I haven't been on MTF for a couple years (Howdy! - - hope you're all well!), and am just catching up on a subject that always interests me -- Kubota BX. Sorry to dredge up an old thread....
The "new" BX-80 Series seems like it incorporated quite a few nice improvements to an already capable platform. I appreciated reading a lot of your comments and observations.
Forgive me if I missed it elsewhere, but one thing that does not seem to have received much scrutiny/discussion is the big changes to the base BX1880 model. GBPackerfan was on to it with his post below:
My 1870-1 does everything I need it to do...plenty of power. I bought it for the smaller physical size, not because it was the cheapest in the line. The 52" wheelbase works perfect for my yard contours and landscaping. The new 1880 has the same 55" wheelbase as the others which would seem to indicate that the only reason it exists is to satisfy the "below $10K" price point. For $1200-$1500 more ($20 - $25 more per month) you can get a 2380 with more features/upgrades, more power, better resale, same attachments, and same size footprint in both the garage and out in the yard. This may be the beginning of the end for the 18hp. Dealers likely won't stock them (pushing buyers to the 2380) and I'm not sure who will buy them......
Previously, the BX1870, 1860, and 1850 models had a shorter wheelbase and shorter length overall, along with the smaller wheel/tire set. It was a physically smaller machine. And the FEL bucket volume was physically smaller also, to match a de-rated hydraulic system (same flow as larger machines, but lower relief valve setting.) This was actually part of the attraction of the BX18xx - - it was just a scootch more compact than the higher HP models, for those with tight storage requirements.
As mentioned by GBPackerfan, the "18" is now physically nearly identical in size to the "23" and "26" models. The only slight differences in dimensions are due entirely to the smaller wheel/tire set used on the "18" (in other words, if you swapped for the larger wheel/tire set used on the 23 and 26, dimensions would be identical.)
Besides some minor comfort features, the other significant difference between the previous "18" and the 23/26 models, was that the 18 used a smaller diameter front axle (3" vs. 4"). This was another reason why the 18 had a de-rated FEL lift capacity. It was also why the 18 actually had the most ground clearance of the BX series (the smaller diameter front axle did not hang down as low) despite the smaller wheels/tires.
The new BX1880 now uses the same 4" front axle as the other models. This is a huge upgrade, and is the primary reason why the "18" now has identical FEL specs as the other models. This is also why it now has the least amount of ground clearance (larger diameter front axle, but same smaller wheels/tires.)
There are pros/cons to these changes in the "18". The primary downside is that the 18 is no longer a physically smaller machine for those who are tight on storage space or with tight operating conditions. The benefit is that the 18 is no longer de-rated compared to the other higher hp models. The primary difference now really comes down to PTO HP - - the loader lift and bucket size is now the same.
Of course, the 18 still offers the smaller 48" deck, and doesn't offer the 60" deck, due to hp limitations. But I wonder if there is any longer any physical limitation that prevents complete deck inter-compatibility between all the models, now that they are on identical frames? (Recognizing that the BX23S has some additional subframing.)
I am not sure how I feel about the changes. I liked the smaller-sized option of the previous "18" models. That seems to be gone now. But it still comes in at a lower price point, with increased capabilities, so not all bad by any means. Another advantage is that previously after-market Cab vendors were slow to produce cabs for the "18" model, and sometimes skipped it entirely due to the re-tooling costs. Now the same cab can be used on the 18/23/26 models, which is a nice benefit.
Anyway, sorry about the windy post. Just catching up on the developments and my stream of consciousness was flowing. Thanks for listening -- keep on BXing.