Is Buying A Cheap Treadmill Worth It?

Every second or third home now has a treadmill. Many people opt for cheap versions, some go for more expensive versions. Is there much difference between an entry level model and a high priced treadmill? There can be and sometimes there is not. Its akin to buying a generic brand name car and a luxury saloon. You get more features and luxuries in the upmarket saloon, but the cheaper car still does the same job.

Heres what you need to decide upon if you have your heart set on buying a treadmill.

Do you want a manual treadmill?

Do you want a motorized treadmill

Do you need entertainment features?

How much are you prepared to pay?

How often will you use it?

Treadmill warranty and quality

Manual Treadmills

A manual treadmill does not have a motor. You can pick them up for under $100. For the ultimate in cost effectiveness there is no better option. The downside is they are not smooth. These treadmills are marketed with the banter that as you have to power them with your own energy you burn up calories in a quicker time. Not only can this be untrue, as you can run out of human batteries very soon and give up in a matter of minutes, it can also be annoying.

Manual treadmills are not that smooth, certainly not smooth enough to take an hour long run. They will also not have a good cushioning system, which softens the impact from running on your joints. In other words there would not be much difference in using this than running on the blacktop or sidewalk outside your home.

Motorized Treadmills

This is the standard in all treadmills. The motor powers the belt which keeps it running at a steady speed. The upshot of this is that you can calculate your distance, track your calories and target your goals around time, distance and speed.

Entertainment Features

So you want to work out but you also want something to distract or entertain you. How about audio speakers, an electronic console that can connect to the internet? Or what about a HD TV that allows you to watch anything online or browse the web? Well you wont get these on cheap machines like the G 5.9 treadmill from Weslo, as seen here: So you need to look at models from Sole, Proform and FreeMotion, but you also have to pay over $500 for this privilege. I thought working out was all about working out? The sweat, the pain….all right if you can do it with the Rocky soundtrack blasting out on the latest Bose audio speakers then it will be much better….


First timer or entry level treadmills start at just under $200. The next tier of treadmills that you would consider mid level in terms of quality cost $500 and over. You will get more features and a longer warranty, but if you are sticking to a low budget there are a lot of choices under $500. Healthrider and Merit Fitness have treadmills just under $200. Weslo Cadence have the G 5.9 treadmill at just under $300. They also make the R 5.2 at around $400. All of these are good choices if cheap is your thing.

How Often Will It Be Used

Realistically, if you have your heart set on a top line running machine can you justify the cost in terms of use? Or put it another way is there any point paying $1000 for a treadmill that you will not even use once a week? You would be safer sticking to a pay as you go gym membership if this is the case. Just because you have a treadmill in the house doesnt mean you will use it regularly. Shiny new object syndrome and all that.

Treadmill Quality & Longevity

Do you plan to use the treadmill at lot? If you are a competitive runner you will certainly need a treadmill that can go as fast as 12mph. You will also need one with a 3 year warranty, as parts can wear out quick if you are hammering yours a lot. Simply put a cheap treadmill from Weslo, Healthrider or any other company is not going to cut the mustard if you will be using it full tilt 3-5 times a week.

For this you can get a more advanced treadmill. You can opt for something from Proform. Their range is too massive to go into here, but a tip is if you are looking for quality without a colossal price tag, cut back on the entertainment features and go for good old fashioned basic quality. Good cushioning, a high power rated motor, a top speed of 12mph or over + a 3 year warranty on parts and labor.

Passion Killer?

But what about passion? Surely if you have the money you can indulge your passion. Going back to the sports car analogy, why buy a Hyundai when you can afford a Maserati, A Porsche or a Lamborghini? You can just put your foot down and feel the instant power. And why not if you can afford it. But can you really be passionate about a treadmill? Is this just another case of shameless consumerism and the need to have the best of everything, which in reality can be just inflated hype and sales pitch?

Its horses for courses, pay more if you need to. If you are the type of person who cant train without music blasting out you can pay for a model that has speakers and an audio jack for hooking up your smartphone or mp3 player. Heck some models allow you to attach a usb pen, so if you have your songs stored on it, its a win-win for you.

Or why not go on Youtube or Spotify with the built in Wi-Fi that you get on top of the range models and stream your favorite playlists? Then again that isnt necessary for home training is it? You can always cut the expensive and play music on your hi-fi. Or you can bring your phone in and stick on some earphones. Being frugal will get you the same results. So the crux of it all is this, you can already achieve all you want to on a cheap treadmill. Plus you already have all the devices you need in your home and in your everyday possession, like your smartphone that can help you power through your workouts.

A word to the wise, why pay more for things you already have?