The Bowflex Series 5 Treadmill Review — Not Quite Average


The Treadmill Sensei has been wanting to review the Bowflex Series 5 Treadmill for a while now. You see, I’m just a little OCD and needed the closure of finishing up my Bowflex line of reviews. Unfortunately, I generally only review equipment which comes through for set up or repair and I just haven’t seen a Series 5 in a very long time. For a while I was beginning to think they had gone the way of the DoDo bird. Luckily enough we received one in just before the holiday weekend and I was able to give it a bit of a work out before it went out to our customer.

We picked up the boxed Series 5 treadmill from a local retailer whose customer wanted the unit installed in their garage-based fitness room out in Woodland Hills. Normally I’d have one of the younger Senseis (Hikaru, I’m talking about you!) set up the residential grade treadmills but I really wanted to have the whole Bowflex experience myself and took up the tools to do it on my own.

Now, I can’t give anyone a totally unbiased opinion on a treadmill assembly because I’ve done so many of them. However, putting together the Bowflex Series 5 treadmill was very easy. It should take someone with average mechanical ability around 30-45 minutes to assemble. We had ours together in about 10 minutes.

The good news is that, like the Bowflex Series 7 treadmills, the Series 5 had a very sturdy frame and a nice 20″ x 60″ deck on it. The frames on these things are very sturdily constructed. You also get a lot of workout options (12 programs) and some fairly well made 2.5″ rollers — not commercial grade, but still very nice.

The bad news is: that’s all the good news. As with the other Bowflex units, the Series 5 Treadmill has an under powered “2.5 horsepower” motor. I put 2.5 horsepower in quotes because I really think it should have been rated 2 horsepower at best. The motor just doesn’t have the get up and go of other 2.5 hp motors in this price range and I think it is a prime example of a manufacturer tweaking their specs a bit.

The Series 5’s belt is a bit flimsy as well. I only had a few hours worth of working out on the Bowflex Series 5 treadmill we brought in here to the DOJO (over 4 days I worked out a little over 3 hours doing running and walking), but my opinion is that the belts will wear out with even moderate use in about 6 months. If you pick up one of these, make sure to budget 1-2 new belts a year.

The other problem I found, and have been hearing about from other techs, is a sorely under-powered incline motor. I don’t weigh all that much (I’m at about 170 lbs right now thanks to a Mrs. Sensei-enforced, no red meat diet…I love red meat and I think she took it away to punish me for making fun of her family on this website), but the incline motor was obviously straining during my tests and caused the entire unit to power down on more than one occassion from other overheating or an internal short. Not a good sign.

At around $1299, the Bowflex Series 5 treadmill just does not hold up to the competition.

I would have loved to have given the Bowflex Series 5 treadmill the same completely average rating its big brother, the Series 7, received but the poor belt and undersized motors add up to 2 out of 5 golden buddahs from the Treadmill Sensei.

The Bowflex series 5 falls just short of being an average treadmill.

Compare the Bowflex Series 5 treadmill.

Bowflex Series 5 Treadmill Specifications
2.5 HP
Max User Weight: 300 lbs. (I’d suggest 250 lbs or less)
Folding: Yes
Reversible Deck: No
Programs: 12
Max Speed: 11 mph
Max Incline: 12%
Heart Rate Control: Yes
Heart Rate Monitor: Pulse Grip
Display: LED
Roller Size: 2.5″ inches
Belt Thickness: 1 ply
Deck Size: 20″ x 60″
Treadmill Weight: 250 lbs.

-The Treadmill Sensei

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