The Bowflex Series 3 Treadmill Review – Below Average under $1000


You know, the Treadmill Sensei really hates to write bad reviews for treadmills and ellipticals. Well, strike that, the Treadmill Sensei hates having to write reviews for bad treadmills and ellipticals. I also hate to write a review which I know the manufacturer (or one of its reps) is going to write me to complain about (again). Unfortunately, because of my love for my loyal readers I have to do it and I have to warn you about less than spectacular treadmills. In this case, the Bowflex Series 3 Treadmill.

Now, the Series 3 treadmill I’m basing my review on is one we purchased about 6 months ago when I thought it was a good idea to purchase some equipment for the Treadmill Sensei reviews. I figured I’d order treadmills I knew people wanted more information on instead of waiting around for one to come through the repair shop. The unit itself has only been used for approximately 30-35 hours since its arrival at the shop. In spite of constant maintenance in our service shop it has not held up very well at all.

Before I get in to the problems I see with our specific model, I want to go over some of the features (and lack of features) of the Bowflex Series 3 treadmill. I’ll start with the pros.

The only two things which set this unit above being a glorified dirty clothes hamper are its very spiffy design (if nothing else, Bowflex has some great designers!) and its weight. The unit looks cool and has a very solid mass to it.

That’s all.

The cons, sad to say, out number the pros almost 5 to 1.

In spite of being a fairly heavy unit (I’d estimate around 250 pounds), the unit contains a lot of flimsy plastic. Our unit, which sits in my office and gets very very light use (I think only 1 or 2 of the techs have used it consistantly), already has a major crack in the motor shroud, a number of cracks in the console and a crack on the side rails. The shroud crack came strictly from an average sized person running on the deck for less than 2 hours a week. This is not a good sign.

Speaking of the deck, for the $1000 price, I really wish Bowflex hadn’t scrimped with a 20″ x 54″ deck. For the price it really should have been at least 20″ x 55″ or 20″ x 56″. The same goes for the 10 mph speed and 12% incline. Most people won’t need more than that, but it is a strange place to cut corners on a $1000 machine. The lack of a heart rate control mode or wireless heart rate monitoring is a disappointment, too.

In what we’re now hearing is a fairly common occurance, there is quite a lag in response time on the Bowflex Series 3 treadmill’s buttons. This was also a problem when we tried out their Treadclimbers at the 2006 IHRSA show, so it may be a company-wide issue.

Other problems come from a tiny 1.75 HP motor which seems to strain under even light usage. A 1-ply belt which on our under 6 month old machine has already begun to fray and come apart. For heavier use my opinion is that the belt will last for 3 months or less before needing replacement.

Finally, due to all of the plastic and the under powered motor, the Bowflex Series 3 is a very loud treadmill to work out on. You’ll run in to problems if you like to watch television or hold a conversation while you work out. The sounds which spill off the Series 3 are annoying at best.

In my view, the Series 3 treadmill is lackluster and performs more poorly than its bigger brother, the Bowflex Series 7. For being another Bowflex disappointment, the Treadmill Sensei gives the Bowflex Series 3 Treadmill 2 out of 5 golden buddahs.

The Bowflex Series 3 Treadmill is another “No Buy” unit from Bowflex…what can’t they learn from their sister-company, Schwinn, and put out some decent equipment?

Compare the Bowflex Series 3 Treadmill.

Bowflex Series 3 Treadmill Specifications
1.75 HP
Speed: 10 mph
Incline: 12%
Programs: 6
Heart Rate Monitor: Pulse grip
Heart Rate Control: None
Display: LED
Max User Weight: 250 lbs
Treadmill Weight: Approx. 250 lbs.
Deck Size: 20″ x 54″
Rollers: 2″
Belt: 1 ply
Folding: Yes
Price: $999

-The Treadmill Sensei

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