What is this Shift? Understanding Kubota Transmissions

When you’re looking for a new tractor, Kubota or otherwise, it’s paramount to know what your options are and which of these options will meet your needs. One of the major questions I get, particularly from those looking for their first tractor, concerns the transmission. There are a lot of positives to each transmission system but it takes a little bit of knowledge to discern which transmission can work best for you. I’m going to describe these transmissions then explain some of the preferred applications to help you pick the new Kubota tractor that is the best fit for you.

Kubota offers four basic types of transmission:

Gear Drive (DT Models): Standard gear drive models have 8 forward and 8 reverse gears. You need to use the clutch to go from forward to reverse and to shift through the eight gears.

Best Uses: This transmission is best used when there isn’t a lot of forward and reverse in the job. Gear drive transmissions excel in pulling  applications, whether it is pulling a log or dragging a grader scraper down your driveway. They are nice because you don’t have to hold down a pedal (you can get the same functionality out of an HST with a cruise control but that is usually an added option that some dealers don’t offer). If you’re familiar with a gear drive transmission, these tractors can be as good as any model and will put more of your engine horsepower back on the ground, unlike the more popular hydrostat transmission which will rob you of some of your gross engine horsepower.

Hydraulic Shuttle Shift (HSD Models): This transmission is just like the regular gear drive transmission usually with the gear range from 8-24 forward and reverse gears. Unlike the standard gear drive however, you don’t need to clutch to go from forward to reverse.

Best Uses: This transmission is mostly found in larger tractors and because of that, they have a different set of uses than the stand gear drive. For instance these tractor are commonly used for hay, both in its cultivating and harvesting, as well just moving it around and actually feeding animals. The fact that you don’t need to hold a pedal down makes it great for mowing just like the standard gear drive. What really sets the Kubota Hydraulic shuttle shift apart is the fact that you don’t need to push the clutch to go from forward to reverse. This makes loader work a breeze. This transmission also does not rob you of any engine horsepower.

Glide Shift Transmission (GST Models): This transmission has a gear drive that has 12 forward and 8 reverse gears. The main benefit of the Kubota Glide Shift transmission is that you never have to use the clutch. You can shift up through all 12 forward gears without ever needing to touch your clutch. Like the hydraulic shuttle shift, you can also shift from forward to reverse or vice versa without the clutch.

Best Uses: This transmission can only be found the Kubota Grand L Series tractors which range from 35 horsepower all the way up to 60 horsepower. These units have all the benefits of the hydraulic shuttle shift and standard gear shift such as not having to hold a pedal down while you’re driving. Being able to shift gears without a clutch also means that you can bring your tractor up to speed more quickly. The lack of clutch also makes this a relatively easy transmission to learn.

Hydrostat (HST Models): This transmission works off of a rocker pedal. If you push the pedal forward you go forward, if you push the pedal backward you go backward. You still have 3 gear ranges High, Medium, and Low, and you still need to clutch to put them into gear but you don’t have to clutch to go faster or to switch from forward to reverse.

Best Uses: This is by far the best transmission for anyone who has never used a tractor before. Because of the pedal operation (similar to a car or truck) this is the easiest transmission Kubota offers. These are especially good for loader work, since you can control the loader with one hand and go from forward to reverse with your foot. The same can be said for mowing around your house. Kubota’s Hydrostat transmissions are available up to 60hp. The one drawback to this transmission is that it does rob you of some of your engine horse power. For example a tractor rated at 33 hp only nets 31 after running through the transmission.

At the end of the day it’s important to find the tractor that does what you want to do and how you want to do it. It’s imperative that you work with your local dealership to nail down exactly what you want your tractor to accomplish so that they can help you pick out the best tractor for that job. If you have any questions about which transmission would be best suited for your needs or just questions in general, please give us a call or stop by