Stand Up vs Sit Down Forklift

Understanding the differences between a stand-up and sit-down forklift can help you choose the right piece of machinery for the job. 

Of course, with so many different classifications of forklifts nowadays, finding the right one for a particular job can feel quite difficult. Come with us as we explore the difference between the two most popular types of forklifts: The sit-down forklift and the stand-up forklift. 

Best For



Operators Who Do Not Need to Get Up and Down Frequently

Operate at higher speeds, comfortable, added safety

Limited visibility, lack of driver mobility

Smaller Spaces

Added mobility, automatic braking, more visibility

Uncomfortable, Joystick-steering

What Is a Sit Down Forklift?

Sit down forklifts come in a few varieties, including three-wheeled and four-wheeled. If you are working in smaller spaces, three-wheeled forklifts are much better. In terms of comfort, sit-down forklifts are a better choice.

If you or your operator is planning on spending a fair amount of time on the forklift during work hours, sitting down can provide a more comfortable situation.

This is especially true if your operator does not need to get up and down frequently. 

example of a forklift

What Is a Stand Up Forklift?

Stand-up forklifts, often referred to as “electric riders”, are best for operators who must get on and off the vehicle frequently.

Stand-up forklifts are typically a bit shorter than their other lift cousins, making them a great choice for small spaces.

They have a superb turning radius as well!

Because they are able to lift larger loads, some operations require them over sit-down forklifts. 

Sit Down vs stand up Forklift

Advantages Of a Sit-Down Forklift?

One of the primary advantages of sit-down forklifts is that they are able to operate at higher speeds. Plus, they tend to lift and lower large items faster too.

If you are working in a distribution center or any other type of high-volume, material handling operation, sit-down forklifts help to increase productivity and overall efficiency.

The secondary advantage has to do with comfort, as these models can provide an operator with the opportunity to get off his or her feet for a bit while he or she is operating the lift. If you or your operator is working for long hours, a sit-down forklift might be in your best interest.

Sit-down models are much safer when it comes to outdoor environments or environments that have slick surfaces. It is also pretty safe to say that the majority of forklift operators are already familiar with sitting models, so switching over to stand-up models may require a bit of extra training.

Disadvantages Of a Sit Down Forklift?

Operators tend to be slightly less alert when they are sitting. Plus, these models limit visibility when an operator is moving in reverse. For sheer driver mobility, a sit-down forklift may not be the best choice. 

Advantages Of a Stand Up Forklift?

There are a number of reasons why someone might want a stand-up forklift for your material handling operation. They are shorter than their lift cousins and getting on and off is much easier. Plus, lift operators don’t have seatbelts or any other attachments that might hinder their ability to be mobile at any given time.

Stand-up forklifts do not have parking brakes either, as they automatically brake when the lift comes to a stop.

If you are working in a warehouse with very narrow aisles, a stand-up forklift may be your best choice. They provide operators with more visibility, especially when moving in reverse. With the overwhelming number of forklift accidents every year, this added visibility could be seen as a safety net for forklift operators.

Disadvantages Of a Stand Up Forklift?

The main and most obvious disadvantage that we see with stand-up forklifts is the fact that the driver may not be comfortable, especially if he or she is working for long periods. Your operator will not have any sort of cushioned seat to rest on when they are tired of standing.

Stand-up forklifts may require a bit of additional training as well, as they use a joystick to steer rather than levers and a steering wheel.

Which Is Right For You?

If you are operating in an environment that requires your forklift operator to work long hours, we would highly recommend a sit-down forklift. The same is true if your operation is taking place on wet or slick surfaces, or outdoors, as they can provide a bit of additional safety.

On the other hand, if you are operating in an environment where being able to reverse with the best-possible visibility is necessary, we would recommend a stand-up forklift. Stand-up forklifts are great for operators who need to get on and off frequently as well.  They are also wonderful for those operating in narrow aisles.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both of these types of forklifts. When all is said and done, the best forklift is completely dependent on your operation.

Tim Postlethwaite

Tim Postlethwaite // Staff Writer