunities) to analyze and catalog every model of compact machinery released into the wild. Looking back, the last 12 months saw the introduction of an impressive array of off-highway construction equipment and OEM systems, but a certain set of equipment stood above the rest. We call them the Innovative Iron Award winners, and these particular units are, in our humble opinion, the best compact equipment released in 2022. Here comes a winner right now. See them all right here.

ASV’s RT-135 and RT-135F Forestry Compact Track Loaders Are Some the Most Powerful in the Market

Pros like big track loaders. The 3,000-plus-lbs rated operating capacity (ROC) compact track loader segment is one of the fastest growing, and this year ASV released two of the biggest and most powerful models to that market — RT-135 and RT-135F Forestry variant. Both machines boast an industry-leading 132-hp Cummins diesel engine that’s combined with a head-turning 50-gpm maximum auxiliary flow — also the industry’s highest — and an oversized auxiliary pump capable of 66 gpm, allowing the RT-135 and 135F to power gnarly high-flow implements like brush cutters, asphalt planners, trenchers and augers. That also directly translates to more productivity from the 50-gpm Loftness mulching head that is sold with the RT-135F.

The RT-135 and RT-135F forestry variant replace ASV’s RT-120 and RT-120F, and contractors can use the RT-135 and RT-135F a lot longer with a new 52-gal fuel tank. That’s 22 gal more than the RT-120, which is impressive. In fact, the whole package is impressive: the RT-135F features a 4,150-lb rated operating capacity; 10-mph top speed; 10-ft, 4-in. lift height; thick, clear poly guarding; and the expansive Max-Series cabs and tech amenities from a 7-in. touchscreen display to an escape hatch on the roof. The 135 base model has a 3,535-lb ROC and glass sides. From our previous deep dive on the unit:

“We’ve been working on this unit for about four years now,” said [Buck] Storlie, [ASV Holdings Inc. product manager]. “Maybe it started out as some skunkworks project just to power up an [RT-]120. Ultimately it was the cab designs we were making for the Max-Series at the forestry level. We really redid that frame, making more room for the engine, hydraulics, etc. More reliability, you know, having to beef up some parts to lift more weights and then a focus on the undercarriage redesign — new wheel hubs, new axles, new undercarriage componentry to make sure that the extra weight we were carrying around was really going to have the longevity we needed. Over the course of those years, it went from let’s just add an engine to we’re going to remake this whole thing. But yeah, we’re pretty pumped now to finally have it out.”

Here’s that same Buck Storlie to give us a walkaround:

ASV custom-built the RT-135F for harsh forestry work. Its frameless door uses 3/4-in. polycarbonate with enough strength to allow the elimination of the cross beam — improving visibility over the RT-120. The side panels are manufactured with 1/2-in. polycarbonate. A limb riser is also built in for additional guarding. Because of the reinforced cab and high-strength polycarbonate, the RT-135F is the only compact track loader in the industry to meet the same safety standards as dedicated forestry equipment. These include operator protective structure, impact, falling object and rollover ISO standards. In addition, the inclusion of a roof escape hatch helps to improve safety. ASV is the only manufacturer to include an escape hatch on its compact track loaders and skid steers.

Guarding around the light and radiator improves durability. The hoods are now built from heavy-gauge steel, offering maximum protection to the engine area. An optional back screen adds additional protection. Debris has fewer places to get in due to a fuel tank that intersects with the cab for a tighter seal. Plus, there’s a reversing fan as a standard on the forestry model. Double plus, that crazy aux flow. The RT-120 was at 45 gpm, and the RT-135F goes up to 50 gpm {4,060 psi}. That’s 10 percent more.

ASV RT 135 with mulching attachment

ASV’s Max-Series has won two CE Innovative Iron Awards for both its skid steers and track loaders, and much of that had to do with the premium in-cab experience. The RT-135 and RT-135F bring that beautiful glass-first cab frame, with amazing 360-degree visibility. Standard LED lighting, optional side lighting and new taillights make it even easier to see around the outside of the machine.

Operators benefit from a roomier cab accessible to virtually all body types — a one-sided lap bar making exit and entry easier and one of the industry’s most customizable seat and arm rests. The RT-135’s advanced, customizable controls allow for a premium operator experience. A state-of-the-art 7-in. touchscreen display provides vital monitoring tools, displays the view from the backup camera and integrates with service history and schedules. It also allows for service scheduling, job management, passcode operator lockout, idle time tracking and more. The in-cab experience is also enhanced through Bluetooth radio allowing operators to listen to music and take calls wirelessly.

Intuitive operator controls benefit operators of all skill levels and a dual throttle option — a Max-Series feature — allows operation at a set rpm with the joystick controls and the ability to increase the rpm with the foot throttle without the need to adjust the dial.

Also, the RT-135 and RT-135F’s undercarriages have been upgraded for maximum performance under the additional weight. Redesigned torsion axles are 20 percent stronger than their predecessors, bearing the weight of the machine while allowing the track to flex over obstacles and reduce impact to the operator and attachment. Reinforced wheel hubs and bearings enhance durability. The loaders’ large number of ground contact points combine with the RT-135’s 20-in.-wide tracks to spread the machine’s weight for a 4.6 psi ground pressure.

There’s more, and you can learn more right over here.

Keith Gribbins is the publisher of Compact Equipment.

Compact track loaders are the most popular category of compact equipment in America. Learn why with loads of track loader features right here.