Similar to the market for tractors, the market for new wheel loaders has been growing in terms of weight and horsepower over the past 20 years.

Taking JCB as an example, in the late 1990s and early 2000s contractors were using the hugely popular 414s and 416s models which were around 150hp and 10t. Today, many of these same contractors are running the 15t and 235hp 435s model, and some are looking for even more weight and horsepower.

JCB has listened and the British manufacturer has just launched its 282hp 457s, introducing a new flagship agricultural wheeled loader to its offering. In development for the last two years, this new 20t flagship has a payload in excess of 6t.

The manufacturer explained that it was designed for big biogas plants and large-scale contractors to handle silage, maize and muck.

This latest development joins the company’s top-end 419s and 435s purpose-built agricultural spec loaders. JCB has been building the industrial spec 457 model for some time now. Although the new agricultural spec loader shares some elements of the established model which was designed for stockpiling and loading out of bulk stores, the ‘S’ version features a new rear chassis and counterweight along with a new transmission, axles, wheels and tyres.

New transmission

Due to the large increase in horsepower, JCB had to sit down with German components manufacturer ZF and redesign the transmission used in its previous 15t flagship, the 435s. After some thought, a new powershift transmission was developed. With six forward and three reverse ratios, the new transmission features torque converter lock-up which allows for direct mechanical drive in all six forward gears as the standard configuration.

The operator also has the option of using a new menu on the in-cab settings and operator information display to select torque converter lock-up in any reverse gear and any of the lowest three forward gears to suit different applications, or operator preferences.


The 457s runs on heavier duty 20-stud axles that can be equipped with either limited-slip or auto-locking differentials for optimum traction, while a wider track width permits larger tyres to be fitted. It comes with a top speed of either 40kmh or 48kmh.

The loader comes with the option of either 710/75 R32 Trelleborg TM2000 or 800/65 R32 Michelin MegaXbib radial traction tyres, while keeping the loader within 3m overall width.

For hard-surface operations, Michelin XHA 23.5 R25 L3 radials can be fitted. A 20t capacity Rockinger tow hitch with drawbar location camera can be added as an optional extra, which can be coupled with either twin-line hydraulic or air-ready trailer braking.


JCB is well-known for building high power-to-weight ratio loaders, and that’s probably one of the main contributing factors to its success in Irish contractor silage harvesting fleets. This latest development is no different, and the new 457s features a power-to-weight ratio of 14hp/t.

The 457s sports the same 6.7-litre Cummins B6.7 engine as used in the existing 435s. This six-pot powertrain is capable of churning out a sizeable 282hp (210kW) and 1,200Nm of peak torque. With the price of fuel, such power isn’t always necessary. JCB recognised this and when carrying out less demanding applications, the operator can revert to the default ‘standard’ power output of 224hp (167kW) to save fuel. The loader also features auto engine shutdown after a period at idle, to help fuel economy.

To help keep the powertrain and oil cool, JCB has fitted a large cooling fan. It features programmable automatic reversing to disperse unwanted debris. The fan assembly now also swings out for easy access when it comes to cleaning the radiator matrix. Meanwhile, a new rear chassis design allows for an increased fuel capacity of 400 litres. JCB has also reprofiled the counterweight for increased clearance on silage pits.


The loader is equipped with the same Command Plus cab as fitted to the existing 435s. The optional Contractor Pro pack adds features such as the 360° LED lighting, twin beacons, a stainless-steel exhaust stack, carpet and a cooled as well as heated half-leather seat.

The machine comes with the option of two loader arms, either the standard high-torque arms which offer a lift height of 4.3m, or the high-lift alternative which increases lift height to 4.8m at the pivot pin.

First impression

The new 457s is cosmetically very similar to the manufacturer’s 435s, but is physically quite a bit larger.

In the course of the short driving time the Irish Farmers Journal got to spend on the new model on a pit of shredded rubber, the combination of direct mechanical drive and the high power-to-weight ratio seemed to offer impressive pushing and climbing performance.

JCB won’t sell big numbers in the Irish market, but the manufacturer needed a high-end agricultural spec loader to compete with the niche group of 18-21t silage loaders, such as the Volvo L110 and L120 models, of which there are now in the region of a dozen relatively new units working in large silage contractor fleets across the country. The 457s has already entered production and the Irish Farmers Journal understands that one machine has already been sold to an Irish contractor in Co Cork, with delivery set for the coming weeks.

Engine: 6.7-litre Cummins.

Power: 282hp (210kW).

Transmission: Six-speed ZF powershift with lock-up.

Travel speed: 40km/h or 48km/h.

Hydraulics: 2 x 153l/min pumps.

Full turn tipping load: 10,468kg.

Operating weight: 19,551kg.

List price: €260,000 plus VAT.