A reader recently asked the Treadmill Sensei “Why don’t you review more Proform product? They have a lot of treadmills and ellipticals that people see every day” At first I just laughed to myself because Proform reviews tend to be made up of me mocking some really low quality equipment by a company which doesn’t care about its customers. Plus, as the reader said “they have a LOT of treadmills and ellipticals.” Sometimes it feels like if I reviewed a Proform every day that I wouldn’t ever finish because they release new product so often. Why on Earth would I want to support that?
However, thinking about the question further I realized the reader was correct. Proform (and Icon in general) dominates much of the fitness industry, especially the lower end of the budget spectrum, and should be getting a larger presence on this website to show that. Of course, to Proform’s annoyment (if they’ve even noticed this website yet), I plan to continue to warn customers away from bad buys on budget treadmills and ellipticals. I will try to do at least one Proform or Icon review a week to keep everyone updated on what to avoid. What this means to the Treadmill Sensei is that I’ll be getting my “bad treadmill” headache a lot more often now. Because of that I will be accepting donations of Tylenol and Hard Liquor from you, my loyal readers, to combat that Bowflex Headache (which I may have to rename the Proform Headache)!
If you are looking for a best buy treadmill for under $400 then the Proform 350 Treadmill is an excellent one to avoid. If you are looking for a very noisy,plastic-constructed and rickety budget treadmill that isn’t going to last through a year of regular use then the Proform 350 is the perfect treadmill for you.
Starting with the assembly of the unit, we had a bit of trouble on the Proform 350 we ordered to review here at the DOJO. A number of the holes were cut incorrectly and the bolts didn’t quite fit. Also, alignment in general was just a tad off. Once together, the Proform 350 Treadmill was very shaking and not the most solid of units. The product specifications from Proform mention a 250 pound user weight limit, but I would drop that top weight down to no more than 160 pounds at the most. And, truthfully, even that might be stretching it.
Once together, the Proform 350 didn’t function at all. There was a problem with one of the control boards. What I thought would be a quick call to customer service turned in to what I like to call the “Icon Nightmare.” You see, I didn’t mention to the customer service department that I was an authorized Icon repair tech and just pretended to be a regular customer. What I went through was a terrible experience that lasted nearly a month with constant calls to get assistance. An amazing discovery was that the Icon customer service agents we spoke with seemed to consider themselves repair techs and were trying to diagnose the problem over the phone. We quickly received a vast array of different, very cheap, parts from Icon but none of them were what we needed. I finally gave up trying to act like a regular customer because I was developing a rather nasty ulcer from the experience. Receiving the control board we had the Proform 350 treadmill up and running in about 20 minutes…plus 30 or so days.
The very interesting thing was that I was never offered an “in-home” service tech by Icon, being told that I could install any of the parts they sent in just a few minutes. The other interesting thing was that one customer service rep suggested I remove the 350’s motor and take it to a local mechanic to have checked out…on my own dime of course. This is actually the second time I had been told this on a Proform treadmill in the past year.
Before I get to what I found in the course of my 2 days of actually working out on the Proform 350 treadmill, I want to go over the features and facts of the unit. The Proform 350 has a very small motor in it. Icon has labelled the motor as a 2.25 THP motor and what that means in reality is a 1.25 horsepower or possibly even smaller motor. It also has no programs, a small running area for the price at 17″x50″, top speed of 10mph and maximum incline of 10%. I was very surprised to see no programs at all on the unit because that is one of the cheapest features to add to a treadmill.
On to the findings of my workout on the Proform 350 Treadmill, why it only lasted for 2 days and why I mentioned a top user weight of less than 160 pounds. My workout was cut short on day 2 because I cracked the deck of the Proform 350 Treadmill during a walking workout of around 2 miles per hour. I hadn’t even gotten to a full run or jog, and I hadn’t even done my patented “bounce test” yet. Also, when we were taking the 350 apart to place it out in the DOJO’s “treadmill graveyard,” I noticed the left strut had bent and was cracked at its base. Now, I’m not a heavy man by anyone’s definition and this should not have happened during a light walking workout — heck, I think entire runtime on the Proform 350 was only around 2 hours at that point.
To be fair to Proform (God, I hate saying those words!), this may have been an isolated instance of a manufacturer’s defect. We would normally tried to find a second unit to try out but the overall experience on the treadmill and with Icon’s customer service turned me off on the idea. With or without the cracked deck and bent upright support, the Proform 350 is a very low quality, poorly manufactured treadmill that I would not recommend to my worst enemy. Don’t be fooled by the look of the Proform 350 and don’t be lured in by the price. In the end you’ll just be throwing your money away.
For being a truly horrible unit (and that caused me to look silly when it cracked and I fell off of it in front of Hikaru…who is still making fun of me), the Treadmill Sensei gives the Proform 350 Treadmill 0.5 out of 5 golden buddahs…that’s right, half a buddah!
The Proform 350 makes the Treadmill Sensei wish he had a 0.25 golden buddah rating.
ProForm 350 Treadmill Specifications
Motor: 1.25 HP, listed as 2.25 THP
Running Area: 17″x50″
Max Speed: 10MPH
Max Incline: 10%
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Heart Rate Control: No
Max User Weight: 250lbs
Unit Weight: 125lbs
Price: Under $400
P.S. The Sensei was joking about the donations of Tylenol..although you can always send Hard Liquor.
-The Treadmill Sensei