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Treadmills tests reveal which are best buys

January 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Sales of home exercise equipment blew up in January, and the most popular type of equipment bought was treadmills. We teamed up with Consumer Reports for the lowdown on which work best and which you should avoid.Virginia Doestch says having a treadmill at home makes working out very convenient.

"It's an integral part of my workout," said Doestch. "So I do get on it and use it all the time."

Consumer Reports tested 29 of the latest treadmills, ranging in price from $500 to more than $3,000. Included were ones that fold and ones that don't.

"We found some very good treadmills for under $2,000," explained Gayle Williams, Consumer Reports. "But we also found some you should stay away from."

Consumer Reports uses a durability testing machine to test the durability of treadmills. According to Williams, two of three NordicTrack T9ci Folding Treadmills failed the test. The bolts holding the drive motor sheared off and the motor came loose from its mount. Consumer Reports rated the NordicTrack T9ci a "Don't Buy," and now the company says this model is being discontinued.

Testers also found a problem with the Best Fitness BFT1 treadmill.

"Even before we did any durability tests, the incline on the first one didn't work at all," said Williams. "So we bought two more."

The second one worked, but when the down incline was pushed on the third, the treadmill screen went blank and the treadmill came to a stop. Consumer Reports rated the Best Fitness BFT1 a "Don't Buy," as well.

"However, we did find some treadmills that rated very good and came with a variety of exercise programs," said Williams.

The AFG treadmill is a best buy at $1,800. But it doesn't fold and it's about the size of a small couch.

If you prefer a folding machine, Consumer Reports recommends the Sole F63. It's a $1,000 and it's considered their best buy.