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 XTERRA TR6.6||20" x 60"||3.0 CHP||Lifetime frame and motor|
2 year parts
1 year labor
|350 lb weight limit, 7 workout programs, chest strap monitor included|
|#2 Sole F63||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 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|
|#4 LifeSpan TR1200i||20" x 56"||2.5 CHP||Lifetime frame|
5 year motor
2 year parts
1 year labor
|21 workout programs, large rollers|
|#5 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|
|#6 XTERRA TRX2500||20" x 55"||2.25 CHP||Lifetime frame and motor|
1 year parts and labor
|300 lb weight limit, handlebar controls|
|#7 NordicTrack T 6.5 S||20" x 55"||2.6 CHP||10 year frame|
2 year parts
1 year labor
|300 lb weight limit, FlexSelect shock absorbing system|
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.
I’d also like to point out that treadmills have gotten a lot more expensive over the last year- well, some of them have anyway.
Unfortunately, some of the top picks from the previous year had to be scratched because they got too darn expensive to keep on this list.
I think it had a lot to do with the whole supply and demand equation- with a worldwide pandemic on our hands, a lot more people have been purchasing home fitness equipment because their local gyms were either closed or unsafe to use at the time.
This lead to a much higher demand, which increased the price on a lot of home treadmills (it also made it a lot harder to actually find some of these treadmills).
Regardless, this year’s guide has been adjusted so that all of the treadmills on this list are actually under $1000 and are available for purchase (at the time of writing this anyway- things seem to change as the year goes on).
Anyway, back to the good stuff:
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 a 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 to use for a lot of folks out there.
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 can 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 too.
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 can be 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 7 Best Budget Friendly Treadmills Of 2021
#1 XTERRA TR6.6 Treadmill
XTERRA’s TR6.6 grabs the top spot on this list with its impressive combination of performance specs, features, and warranty. After all, when it comes to a budget treadmill, what else is there?
If you aren’t familiar with the XTERRA brand, you aren’t alone. I don’t think they have the same brand recognition as some of the other brands on this list, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes in the future.
With affordable prices and generous warranties, I don’t see how they couldn’t continue to gain more fame and recognition.
When it comes to treadmills, their TR6.6 is one of the brand’s most advanced machines to date. And with a sales price of roughly $1000, it just makes our criteria for this list.
The TR6.6 comes with a 20″ x 60″ running surface– a must to make it to the top of my list. This is spacious for any treadmill, but especially so for a treadmill in this price range.
When it comes to the motor, this treadmill is packing plenty of muscle with a 3.0 CHP motor that can reach a top speed of 12 mph.
It also comes with 15 levels of incline to extra workout variety and added challenge.
But it’s the warranty that really grabs my attention with this model. XTERRA backs this treadmill up with the following guarantee: lifetime frame, lifetime motor, 5 year deck, 2 year parts, and 1 year labor.
This is an amazing warranty for a budget treadmill and I think it says a lot about the quality XTERRA is offering here.
Other note-worthy features include large rollers, 7 pre-programmed workouts to choose from, a 350 lb weight capacity, and an included chest strap heart rate monitor with purchase.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty treadmill that comes with a great warranty, XTERRA’s TR6.6 is a great choice. See full review.
#2 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 number 2 pick because it has a few more workout programs than the Horizon 7.0 AT and uses slightly larger rollers (and the XTERRA model above is a bit heavier-duty).
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.
#3 Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill
Horizon Fitness has a reputation for building high-quality treadmills that won’t break the bank- and the 7.0 AT Treadmill is no different.
With almost identical specs as the Sole F63, the only reason this one landed the #3 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.
#4 LifeSpan TR1200i Treadmill
I could be wrong, but I don’t think LifeSpan Fitness gets the respect they deserve. LifeSpan is a solid home fitness brand with several nice budget-friendly machines to choose from.
I especially like their TR1200i because it comes with some very respectable performance specs for this price range.
The running surface on this model is a little smaller than the models we’ve seen so far, but with a 20″ x 56″ surface to work with it’s still larger than most in this price range.
The TR1200i is packing a 2.5 CHP motor that can reach a top speed of 11 mph. It also comes with 15 levels of power incline to add all the extra intensity you’re looking for.
This treadmill also comes with 21 built-in workouts to choose from, making it a great choice for people looking for a lot of workout variety from their treadmill.
The console on this model is pretty simple, but it is compatible with wireless chest strap heart rate monitors.
More importantly, the TR1200i is backed by a great warranty: lifetime frame, 5 year motor, 2 year parts, 1 year labor.
Overall, if you’re looking for a dependable treadmill with a lot of workouts to choose from, LifeSpan’s TR1200i is definitely worth a second look. And with a sales price of $700, it’s a steal. See full review.
#5 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.
The T101 comes with a running surface of 20″ x 55″, almost identical to 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.
#6 XTERRA TRX2500 Treadmill
Yup, another XTERRA model made the list. What can I say, when it comes to budget treadmills, XTERRA is easily one of the best brands around.
The TRX2500 is a smaller, less powerful version of the TR6.6 we saw at the top of this list.
But it’s also a couple hundred bucks cheaper, making it a smart choice if your budget is especially limited.
This treadmill comes with a running surface that measures 20″ x 55″– it’s a little smaller than the top machines mentioned above, but it’s still quite respectable for a model in this price range.
The TRX2500 comes with a 2.25 CHP motor that can reach a top speed of 10 mph. It also comes with 10 levels of power incline to play with.
The warranty on this treadmill isn’t quite as generous as the one we see on the TR6.6, but it’s still much better than most in this category: lifetime frame, lifetime motor, 1 year parts, 1 year labor.
I’d also like to point out that this treadmill folds and comes with a max weight capacity of 300 lb- not too shabby for an $800 treadmill.
Overall, the TRX2500 is another quality budget treadmill from a brand that specializes in affordable home equipment. For the price, it’s gonna be hard to find a more impressive specimen. See full review.
#7 NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill
NordicTrack is one of the most well-known home fitness brands around, so I doubt an introduction is necessary.
This T 6.5 S is one of their older models and it’s a bit outdated when compared to some of their newer machines, but for the price it’s still one hell of a treadmill.
This treadmill comes with a running surface that’s 20″ x 55″– this is far from perfect, but still better than a lot of the other treadmills in this price range.
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: 10 year frame, 2 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 some of the other machines on this list.
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.
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.