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Treadmill Cost versus Return. Paying more does not equal better results
For the average treadmill buyer, this can be a hard path to navigate.
What do I get for the extra dollars I spend on a treadmill?
Well as an importer, a retailer and a service technician here is some advice built up over 16 years of experience.
If I spend more do I get more??
The answer is yes and no. At the lower end of expenditure in any size category you need to be careful, however more often than not, a mid category, mid priced machine will give you all the key benefits of a upper category machine, but for far less cost.
- Ease of relocation
- Noise Level
Ease of relocating.
I used to be of the opinion that the heavier the treadmill, the better the quality. However, this is just no longer true for home/ domestic treadmills. It is possible to have a machine that has all the Key benefits of a heavier machine, but is lighter in weight. In fact, I believe that reducing the weight of a machine is often a sign of better quality engineering.
Reducing the weight will also reduce the cost by virtue of the fact that there is less material used in the manufacturing process and it has a smaller cubic mass thus reducing the freight costs.
A lighter treadmill will be, easier to deliver, install and relocate. Therefore more flexibility in relation to where you can locate and use the machine and less potential damage to your floors, walls and door frames.
The prefect balance for me is a machine that is quality, compact, foldable with a deck suitable for my size and intended use, ie running.
This really matters, the quieter a machine, the better.
Again I believe that this is a sign of better quality engineering.
I find two main sources of noise complaints 1) motor noise and 2) structural noise.
Motor noise is generated mostly from the way a machine is constructed, rather than the quality of the motor. Many of the popular American brands that are sold in Australia are terrible, due to the way the motor is housed in a large Plastic housing that amplifies the motor sound. In many cases it is up to 5 times noisier than other models in the same category.
I've generaly found, that Treadmills manufactured in China or Taiwan, are quieter.
It’s the American machines you need to be wary of.
I've found that the main culprit here is often flashily looking devises designed to absorb the impact of the walking or running. Over time, these features just start grinding and squeaking with every step. This becomes is very irritating and is amost impossible to rectify.
The truth is, an effective shock absorption system is very simple and it was perfected years ago. It also reduces the amount of noise, rather than increase it.
This system is often referred to as Cushion Decking and is a simple set of 3 to 4 pairs of rubber mounts.
These rubber mounts are usually softer in the impact zone and harder toward each end of the deck to give stability.
Once again, I've found the machines manufactured in China or Taiwan, are quieter. It’s the American machines you need to be wary of.
This is harder for the average person to discern when purchasing, but here are a few tips.
1) Is it quiet?
2) How does it feel to run on? Solid and stable, with a noticeable degree of Cushioning?
3) What type of cushioning system does it have?
4) Where is it made?
5) What is the warranty and are the parts readily available? See our article How Important Is Warranty
Remember, a treadmill is an appliance not unlike your washing machine or a lawn mower. It is a tool that should last 4 to 8 years, relatively trouble free. Be wary of flashy complicated features or unnecessarily large treadmills and find a brand that has a proven track record of backing their product.
Some features truly matter, some just don’t…
The most important thing in choosing the right treadmill is the size of the running deck versus the size and needs of the users. Get this wrong and no other feature can compensate, for the lack of comfort and security you should feel with the right sized machine.
I find a lot of people over emphasis the importants of the motor size. The reality is, it is about the quality of the motor, not the size. Size is just a basic guide. Most treadmill failures are the result of electronic failure. Only 10% of failures are related to the motor.
Other fetures that really rate are; Controls on the handle bars, drink holders, ergonomics of the design, deck cushioning, etc. Don’t get too carried away with cosmetics.
If you have followed my earlier advise, then the only other issue is regular maintenance. This is dead easy....
1) Lubricate your machine every 3 months
2) Lubricate your machine every 3 months
3) Lubricate your machine every 3 months
4) Every 12 to 24 months, have it serviced by a qualified technician.
Lubricating you machine will, double its life, no question.... See our Treadmill Lubrication Video. It really is very easy.
Also, sign up for our Regular Maintenance Reminder Program. Here we will send you an email at the key reminder intervals.
There are other parts of your Treadmill that need to be looked at, so I recommend a service at the 12 month or 24 month interval. If you pay attention to the advice given by the supplier and the technician, this may be the only service you ever need.
In conclusion, if you were to educate yourself a little prior to making a decision on which treadmill is best for you and follow the above advice, you can get all the perceivable benefits of a high quality/ cost treadmill for literally 50% to 60% of the price.