Hand trolleys are not all the same

Sometimes it is difficult to choose at first glance the trolleys all look alike. How can we understand which one to choose between a 29,00 euro trolley and another “identical” one that costs 150,00 Euro.

The manual trolley sector is a mature, low-tech sector with a high incidence of material and work.

The garden dump cart are built with iron or aluminium tubulars. So the less material is used, the less the trolley will cost but probably it will also be less robust.
So from the point of view of the pure material/price ratio, what costs less is because it is ‘worth’ less.

How to choose a manual trolley?

Manual trolleys are used to transport things in different situations, both at home and at work. If you think about the trolley you immediately think about the couriers in charge of delivery or a goods warehouse.
In reality, the trolley is used in a thousand and thousand different situations, so much so that the trolley has specialized over time.

The choice must therefore be made, first of all, taking into account the prevailing use that will be made of it. Let’s see the different parameters of the two-wheeled trolley (classic “L” trolley).

The Material

The hand trolleys are built with different materials. The most common material is iron (often called ‘steel’) but they can also be made of aluminum or stainless steel.

Aluminium has the advantage of being light but less suitable for large capacities, stainless steel has the advantage of being stainless and therefore not attacked by rust but very expensive.

The Structure

Depending on whether the structure is straight or curved, they differ in case trolleys and bag trolleys. (it is useless to explain why not?).
Generally the bag trolleys, at the height of the wheels, have “flaps”. These flaps are used to prevent the bag from bending and rubbing on the wheels.


We said before that the trolley is “mature” and that a large part of the production cost comes from the material and labor cost. It goes without saying that, in order to ‘save’ a lot of money, manufacturers limit spot welds or shorten welds to the minimum necessary. The shorter the weld, the lower the holding capacity of the two parts joined.
The trolley must be sturdy and have well extended welds (in jargon it is called ‘pulled’), guaranteeing durability and reliability over time.

The Footplate (also called plate or blade)

The platform, also called ‘shovel’, can be narrow or wider for bulkier goods. On the length of the shovel instead you could write a book. Contrary to what is believed, the deeper the shovel will be, the smaller the capacity of the trolley the more difficult it will be to use the trolley itself.

Think of a load of 4/5 boxes of water bottles: the shovel will have to slip under the box on the ground. The operator must then tilt the load forward to allow the shovel to slide underneath. The deeper the shovel, the more effort the operator will have to put the shovel under the load.

Once the trolley is positioned, tilting the trolley into the transport position, the loader will cease its load-bearing function as the weight will be distributed over the structure. In the position of use, the shovel has the only function of ‘holding’ the load and not sliding it down: a few centimeters are more than enough!

The Load Capacity

  • The load capacity, the so-called load capacity, can also vary a lot: from 80 kg up to 400 kg.
  • The trolley should be sized according to your needs also because it is likely that a trolley suitable to carry 400 kg will have a more massive structure than a trolley designed for maximum 50 kg.

The capacity is influenced both by the structure but also a lot by the wheels used. When you find trolleys with identical structure but with different capacity, check the wheels!

The door can also be expressed as static or dynamic load capacity,

The static load capacity derives from the combination of trolley structure + wheels. For static use (trolley moved only occasionally and stationary most of the time) the static load capacity is the reference one.

It can therefore be said that the static load capacity is the load capacity of the trolley without compromising its structural integrity.

The dynamic load capacity instead considers the smoothness of the wheels when the trolley is in use. The greater the smoothness of a wheel, the less effort is required.

The dynamic load capacity, always lower than the static load capacity, indicates the maximum applicable load at which the traction/thrust effort respects a certain index expressed in DaN (decanewton).

Without getting too much into physical/technical issues, the important thing to know is that one thing is the static range and another is the dynamic range, i.e. how much force it takes to shift that weight.

The load capacity depends a lot on the wheels…

Wheels – load capacity and smoothness

In manual trolleys the capacity of the trolley is always linked to the static capacity of the wheel.

An industrial rubber wheel of 20 cm with a width of 5 cm, has a static capacity of 400 Kg. Probably some manufacturers indicate at least a load capacity of 400 Kg and for those who want to exaggerate, a load capacity of 800 Kg!!!

But the same wheel that has a static capacity of 400 Kg, has a dynamic capacity of 140 Kg, if used by manual push, and 230 Kg in case of mechanical traction.

The manual trolley generally moves at a speed lower than 4 Km/h (equal to 1.1 meters per second). In these conditions of use, a good sliding index is equal to 5 DaN that correspond more or less to a thrust force of about 5 Kg (1 decanewton [daN] = 1,01971621297793 kilogram-force [kgf]).
To guarantee this stress/load ratio, the capacity drops to only 140 Kg.

With these conditions, a trolley with 20 cm industrial rubber wheels can have a dynamic capacity (therefore real use) not exceeding 300 Kg (the L-shaped trolley has two wheels…).

Wheels – the materials

The world of wheels is fascinating. There are all types, all diameters and all materials. Diameter, material and type of volvenza influence the price.
In the manual trolleys there are two macro families: full wheels and pneumatic wheels. Each type of wheel can ‘roll’ on its pivot (this is the volvenza) through ball bearings, roller bearings or simply through hole.
The pneumatic wheel generally has a lower capacity than the other wheels and the most common size on the market is 26 cm with a tire consisting of 2 overlapping layers (two plies – 2PR). The greater the number of plies, the better the quality and the greater the load capacity (4pr or 6pr).

For the so-called full wheels this is very complicated. Here the ring material, the wheel diameter and the rim are the main factors! There are all-plastic wheels (the cheapest), rubber wheels with plastic rim (plastic plus a thin layer of rubber powder on the ring), industrial rubber wheels with iron rim, elastic rubber wheels with aluminum rim, thermal rubber wheels and cast iron rim, nylon wheels, polyurethane and nylon wheels, polyurethane wheels and aluminum rim…

An economical trolley with a load capacity of 80 kg will change plastic wheels, through-hole and small diameter. A high capacity trolley will have larger diameter, elastic rubber wheels with rolling ball bearings.

Safety devices and devices

Safety is important. So always check that the grips are made of high grip rubber (as for motorcycles) and that they are made of non-toxic rubber. Do not trust the so called safety grips with the handguard: they are made of hard rubber which creates very dangerous tips when it breaks!

The carriage should also never have protrusions or sharp corners. Above all the plate should have ’rounded’ corners to avoid that they can hurt those within the range of the cart.

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