The Best Cheap Treadmills
If you want the convenience of working out in your own home — particularly during winter months — or if your knees can't take the strain of pounding on pavement, a treadmill can be an excellent option to keep you moving and motivated year-round. We researched expert and user reviews to determine the best models for home use based on performance, durability, and, for the most part, modest price tags. All of our picks, even the cheapest, cover the basics, like tracking time elapsed and speed, and many offer more advanced features, such as heart-rate monitors (some more accurate than others), touchscreen controls, built-in fans and speakers, and copious storage spaces for accessories and water bottles. Users who like a little extra guidance and encouragement will appreciate that several of our recommendations are compatible with popular fitness services, like the subscription-based iFit, which offers users everything from guided interval training programs to nutrition coaching and virtual workouts in exotic locales via Google Maps. All of our choices also fold for easy storage when not in use.
When deciding on the best treadmill for your budget, the first thing you'll need to determine are your exercise needs. If you just want to get a few extra steps in each day and aren't interested in using a treadmill as a dedicated fitness machine, a very basic treadmill should be just be fine and can be found for less than $300. Those who are more serious about their walking workouts should be looking for models with a belt of at least 50 inches and a frame and motor that can handle a bit more wear and tear; these models usually sell for somewhere between $500 and $1,000. If you're looking for a sturdy treadmill for running or jogging, you'll want a model with a belt of at least 60 inches and a motor rated at 3 continuous horsepower (CHP) or higher. And if you really plan to rack up those running miles, expect to pay significantly more for a heavy-duty machine capable of keeping up with your routine over the long haul. We've found a commercial-grade model that's a comparative value.
Reliable sources for unbiased treadmill reviews include Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, Reviews.com and Runner's World, all of which publish regular roundups that include input from dedicated athletes as well as hands-on testing. Enthusiast sites like TreadmillReviews.net and Treadmills-Ratings-Reviews.com also provide helpful insight and are run by savvy fitness experts who combine testing and industry knowledge to rank and rate hundreds of treadmills. To round out our analysis of the best treadmills, we also evaluated thousands of owner reviews to see how these recommended picks fare over time. (Less expensive models all have their share of complaints regarding premature demises, but for the most part our picks fare pretty well on this count and come with relatively generous warranties.) Whatever model you settle on, experts say it's always a good idea when possible to try models out in a store before you buy in order to get a sense of how the feel suits your personal preferences.
*Prices and availability are subject to change.
Our Top Pick
Nordictrack C990 Review
- Sturdy enough for walking or running.
- Deck firmness can be adjusted.
- 32 on-board workouts plus ability to access iFit virtual trainer.
- Equipped with grip heart-rate sensors.
- Convenience features include built-in fan, dual speakers, tablet holder, cup holders and accessory compartments.
- Hydraulic lift makes it easy to fold and store, users say.
- Doesn't allow negative-incline adjustment.
- Touchscreen can be slow or unresponsive, according to reviews.
- Many users complain of difficulties getting through to customer service and unhelpful representatives.
Takeaway: Experts agree the NordicTrack C990 is a solid choice for people who want to run, jog, and walk, and it earns recommendations from Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, and Runner's World. This NordicTrack treadmill has a powerful 3.0-CHP motor, a 20- by 60-inch track suitable for people with longer strides, and a suspension system that allows users to adjust cushioning — softer for walking, firmer for running or a more pavement-like feel. The console has a 7-inch touchscreen control panel that also can connect to Wi-Fi networks to access iFit training features, which include thousands of on-demand workouts and live-interactive coaching. One drawback: iFit usage requires a subscription and some owners complain about frequent prompts to sign up for the service. (Purchasing direct through NordicTrack includes a free one-year membership.) Top speed on this treadmill is 12 mph and the maximum incline is 12 percent, with a weight capacity of 300 pounds. The C990 carries a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, three years on parts, and one year on labor.
Proform Smart Pro 2000 Review
- 3.5-CHP motor makes it well-suited for power runs.
- Generous incline/decline range adjusts from -3 to 15 percent.
- 22" x 60" belt is wider than average for greater range of movement.
- 50 on-board workouts, plus free 1-year iFit membership.
- Equipped with grip heart rate sensors.
- Lots of convenience features, including built-in fan, dual Bluetooth speakers, tablet holder, cup holders, and accessory compartments.
- "EasyLift Assist" hydraulic system to aid in stowing.
- Customer service can be hit or miss.
- User reviews for previous version suggests that the incline function may be a bit buggy.
Takeaway: This is the successor to the widely popular ProForm Pro 2000 treadmill, which has earned high marks from pros and consumers alike for its robust feature set and solid, nearly "gym-quality" construction. Upgrades on the new Smart Pro 2000 (model PFTL13118) are largely comfort-related, including an increased number of onboard workouts and the addition of a touch-capable HD display that allows users to view iFit virtual training sessions directly onscreen or swipe through to check fitness stats. They've also dropped in Bluetooth-enabled speakers for easier access to those workout tunes and a redesigned and centralized fan system. Otherwise, the basic features of the new Smart Pro are the same as the model it replaces, with a top speed of 12 mph and a strong commercial-grade motor powering the show. Because this is a new-for-2019 model, there are very few reviews, but we'd expect it to perform similarly to its predecessor. The Smart Pro 2000 has a maximum weight limit of 300 pounds and carries a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, five years on parts, and two years on labor.
Lifespan TR5500i Review
- Comes with 21 preset workouts.
- Very simple for novices to use; can adjust speed and incline from handles and includes automatic pause features for safety.
- Equipped with grip heart rate sensors and receiver for chest strap.
- Easy to fold and unfold, users say; slightly smaller footprint than similar treadmills (measures just 55" H x 33" W x 70.5" L).
- Very responsive customer service, according to owners.
- Includes hydraulic folding system.
- Records workout stats, but requires USB drive to store and upload them to the LifeSpan Club app; app is fairly limited and mainly tracks data and allows users to set goals (requires membership fee after free trial period).
- Difficult to assemble for some.
- Lacks fan, and several complain about low quality of the built-in speakers.
Takeaway: Not everyone's a dedicated runner looking for a treadmill to train for a marathon, and experts and users agree this LifeSpan treadmill is perfect for the average fitness buff who just wants to stay in shape no matter the weather. It's ideal for walking workouts — and even includes a pedometer to make sure each step is accurately recorded — and its 2.5-CHP motor can handle the demands of light jogging and running, as well. According to experts at TreadmillReviews.net the LifeSpan TR1200i "provides ample power... and doesn't cause the track to stutter during speed changes." The relatively short belt (20 by 56 inches) may not be long enough for taller people or those who are more serious about their running, but that is something most owners don't seem to mind. It's also short on bells and whistles — with no accessory compartments beyond two rather shallow cup holders, no fan, a basic display screen, and no access to virtual training programs. It rates above average in terms of the important criteria, however: its speed can be adjusted up to 11 mph, and it's got a 15-percent incline (although there's no decline feature). Most user complaints concern durability issues, namely the control panel freezing and the deck belt stopping suddenly. But many of those same owners also say LifeSpan's customer service offers top-notch support. This treadmill carries a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, three years on parts, and one year on labor. The upper weight range is 300 pounds.
Proform 505 CST Review
- iFit-compatible with 18 on-board workout programs.
- Equipped with grip heart rate sensors.
- Includes tablet holder and accessory tray, two cup holders, and dual speakers.
- Relatively high 325-lb. weight limit.
- Good warranty for the price.
- 55-inch belt may be too short for taller users or serious runners.
- Deck can be difficult to lift and fold, many users say.
- No built-in fan.
Takeaway: For frugal fitness buffs who simply want a basic treadmill and aren't looking for a slew of high-end features, the relatively inexpensive ProForm 505 CST should fit the bill. It's the top pick at Wirecutter, where editors praise it for delivering just enough features to satisfy most and say its straightforward display makes reviewing workout stats — distance, speed, calories, time — more "approachable." Overall operation is also said to be easy and intuitive with this ProForm treadmill, allowing users to adjust the speed in multi-varied increments up to 10 miles per hour and the incline up to 10 percent (there's no decline). The suite of integrated workout programs it provides is fairly generous and a nice boon for those who don't want to shell out extra for the advanced training features that come with an iFit membership. One note, however, if you do decide to opt for iFit services you'll need to access your account via tablet or phone, as the small, 5-inch built-in display does not double as a video monitor. Like many cheap treadmills, this one can be folded for storage, but a number of owners say the deck is heavy and awkward to lift. ProForm offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, 25 years on the 2.5-CHP motor, and one year on parts and labor.
Weslo Cadence G 5.9I Review
- Very compact and lightweight making it easy to fold up and move for stowage.
- Comes with 6 built-in workouts.
- Includes thumb pulse heart rate sensors.
- Incredibly low cost makes it a consumer favorite.
- 275-pound weight limit is lower than other treadmills.
- Some owners complain about build quality, missing hardware.
- Screen is prone to freezing and can be hard to reset, according to reviews.
- Few comfort features aside from integrated tablet holder; no built-in fan or speakers.
- Relatively short 1-year warranty on motor; just 90 days on parts and labor.
Takeaway: Medical professionals agree that just getting up and moving a bit more can improve overall health, and if all you want to do is just make sure you're meeting your daily step goals the Weslo Cadence G 5.9i might be a great fitness partner for you. The 16- by 50-inch belt is relatively small, making it suitable for walking but not really jogging or running — something a number of otherwise-satisfied users point out in their reviews. On the other hand, its comparatively diminutive size also makes it more portable and easier to store than other models; at just over 100 pounds it's nearly half the weight of many of the treadmills on this list. And although its 2.25-CHP motor is not the most powerful on the market, it can still reach top speeds of 10 mph, which is better than some entry-level machines. To augment its rather scant onboard workout routines, this Weslo treadmill also comes with a one-month free trial of the iFit app, but users will have to access it via smartphone or tablet, as the built-in monitor is a simple LCD display. Finally, unlike pricier models with a range of automatically adjustable incline settings, the Weslo deck has just two fixed incline positions that must be manually set. While experts suggest that potential buyers might be better served by a pricier machine with a more solid build and a less Spartan setup, it's generally agreed that the Weslo Cadence G 5.9i can't be beat for the price. Many satisfied owners concur and proudly share fitness success stories on retailers' review pages.
Nordictrack Commercial 2450 Review
- Heavy-duty motor can handle intense running workouts.
- Deck firmness can be adjusted.
- Can be angled for both incline and decline.
- Large 14-inch touchscreen display.
- 50 preprogrammed workouts along with free a 1-year iFit subscription.
- Equipped with grip heart rate sensors.
- Along with a large auto-adjusting fanning unit, comfort features include Bluetooth-enabled speakers, large accessory tray, and two cubbies for water bottles.
- Hydraulic-assisted folding system.
- Fairly heavy and can prove difficult for some owners to assemble.
- NordicTrack earns poor marks from many users for customer service.
Takeaway: With a 4.0-CHP motor, this commercial-grade treadmill is the most powerful in this report and a good fit for dedicated runners and true fitness enthusiasts looking for a machine that's capable of holding up over years of hard use. It also bests much of the competition with the range of features it offers. It's got a roomy 22- by 60-inch track to accommodate longer strides, and more adjustment options than cheaper treadmills, with a top speed of 12 mph, incline/decline settings that go from -3 percent all the way up to 15 percent, and cushioning that can be customized to preference: harder to simulate running on pavement, softer for walking and less strenuous workouts. The NordicTrack 2450's 14-inch HD display offers a wide stage on which to follow along with its arsenal of on-board workouts or iFit virtual training sessions, and it's one of the largest you'll find without dramatically moving up in price ranges. Newly redesigned for 2019, this machine fills a welcomed niche between the brand's other highly popular Commercial models. With a lot more power, more perks, and only a slightly higher price tag than the 3.6-CHP Commercial 1750, it's much closer in specs to the brand's top-of-the line 2950 — which brings a 4.25-CHP motor and a 22-inch monitor to the table but also carries a price tag of about $2700. If you're willing to sacrifice some screen and a scant bit of extra oomph, we'd say the 2450 is a relative bargain. The weight limit on this treadmill is 300 pounds, and NordicTrack offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, five years on parts and electronics, two years on labor.
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