Smooth Fitness Blog

Why Cheap Treadmills are Not a Bargain!

March 1st, 2013

The majority of treadmill buyers are individuals who are out of shape, and often overweight. They are looking for a machine that can get them back to their glory days.  Of course, the benefit of owning a treadmill is that you can exercise at your convenience. In addition, you avoid the costs of a health club membership, which can add up over the years.

However, many first time treadmill buyers are looking for a bargain.  In many cases they may not be completely committed to a regular exercise regimen and do not want to invest too much money in a machine that may end up being a costly clothes hangar.  So they end up buying a cheap treadmill that is readily available at various mass merchant retail outlets.   They initially feel good about their purchase, but then come to realize that the machine is not suited to their fitness needs, and that what initially was a bargain can be costly to maintain in the long run.

What do I define as a cheap/bargain treadmill?  Typically it is a machine under $500.  Below is a list of reasons why you should avoid buying a cheap treadmill.

Light Weight – Inexpensive treadmills do not weigh much.  They use light weight components that result in light weight machines.  This means the treadmill tends to be rather unstable, especially if you try to use it for jogging or running, or if you are excessively overweight.  In fact, many of the user weight limits suggested on these machines are wildly over exaggerated. For example, the Exerpertic Fitness Walking Treadmill weighs 100 lbs, and the user weight limit is rated at 350 lbs.  That is absolutely absurd to think a 100 lbs. treadmill can accommodate a user that weighs 3.5 times more than a machine.  I recommend to my readers that if they are going to limit their spending on a treadmill to under $500 they need to weigh less than 200 lbs.

Cheap Components – It makes sense that a cheap treadmill utilizes cheap components.  The parts are not engineered to the exact specifications that you will find on more expensive machines.  To reach bargain price points companies make compromises on the parts. For example, these treadmills have small motors that strain with even moderate use.

Lack of Durability – Obviously, when you use cheap components in a treadmill it is not going to be very durable. The machine cannot take the abuse that more expensive treadmills are capable of.  And inherently treadmills take a lot of abuse.  The constant impact that comes with walking or running takes its toll on a treadmill.  If you have a malfunction the cost to replace the parts and the service can be very expensive.  Your treadmill may be initially cheap, but replacement parts and service will not.

Short Warranty – To gauge how confident the manufacturers are in the durability of their cheap treadmill, you just have to check out the warranties.  You will find that typical coverage is 90 days parts and labor.  After that you are on your own.

Poor Shock Absorption – One of the main advantages of exercising on a treadmill is the reduced impact to your joints in comparison to walking or running on concrete or asphalt.  Unfortunately, you will find that shock absorption is compromised on a bargain treadmill.  And in fact, the design of their shock absorption systems can often be detrimental your joints.

Small Treadbelt – One of the biggest drawbacks to an inexpensive treadmill is the small walking area.  For example, the Exerpertic Fitness Walking Treadmill has a walking surface of only 36” x 16”.  You need to “exercise” caution when exercising or you can easily step off the belt and injure yourself.  In comparison, the Smooth 6.75 has a roomy 20” x 60” running surface.

If you are in the market for a treadmill it is important to evaluate your needs and fitness goals and find a machine that can accommodate both.  You do not want to compromise on the purchase and end up with a treadmill that cannot handle the long haul and will result in a less than satisfactory workout.  For those that solicit my advice on a good walking/jogging treadmill, I typically suggest the Smooth 5.65, which has a 55” x 20” surface, superior shock absorption, an excellent service record, and comes with an industry leading lifetime motor, 5-year parts and 2-year labor warranty. 

Fred Waters has worked in the fitness equipment industry for over 17 years and reviews fitness equipment as a full-time occupation.  At www.Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com you can get his treadmill “Best Buy” recommendations that include the Smooth 5.65.

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