Often, we’re asked, “what is the best treadmill to buy?” Our response is always, “that depends.” The “best” treadmill question is similar to asking which car is the “best” to buy. Depending on a variety of factors, there is no one-size fits all answer. Take a look and we’ll go over the key points that should be considered prior to purchasing a treadmill.
- Cost: The pricier machines aren’t always better, and the less costly models aren’t necessarily worse. When looking at cost, generally speaking, a treadmill under $1000 will likely be of lower quality and won’t hold up over time, costing more in repairs to keep it running.
- Size: Which user of the treadmill has the longest stride? Measure their stride, and they’ll need a machine with a running area length of 24 inches more than the measured stride length, or greater. Not being able to fully extend your legs while running will be an unwelcome surprise! Regarding running area width, measure the user with the greatest shoulder width that is over 20 inches, you’ll want a running area no smaller than that shoulder width. If all users have a shoulder width of less than 20 inches, look for machines with a running area width of 20 inches or greater. Also, measure the clearance above your head in the area you plan to install your treadmill, ensure there is enough clearance for you to run while standing on the machine, and don’t forget to leave extra room for inclining the machine as well.
- Warranty: At a minimum, only consider machines with a one-year labor warranty, five-year parts warranty and 10-year frame and drive motor warranty. Anything less than that is a sign the manufacturer doesn’t believe in the longevity of their equipment, therefore neither should you.
- Manufacturer reputation: Look around online and see how well the manufacturer you’re considering handles machine issues. Treadmills have numerous moving parts, sometimes problems do make it past quality control checks, and breakdowns are always a possibility, so make sure the manufacturer you choose has a solid track record of resolving customer issues quickly.
- Bells and whistles: Are they worth it? In a word, no. Treadmills with integrated LCD screens often cost $500-600+ more than the exact same machine with a less flashy screen. Treadmill screens are small, TVs and TV mounts are cheap, it’s not only more cost effective to purchase a TV separately, it’s better for you too. First off, once out of warranty, consoles with integrated screens can cost more than half of what the machine cost initially, making a repair impractical. Basic screens are usually a fraction of that price. Second, a screen integrated into the console will likely not be at the proper viewing height and angle when you’re using the treadmill. This can cause uncoordinated running movement and neck issues as you look down, as opposed to having no issues mounting a stand-alone TV at the proper height and angle.
- Safety: What treadmills are safe for kids to be around? None. Seriously, none of them. These are machines with multiple fast-moving parts, pinch points, and electrical hazards. As a father myself, I cannot stress this enough, kids have no business being anywhere near any kind of fitness equipment without direct adult supervision. As always, follow all manufacturer safety recommendations and USE YOUR SAFETY KEY!
Another few questions we’re commonly asked:
- Should I buy a used treadmill? Probably not, odds are you’re just buying someone else’s problems. Unless you can test this treadmill for a week or more by running your full workout on it each day, we wouldn’t recommend it, unless you’re getting it for 70% off the new cost or better.
- Should I buy a refurbished unit? That depends. A factory refurbished unit that includes a factory warranty is a safe bet. Third party- fitness equipment refurbishers however can be risky. At the time of writing this, with 15 years experience, we have only come across ONE third party fitness equipment refurbisher that we would recommend. We’ve worked for many refurbishers in the past, we don’t any longer as we received too much negative feedback from customers solely because we were associated with refurbishers that did not deliver what they’d advertised. The worst example we have is this: once, we were contacted and asked to accept delivery of a crated treadmill at a customer’s location and us to refurbish it in the field. Apparently, the customer had been sold a fully refurbished unit, but the machine that was being delivered was straight off a gym floor that had been foreclosed on, and therefore likely not in the best condition. Naturally, we declined.
- Should I buy an extended warranty? This is a tough one. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they aren’t needed. If you do purchase one, make sure you are able to choose which service provider will be performing the repairs, make sure parts, labor and travel to your location will be covered under this warranty, and ensure your machine will only be repaired using brand-new factory parts.
Any other questions we can help with? Leave us a comment below, we’re always happy to help!