Treadmills provide workouts to more Americans than any other piece of exercise equipment.
But steep price long has been an impediment to owning a treadmill. Fortunately, our latest tests of treadmills turned up machines that, while not inexpensive, do combine comparative low price with high performance.
Our tests focused primarily on ease of use, ergonomics, quality and exercise range. Following are some noteworthy models:
¢ Fine for most running and walking. Two nonfolding Vision Fitness models, the T9500 Deluxe ($2,000) and the T9200 Simple ($1,300), qualify as CR Best Buys. Both have belts measuring 52 inches long by 20 inches wide, but only the T9500 Deluxe includes a chest-strap heart-rate monitor. Among folding models, the top-rated Bowflex 7-Series ($1,500) and the Horizon Fitness Performance Series PST8 ($1,600) also are CR Best Buys. The Bowflex's belt measures 60 inches long by 20 inches wide, while the Horizon Fitness is slightly shorter (57 inches) and narrower (19 inches).
¢ Best for avid runners. Also suitable for a range of exercisers, these nonfolding machines are well-designed and sturdy. The Landice L7 Series Pro Sports Trainer ($2,900) lacks a heart-rate monitor, but was extremely easy to use. The NordicTrack S3000 ($3,500) and the SportsArt 3110 ($2,900) have slightly thinner decks than most other top-scoring nonfolding models. At just $2,300, the True Z4 HRC offers the best value of this bunch, yet has no exercise programs. Belt widths for each of these machines is 20 inches; lengths ranged from 54 inches (True Z4 HRC) to 60 inches (NordicTrack S3000).
Because treadmills tend to take a beating, we recommend looking for a warranty of at least one year on labor, and two to three years on major moving parts. You also may want to consider buying an extended warranty. In fact, this is one of the few products for which we'd suggest that