The 3 best home treadmills and running machines of 2014

We originally posted this piece looking at 2013’s hottest treadmills. In light of a new year – and a new push for home based cardio solutions – we have updated the post to cover the best home treadmills for 2014. Below are our picks.

Cardio training can be a real chore at the very best of times, and for many, the thought of dragging themselves down to the gym in order to plod away on a treadmill for 30 minutes is the ultimate de-motivator. Therefore, it’s little surprise that treadmills are the most popular serious piece of gym equipment that people choose to invest in at home. It’s little wonder too; treadmills are space efficient, durable and when used right, highly effective training aids. With winter fast approaching, making it less appealing to hit the pavements outside, we wanted to compile a list of the best home treadmills.

We have identified three treadmills that are worthy of consideration for any home gym. These have been identified using the below home gym criteria:

Affordable: Commercial gym treadmills cost upwards of £10,000 and we’re well aware that most folk are not batting in that league. We have focussed on lower mid-tier priced treadmills priced around or under £500. This provides a happy medium of performance without crushing wallets.

Foldable: Space in homes comes at a premium, and even the more compact treadmills take up considerable space. We wanted to find foldable treadmills because that way we don’t have to overly sacrifice running deck space, as some cheaper treadmills come with chronically small – to the point of being dangerous – running decks.

Not too noisy: Some treadmills can make a thunderous noise, and that’s ill-suited to the home. We worked to identify treadmills that don’t sound like a boing on a runway.

Largely pre-assembled: If you’re anything like us, you don’t want to spend hours trying to assemble your new fit-tech toy. We have struggled enough with idea ‘instructions’ and would rather avoid the same pain with a treadmill, thank you.

 

So with all that taken into account, below are our top three picks:

 

The Body Sculpture BT3152 motorised treadmill

What are its main selling points?

The Body Sculpture BT3152 treadmill is exceptionally compact and lightweight allied with some darned impressive performance. We’re still amazed that Body Sculpture has managed to pack a 2.2HP motor into a treadmill that is so small, especially considering the fact that it can fold to 90 degrees. This is therefore a very powerful and able home treadmill with the added bonus of being easily packed away between uses.

This powerful motor delivers a peak speed of 14KM/H, which is capable compared to similar priced treadmills. If max speed is important, you can pay a little more for something along the lines of the Reebok ZR8, but for under £400 this is about as good as it typically comes from a recognised brand.

The running deck is particularly impressive with the BT3152 – it’s both large and cushioned. Of the treadmills that we have delved through, this has by far the best home deck and is the closest thing to a commercial treadmill that we have seen in this regard.

This is all backed up by a solid display, which delivers feedback around time, distance, pule rate and calories burned.

 

What are its main drawbacks?

This Body Sculpture offering leaves a little to be desired in the incline department, coming with just two levels. This is a severe limitation for anybody who likes to do any sort of serious hill work.

Its probably due to this limitation that the BT3152 does not have many pre-set workouts – carrying just 3 auto programmes and a manual setting. Pre-set programmes typically try and hit a random combination of different speeds and inclines, and the treadmills that have a large variety of built-in programmes are typically able to offer these because they have a high max speed and a steep top-incline. So bear this in mind if you like to programme the treadmill on a pre-set workout and leave it to it.

Who is this best suited for?

This treadmill makes the list due to its combination of a very good, durable motor and its great space efficiency. It’s therefore a top pick for anybody who needs a super-compact, easily packed away treadmill but who also wants a decent performing one. Generally speaking, the better the treadmill the less likely it is to fold away, or if it does, it does so in a bulky and space inefficient manner.

How much does it cost?

This Body Sculpture BT3152 is currently available for £379.99 on Amazon

The Reebok ZR8 Treadmill

What are its main selling points?

The Reebok ZR8 treadmill is a very solid home based treadmill, and is the one that I personally choose. I like that the ZR8 features a wide array of pre-set training programmes – 24 in total – and these offer a nice array of different styles and intensities. So if you’re a fan of mixing your training up, perhaps doing more of a hill based run one day followed by a more intense training session, incorporating harder peaks and troughs, then this is a great feature.

The ZR8 maxes out at 16KM/H, which is fairly good for a home treadmill that doesn’t run in to the £x,xxx’s and this is accompanied by a 12 percent max incline. We have our doubts about the true incline, as we cover in our full review of this treadmill, but this is sufficient for home use.

Perhaps more than anything, I really like the running deck on the ZR8. Yes its too small, and for some the handles are a fraction low, but it has a really soft and cushioned feel to it. This really aids you in putting in the time on this treadmill and its accompanied by a great motor, which has no difficulty in coping with maximum incline and maximum speed together.

What are its main drawbacks?

The ZR8 is not without its drawbacks. As mentioned, the running deck is definitely on the small side, especially in terms of width. If you’re the sort of running who flails around a bit, making full use of the width on a commercial machine, then you may find this a little challenging.

It also has some of the most suspect metrics that I have ever seen on a treadmill,

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and these should be taken with something of a pinch of salt. Whilst I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the distance aspect – presuming the speeds are accurate, which broadly I think they are – the calorie counter in on another planet. Let’s just say I wish I did burn calories that fast whilst going for a run, as I could knock half an hour off my usual session. Unfortunately, my body fat levels tell me otherwise…

Who is this best suited for?

The Reebok ZR8 is a good home treadmill that is well suited for fairly serious users. Its drawbacks mean that I would caution against building a programme around it, but if you’re the sort of person who likes to hit the treadmill 3-4 times a week and work up a good sweat, then this is a very good choice.

We outline more of our thoughts in our full Reebok ZR8 treadmill review

How much does it cost?

The Reebok ZR8 is currently available at £449 at Argos

The York Active 110 Treadmill

What are its main selling points?

The York Active 110 is a very solid proposition for any home gym. York have a solid reputation for making decent quality upper-lower tier home fitness products, and they have continued their long tradition with this treadmill.

It makes for a good home treadmill due to its easy installation (it is 90 percent pre-assembled out of the box, so there’s not much farthing around to do to get it going) and its easily foldable, making it easy to store away. In this regard it meets all of our main home gym criteria, because it’s also a quiet and efficient machine.

This treadmill is not going to blow you away with its top speed – it maxes out at just 13KM/h – so it is therefore more of a walking or light running machine. This is one of its larger drawbacks, which we’ll outline below. It makes up for this lack of speed range with 13 pre-set workout routines, and these offer a large enough range to keep most gym-goers on an upward fitness curve for some time.

The display is well thought out, with large clear buttons that leave the user in no doubt about what they mean and the function they serve. The display ties in with the hand pulse sensor, which allows you to take a heart rate reading whilst running, although we would always recommend a heart rate monitor for this purpose.

Finally, the York Active features a cushioned running deck, which helps to protect your joints as you’re running or walking. This also makes the running experience more comfortable and helps you to train for longer, which are some pretty big selling points.

What are its main drawbacks?

The limited 13 km/h top speed is a shame, because this effectively rules out anybody who likes to train using high intensity interval training, fartlek or any other intensity based regime.

Who is this best suited for?

We feel that the York 110 is best suited for somebody who likes to use their home gym as a ‘top-up’ to their regular gym routine. If you struggle to get down to the gym to do your cardio, and want a robust, affordable treadmill that you can park in your spare room or garage and plod away on, then this is a very good bet.

Alternatively, if you’re just starting out, or starting back-out on a training regime and want to invest in a treadmill that’s got a bit more than your bargain basement ones, and that’s created by a reputable brand with a good reputation, then the 110 could also be the best choice for you on the market at the moment.

How much does it cost?

The York Active 110 is currently priced at £314.99 on Amazon but has an RRP of £599.99

 

 

 

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