The Ultimate Treadmill Evaluation and Buying Guide

So you’ve decided to buy a treadmill?

But,

do you know how to actually know how to judge a treadmill?

In a previous post we discussed how what features to look for in treadmills, but features alone don’t make a product.

If you do any research about treadmills online, you will find that there are treadmills available starting from 30,000 going up to 75,000 with similar features.

The question is, what causes such a massive price difference?

We at everydaythings will attempt to answer this question for you. We hope that after reading this post you feel knowledgeable and confident about evaluating the perfect treadmill for you.
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Different treadmill types

Before going into individual details, it is important to know the different types of treadmills available today. Here are some of the types of treadmills:

Based on Usage

Commercial treadmills

Commercial treadmills are designed for heavy uses. Think of a consumer car and a truck. Both help transport, but the differences are enormous.

Commercial treadmills are used much more and take more abuse. Some gyms are now open 24×7 which increase the load on the treadmill.

Home Use treadmills

Treadmills for home use are designed to be used by few people and only for smaller periods of time at a stretch. This is the reason why home use treadmills are cheaper than commercial treadmills.

Based on Storage

Folding treadmill

Some treadmills have a mechanism built on which allows you to the lift the running area and make it vertical, folding the treadmill. If you are short on space, a folding treadmill is a better choice.

folded treadmill - treadmill buying guide

Non-folding treadmill

Non-folding treadmills are the treadmills which do not have the folding mechanism built in.

Based on running mechanism

Motorized treadmill

Motorized treadmills have in-built motors which push the running belt. You then run or walk opposite the belt’s direction. If you have used a treadmill is a gym then you have experienced a motorized treadmill.

It’s important to note that motorized treadmills use electricity and cannot be used without electricity.

Manual treadmill

Manual treadmills are mechanical machines that no assistance to move the belt. The belt is pushed based on your leg movement.

It’s important to know that due to limitations, manual treadmills are not recommended for running.

Based on Incline

Auto incline treadmill

Motorized treadmills feature an incline feature which angles the running surface for increased stimulation and intensity of your workout.

Auto incline treadmills will adjust the incline at a push of a button. You can do this even while using the treadmill.

Manual Incline treadmill

Manual incline treadmills will offer mechanical adjustments using which you can adjust the incline of the treadmill. Obviously, you won’t be able to adjust the incline while using the treadmill.

Now that you know that what kind of treadmills are available, let’s move on the topic of this post.

As we mentioned above, treadmills with similar features can a price difference of 30,000 Rs. You should know what to look for beneath the surface to understand this better. After a good evaluation, you should be able to tell if the price increase is justified.

Define your goals

Before you decide which treadmill to buy, it’s important to know what your usage goals will be. Answer the following questions:

  • Who, apart from you would use the treadmill?
  • What is weight range of people who would use the treadmill?
  • Will young people use the treadmill more or older ppl?
  • How often would you use the treadmill?
  • How long will a workout session be on a treadmill?
  • Would the treadmill be used for walking, jogging or heavy running?
  • Will these parameters change with time?

Answering these question will determine what kind of treadmill you would buy.

The treadmill Motor – The Heart of the treadmill

The treadmill motor is the heart of the treadmill which pushes the belt around.

Not all motors are made equal and the quality difference can mean day and night.

Some factors that are important to know about motors:

  • Is the motor AC powered or DC powered?
    Generally, treadmills designed for home use are powered by DC motors.
  • What is the HP (horse power) of the motor?
    HP is how much power the motor can generate. Think of this at the engine cc used in vehicles. The higher the HP, the more power the motor generates.
  • How is the motor quality?
    Cheaper prices mean cheaper parts. Always go for quality motors.
  • How is the transfer of power?
    When you increase the speed of the treadmill, does the speed increase suddenly or smoothly? A sudden increase or decrease in speed can cause imbalance and result in injuries.
  • Is the motor smooth operating?
    A good motor will maintain its speed at a smooth pace. Any jitters or jerks while using the treadmill is a sign of a poor motor.
  • Motor noise
    A good motor should not make much noise. You should not be able to hear the motor during operation.
  • Operation Time
    A good motor with good cooling will allow you to run longer on the treadmill. The longer the operation time, the better the motor is.

A general guideline on motor powers is as follows:

  • 2.0 HP motor : Ideal for walking
  • 2.5 HP motor : Ideal for light jogging
  • 3.0 HP motor : Ideal for running

Also note that if a person above 90 kg is going to use the treadmill, opt for a higher HP motor for smooth operations of the treadmill.

Important thing to know about motors

HP is the amount of power the motor generates. But some manufacturers intentionally or unintentionally misguide customers by using terms such as peak HP and continuous HP. It’s important to know what these are.

Peak HP is like the max speed on your vehicle. Technically your vehicle can reach the speed, but it won’t sustain that speed. Also, continuously operating at the max speed will damage the engine.

Similarly, peak HP is a value that your treadmill motor can reach but can’t sustain. Operating always on peak HP will damage your motor.

Continuous HP means the HP that your motor can sustain for long use without issues. Using a motor at continuous HP should not cause noise, jitters or inconsistent speeds from the motor.

When looking at motor HP, always look at the continuous HP or cHP.

LCD display and other tracking features

Modern treadmills are all equipped with large displays which track different information like distance, calories burnt, time spent running, heart rate and much more.

First of all look at the display.

Is it bright enough?
Is it big enough?
Do the controls make sense and easy to understand?
Are the buttons sturdy and will they last long?

Personally, we don’t recommend that you take the data reported by the treadmills without some skepticism.

There is no way that a treadmill can report your heart rate accurately unless you physically touch a sensor all the time or wear specific tracking equipment.

Treadmills also report calories spent. But a bigger person will spend more calories than a smaller person. The treadmills don’t take that into account.

Unless you want to wear special equipment every time you want to use your treadmill, we recommend that you invest in a good fitness tracker.

Fitness trackers are far more accurate, report more data and capture information 24×7 instead of just the workout session.

Cushioning or Shock absorption

Have you ever ridden in a vehicle without shock absorbents?

Even if you haven’t, you can imagine the ride will be unpleasant and bumpy.

That is exactly how your knees and other joints would feel without a good shock absorption system on the treadmill.

Today all motorized treadmills are equipped with shock absorption features.

Like motors, not all shock absorption units are made equally. The technology and its implementation can make a huge difference in the usage of the treadmill.

A good shock absorption unit should support your joints while not interfering with your stance.

A hard shock absorption will feel like running on concrete while an overly soft shock absorption will feel like running on a treadmill. Both are not ideal for running.

There are many methods to include shock absorption. The more points on the treadmill that absorb shocks the better.

Looks at the image below, it’s for a treadmill called Kobo 125. It consists of only 3 points which are made shock absorption by gels.

Kobo 125 Treadmill - best treadmills for home use

Compare this to the shock absorption unit of the Powermax treadmill. It consists of  6 level shock absorption systems which includes large side spring + 8 variable-durometer elastomer cushions.

Obviously, the shock absorption system of the Powermax is much better.

Whenever you are considering a treadmill, inquire about the details about the shock absorption system and how efficient it is.

Frame Size

The length and width of the treadmill should be adequate. Apart from the running area, the frame is important as well.

Think of the following questions:

  • Is the hand support comfortable?
  • Does the frame feel sturdy while running?
  • Are your hands freely moving while running?

Belt Quality

Just the width of the belt is not important. The belt should be thick enough to last long. A good width for a treadmill belt thickness is 18mm. Some belts are also reversible. This makes the life of the belt twice of its normal life.

Safety Features

It’s very easy to get hurt with exercise equipment and a treadmill is no exception.

A treadmill accident can cause serious injuries to the head, back and legs.

Safety should be a priority and a good treadmill should have good safety features built in. Check for the following features.

  • Is there sufficient area to rest your feet on the sides of the treadmill?
  • Are the hand railings accessible at all times?
  • Is the speed increase and decrease smooth and uniform?
  • Is there an emergency stop key accessible at all times?
  • Does the treadmill have a magnetic cut off for emergencies?

The magnetic key is a very important safety feature. It’s a key attached to the treadmill with a magnet. Attached to the key is a string which you should attach to your body before running. In the extreme case that you are exhausted and can’t keep up, the key will snap and the treadmill will halt.

Also important to check is the speed increase. Whenever you increase your speed on the treadmill, it should happen gradually. It is important to always stay in control when increasing or decreasing your speed on the treadmill.

Maintenance

All mechanical machinery requires some sort of maintenance and a treadmill is no exception.

However, a well built treadmill should require little maintenance from your end.

A good company that builds quality treadmills will keep the wear and tear into account and design the equipment accordingly.

Warranty

Warranty is extremely important when buying a treadmill from any manufacturer. A company with high quality products can easily offer longer warranties at no extra cost.

The thing important to remember that warranty of a product is only useful when the company it’self is trustworthy as well. You wouldn’t want a poorly executed warranty if you need so. Worse case scenario the company might disappear it’self.

Always look for a good brand who offer a good warranty. Good brands will offer 3 year warranty on the motor and at-least 1 year on the frame. If you are sure about using the treadmill for a long time then always buy an extended warranty if the company provides it.

A treadmill takes a lot of beating and abuse while being used. Even the slightest issues might cost you a lot of money in repairs. Save the money and invest in extended warranties. You will have peace of mind with that decision.

Customer Support

As with any purchase, you might need some assistance after you have purchased your product. A good after sales support is crucial when buying a treadmill.

They can help with the installation, repair, transport and tuning of your treadmill. Apart from that, good support will guide you and train you on how to properly use your treadmill and it’s limitations.

Conclusion

We hope that you learned something about how to evaluate a treadmill. Follow the guidelines we discussed above and you will find a treadmill that fits your lifestyle.

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