There are eight classes of forklifts.
- Class I forklifts are electric-motor rider trucks, either stand-up operator or seated three-wheel units. Rider units are counterbalanced and may have cushion or pneumatic wheels.
- Class II forklifts are electric-motor trucks for narrow aisle or inventory stock/order picking applications. They may have extra reach or swing-mast functions.
- Class III forklifts are electric-motor trucks, either walk-behind or standing-rider operated. Automated pallet lift-trucks and high lift models are often counterbalanced.
- Class IV forklifts are rider fork trucks, with cabs and seated controls, internal combustion engines, and solid or "cushion" tires.
- Class V forklifts are rider fork trucks, with cabs and seated controls, internal combustion engines, and pneumatic tires. Like Class IV forklifts, they are typically counterbalanced.
- Class VI forklifts are sit-down rider, tow tractor lifts. They are supplied with electric or internal combustion engines.
- Class VII forklifts are designed for use on rough terrain. Typical applications include agriculture, logging and construction.
- Class VIII forklifts include all personnel and burden carriers.
There are three basic types: manual drive, motorized drive, and fork truck.
- Fork trucks - Also motorized, but include features such as cabs and backup alarms.
- Manual-drive forklifts - The load movement or travel is manually powered or walk-behind.
- Motorized-drive forklifts - These have a motorized drive and, in many cases, a protected cab or seat for the driver.
Truck-mounted forklifts are mounted or mountable on the back or bed of a utility truck. These vehicles include truck-included packages as well as lifts that are sold independently for subsequent mounting.
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