Bowflex has been a big name in the fitness industry since launching their innovative 2000X strength trainer in 1986. More than 30 years on and the company is still going very strong, albeit with a much larger catalog these days, including everything from strength training equipment to treadmills.
It’s the latter category that we focus on in this review, as we take a closer look at the BXT116. This treadmill proves to be one of the most popular treadmills under $1,500, boasting style, performance and advanced features that would be the pride of any home gym.
There are cheaper treadmills in this price range – so is it worth paying extra for the BXT116? Time to find out…
It’s not advised to buy a treadmill based on looks alone, yet we’d be tempted with the BXT116. It’s a stylish treadmill with a robust but stealthy all-black design peppered with red highlights – this would look great in any home gym, office or apartment.
We mention apartments because this running machine is foldable, meaning you can lift the deck when you are done with your workout and fold it up towards the console. While it still takes up room when folded, this is not at the expense of your floor space.
Meanwhile, the addition of the SoftDrop feature means the deck won’t slam to the ground when you unfold it – instead, it eases down gently with the push of one button.
The only slight problem we found is that there are no wheels on the bottom, so when folded you can’t move it around with ease. This is a very heavy treadmill (280lbs), so where you set it up is likely to be where it will stay for a long time – bear that in mind before you unpack it!
When you climb on for a workout, you should be pretty comfortable. The belt dimensions are standard for a treadmill in this range, which is a very good thing. A full 20” width is generous, while a 60” length caters for the stride of most adults, even when sprinting.
The ‘Comfort Tech’ deck means the track flexes nicely with each step, giving more protection to your joints than you would have on cheaper machines or when running outdoors.
While we’ll move onto the main console in a moment, note that there is absolutely tons of space surrounding the control panel in which to keep your essentials – iPods, keys, smart devices and water bottles – as well as an additional storage tray just below.
The BXT116 is loaded with a very impressive 3.75 CHP motor, which promises quiet operation – and it delivers. It’s not completely silent, but is still eerily peaceful.
This motor offers a top speed of up to 12mph, which is the most the general fitness user or marathon runner is likely to need for walking, jogging and sprinting. Perhaps it would struggle with the speeds needed by elite sprinters, but this still offers a solid performance for most users.
There’s also a motorized incline, which delivers up to 15% gradient. This is ideal for adding variation and an extra challenge to your workouts.
Controls for both speed and incline are conveniently located on the front handlebar below the main console – right next to the heart rate monitors – so you don’t have to stray too far to increase or decrease intensity during a workout.
While the motor and core features impress as much as others in the sub-$1,500 range, it’s the haul of comfort-enhancing extras that makes this such a popular treadmill. In fact, as Bowflex themselves proudly state, the BXT116 comes ‘with a lot of great bells and whistles’.
One of these is the full-color 7.5” display screen, sitting on the main console. It’s not the biggest screen in this price range, but is very clear and makes viewing your time, distance, heart rate, calories burned and much more a real pleasure.
The controls surrounding this screen are also satisfying to use, with real old-school pushbuttons as opposed to touch panels.
This treadmill is loaded with nine workout programs, accessed from individual buttons below the screen. These are tailored towards different goals, including fat burning, calorie burning, strength and endurance targets. Of course, you can also create and save your own custom workouts.
Media and connectivity are more important than ever these days, and Bowflex know this very well. In addition to the built-in display screen, the BXT116 offers a media shelf with room for a tablet, surrounded by two high-quality speakers which deliver your music via an auxiliary port. Nearby, on the back of the console, you’ll also find a handy USB charging port for your device.
This treadmill features Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility, which allows you to hook up to the free Bowflex Results app. With this, you can sync your workout data from the machine to your phone and keep a record of what you’ve done – and what’s still left to do!
Finally, the usual suspects complete the lineup. You’ll find a pair of heart rate monitors conveniently placed in the handles, a three-speed fan and a safety tether key – all pretty standard, but you’d miss them if they weren’t there.
Considering all the tech that Bowflex has stuffed into the BXT116, there’s no surprise to hear it performs like a $1,500 treadmill should, feeling similar to the commercial running machines you’d find at your local gym. Whether you are planning to walk while you watch movies, put in the hours ahead of an upcoming half-marathon, or interval train to torch fat, the BXT116 will keep up.
It’s a chunky, stylish machine that inspires confidence. With the generous belt dimensions, hardworking motor and comfortable deck cushioning, it supports larger users with ease (yes, even if you are 6ft and weigh over 300lbs).
The media-friendly console is a winner, although there are some things that could have been done differently to make it even better.
For example, the Bluetooth connectivity is only for syncing with the Bowflex Results app, so you can’t use it for connecting your media to the speakers. However, the MP3 port does this job – a little less convenient, but compromises have to be made sometimes.