The Best Treadmills of 2016

Say goodbye to the hamster wheel

The 30-Second Review

Treadmills aren't glamorous — they're just motorized belts that get you from point A to well, point A, even though you're doing a ton of work. An exercise physiologist, an athletic trainer, and a chiropractor confirmed that the best treadmills feel more like the road than a hamster wheel, are built for both walkers and runners, and aren't manual. We narrowed the list down, then started running.

65
Contenders
3
Top Picks
Our Picks for Best Treadmill
Looking for more?

Find the right treadmill for you from our full list of finalists

Treadmills are some of the most straightforward pieces of fitness equipment out there — just rubber belts that move. They’re also some of the most decked-out. They let you check your email, run along the French Riviera, stream music from your computer, plan a marathon, and turn a celebrity trainer into your personal running coach. All that makes it easy to forget the most important question of all: What are they like to run on? Even in 2016, the best treadmill doesn’t bury you under a features avalanche. It nails the fundamentals, like our pick, The Sole F85, whose smooth, quiet ride outperformed much more expensive machines.

Our Picks for the Best Treadmill of 2016

Best Overall

SOLE F85 Built for runners yet uber-equipped for walkers, the F85 offers all of the versatility, portability, and user-friendly features we were looking for.

The Sole F85 came out on top in our tests thanks to its strong mix of features for both runners and walkers: a full 15 percent incline, speeds up to 12 mph, and an extra large 80 x 35-inch deck, all in a foldable frame that makes it easy to store when not in use. It was also the quietest, smoothest treadmill we ran on — even at top speeds and at peak incline — outperforming much more expensive machines.

But there were a couple of design considerations that helped this model take first place. The F85 builds on-the-fly speed and incline controls right into the console arms, allowing runners to change their pace or begin an interval workout with the flick of the wrist — no need to interrupt their rhythm, belly up to the console, or hop off the running belt. The only other treadmill with these controls, the Technogym Artis Run, carries a hefty $10,000 price tag.

We found the Sole F85’s wealth of controls easy to use, even while running.

The F85 also has quick speed and incline control buttons on the console, leaving us one touch away from our favorite pace. On other treadmills, we had to stand there punching a physical button waiting for it to come up to speed.

While the F85 doesn’t have many flashy features, it checked every box on our list: It’s a safe, intuitive machine that makes us want to keep running.

Speed and incline buttons built into the F85’s armrests complement its already impressive control options.

Most Immersive Experience

Horizon T9 The Horizon T9 can take you on virtual tours during your workout and offers impressive options to share your fitness data with your smartphone and health apps.

The Horizon T9 uses Virtual Active technology to transform workouts into sightseeing tours. Once you’ve selected your destination, the 10-inch LCD touchscreen plays forward-motion HD video of the route. The rest of the console is uncluttered, and the picture was crisp and clear. When we turned on the in-console fan, it was pretty easy to pretend we were running on a beach in Mexico.

Horizon’s proprietary ViaFit connectivity can share your workout data with your smartphone and other fitness apps, like iFit, and helps you track your fitness goals and workout metrics on the ViaFit website.

Unfortunately, the T9 was louder than our top pick, and at its faster speeds, we had a hard time hearing queues coming from the high-tech console. Though it matched the max speed and incline of the Sole, it had a much smaller 60 x 20-inch running deck — that’s more than a foot narrower. A louder motor, smaller deck, and a higher price tag? See you next time, Mexico!

Best For Race Prep

Freemotion 2500 GS The Freemotion 2500 GS can decline as well as incline, making it a versatile option for anyone prepping for a race.

The 2500 GS stands out for its ability to decline: You can run downhill with as much as a 3 percent grade. Combine that with its iFit technology and it’s possible to mimic the elevation changes of any route — including the next race you’re training for. We drew our route on the screen and we were automatically climbing the same hills (and were rewarded with the same downhill sections) as the actual road.

It features a 10-inch touchscreen, a 15-inch HDTV, and three built-in fans. If you want to work out with trainer Jillian Michaels, she’s pre-loaded and waiting. And the running experience was also as smooth and enjoyable as treadmills twice the price.

Even though it was larger and heavier than other machines we tested, it was surprisingly portable. Between its (patented) SpaceSaver design and EasyLift Assist deck, we were able to move it just as easily as a smaller machine.

Its downsides? It was slightly noisier than even the Horizon T9, and the console’s double-decker screen isn’t exactly an aesthetic dream. At twice the price of the Sole, you’re paying for more features, but getting just as smooth a ride.

Other Treadmills to Consider

Woodway Curve XL
While we cut manual treadmills from our search, we know certain runners may be looking specifically for this category. If you have your heart set on a manual model, we recommend the Woodway Curve XL. This manual treadmill is strictly business: no onboard entertainment — just pace, speed, and heart rate. The curved running deck has a larger running surface that can accommodate tall athletes, and to increase speed, a runner has to take a few explosive steps — transforming this treadmill into a bona fide tool to boost sports performance.

Technogym Artis Run
A true thing of beauty. Simple lines, and a tablet-like touchscreen — it looks like the treadmill we’d all be running on if we lived in space. When you step on board, you can load your personalized training settings, be it your training plan or favorite TV show.

The Artis Run was the only treadmill other than the Sole with speed and incline controls on the console arms, and its wide running surface (one of the widest we ran on) made it feel like we were running on an open path, not on a confined machine. But that’s also why it didn’t make our final list; it’s a beast. If you’re looking for state-of-the-art treadmill technology — or a simply gorgeous machine — you’ll want the Artis Run. But at $10,000, it might not be worth it.

Best Treadmills: Summed Up

Did You Know?

Road running and treadmill running are not created equal.

While the general kinetic movements are the same, treadmills lack surface changes and environmental conditions — the feedback of running on a solid, flat, unchanging surface will never mimic the dynamism of road running.

Neither is better or worse than the other. According to chiropractor Seana Katz, from Katz Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, treadmills “may be less beneficial in terms of proprioception and balance, compared to trail or road running.” But, treadmills may also be slightly gentler on the joints because the running belts on all new-model treadmills are designed for optimal shock absorption and load dispersion.

“Running on a treadmill may have the advantage of absorbing some of the shock or loading to the joints, but it’s still impact exercise. Biomechanical abnormalities will, just like when you run outside, become apparent quickly with impact and repetitive motion. Low back, hips, knees, and feet will get almost just as much loading.”

It takes a 2 percent grade on a treadmill to approximate outdoor running.

Motorized treadmills pull their users forward instead of requiring the runner to use muscles and core strength to make the minute changes that propel them forward. In order to compensate for this treadmill momentum, NSCA strength and conditioning coach Derek Zahler suggests we “adjust the running surface to a 1 percent incline to execute your workout.”

But, he doesn’t think we should stop there. When running outside, athletes typically endure some amount of wind resistance and environmental pressure, so running on the treadmill requires less energy. “Athletes training on a treadmill can compensate for this discrepancy by adding another [percentage point] of running surface incline.”

Your personal stride length isn’t really important.

Runners need longer running belts than walkers, but unless you’re as tall as a professional basketball player, you don’t need to calculate your personal stride. Runners of all heights need between 60 and 70 inches of running room, which is standard among running treadmills. Personal comfort is another story. There’s no calculation or standard that can determine how you’ll feel on the treadmill — which is why you should always go for a test run.

The Sole F85’s 22-inch by 60-inch running surface should make it a comfortable fit for many users.

The Bottom Line

Treadmills may have started turning into full-blown entertainment consoles, but the fundamentals still win out. The Sole F85's quiet and comfortable ride, intuitive sidebar controls, and happy price point make it an easy top pick.

Take Action

Best Overall

SOLE F85 The Sole F85 is our pick for Best Overall treadmill based on its strong mix of features and easy-to-use controls.

Measure your home fitness space. For safety, treadmills should have two to three feet of clearance on each sides, and six to eight feet of space to the back.

Run and walk on the machine to assess your comfort. Pay particular attention to the cushioning and shock absorption of the running surface. Then check your stride length — even when you run quickly, your feet shouldn’t hit the motor housing, and it shouldn’t feel like you’re “out running” the machine. Importantly, do you feel comfortable?

Ask about delivery, warranty, and returns. Treadmills can be heavy to move and tricky to assemble. Make sure that the seller is able to help get yours up and running and keep it maintained.

More Treadmill Reviews

We’ve been digging deep into Treadmills for several years now, and have published additional reviews. However, we haven’t finished updating them to be consistent with our latest round of research. Be on the lookout for updates in the upcoming weeks.

Looking for more? Find the right treadmill for you from our full list of finalists.

Viewing 12 of 47

ModelFolding?Touchscreen Available?Plays Music?Buy Now
BH Fitness LK700tinonoyes
BH Fitness LKT6nonono
BH Fitness LKT8nonono
BH Fitness S1Tiyesnoyes
BH Fitness S3Tiyesnono
BH Fitness S5Tiyesnono
Cybex 625Tnonoyes
Freemotion 2500 GSyesyesno
Horizon Elite T7yesnoyes
Horizon Fitness Adventure 5yesnoyes
Horizon T101yesnoyes
Horizon T9yesyesyes
Load More