By Jeff Hahn
If you are shopping for a treadmill, you will surely hear how important the motor is to the performance and durability of the product you are going to purchase. You will commonly hear that you must have a 2.5 or 3.0 “Continuous Duty” motor. The fact is HORSEPOWER ratings can be misleading. There is no regulation on how horsepower is rated on treadmills.
Take these two treadmills for example: The Vision Fitness TF-20 vs. the Sole F65. The Vision motor is rated at 2.75HP while the Sole F65 is rated at 3.25HP. The Vision motor weighs 4 times what the Sole does and is physically larger by quite a bit. On top of that, the Vision rating is taken at 3200RPM while the Sole rating is at 7720RPM. This means that they took the rating on the Sole while working twice as hard as the Vision.
You can make a smaller motor give you more horsepower by winding it up to a higher RPM, but it will pull more power and wear out faster. Since both companies offer a lifetime motor warranty, you may think this to be irrelevant – except when you look at the parts warranty. Vision offers 5 years parts, and Sole offers 3. The part that is most likely to fail due to high power draw on the motor is the lower electronics board – this is the brain of your treadmill. It takes the power from the wall and supplies the motor with the power to make the treadmill give you the speed you want it to run at. When it is running high levels of power and surging for your footfalls, it is heating up – and we all know that heat is the enemy of anything electronic.
So with that being said, it is obvious that the Vision Fitness motor is a better quality motor, and will help the other components to last longer as well. The motor is the most expensive part of your treadmill and the combination of HORSEPOWER and RPM that the reading is taken at will give you a good indication of the quality level. Other things you can check are the physical size and weight of the motor. Typically the bigger and heavier, the better the motor. Don’t be fooled by companies that try to “out-spec” their competition by giving unrealistic Horsepower ratings at high RPM. Go to a store with a knowledgeable staff that can help you determine your needs, and find the right product to fit. In fitness equipment, as with most things, you get what you pay for – so buy quality for the best ownership experience.