Welcome to the most ‘googled’ topic on the internet regarding running among fitness enthusiasts, next to good running shoes! I decided to set apart the riff – raff on most popular sites (these are paid by certain treadmill companies to give good reviews about them), and give you the basic data on what you need to get the most out of the money you pay for.
Treadmill consumers can basically be divided into three main categories:
1. ‘Walkers’ (Category 1)
2. ‘Joggers’ (Category 2)
3. ‘Runners’ (Category 3)
An interesting answer to a question most people ask me: How long should a good treadmill last?
IF you have got the machine that SUITS the taxing that you give it, a ‘good’ piece of equipment should last at least a maximum of TEN YEARS with proper servicing. All the features I will be discussing below are for equipment that will fulfill these conditions. (This article is meant for serious buyers looking for good life for their treadmills, and if you belong to this group, please read on)
Criteria and parts of a treadmill that you should be analyzing before you buy:
- Price, size and build quality,
- Motor size, hp and speed,
- Running belt aspects
- Deck and suspension,
- Computer console – & safety – features.
While there are many who insist they have more for less, it is important to strike a good balance between price, quality and value as you shop.
Look for a treadmill that is built to last, as a well built treadmill will be less expensive to operate in the long run. Replacing a shoddily built treadmill after only a few years ago could end up costing far more than buying a better model up front.
There are of course a number of ways to maximize value when it comes to buying treadmills, including purchasing floor models, purchasing last year’s treadmill model and shopping at the outlet stores. In addition there a number of excellent sellers of quality treadmills on the internet, and they can often provide competitive prices on superior treadmill brands.
- Price for Category 1: Those who are going to use the treadmill for just walking (as for those who are elderly or obese), can go with treadmills that cost Rs. 60, 000 or less. I know this will seem like a huge amount of money, but this will give you the bang for your buck. Imagine getting an economical one and seeing it give up the ghost in two years!
- Price for Category 2: People who jog should safely stay above the 60 k limit and purchase a brand depending on the other categories we will discuss below. Remember the more you use your treadmill, the more desirable it is to invest more for it! A great quality treadmill for joggers would cost you about Rs. 70k to 2 lakhs.
- Price for Category 3: Oh yes, here we are. Looking for a ten – year – life in a treadmill for runners? Be prepared to invest heavily. Any home – treadmill from a good company costing above Rs. 1.5 to 2 lakh will take you over this period. This is the ideal price – range for home treadmills for all categories, and anything promising for lesser prices is to be looked at carefully for someone from category 3.
As for size and build quality, Most treadmills are about 6.5 feet by 3 feet. Folding treadmills are about half the length when folded. If you have a very spacious room, you might not need a foldable unit. To decide on ideal treadmill size, I suggest you measure your room first! Decide whether where you will place your treadmill will hinder your daily activities (such as walking to the bathroom or to the computer/television). If so, go for a foldable unit. When deciding on this feature, ensure that this property is easy to use!
Generally, if you want a treadmill with a longer warranty, be prepared to face a higher quality and price. The motor is the most expensive part of the treadmill, and that component must be covered by the warranty. Ensure the motor has at least 10 years coverage. Ideally, you should look for a warranty of 2 years for parts and 1 year for in-home labour. If any problems appear, its usually in the first 90 days of use, and usually these are minor issues. Most warranties will NOT cover wear-and-tear, but only manufacturing faults. However, some offer lifetime motor coverage plus the 5 years inclusive of wear-and-tear.
3. MOTOR SIZE & CHARACTERISTICS
Being the heart and soul of any treadmill, it is important that the motor be large enough to move the ‘treadbelt’ easily and efficiently. Generally speaking, the larger the running surface of the treadmill the larger the motor should be.
Horsepower (H.P) is a measure of the motor’s power. These measurements can be either Continuous Power or Peak Power. Here you will learn about how certain companies try to cheat you out of your money!
Be wary of manufacturers that list Peak Power.
Peak Power are higher numbers and sound impressive, but all Peak Power indicates is a motor’s maximum power before failure, not it’s sustained output (Continuous Power). Hence, when you hear sales talk about ‘horse – power’ ask the dealer whether he means continuous (CHP) or peak (PHP) horsepower!
What you need:
- Categories 1 & 2: You will want at least 1.5 C.H.P (continuous horsepower) for a home treadmill.
- Category 3: Ideally, a 2 C.H.P is suited to home runners and also those in category 2 who use the treadmill very frequently.
The stronger the motor, the heavier a person the treadmill can carry, and the faster you can run! In general, the motor size is directly related to the price of the treadmill.
A treadmill advertised as a 6 H.P motor available for Rs. 70k or less on auction sites are quoting Peak Power and mislabelled.
- SPEED: This is not an extremely important criteria unless you are a professional looking to maintain speeds as high as 16 kmph or higher over prolonged periods of time. Most home treadmills easily support speeds up to 12 kmph.
4. RUNNING BELT ASPECTS:
BELT – SIZE: The size of a running belt is related to stride and natural side-to-side movement of runners. The taller a person is, the longer their running stride. Gait (side-to-side walking movement) also is important for determining the width of the running belt. Ideally, you want a running belt size of at least 45cm wide by 130cm length. The longer and wider a running belt is, the more comfortable and confident you will feel on the treadmill. Larger running belts are 55cm by 150cm. Those who plan to run or jog on their treadmills will want to look for the largest treadbelt surface they can find, while walkers may be able to get away with a somewhat smaller surface.
5. DECK & SUSPENSION:
This is another area where buyers have to exercise caution, especially if they belong to ‘Category 3′. Just like a car, the treadmill’s suspension influences how soft or hard your tread feels to run on, depending on how well it absorbs shock. The deck is often made of laminated wood, coated with lubricant to minimise friction between the running belt and the deck, which in turn reduces strain on the motor. The deck rests on shock absorbing pads that provide the suspension. Look for thicker decks, and soft shock absorbing pads. The average treadmill deck is 16mm, with better treadmills having 25mm decks. If running is more your speed than walking, check the treadmills’ deck length, since you’ll need a longer one to accommodate your stride. If you want the space-saving that a folding treadmill provides, make sure the deck isn’t too heavy to lift.
6. COMPUTER CONSOLE & SAFETY FEATURES:
The computer console displays your running information and is your interface to your treadmill. Features that are essential are accurate feedback including:
- Running time
- Heart rate and
- Calories burned.
The computer console should also include a variety of in-built training programs to keep your workouts interesting. The more programs, the better. The treadmill should include Heart Rate Training programs. The most modern console feature Web-browsing capabilities, music and video.
All tested treadmills have a safety key near the console that clips onto clothing and turns the machine off if you fall. People with children at home or as visitors should make sure that they can’t access treadmills, and hide the safety key.
Always ask about delivery and check whether assembly is included or available at an additional cost because some treadmills weigh up to 180 kg (400 pounds). It might be worth it if you’re not particularly good with a toolbox. It generally takes experienced engineers about 1 to 2 hours to put together a treadmill, depending on the number of steps. Lifting heavy parts, adding applying grease, and working on your knees are part of the process. Some of the steps require two people.
EXTRA FEATURES: If you are looking for more features than just the basic walking or running facility, you can check our additional spice – ups that come with treadmills. These include docks for iPods, USB ports, and wireless Internet connectivity that are popping up on many treadmills.
So go ahead and select the right treadmill for you, depending on all the features I listed above. And remember, if you are looking for a good treadmill that not just comes with good features, but also with adequate warranty & durability, wait before investing the right price! Take care, and happy hunting!