In the second year of Runner's World's overhaul of its treadmill report, the magazine has again simply printed short write-ups about eight treadmills in its January 2007 issue, rather than rating and ranking them one against the other as in the past.
In addition, two additional brands are on the report on the magazine's website at www.runnersworld.com/treadmills.
"In our quest for the most motivating models, we recruited a panel of experts to narrow the field. Then we let more than 100 members of the Michigan Athletic Center in East Lansing have their say," reported the magazine in its lead. Each segment also printed specs, including price, belt size, dimensions, maximum speed/incline, number of regular and custom programs, and warranty.
Some negatives were pointed out here and there, such as handrail placement that inhibited arm swings or a bouncy belt.
Listed in order of price in the magazine, the eight brands and treadmill models -- with an excerpt of commentary as in print -- that made it into the magazine that hit newsstands in mid-December are:
>> True PS 100 Treadmill -- "With a cruise control setting this treadmill has zone training for dummies" -- Pointed out were the cruise-control setting, the quiet ride and sturdy, large deck.
>> Horizon T6 AFG Treadmill -- "A treadmill for the runner who loves to log their miles and stats" -- The magazine's panel liked the logging aspect and simple console button, as well as the orthopedic belt, although one person called it bouncy.
>> PaceMaster Platinum Pro VR Treadmill -- "The first treadmill with a negative incline to train those quads for Boston" -- Of note in the copy were the programmed courses modeled after terrain types to simulate running outdoors, as well as the first home model to have a negative incline option.
>> Life Fitness F3 Advanced Workouts Treadmill -- "A fold-up treadmill that will get you race-ready" -- The fold-up was called high-quality and sturdy, meaning it didn't bounce too much. Reviewers like the race mode, but noted the buttons were a bit hard to navigate mid-run.
>> Nautilus Sport Series T518 Treadmill -- "Can't make it to Colorado for the Boulder 10-K? Don't worry, just hop on this treadmill and you can run the race" -- Programs that simulate real races piqued the interest of runner-reviewers, as well as generic race programs such as half-marathon or 5K. A log for up to five people was also called out.
>> Landice L7 Cardio Treadmill -- "With the longest warranty of all the treadmills here, the Landice is built for abuse" -- No-frills but super durable is what this model was called, although it was also called complicated and the console was noted as difficult for mid-run adjustments.
>> Precor M9.35i Treadmill -- "Simple to use and straightforward to program, made this treadmill popular among our testers" -- A treadmill that was called straightforward but still one offering a wide variety of programs and a log that stores personal preferences of six users. Also called sleek and stable, with a simple-to-use console.
>> SportsArt Fitness TR33 Treadmill -- "A treadmill that does everything except run for you" -- Being able to change a program choice mid-run, without having to start over, really grabbed the users with this piece. Reviewers also called out the ability to adjust the belt cushioning -- even mid-run -- and the roomiest belt of the group.
The two that are added to the bunch on the web report are:
>> Vision T9600 Premier Treadmill -- "A treadmill that will literally challenge you to a race" -- The magazine reported that Vision simplified and streamlined the console after last year based on feedback and it has paid off. Programs that include a 5K course and a pacer feature (so a runner can race a virtual person) were also named as best. It was also called the best value.
>> NordicTrack S 3000 Treadmill -- "Taller runners will appreciate this roomier treadmill" -- A sturdy workhorse was what the NordicTrack was called and a great choice for big or tall runners. Electronic features were basic and it may not have the best looks, but it was still easy to use.