We gave this article on the best treadmills under $500 a little attention to reflect some recent changes in the market. The main alteration was the removal of an older running machine, which made way for the new easy-folding Fisup Foldable Treadmill.
When buying a treadmill for your living room, home gym or office, having a budget of up to $500 can result in a surprisingly good machine.
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With that in mind, what should you look out for? In today’s article we are highlighting a selection of the best treadmills in this price range, to give you a clearer idea of what to expect, what’s popular and what you should avoid.
Motor: 2.5 CHP
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: 0 to 10% (Motorized)
Belt: 20” x 55”
Features: 3-Zone Variable Response cushioning, Bluetooth speakers, rapid-charge USB port, LED screens, quick controls, pulse-grip heart rate monitors, preset workout programs, cooling fan, media shelf, transportation wheels
While the T101 from Horizon Fitness actually sits just above our $500 budget, we feel that – if you can stretch your budget that bit further – you will be rewarded with some excellent comfort and performance features.
On the comfort side of things, the track features a 3-Zone Variable Response cushioning with a 20” x 55” belt that will cater for most runners and walkers pretty well. Up top you’ll find a built-in tablet holder, Bluetooth speakers and a USB charging port to handle your media, while an integrated fan keeps you cool.
As for performance, the T101 is powered by a 2.5 CHP motor for a pretty smooth ride with max speeds of up to 10mph and a 10% motorized incline. There’s more on this excellent treadmill in the full T101 review!
Motor: 2.2 HP
Speed: 0.5 to 9mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 49” x 15.5”
Features: Shock-absorption deck, Soft Drop system, quick-speed buttons, 9 preset programs, LCD display screen, pause function, heart rate monitor, water bottle storage, safety key, transportation wheels, 220lb weight capacity
Coming in at the lower end of this sub-$500 price range, this popular treadmill from Sunny Health & Fitness has plenty going for it.
First, the fundamentals – this folding treadmill features a decent 49” x 15.5” running belt, which isn’t as large as our top picks, but will still work for most joggers. On that note, joggers and light runners are catered for with a strong 2.2 HP motor delivering speeds of up to 9mph.
The central console features a bright LCD screen offering workout feedback, nine built-in programs and a handy pause function (pausing the treadmill, but not losing your workout data). Throw in a heart rate monitor, safety key and quick-speed buttons, and this treadmill shows off great value.
Motor: 1.5 HP
Speed: 0.5 to 7mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual
Belt: 43.3” x 15.7”
Features: Anti-slip ‘lawn-textured’ belt, Quick controls, LCD screen, built-in speakers, heart rate monitor, media shelf, safety key, transportation wheels, 240lb weight capacity
This folding treadmill from Merax comes nowhere near the $500 price cap for this range, but still shows off good features that make it a sensible consideration.
The user-friendly central console is one area where this is apparent, with a simple LED screen and built-in aux speaker system offering amplification of your tunes while you work out.
The treadmill is more suited to lighter joggers and those with smaller strides, mainly due to the smallish belt (43.3” x 15.7”) as well as a top speed of 7mph. Still, it feels well made and the belt features a comfortable anti-slip texture. It’s nothing too fancy, but for the price, it’s a very good buy.
Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 16” x 50”
Features: 5” LCD display, heart rate monitor, quick speed keys, XTRASoft cushioning, 12 preset workout programs
Another of our top picks in this category is the TR150 from XTERRA Fitness – a very popular foldable running machine that does the simple things well.
The 2.25 HP motor is impressive, offering a smooth and quiet operation, but with good power and runner-friendly speeds of up to 10mph. Features like a 16” x 50” XTRASoft belt and three manual incline settings make walking, jogging and lighter running a pleasure for most users.
While the 5” LCD display is relatively small and not backlit, the control panel is simple and functional, with 12 preset workout programs available to choose from. There’s also a heart rate monitor built into the handles. Ultimately, XTERRA sell the TR150 at a good price, making it one of the best value options in this range.
Motor: 1.95 HP
Speed: 0 to 8.5mph
Belt: 16” x 45”
Features: Shock-absorption deck, one-button folding system, multi-layer diamond-texture belt, touchscreen LED monitor, media shelf, safety key, transportation wheels, 260lbs weight capacity
This folding treadmill from Fisup is a relatively new addition to the market from a relatively new company, although it has already made its mark thanks to several selling points.
Namely, the design. It folds from the top down with the press of a button, allowing you to store it upright wherever you like. Plus, as affordable treadmills go, this is pretty aesthetically pleasing, with a stealthy black design and gold highlights – a little ‘space age’, but we like it!
Design aside and it ticks enough boxes in this price range, although with a top speed of just 10km/h (just over 6mph) it’s more suited to walking and light jogging than running. The belt offers average dimensions of roughly 16” x 45”, which will be enough for these activities.
Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 8.5mph
Incline: Three positions (Manual)
Belt: 17” x 43”
Features: Anti-shock system, heart rate monitor, backlit LCD screen, range of preset workout programs, quick speed buttons, cup holders
The 801 from MaxKare is another solid choice if you’re looking for a treadmill in the midrange market, with appealing features complementing the attractive price tag.
In terms of core performance, you are looking at a running machine with a relatively quiet motor offering speeds of up to 8.5mph – not the fastest on this list, but not the slowest either. The multi-layer belt, however, is one of the widest in this range with 17” catering nicely for wider users.
The folding system is easy to use, while it also comes with a manual three-angle incline option, a heart rate monitor, and controls built into the handles. The main control panel is simple yet functional with a nicely-sized backlit LCD screen displaying all your stats, including speed, time and calories burned.
Motor: 2.2 HP
Speed: 0 to 9mph
Incline: 0 to 10% (Motorized)
Belt: 15.5” x 47”
Features: Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers, backlit display screen, preset workout programs, quick speed buttons, cup holders
While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it’s hard not to like the design of the T012 from Efitment – sleek and aesthetically-pleasing. Yet, it’s not just a pretty face as it boasts both a decent core performance and some great secondary features.
There’s a 2.2 HP pulse motor pushing a 15.5” x 47” belt, with a top speed of 9mph. The headline act is that it comes with 15 levels of motorized incline, which isn’t that common in the sub-$500 price range.
One of the other highlights is that it features built-in speakers and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to play music or watch movies while running on your device. In practice, this isn’t an incredible sound system, yet does the job.
Investing more money in a treadmill can only bring you better results. Sure, you can find some great-value running machines that function reasonably well in the budget treadmill market. However, treadmills found in this $500 range always deliver three basic things that entry-level models struggle to offer.
Specifically, we are talking about stronger motors, adequate belt space, and incline options. Of course, this is still affordable territory – so the more advanced features seen on treadmills under $1,000 are still out of reach – yet the features you will find are a step up in comfort and convenience when compared to lower-priced models.
In this portion of the guide, we will focus on the features often seen in this category and what you should look out for:
The overall design of a treadmill under $500 is still pretty basic – you are a far cry from the swish high-end running machines you’ll find in commercial gyms. Yet, you can still expect something that looks pretty decent in a modern living room or office.
Most of the treadmills in this range are foldable, so you can stow them away pretty easily. This is essential if you are using the treadmill in an area that isn’t a dedicated home gym (such as a living room) or a small space, like a studio apartment.
Some designs will also offer hydraulic assistance, so folding and unfolding the track is a smoother process.
Unlike some of the lower-end affordable models, treadmills in this $500 range tend to be motorized and make use of motors with decent power – around 2 HP (horsepower) or above. The average speed tends to be around 7 to 8mph, although some models boast top speeds of 10mph.
Considering the average male jogs at around 8mph, the treadmills here are adequate for walkers, speed walkers and joggers. Faster runners and sprinters may want to look towards higher-end categories to deliver the power they need.
This is a section where we do see big improvements over entry-level treadmills. Budget models don’t usually feature any control over incline at all – what you see is what you get. However, as you push up to $500, incline is pretty standard.
However, many models will still offer just manual incline. This means you’ll have to be off the machine to change the setting, with usually just two or three gradients to choose from.
Luckily, some models do come with motorized incline controls, offering up to 10% of incline at the touch of a button. This means you can change the gradient from your control panel during your workout.
Each manufacturer and model differ, so be sure you know whether the incline is manual or motorized before splashing out.
Another crucial consideration is the size of the running belt. Remember, these are not gym-grade treadmills, so you won’t be able to enjoy huge areas on which to run. Manufacturers in the affordable-midrange market want to keep costs as low as possible, so belts are narrower and shorter than you may be used to.
The good news is that the size of belts on treadmills under $500 is bigger than those on entry-level treadmills. While each differs, the average size tends to be around 15.5” wide and 47” long. This is relatively comfortable, unless you are around 6ft or taller, or wider than the average adult.
You’ll find it’s not much of a problem when walking, but as the speed increases and your stride becomes longer, you may run out of room – literally. It’s something to consider, but, if you are taller, investing more money in a machine will give you a better experience.
Just glancing at the treadmills above proves that control modules tend to vary wildly from model to model. Some may be quite simplified and compact, while others have more buttons than a NASA control room, spread across a main panel and the handles.
The LCD display monitors can also vary greatly – some are big, detailed and backlit, with others are small and need external lighting to be seen. How much importance you put on this is down to you, but providing the screen is capable of displaying speed, distance, time and other crucial parameters simultaneously, it will have done its job.
Keep an eye out for built-in preset programs – most treadmills have them. These may not be as advanced as those you’d find on higher-end treadmills, yet you should still find a variety of programs tailored towards both athletic performance and fat loss.
As with many other aspects, the secondary features on a treadmill in this category are still quite basic, but feel like a noticeable improvement over lower-priced machines. Whereas the entry-level range may boast just one advanced feature, treadmills costing up to $500 offer more of them as standard.
As with the most basic treadmills, you should find a safety tether to attach to yourself. This important feature may not be the most glamorous thing on the treadmill, but will ensure the machine automatically stops if you faint, fall or collapse.
Onto the cooler things! This price range will give you features such as Bluetooth support, integrated speakers and handle-mounted heart rate monitors. As attractive as these features are, they aren’t likely to be the most reliable in this range.
For example, the speakers will work, but they won’t sound incredible. Heart rate monitors will give you a good indication of your work level, but they won’t be as accurate as a wrist or chest strap monitor.
The smart thing to do is to buy a treadmill that delivers a strong core performance, then see any secondary features as a bonus.
As you will have seen from our chart and the accompanying guide, you can land yourself a very strong treadmill for $500. But is it worth the step up from an entry-level model?
We say yes, as the differences can be substantial. Most notably, the motors on $500 treadmills are stronger, which means higher top speeds are available.
If you are planning on only walking, then perhaps this isn’t as crucial, but the more powerful the motor, the faster you can go and the smoother your experience will be.
By spending $500, you will also find bigger belts compared to entry level models. Again, if you are a shorter person with a shorter stride, perhaps this won’t be a big deal. But if you are over 5ft, you will benefit from a belt with a longer length.
The range of secondary features – such as built-in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity options, better controls and heart rate monitors – improves in this $500 category too. Again, you probably shouldn’t buy a treadmill based on the secondary features, but these do help provide more comfort and convenience.
As mentioned earlier in the article, if you want a treadmill with an incline feature, buying in the $500 market is essential, as many of the treadmills under $300 don’t offer any incline options – let alone motorized incline.
But why should you even want incline? Adding a gradient to your track has several benefits. Firstly, it can make your workouts more challenging, with both your heart rate and potential for burning calories increasing.
Other benefits include the fact that a track with incline is more of a stimulus to the muscles in your lower body, which have to work harder to walk, jog and run up hill. Incline also allows you to mimic outdoor running a little easier, by adding a gradient to represent the increased challenge wind resistance would offer.
In short, incline offers a bit more variation to your workouts and is a great feature to have at hand, even if you don’t use it every session.
In short – no. We’ve all been to a gym and used a treadmill. If you’re expecting a similar experience at home when buying a $500 treadmill, you’ll be very disappointed. Commercial treadmills can range from anywhere between a few thousand dollars right up to around $13,000.
These truly high-end machines may offer power of around 5 HP, with top speeds of up to 15mph and motorized incline of 15%. They have extra wide running surfaces with good length (around 22” x 60” is standard) and advanced shock absorption systems. This is already impressive, before you start adding in excellent speakers, full HD screens and virtual assistants.
This shouldn’t put you off spending $500. These affordable machines do the job, even if they lack the bells and whistles of high-end treadmills. Just don’t go expecting the performance you’d have at a commercial gym and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Let’s ask a counter-question – where will you be using your treadmill? If you are planning to use it in an area that’s limited on space – such as an apartment, a living room or an office – then yes, a folding treadmill will be very beneficial.
Let’s face it, we don’t all have the luxury of having a dedicated home gym or an infinite space in which to keep a treadmill – especially if we only use it a few times a week. Therefore, being able to fold the track upwards and lock it in place will save you valuable floor space.
If you do have a home gym setup and space is not an issue, then don’t worry about foldable treadmills – aim for a fixed design, which will offer more stability.
Whether you are walking, jogging or running, there is a treadmill for everybody in this sub-$500 range. While spending five hundred dollars may not be a big deal for some, it’s also not an amount you want to throw away on a treadmill that doesn’t fit your needs.
Our top seven chart highlights some of the most popular running machines on the market at the moment, although don’t stop there – there are many other models that may be worth your time!
Digest the information in our buyer’s guide and FAQ section, then head off to make a sensible decision!