Budget friendly treadmills are a dime a dozen and can be found anywhere. It’s true, there are a ton of affordable home treadmills out there and unfortunately, most of them are pretty junky.
The trick is being able to identify which ones are actually worth buying before you dive head in and end up with a clunker.
Because nobody wants to go down that rabbit hole- wasted time, wasted money, disappointment. It’s just no good.
Luckily, it’s avoidable.
This guide will show you what to look for when comparing affordable treadmills to make sure you end up with one that will actually work.
I’ll also present to you my top picks for this price range based on the criteria I suggest you use when doing your own comparisons.
If you’d like to skip the buying guide and get right to the point, I understand:
|Running Surface||Motor||Warranty||Top Features|
|#1 Sole F63||20" x 60"||3.0 CHP||Lifetime frame and motor|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|325 lb weight limit, bluetooth speakers, 10 workout programs|
|#2 Horizon 7.0 AT||20" x 60"||3.0 CHP||Lifetime frame and motor|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|325 lb weight limit, bluetooth speakers, USB port|
|#3 ProForm 905 CST||20" x 60"||3.0 CHP||Lifetime frame and motor|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|350 lb weight limit, 30 workout programs, iFit compatible|
|#4 NordicTrack T 7.5 S||20" x 60"||3.0 CHP||Lifetime frame and motor|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|300 lb weight limit, 50 workout programs, bluetooth speakers|
|#5 NordicTrack T 6.5 S||20" x 55"||2.6 CHP||Lifetime frame|
25 year motor
1 year parts and labor
|300 lb weight limit, 20 workout programs, iFit compatible|
|#6 Horizon T101||20" x 55"||2.5 CHP||Lifetime frame and motor|
1 year parts and labor
|300 lb weight limit, 40 workout programs, bluetooth speakers|
|#7 Nautilus T616||20" x 60"||3.0 CHP||10 year frame and motor|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|300 lb weight limit, 26 workout programs, chest strap included|
What Is A “Budget Friendly” Treadmill?
Home treadmills are available in pretty much any price range you can think of. Manual treadmills start out at around $100. High-end treadmills can easily run you $4000 and up.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, we should probably define what we mean by “affordable” or “budget friendly”. Your definition and my definition may be completely different, so let’s make sure we’re on the same page here.
For the purpose of this article, a budget friendly treadmill is any treadmill with an asking price less than $1000.
I know $1000 might not sound like an affordable machine, but when it comes to fitness equipment, it actually is. For comparison’s sake, if you wanted a commercial grade treadmill like you see at the local gym, you’d probably have to spend $6000-$8000.
Now $1000 doesn’t sound too bad does it?
Anyway, $1000 is the ceiling for our price range here. Although there are some treadmills on this list that cost less than that, most of these machines are in the $800 – $999 range.
This is the price point where you can get some really nice treadmills. There are some quality machines that cost less, but this guide is here to show you the best options in this price range.
Remember the old saying: “you get what you pay for”? Of course you do, everyone knows that one. Well, it’s usually true. The sad truth is that a $300 treadmill can’t offer the same features that a $900 treadmill can.
But like I said, this price range includes a lot of machines. Which I think is a good thing- it means there are a lot of options to choose from. This gives us more opportunities to find the perfect match for our home gyms.
Which leads me to the most important question:
How To Buy A Budget Treadmill
Buying a budget treadmill really isn’t any different than buying a high-end treadmill. There are certain specs and features you should prioritize and compare, regardless of price.
The only difference is having realistic expectations regarding what you get for under $1000.
The following specs/features should be prioritized when looking for an affordable home treadmill:
If you’ve ever read any of my treadmill reviews before, you know I’m a stickler for the running surface size. Simply put, this measurement refers to how much usable belt space you have when walking or running on the machine.
Measured in inches, the spec is presented as “width x length”.
When it comes to running surface, bigger is better. The bigger the running surface, the more room you’re going to have during your workout. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be cramped when I’m trying to run.
Which brings up an important point- if the running surface is too short, taller users are going to have to shorten their stride when running (especially at higher speeds). This doesn’t make for a comfortable run.
The belt width isn’t quite as important, but again, you don’t want to feel like you’re running on a tightrope either. It’s nice to have a little wiggle room laterally in case you tend to sway a little (you don’t want to find yourself falling off the belt).
The gold standard for home treadmills is a running surface of 20″ x 60″.
With this size, most users can comfortably run as fast as the want without having to shorten their stride.
One of the tell-tale signs of an inferior budget treadmill is the small running surface. I love it when cheap treadmills market that they have a “large, 16″x50″ running surface”… can’t blame them for trying I guess.
And maybe a lot of people don’t know what to expect, but now you do. Don’t fall for it- a 16″ x 50″ running surface is tiny and wouldn’t be comfortable at all to use.
Luckily, you don’t have to settle for less than 20″ x 60” in this budget price range.
The motor strength is another crucial spec to consider when looking for an affordable treadmill. This probably isn’t surprising, but stronger is better. Especially if you plan on doing some running on your new machine.
Weak motors is another indicator of low quality treadmills.
Home treadmill motors usually fall in the 2.0 – 4.0 CHP range.
P.S.- “CHP” refers to “continuous horse power” and means how much power the motor can sustain. It’s a better indicator of motor performance than HP.
Having a stronger motor is preferred because the motor won’t have to work as hard to provide your workout. This usually results in a smoother feel- most people don’t want to feel the motor struggling to maintain a 4 mph pace.
And since the stronger motor doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the same speed, it should last longer than the weaker motor.
Personally, I would shoot for at least a 3.0 CHP motor, especially if you want to run. If you plan on doing walking (or light jogging) only, a weaker motor should suffice.
But there are several great treadmills in this price range that offer 3.0 CHP motors, so there’s really no reason to settle for a weaker motor.
Actually, you shouldn’t expect anything more powerful than 3.0 CHP for under $1000- that’s about as strong as these machines get in this price range. But there are a lot of treadmills in this price range with significantly weaker motors.
Before I forget, I want to mention roller size real quick. Rollers are the part that make contact with the treadmill belt and actually cause it to propel down the deck.
Larger rollers are preferred, because they make more surface contact with the belt, which theoretically should equate to a smoother experience (that also puts less stress on the motor).
For home treadmills, 2.5″ rollers are preferred. A lot of treadmills in the budget category user smaller rollers in the 1.5″-1.9″ range. I don’t think this is a deal breaker either way, but just something to be aware of. If stuck between 2 similar machines, I would pick the one with the larger rollers.
The warranty is the third most important spec to consider when buying a new treadmill. This is your insurance plan for your new piece of equipment. A good warranty will let you rest easy and purchase confidently.
A poor warranty can keep you up at night, wondering what you just did.
Treadmill warranties are usually divided into 4 parts:
The frame and motor warranties should be the longest because these are the parts that should last the longest. Quality models will offer “lifetime” warranties on both the frame and motor, and yes, there are treadmills in this price range that offer this.
Parts warranties vary greatly, but usually fall somewhere in the 2-5 year range. Lower quality models may only offer 1 year on parts.
Labor warranties are always the shortest. Budget treadmills usually just offer 1 year on labor. Even expensive treadmills rarely offer more than 2 years.
A treadmill’s warranty tells you a lot about the quality of the machine. Short warranties mean the company knows the machine is cheaply made and they don’t expect it to last.
Longer warranties show you the manufacturer trusts their products are well made.
When stuck between 2 similar treadmills, I would always opt for the better warranty. Personally, I would go with a simpler treadmill with fewer features and a strong warranty than a hi-tech treadmill with a weaker warranty.
Budget treadmills don’t usually pack as many fancy, hi-tech features as the high-end models. After all, there are reasons these machines are less expensive.
But that said, you may be surprised at some of the features you can still find on quality budget treadmills.
Here are some of the features you can expect to find on treadmills in this price range:
- Fewer built-in workouts- usually these consoles are simpler with fewer workout options, but there are treadmills on this list with 20-30 workouts included
- Simple displays- you won’t find any large, touchscreen displays for under $1000. These displays are smaller and less sophisticated
- Bluetooth capabilities- you can find treadmills with bluetooth connectivity in this price range. Bluetooth can be used for data tracking with apps as well as connecting to built-in speakers wirelessly.
- Heart rate tracking- quality budget treadmills should be compatible with chest strap heart rate monitors, some may include one with purchase.
- Folding decks- most home treadmills these days come with folding decks. This is a nice feature if your workout space is limited to begin with. Folding the treadmill when not in use can save you 2-3′ of floor space.
- Shock absorbing system- quality budget treadmills will come with some type of shock system to reduce stress through your joints.
- USB/mp3 ports- a lot of these treadmills also come with USB and mp3 ports to charge your devices and plug your devices into the treadmill to listen to music through the built-in speakers
- Quick touch buttons- this features allows you to instantly set a preselected speed or incline. This is a great feature, especially for doing interval training. A lot of quality budget treadmills offer this now.
These are the most common features you’ll see. There may be a few I missed, but generally speaking, budget treadmills come with less sophisticated tech than their higher-end counterparts.
I think the under $1000 price range is a real sweet price point though, because you can get a high-quality treadmill with decent features without breaking the bank.
Ok, that about does it for the buyer’s guide.
When comparing treadmills (budget or not), you should start with the running surface, motor, and warranty. Then take a look at what features are most important to you and find one that comes with as many of your preferences as possible.
Now here are my top picks for this price range, based on the criteria we just discussed.
The Best Budget Friendly Treadmills Of 2020
#1 Sole F63 Treadmill
It’s a really tough call to pick a winner between the top 3 treadmills here. There really aren’t any wrong answers because all 3 are great treadmills with very similar stats.
Ultimately, I chose the Sole F63 as my top pick because it has a few more workout programs than the Horizon 7.0 AT and uses slightly larger rollers.
The Sole F63 finds itself on most bloggers’ “best of” lists. And there’s really no surprise why- it’s well-built and comes with great specs for such an affordable machine.
Right off the bat, it comes with 20″ x 60″ running surface– a must to snatch the top seed on this list. The frame also folds for easy storage and the deck is designed with Sole’s CushionFlex shock absorption system to reduce stress through your joints.
It’s also packing a 3.0 CHP motor with a top speed of 12 mph and 15 levels of incline. Simply put, the F63 has enough muscle to challenge even the most talented runners.
This treadmill also comes with a great warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 3 year parts, 1 year labor.
Overall, the Sole F63 is an easy to use, sturdy machine designed to last. If you don’t need a ton of preprogrammed workouts, this treadmill is a great choice.
If you want to test drive it first, you can find it at most sporting goods stores (like Dick’s). See review.
#2 Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill
Horizon Fitness has a reputation for building high-quality treadmills that won’t break the bank. The 7.0 AT Treadmill is no different. With almost identical specs as the Sole F63, the only reason this one landed the #2 spot was because it comes with fewer loaded workouts and slightly smaller rollers.
This treadmill also comes with a spacious, 20″ x 60″ running surface. This is big enough for runners/walkers of all sizes to workout comfortably without having to worry about running out of belt space.
The 7.0 AT is also a folding treadmill, making it great for tight spaces. It has a 3 zone variable response cushioning system, where the amount of shock absorption varies on the deck based on the kinematics of running.
The result is a comfortable experience with less stress through your hips and knees.
This treadmill also has a 3.0 CHP motor with a top speed of 12 mph and a top incline of 15%. Horizon built this model with 2.3″/1.8″ tapered rollers, which are a little smaller than the F63’s, but still better than most in this price range.
The 7.0 AT is backed by an awesome warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 3 year parts, and 1 year labor.
If you’re looking for a good ol’ fashioned treadmill without too many bells and whistles, this is a good pick (although it does come with bluetooth speakers which is cool). It’s built like a tank and comes with a great guarantee. What else could we want in this price range? See review.
#3 ProForm 905 CST Treadmill
ProForm is another well-known home fitness brand known for providing high-quality, affordable machinery. The 905 CST is no longer offered directly through ProForm, but luckily you can still find it on sites like Amazon.
I’m not sure why they stopped marketing this series, probably had something to do with sales. But the 905 CST has some of the best specs of any of the treadmills ProForm has offered.
The CST series of treadmills seems to have been replaced by their Performance series, with more of an emphasis on touchscreens than performance.
The 905 CST is packing a 20″ x 60″ running surface and a 3.0 CHP motor. It’s capable of reaching and maintaining a top speed of 12 mph and a max incline of 12%.
ProForm’s patented ProShox Cushioning System is another perk- users almost unanimously agree this is a comfortable treadmill to use.
Even though the tech on the 905 CST isn’t as new as what’s being offered in their Performance series machines, this treadmill still comes loaded with a ton of workouts and is iFit compatible.
One of the most impressive specs for this machine in my opinion, is the 350 lb weight capacity. This treadmill is built rock-solid and is a great choice for larger users.
It’s also backed by the same awesome warranty as the two previous treadmills (lifetime motor and frame, 3 year parts, 1 year labor).
For roughly $800, you’re not likely to find a better treadmill for this price. See review.
#4 NordicTrack T 7.5 S Treadmill
NordicTrack may have been most well-known for their skiers back in the day, but now it’s their more conventional cardio equipment that’s sustaining their reputation for quality work.
The T 7.5 S is one their most budget friendly treadmills, second only to the T 6.5 S which you’ll learn more about below. NordicTrack does a great job of combining performance and tech on their affordable models.
This machine comes with a large, 20″ x 60″ running surface, which gives it the ability to comfortably fit most users. The FlexSelect Cushioning system gives you the ability to customize your workout experience by selecting between a firmer or softer shock absorption- a cool feature if you like to train for road races.
The T 7.5 S comes standard with a 3.0 CHP motor, capable of reaching speeds up to 12 mph and inclines up to 12%. Like most affordable treadmills, it uses 1.9″ rollers, but users rarely complain about the smoothness here.
If you’re looking for a ton of workout variety, this is probably the best choice for ya- this treadmill comes preloaded with 50 different workout programs. In case that isn’t enough, this treadmill is iFit compatible.
NordicTrack backs this treadmill up with an impressive warranty: lifetime frame and motor, 3 year parts, and 1 year labor.
Overall, the T 7.5 S is a great budget treadmill that has something to offer all users. If you’re looking for an affordable treadmill with higher-tech options, this is a smart choice. See review.
#5 NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill
The T 6.5 S is really just a smaller, less advanced version of the T 7.5 S. It’s also significantly cheaper, with an asking price roughly $400 lower. So if you like the T 7.5 S but can’t quite fit it in your budget, this might be a good compromise.
This is the first treadmill to make this list that isn’t offering the gold standard running surface. Instead, this smaller machine comes with a running surface that’s 20″ x 55″.
The shorter belt might be a problem for taller users- if you’re 6′ tall, you might find yourself shortening your stride a little (especially when sprinting).
The included 2.6 CHP motor is also a little weaker than the previous models. The T 6.5 S is still capable of reaching a max speed of 10 mph and a max incline of 10%. I’m guessing most of us could still get a strenuous workout with these specs.
This model folds and comes with the same FlexSelect shock absorbing system as the other more expensive NordicTrack treadmills.
NordicTrack backs this machine up with the following guarantee: lifetime frame, 25 year motor, 1 year parts, 1 year labor.
So as you can see, this treadmill is a little smaller, a little weaker, and not quite as robust as the T 7.5 S. It’s really best suited for walking and jogging instead of serious running. But considering the low asking price, still a great budget treadmill. See review.
#6 Horizon T101 Treadmill
The Horizon name may not be quite as recognizable as NordicTrack or Sole, but they’ve got a pretty impressive treadmill lineup under their sleeve. Especially when it comes to affordable options.
The T101 is their entry level treadmill as well as their most affordable. The asking price is roughly $300 cheaper than the 7.0 AT, making this the cheapest treadmill on this list (well, tied for cheapest with the T 6.5 S).
The T101 comes with a running surface of 20″ x 55″, just like the treadmill we saw above. You might’ve noticed the correlation between lower price and smaller running surface- remember, there are reasons some treadmills cost more than others.
Anyway, when it comes to muscle, this treadmill comes with a 2.5 CHP motor capable of reaching 10 mph as well as inclining up to 10%. Not as impressive as some of the treadmills we’ve discussed so far, but not bad for a machine in this price range.
The most surprising features on this treadmill (surprising in a good way) are the bluetooth speakers and the fact that it comes with 40 different workout programs.
There are home treadmills that cost 2x as much that don’t come with bluetooth speakers- nice job Horizon.
The T101 comes with a decent warranty for the price, offering lifetime on the frame and motor, and 1 year on parts and labor.
Overall, the T101 has a lot to offer for a $600 treadmill. If you’re looking for a well-built machine with some nice tech features, the T101 is a nice choice. See review.
#7 Nautilus T616 Treadmill
Rounding out our list is the Nautilus T616, one of just 3 models currently being offered by the well-known home fitness brand. If it weren’t for the warranty, this treadmill would’ve found itself significantly higher up on this list. But, I’m a real stickler.
This treadmill comes with a nice large running surface of 20″ x 60″– big enough to give you the feel of the treadmills you’ve likely used before at the local gym.
I want to point out that this is a large, heavy machine (weighs about 250 lb) because I think being heavy is a good thing for treadmills. It makes them less likely to wobble or move when you’re running on them.
The SoftDrop hydraulic system makes it easy to fold the deck vertically for storage, which is great if your workout area is lacking in extra floor space.
The T616 comes with an impressive 3.0 CHP motor, capable of reaching 12 mph as well as a max incline of 15%. This treadmill also uses 2.5″ crown rollers, which is rare in this price range.
This treadmill is loaded with 26 workout programs and even comes with a free chest strap heart rate monitor. Again, really great stuff for an affordable treadmill.
But, as we get to the warranty department, you’ll see why this machine landed the #7 spot on my list. Nautilus guarantees the T616 with the following warranty: 10 year frame and motor, 3 year parts, 1 year labor.
I’m not sure why Nautilus is so skimpy when it comes to the warranty. Otherwise this is a durable, well-built treadmill with tons of features. If you aren’t as worried about the warranty as much as I am, this is a pretty solid buy. See review.
There are a ton of affordable treadmills out there and you have to be careful when purchasing one under $1000- you don’t always know what you’re getting. And there are a lot of junky treadmills out there that you wouldn’t be happy with.
To make sure you get a treadmill that will perform and last, I suggest you concentrate on these 3 specs first and foremost: running surface, motor strength, and warranty.
Luckily, there are some really nice options that can be yours for under $1000. But as my list suggests, the best ones are found in the $600- $1000 range.
Just remember- when it comes to buying treadmills, affordable or high-end, prioritize the specs that matter. Don’t get caught up in flashy features or unnecessary tech.