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I bought a Precor Treadmill 9.31 in 2007. Simplicity, fun/techie looking, ease of use and its great cushioning were why I shelled out $3k for this thing and was happy to do so. As any treadmill owner will tell you though, with so much mechanical wear and tear, these devices eventually need maintenance. I was out of Precor's warranty and they referred me to a local dealer that could service it, for about $800. And there wouldn't be much, if any, warranty on the treadmill after that. I want a long term solution for having a decent treadmill, so I don't have to shell out $3k every 13 years or so. Here are the options I see:

  • Pay the $800 to service my treadmill now and hope for the best.
  • Go on Facebook Marketplace and buy a used treadmill for $150 or so. There are many decent treadmills for cheap. A lot of people just want to get them out of the house, but that's still a gamble if it doesn't work or craps out in a month after I get it. I'll still need to rent a truck to get it and find someplace to haul my poor, broken Precor.
  • Pony up about $4k now for something like a Landice, that has a lifetime warranty on all parts, but still not labor (which I'm okay with).
  • Buy something cheap like a Nordic Track for $700 or so, with a 2 year parts, 1 year labor and just run the risk of having to re-buy a new one every so often. I guess I would get newer tech with those if I go that route.

What would you guys recommend? One of these or something else?

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Having operated commercial gymnasiums, I would only ever recommend buying heavy commercial-grade equipment; the cost of home or low-use commercial equipment ultimately proves to be greater, since their design, parts, and construction are simply not adequate for serious or heavy use. You can guarantee that a cheap treadmill will break down regularly.

I recommend that you look for a treadmill with a motor of at least 2¼ or 2½ horsepower, ideally combined with a self-lubricating deck. It goes without saying that regular preventative maintenance—opening, cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment—are essential to elongating the life of the machine.

A sprung platform may also extend the life of the machine, since it reduces peak force loading on the belt and deck, and hence reduces frictional wear. (Likewise on your joints!) However, that should be considered in the context of the loading characteristics you want for your training. Sprung platforms do not emulate real-world road/track conditions.

I believe that the best treadmill ever designed is the Woodway which, rather than having a lubricated belt, has a platform comprised of interlocking segments supported on roller bearings. This reduces frictional wear enormously, allowing the treadmill to employ a less powerful motor (2 horsepower) whilst permitting maximum speeds of up to 29 kilometres per hour (18 miles per hour). And if any part of the platform wears out, you can replace a single bearing on an individual segment, rather than having to replace the whole track. I understand that the first Woodway ever built, now decades ago, is still in operation!

The down side is that Woodways are, for most people (and even businesses), prohibitively expensive, so a high-quality commercial machine like the Landice is a good choice. And if you can source a trustworthy second-hand dealer, a reconditioned model of any of these good machines should give you many years of faithful service. They are often provided with a limited warranty, too.

I hope that gives you some food for thought.

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  • 1
    Thanks for your advice! I have tried Woodways a few times and really loved them! And it is possible to get a used one for around 4k, which would be around the cost of a Landice. I'm just a bit worried because even the brand new Woodway warranty doesn't seem that good (less than 3 years), let alone what the warranty might be on a used one. I know they tout a lower cost of ownership over time, but Landice seems to add that extra peace of mind that they stand behind their products for life. I think ideally I'd like to get a Woodway Desmo S or 4Front used for around 4 or 5k. – Dan Csharpster May 27 at 15:35
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I'd spent couple of months on Google before I bought one. And now I have had it for 2 years with daily loading of 10-15 kilometres' distance, with speeds of 3-5 km/h, about 3 approaches per 1 hour each.

It did break once, but there was insurance—5 Years—so, I called the service, waited about 2 months while the main panel traveled across the world, and voilà! I've been walking for over a year now, without problems...

And I'm sure, if something happened during the next three years, the service would salvage me again. Moreover, I think that I can rent a service after 3 years to replace any broken parts for money.

So, my couple of cents for you:

  • As you can understand from my introduction, buy it only in right place. With service and support and brand name. Do not do it on ebay or something like that, where seller could disappear in next 6 months in unknown direction.

  • At least 5 years' insurance period.

Next, technical details:

  • Engine more than 4 horsepower, and be-aware. I've stepped on the rake here. There are two engines, the first one - which is rotating canvas, and second one - which is changing angle, raising and lowering the whole platform. Many sellers cheated on customers, so understand that there are two engines. You should take one with a main engine of at least 4 - 5 horsepower.
  • Automatically regulated tilt level, means, not mechanical!! with second engine..
  • Width of canvas - at least 46 centimetres
  • Length of canvas - at least 140 centimetres

  • The last rule: when you are choosing between many, you need to choose biggest and heaviest one.

And as @POD already mentioned, you should choose a machine of industrial standard for eternal usage, for usage in gyms, by many clients in-line, during the whole day and night, because any non-commercial treadmill will be break down quickly.

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