Buyers of inexpensive treadmills tend to do a lot of research before they make such a big purchase and have reasonable expectations about what they are going to get. Treadmill reviews indicate that consumers don't expect to get the same quality they would with a gym machine.
The key to buying a treadmill is determining how you will use it now and, based on your fitness goals, how you will use it in the future.
Treadmill Motor Performance.As noted in the features section of this buying guide, if the motor's CHP, or continuous horsepower rating, is under 2.0, you may be disappointed if you run on the treadmill and/or use it daily. A small motor will be noisy or feel unsteady if it is put to heavier use than intended. Still, an occasional run or a frequent light jog will not strain its capacity, and users posting treadmill reviews tend to give our picks high marks on the capacity of the motor, even when it's strained. According to reviews on Amazon, even users who are near the 300-pound weight limit find that the Horizon Fitness T101 holds up to lots of walking. Similarly, users posting treadmill reviews at the ProForm site note that the Performance 400 is quiet and stable even at a jog.
The Gold's Gym GG480 likewise wins praise in reviews on the Walmart site for its ability to provide a good workout for multiple exercisers, runners, and people close to the 300-pound maximum weight without being wobbly or noisy. However, some complain that it's a bit noisy at higher speeds. The same is true of the Merit Fitness 725T Plus; one user who posted a review at Wayfair finds it suitable for walking and interval running but says it may not be made for heavy running.
Purchasers of the Weslo Cadence G-40 are usually looking for a really inexpensive option because they aren't sure about their commitment to exercise, according to reviews, and they tend to be walkers and light joggers. Users posting reviews of this model at Walmart seem pretty satisfied with their choice, although a few find this model a bit jerky or noisy.
Treadmill Deck Performance.The key elements of a treadmill's deck are the tread belt and the shock-absorbing cushioning. Users don't often mention cushioning in treadmill reviews -- it seems to be just part of what they expect from a treadmill as opposed to exercising outdoors. Consumers posting reviews at Sears do note that the cushioning on the Horizon T101 allows them to get a good, low-impact workout. ProForm is known for its cushioning, and a review at Treadmill Adviser reports that the Performance 400 compresses and responds evenly to each step you take. Consumers answering questions about the Gold's Gym GG480 at Walmart say the cushioning is just right -- not too spongy but enough to keep the machine from shaking at low speeds.
Users of the Merit Fitness 725T find the deck sturdy on the whole but not very well cushioned, according to reviews on Amazon, which could be an issue for people with joint problems.