Table of Contents
- Top 10 Best Treadmills To Consider:
- Why Treadmills Simply Make Sense
- What To Look For In A Treadmill?
- Advanced Features
- The Ver(ve)dict
Top 10 Best Treadmills To Consider:
As far as higher end treadmills go, Sole Fitness F80 has all the right features in all the right places. It is a performance optimized machine that will give you a challenging workout every day of the week. One look under the hood reveals just what F80 brings to the table.
We have a 3.5 hp motor capable of getting you up to 12 mph, 15% of incline and a very comfortable two ply belt. Speaking of which, the belt measures 60″ by 22″ making it one of the largest in this class. Sole Fitness covered all of the basics. The frame on this treadmill is extremely robust, offering plenty of support to the whole machine. Despite its rather bulky size, F80 folds up quite nicely and packs up into a compact format. The control module features an array of performance oriented options which can be navigated using the rather large LCD display.
With auxiliary controls, making quick adjustments on the go is very easy. Overall, Sole Fitness F80 delivers exactly the kind of performance you’d expect from an upper mid range treadmill. It’s a perfect match for both casual runners but also those with a strict workout regimen.
Compared to the overwhelming majority of models in its segment, 3G Cardio Pro Runner comes across as pretty retro in design. There are no flashy LCD displays, no colorful plastics. What you do get is a very robust machine that is built around giving you a proper workout whenever you need it.
Pro Runner packs a powerful set of core components which include a 3 hp motor and 15% of incline. With advanced cushioning and an orthopedic belt design, it is easily one of the more comfortable treadmills to use. The frame follows the simplistic theme but also provides sufficient support to all other components. Needless to say, you won’t experience any wobbling or instability when running on this treadmill. Moving onto the control module, we see a very basic design that may even be too basic for some users.
However, it is so intuitive and easy to use, which is what matters the most. Despite its simplistic nature, 3G Cardio Pro Runner brings all the features you would expect to see in a machine of this price. That means heart rate monitoring, a variety of workout programs and much more. This is a no nonsense machine that simply works.
ProForm definitely knows how to make a good treadmill that’s gets you your money’s worth of both performance and features. This applies to most of their models regardless of which segment of the market they belong to. ProForm ZT10 is a well rounded package to say the least. You have a 3 hp motor capable of reaching up to 12 mph along with a 15% of incline.
As usual, ProForm did a good job with building a frame that not only offers enough support but also fits the purpose of this particular model. What makes ZT10 particularly attractive is its simple and user friendly nature. The control module is capable but intuitive. They have included well laid out buttons for the main features such as incline and speed control, while navigating the rest of the functions is done using a very small number of controls.
Additionally, ProForm ZT10 comes with native iFit support for those who use this service. In our opinion, ZT10 appeals mostly to those who want a full sized treadmill that folds up into a very compact package. If you’re after a no nonsense unit that is easy to use and packs quite a punch, this is it.
Mid range treadmills come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Rarely do you find a model that perfectly nails what this segment of the market is all about. 3G Cardio Lite is one such treadmill. They’ve combined a low profile yet sturdy frame with a space efficient running deck and a quality drive system.
With belt dimensions that measure 51.5″ by 18.5″ in size, 3G Cardio Lite may not be the roomiest treadmill on the market, but it does offer that freedom of stride while still preserving a compact format. Under the hood we see a 2.5 hp motor that is capable of propelling the user up to 12 mph. It is worth noting that this is a high torque motor which basically means that you can maintain lower speeds consistently while you can also reach max speed at a moment’s notice.
Incline is motorized and offers 15% of angle. For the most part, 3G Cardio Lite brings you hardware and features often found in higher end models at a very accessible price. That is definitely something we can appreciate. This model is perfect for those who need something with a small footprint that’s easily stored.
When it comes to value for the money models in the mid range segment, Horizon Fitness Adventure 3 is hard to beat. This treadmill may look like an oversimplified piece of fitness equipment but that is only an illusion. In reality, Adventure 3 ticks all the right boxes.
For starters we have a pretty powerful motor that maxes out at 12 mph and is capable of getting to that speed with very little effort. Motorized incline is also available and spans up to 12%. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this particular model is the fact that it packs one of the largest running belts inits class. You are looking at a 55″ by 20″ running surface that sits on top of a pretty unique cushioning system.
Horizon Fitness is one of the very few brands out there who took an additional step towards reducing joint injuries and increasing comfort. Control module, although fairly basic in nature, is quite effective. You can easily track your performance and monitor all of the vital stats as you go. Additionally Adventure 3 comes with ViaFit app that allows you to monitor your progress and share it with your friends via social media.
Even though treadmills are never judged solely on their looks, Nautilus T614 has got to be one of the best looking models on the market across all segments. Fortunately for us, good looks are not the only thing it has to offer. You are looking at a very robust package that comes with a powerful motor, a large running belt and 12% of motorized incline.
Nautilus has applied their pretty efficient cushioning system that successfully reduces the amount of stress on your joints as you run. In terms of hardware, we have a 2.75 hp motor that is capable of pushing you up to 12 mph. That’s about as good as it gets for this kind of money. Since it is not all too massive, T614 folds up quite nicely and can be stored even in tighter spaces with ease. When it comes to features of the control module, they are numerous.
You even get some creature comforts such as built in acoustic chambered speakers among other things. One advantage of choosing Nautilus is their own fitness tracking platform. NautilusConnect comes standard with T614 and actually works quite well. It allows you to monitor your progress quite rather precisely.
Affordable treadmills are often times limited by numerous compromises between performance and price. Sometimes those compromises can yield a great machine that brings great value for the money. Marcy JX650W is definitely one such model. They have carefully chosen which features to stick with and which to sacrifice in order to deliver a package that really works.
In terms of motors, Marcy JX650W offers a 2 hp unit that canachieve 8 mph top speed. There’s no incline available, which is pretty rare even for this price range. However, sacrificing incline on account of solidifying core components is acceptable to say the least. One interesting thing is that the frame doesn’t look too robust. As it turns out, it is very rigid. Those seemingly thing metal tubes offer rock solid stability even during more intensive runs.
Thanks to its streamlined running surface dimensions, JX650W folds up very nicely and can be stored just about anywhere. If you are looking for a low footprint treadmill, this model is definitely one you should put on your shortlist. Last but not least, we have the control module that is simple in nature but highly efficient. Overall, Marcy JX650W is a very solid choice.
If you have ever needed actual proof that affordable treadmills are more than capable of getting you in shape, ProForm Performance 300i is it. This treadmill isn’t the most versatile thing out there, but brings a very well defined set of features to the table. They have more or less ditched anything that doesn’t influence your performance and stuck with proven core components.
The motor of choice is a 2 hp unit that does up to 10 mph with relative ease. In practical terms, this means that Performance 300i is capable of offering everything short of high intensity sprint training. There is no incline control but you do get a fairly decent cushioning system. As you could probably expect, additional features are rather limited.
Aside from the built in workout programs, core stats and other basic means, you won’t find much else. We like this treadmill because it is very user friendly making it a great choice for those who are just getting intotreadmills and working out at home. Interestingly enough, ProForm Performance 300i is fully compatible with iFit service. If you’re after a solid performer that won’t ruing your bank account, this treadmill is definitely worth your time.
Weslo is one of the few brands out there who have mastered the balancing act that is designing affordable treadmills. They have designed a perfect machine for beginners and intermediate users who are still on the fence. Weslo Cadence R5.2 combines rock solid core components with a lightweight frame, making it very maneuverable but still rather powerful.
To be more specific, you have a 2.5 hp motor which makes Cadence R5.2 one of the more powerful models in its class. It is practically up there with models found in the next price range. They have even went so far as to provide us with a decent cushioning system. Being fairly compact to begin with, Cadence R 5.2 folds up extremely nicely.
When it is in the folded state, you can quickly determine that this model is a very good choice for anyone who is dealing with lack of space for storage. As expected the control module is rudimentary at best. It shows all of the relevant features while also offering a number of preset workout programs. Despite its simplicity, the module on this treadmill has proven to be pretty capable. Especially compared to its immediate competition.
Trying to figure out how cheap is too cheap is fairly easy when you look at the cheap segment of the market. There is a fairly clear price point which you don’t want to go past. Merax JK1603E sits right at the edge. It is extremely affordable brings great features and has proven to be rather reliable. First thing first, it’s a folding treadmill.
Thanks to its lightweight nature and conservative design, you can count on being able to store this thing into tight quarters with ease. Power wise, it is right on the 1 hp mark. While that does mean its main use is jogging, you have to remember that you’re getting a whole lot of a machine at a bargain price. The most surprising thing for us was the fact that it comes with adjustable incline. It’s not motorized, which is completely understandable.
Adjusting incline comes down to adjusting rear stands on the running deck. At this price, that is just another pleasant surprise we hadn’t really expect to see. Overall, this treadmill is the perfect choice for beginners and anyone who wants to get into treadmills but isn’t ina mood to make a more serious commitment.
Why Treadmills Simply Make Sense
Treadmills Keep Your Joints Healthy
This topic tends to be a very controversial one for a lot of people. Some will say that it’s just empty talk while others are standing behind the fact that running on concrete is simply bad for your joints. This applies even when you have good running shoes with advanced soles and what not.
As you run on concrete the sheer force of impact on your joints is tremendous. Your angles, knees and sometimes even your hips. With treadmills you don’t have this issue. Almost every treadmill out there is going to be much softer than your average piece of pavement. Even the cheap ones with no dedicated cushioning system are a better solution than running on concrete.
Joint flexibility and health is especially important if you have arthritis or a similar condition. If that is the case, using a treadmill can be a very healthy way of increasing joint flexibility, maintaining your cardio fitness, all without suffering the risks of injury.
Precisely Tracking Your Progress
One of the lesser known benefits of using a treadmill is being able to track your progress with a great deal of precision. Some will say that you can achieve that by using a fitness tracker, but chances are that you won’t get the same level of precision. On the other hand, an average treadmill, even the cheaper ones, come with plenty of ways to track your progress. You usually have the built in features that take care of that but also support for iFit and similar apps.
Ease Of Storage
In the olden days treadmills were quite cumbersome. Not only that but you would rarely see them outside of gyms. As they became cheaper and more accessible to a larger user base, manufacturers have started working on ways that would make them easy to store away after you are done with your workout. Modern treadmills are almost all using a folding design.
Even the bulkiest, heaviest models out there feature this. Once you fold the treadmills, you can store it in your closet or just put it somewhere in a corner of your room. We are talking about this because many people refuse to consider treadmills simply because they claim they take way too much space. That is no longer the case.
What To Look For In A Treadmill?
Shopping for a treadmill can be quite confusing especially if you are not familiar with this type of equipment. The manual treadmills are simple, but everything else requires deeper research if you want to get the best bang for your buck. Learning which features to look for and which to avoid can make the whole shopping experience so much easier. Before we get to that, let’s talk budgets
Defining A Budget
Electric motors are probably one of the best inventions we have come up with as a species. They are used just about everywhere and more or less drive our civilization. However, electric motors have their limits. Pushing a motor to its very limit for a prolonged period of time will inflict wear that might ultimately lead to failure. In other words, 12 mph on a 2 hp motor is not the same as 12 mph on a 3.5 hp motor. Former is going to have to work very hard to get to that speed and maintain it, while the latter is going to power through with very little effort.
This doesn’t mean that less powerful motors are useless. On the contrary, they are great if you use them within the intended parameters. Treadmills that pack a 2 hp or weaker motors aren’t meant to be used for a long period of time. These treadmills are meant for beginners and those who are looking for a casual workout. More powerful motors are designed for serious runners with very strict cardio regimens who demand reliability and consistency on a daily basis. When you are out there shopping for a treadmill, this little piece of info is definitely something you will want to keep in mind.
Incline is considered by some to be an extra feature that isn’t necessarily that important, while others are pretty adamant that every treadmill should have incline. We are definitely more aligned with the latter group. Running on a flat surface is a good way to get into running, built your fitness levels and get a good workout. However, adding incline into the equation makes such a huge difference. Most modern treadmills come with some sort of incline control. Cheaper ones will most likely rely on manual incline selection which implies adjusting rear posts on the running deck. In all honesty, if that’s all you can get get, go for it. It might be a nuisance to adjust those stands every time you want to get on the treadmill, but it is definitely worth it in the long run.
Once you reach the $1000 price range almost every treadmill will come with motorized incline control. For the most part, you will see levels of incline that range anywhere from 10% all the way up to 15%. Motorized incline control also plays into programmed routines and they are a must if you plan to go for a treadmill close to or slightly under $2000. Some incorporate variable incline which simulates running on uneven terrain. At the end of the day, any kind of incline is better than none.
Running Deck Design
Running decks are important simply because that is the portion of the treadmill you will be in contact the most. There are several factors that you need to pay attention to. First there is the size of the belt. Belt size is one of those things that impacts how you experience the treadmill and how much freedom of movement you have. Then we have the cushioning and lastly the belt material.
The size of the belt is very important. Smaller belts can be uncomfortable for use, require you to focus more on staying within the bounds of the running deck than other more important things and so on. While most affordable treadmills feature smaller belts, you will find some pretty expensive models that also pack compact belts. There is a good reason for this as well. Belt size is going to depend on what that specific treadmill was designed to do. Compact treadmills can’t really flaunt a large running belt simply because that goes against their very purpose. In other words, if you are hunting for a compact model be ready to deal with smaller belt sizes.
Every frame out there is made of some sort of tubing. The specific type and profile of tubing will depend on the brand and the model. What you are looking for is a frame that is rugged, robust and inspires confidence. If you see a treadmill with thin tubing all over the place, do yourself a favor and walk away. It’s just not worth it.
There are some exceptions though, all of which have to do with the design of the control module. If the module itself is small and low in mass, the vertical portion of the frame doesn’t need to be too robust. However, if the module is massive and tubing is weak, you are looking at a bad design.
Importance Of A Good Frame
The main reason why a frame should be near the top of your list of priorities is stability under stress. Even though the running deck is low to the ground and often times a massive block of material, you running on top of it still exerts a certain amount of force on the frame. If that frame isn’t able to handle that force, you will get a wobble. That is the last thing you want. A sturdy, rock solid frame will prevent any wobbles from happening.
Once you get past the main set of components we have just discussed, you are left with advanced features that can be found past the $500 price range. These are often times aimed at increasing your comfort and providing entertainment during workout. To be more specific, we are talking about built in speakers, built in TVs and similar stuff. Best way to go about figuring these things out is to weigh out the pros and cons. Can you find entertainment elsewhere or do you absolutely need to have that available in the treadmill itself?
Depending on how you answer this question, you can possibly save quite a bit of money. Our take on this is that entertainment features aren’t really all that important. If you look at more advanced treadmills, you will notice that barely any of them have these features at all. Those who are bored with running and really need some form of entertainment in order to finish their workout can always find what they need elsewhere. Put the treadmill in front of your TV or computer and just play your favorite show. Same goes for music. Your surround system is absolutely going to offer better sound quality than anything you can find being put into treadmills. At the end of the day, it is all up to you.
Now that we have covered the most important aspects of treadmills, lets touch upon some unconventional models which you may find interesting. Walking desks are pretty interesting machines. In essence, it is just a running deck without the control module which you can push under a standing desk. The benefits of using such a device are pretty obvious. If you are spending way too much time behind your computer for work, investing into a walking desk can prove to be a great solution.
There are dedicated walking desk treadmills out there but they are not the only ones suitable for this use. Most of the lightweight treadmills can serve this purpose as well. That is, as long as you can remove the control module and the vertical portion of the frame. In some cases getting one of these treadmills may even prove to be much cheaper than getting a treadmill that has been specifically designed to be used with walking desks.
Last but not least we have hybrids. These are treadmills which incorporate another type of fitness machine as well. Our general recommendation is to stay away from them. The main reason why is the fact that they don’t offer good performance overall. There are exceptions of course, but those are very rare. It is understandable to want to get as many fitness machines in your home as you can. However, there is a point where a gym membership might prove to be a much better option. The better route is just to squeeze something like an additional exercise bike in your home. Ultimately it is up to you to weigh the pros and the cons of such devices and figure out what is the best course of action to take.