The Home Buyers Guide to Choosing a Treadmill Deck Sticking

Hello again from the Far East on the West Coast, and greetings from the DOJO. This week, before I get in to the nuts and bolts of the treadmills and the ellipticals I work on, I’m going to start with a quick guide to how to choose a Treadmill Deck Sticking — well, how to choose a residential / home grade treadmill. Choosing a commercial treadmill tends to be a bit easier — go Star Trac, Matrix, Landice or Life Fitness and, in spite of their great ellipticals, avoid Precor treadmills. Precor is a great company, they just don’t quite have treadmills down as well as the other companies. With the commercial treadmills it’s kind of like choosing between a BMW, a Mercedes and a Lexus. It’s all about bells and whistles more than performance…they’re all great machines and we’ll talk about them another time.

Home treadmills are a tough sea to navigate for most buyers. There are so many different brands and they all look alike to outsiders. Luckily, over the past 20 or so years, I’ve had to repair just about every treadmill ever made. In other words, my pain will be your salvation!

Today’s Orthodontic Software is Greek to many. Most doctors rely upon their staff to learn, maintain and troubleshoot their current hardware equipment and software programs. Now, adding in the latest technological developments of the computer age, it pushes many beyond their perceived thresholds.

My first piece of advice is: avoid anything and everything from Icon Health and Fitness. They’re the manufacturer of the units you’ll find at places like Sears. Nothing against Sears, but the treadmills they sell tend to be on the lower end of the quality scale. Their treadmills seem to have specs that are too good to true for their cost and, truth be told, they are. The old proverb, “you get what you pay for” comes in to play with them.

Small motors with high RPMs to give them a perceived higher horsepower (most of their motors should really be rated at under 1.5 HP regardless of what they tell you — a motor the size of a soda can should not be powering a full sized treadmill!), lots of plastic pieces, tiny rollers, and generally unstable machines are par for the course for the Icon brands like Proform, Weslo, Healthrider and Image. Just stay away from them! There are better treadmills even at the more affordable prices that Icon tempts the unlearned consumer with.

On with translating the arcane lore that is treadmill purchasing for the lay person.

Let’s start with the motor. The first thing you want to do is make sure the motor is rate with “Continuous Duty.” Any sales person or manufacturer who gives you a “Peak” rating is trying to sell you a bag of magic beans. Peak is best describe as the maximum a motor will perform at before it breaks down. What’s more imporant is: how the heck is that motor going to perform when you’re actually using it?

Another thing a shady salesperson might mention is that a common home circuit (120v/15amps) will only let you run about 2.5 HP and any motor larger than that is a waste of money. Technically that is true (about the amps vs. HP, not the waste of money). But the larger motors will tend to last longer as they are not running at the higher RPMs of a smaller motor. And, if nothing else, the larger the motor, the smoother the “ride.” A bigger motor will allow you to run or walk on it without slipping.

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