It is that time again.
Welcome once again to the Treadmill Sensei’s Ichi-Ban Best Buy Treadmill Awards. For those of you keeping track, these are our second annual awards for treadmill best buys.
For those of you who are wondering, the phrase “Ichi-Ban” is Japanese for “Number One” or “The Best” and that’s what we’ll be discussing — the Best Buys for Treadmills (the elliptical best buy awards can be found here) in the 2007 through 2008 buying season.
Like we saw in the first annual awards, most of the action in the treadmill industry seems to be in the under $800 range and between $1000 and $2000. This year there are a lot of really good units, with Sole still being dominant under $2000. This year, though, Sole has some suprise competition from an unexpected source in Bodycraft. The Bodycraft treadmills are just plain great machines and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. In the higher price ranges, SportsArt, Bodyguard and Landice all have some very exciting equipment.
As with the best buy awards last year, the treadmills are picked with no real scientific technique. All reviews and ratings are based on our group’s 20+ years of experience as sales people and service/repair techs for fitness equipment. Our opinions and thoughts come from having worked on most of the machines out there and on our actually getting on the machines we review. When an elliptical comes in to the shop for either installation or repair, we run pretty extensive tests on the machines to make sure they are up to snuff (generally 5-10 hours per unit). This includes running fairly hardcore routines on the machines, going through all of their programs and so on. After our testing any machine that is going out to be installed for a customer, or which has had repairs done, has been run through the ringer to make sure everything is working.
Reviews are not made with manufacturer input. We don’t get free equipment from manufacturers. We aren’t bought off by bribes and we don’t sell advertising to manufacturers.
More detailed reviews of all of the Ichi-Ban winners will be posted throughout the upcoming week.
Now, on with the awards!!
Best Buy Treadmill Under $500
Merit 720t: In the ultra low end of the treadmill spectrum, the Merit 720T is far and away the best buy treadmill under $500. There is little else in this price range worth looking at. Check out the full review.
Runner Up: There really isn’t a whole lot of quality to be found in the under $500 price range because of the cost of components that go in to quality treadmills. It is just tough to build a good treadmill for under $500 and most units people buy wind up turning in to expensive clothes racks.
Best Buy Treadmill From $501-$799
Horizon T81: When it comes to budget treadmills for under $1000, you can’t go wrong with the Horizon brand. Taking over for the excellent Horizon T71, the new Horizon T81 treadmill is sturdy, well-built and great for those on a budget. Check out the T81 review here.
Runner Up: We’ve added a new price range this year because of the lack of quality treadmills for under $500 and because of the huge number of great treadmills right at $1000. In this range, Johnson’s Merit and Horizon treadmills completely blow the competition away. The HealthTrainer HT502T also makes a return appearance from last year’s Best Buys.
Best Buy Treadmill From $800-$1000
Bodycraft TR1120: From out of nowhere, Bodycraft takes the best buy treadmill under $1000 award. The TR1120 is the single best, single sturdiest and single most reliable treadmill available for under $1000 this year. It out-performs a lot of treadmills priced at $1500. Take a look at why the Bodycraft TR1120 gets top spot for under $1000 HERE.
Runner Up: This price range is absolutely packed at its higher end. There are a large number of great treadmills available for $999 and that is where all the action is. Although the Sole F63 has dropped a slot over last year, it is still a great buy. The Smooth 5.25 also returns at the #3 spot. This year the amazing Lifespan TR1000HRC comes in at the #4 spot, edging Horizon out of the best buys in this range.
Best Buy Treadmill From $1000-$1500
Sole F80: Improved over last year with a bigger motor and more solid frame, the new Sole F80 hits a homerun for Sole this year, taking the best buy award for treadmills under $1500. Check out the new and improved Sole F80 treadmill here.
Runner Up: Getting in to the range of where those looking for a treadmill a little closer to what they find in a gym, the $1000-$1500 is packed with creamy goodness. The contenders for this price range almost exactly mirror the $800-$1000 winners. Bodycraft, Lifespan and Smooth set the bar, but in this price point Sole takes it one step further. Watch out for Icon fitness brand units in this price range — they have the gloss but underneath their fancy looks and loaded features are still the same poorly constructed units of the past.
Best Buy Treadmill From $1500-$2000
Bodycraft TR1180: For a company that wasn’t on the radar last year, Bodycraft has pulled out the stops with its comfortable tank, the TR1180. This is a gym quality unit for a home price. Read the entire review here.
Runner Up: Probably the hardest contested price range this year, the $1500-$2000 spots are filled with some of the best treadmills on the market. You can’t go wrong with any of these picks.
Best Buy Treadmill From $2000-$2500
Smooth 9.25X: Smooth’s big boy takes top honors in the under $2500 awards. This treadmill is solid, well built and feature packed. A pleasure to review and a great treadmill to own. Get the full review to find out more.
Runner Up: This price range is a tough one because the units don’t offer as much as a $3000 unit and really aren’t that much better than the under $2000 units. I’d suggest taking a look at units in those two price ranges to see if you can get a better deal. However, if this what you want to pay, check out units from Bodyguard, SportsArt and Smooth. You can’t go wrong.
2. Bodyguard T240P
3. SportsArt TR21F
4. Evo 3I
Best Buy Treadmill From $2500-$3000
SportsArt TR31: SportsArt takes its first best buy award with the TR31. This unit is where SportsArt’s design and engineering really start to shine. The full review tells the story of why the TR31 gets the trophy this year.
Runner Up: Tunturi makes its first appearance with the new T60F, and Bodyguard and Lifespan both do well with their units as well. Like the $2000-$2500 price range, you may find a better deal by dropping down to the under $2000 range or by going up a bit to a $3000+ unit.
2. Bodyguard T280P
3. Lifespan Pro 5
4. Tunturi T60F
Best Buy Treadmill From $3000-$4000
SportsArt TR33: The Sportsart TR33 is the best treadmill available at any price. With its manual shock adjustment, excellent program selection and SportsArt’s continued dedication to quality and class, the SportsArt TR33 is my pick for Treadmill of the year. Check out the full review now!
Runner Up: Bodyguard and Landice both have some excellent offerings in the $3000-$4000 price range. This is where top atheletes find the treadmills to train on. I believe the best performing treadmills available at any price are in this range. Quantum’s new Q3.2EX rounds out the list quite nicely.
Best Buy Treadmill From $4000 and Over
Landice L7 Cardio: For 30+ years, Landice has been the cream of the crop for high end treadmills and this year is no different. The Landice L7 Cardio trainer treadmill is the perfect combination of performance, design and cost. Check out the full review for more information.
Runner Up: You can’t go wrong with any of the treadmills in this class. Star Trac and Matrix produce some of the best equipment on the market and have stuck to the same designs from last year. All excellent machines for those with the money to buy them.
The Treadmill Sensei Ichi-Ban Best of the Best Award:
This year we have a tie for the best of the best treadmill award. The two outstanding units this year are the BodyCraft TR1120 — an incredible unit that is under-priced at $999 — and the absolutely perfect SportsArt TR33 for $3799. SportsArt put together one of the best treadmills we’ve ever seen with the TR33 and we look forward to watching this unit over the years to come.
Thanks it for this year’s Ichi-Ban Awards. I hope you enjoyed them and we’ll see you next year. Until then, take care and have a great workout!!
-The Treadmill Sensei