5 tips for buying a quality home treadmill in the $1000 price range

by Jack on April 25, 2016

Most important areas to examine on a treadmill

We spend a lot of time on other treadmill review websites reading their opinions and recommendations. For one, it helps keep us informed on the industry. But the way many of these sites recommend treadmills is very curious to us. Especially, when it comes to entry-level home models in the under $1000 price range. Many times, we see too much emphasis on “extra” features such as workout programs and too little emphasis on the “meat and potatoes” core functional aspects of these models.

A good way to make a bad decision on which treadmill to buy is basing your decision on the “extras” it may or may not offer. This would be akin to buying a car because it has a sunroof or a great sound system.

5 most important areas to review

A little knowledge is necessary in order to get the best quality for the money. It is our advice that after narrowing down choices based on the information provided below then start thinking of and comparing the extras provided by the models.

Area #1 – Motor

All buyer’s should want the most durable and efficient motor as possible. For runners an adequate amount of horsepower will also be an issue.

How do you find the most durable motor? There are 3 common styles of motors found on treadmills. The two styles we recommend staying away from are:

  • Treadmill duty
  • Peak Duty

The style of motor we absolutely recommend:

  • Continuous Duty Horsepower (CHP)

When reading the product description or the specifications in the owner’s manual if you see mention of either Treadmill Duty or Peak Duty motors realize these two options are not highest quality. These are not nearly as durable or efficient as the CHP style of motor.

Runners should especially take notice to the following advice.

The term horsepower is a very recognizable term to most people. From a young age most of us are familiar with this term and we commonly relate, more horsepower to mean better… However, this is not always true, especially in regards to Treadmill and Peak Duty motors. We will tell you why.

For runners we recommend at least a 2.5 horsepower motor. You may come across a Treadmill or Peak Duty style motors listing 2.5 or even a greater horsepower in the specs, however, all horsepower is not equal!

For instance, compared to the recommended Continuous Duty Horsepower motor, in order for the Treadmill Duty and Peak Duty styles to produce the same amount of horsepower their RPM’s (Revolutions Per Minute) are increased. So while it is true this will produce the same horsepower output, what increases RPM’s also does is produce more wear and tear which will significantly reduce the lifetime of the motor

Recommended motor style: Continuous Duty Horsepower (CHP)

Area #2 – Frame

Treadmill frames are either made out of steel or aluminum. If you are interested in learning which material a certain treadmill frame was produced from, sometimes it will be listed on the product sales page but usually you will need to look in the specifications sections of the user’s/owner’s manual.

Which material is better? For more than one reason a steel frame is better than an aluminum frame. Steel frames fit together tighter which reduces the overall noise levels when the treadmill is being used. Also, this may sound a counter intuitive to some people but steel frames absorb energy much better and provide a little bounce in your step. Many describe the feeling of walking or running on an aluminum built frame as deadpan.

Recommended frame: Welded Steel

Area #3 – Tread belt

The tread belt is the platform you will run or walk or jog on. When it comes to judging a tread belt there are two main qualities to pay attention to: Ply (thickness) and dimensions (Width X Length).

As for thickness: Obviously, the thicker a belt is the more durable and longer lasting it should be. There are basically one, two and three ply belts. With 1-ply being the thinnest and 3-ply being the thickest. Treadmills in the around $1000 price range will usually come with a 2-ply belt.

As for dimensions: Being a person who studied a lot of science the formula for measuring dimensions (or Area) was always written  L(length) x W(width) in my textbooks. Well with treadmills you will always see this written the opposite W(width) x L(length). There really is no difference it just always looks strange to me.

For width: We like to see at least 18-inches. For runners, 20-inches is more desirable.

For length: Walking and jogging vs. running. Obviously, as we run our stride length increases. If you are buying a home treadmill for running, keep in mind, the average person will need a tread belt that is at least 54 or 55-inches in length to feel comfortable. Longer belts exist, with all other features, qualities and price being equal if we were buying a treadmill to run on we would buy the model with the longer belt.

Because of shorter strides, belt length isn’t as important for walking and jogging. Our standard recommended length here would be 48-inches.

Area #4 – Cushion System

A cushion system basically acts as shock absorbers for your joints. Newton’s third law says something like, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Meaning if you are walking or running on a surface with “no give” there energy with which your foot hit the surface will be directed back up into your foot into your ankle and up your leg to your knee and hip joints. A cushion system acts absorbs and dissipate some of this unwanted energy.

Treadmills in the $1000 price range should provide a decent cushion system. The systems found on more expensive treadmills will be superior.

For the most part, the best cushion systems are found on name brand models.

Area #5 – Warranty

We saved the best for last! We could have easily put this at the top of the page as being the absolute most important thing to consider when buying a treadmill but we chose to speak about the more functional aspects first.

You should not ignore the warranty

This is what will provide you protection in case your motor breaks down a week after you buy it or some other catastrophic event! But there is another useful reason you will want to look at treadmill warranties before making a decision on what model to buy… What is this reason?

Quality!

Answer this in your head. Which model is more than likely higher quality?

  • Model A provides a 10-year warranty on both the motor and frame.
  • Model B provides a lifetime guarantee on both the motor and frame.

Which model is likely to be higher quality? I don’t know if you got the answer right or not?!? When we answer this question we would answer Model B.

They provide the longer warranty and this is not because they are trying to be nice, its because they have tested their product and feel confident in offering the lifetime warranty. On the flip side, the company that produces Model A doesn’t feel as confident in the quality of their product so they offer a shorter warranty.

The treadmills we recommend on this site in the around $1000 range, provide a lifetime warranty on the frame, the majority also provide a lifetime guarantee on the motor. We will recommend a few that provide a 25 or 15 – year guarantee on the motor. But in our opinion, if you are looking at a model costing around $1000 and the warranty offer 10 years or less on either the motor or frame this should immediately raise red flags on the quality.

Recommendation: Read and compare treadmill warranties

Quality of treadmills in the $1000 price range

Hope our 5 tips on buying a treadmill in this price range were useful. In our opinion, if you follow these tips to examine: the motor, frame, tread belt, cushion system and warranty, the way we described here this should help you in purchasing the highest quality machine for the money.

Only after examining these 5 areas explained here and narrowing down the best choices only then would we recommend considering the “extras” provided by each model.

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