Treadmills are a favorite amongst gym-goers for their ability to improve cardiovascular health and promote weight loss. For many, the purpose of a home gym is to stay in shape when you have limited time, and what better way than the proven treadmill calorie burner.
In the following guide, we will be explaining what the different treadmill parts are, and what are their functions. Keep reading below to find out more!
Table of Contents
- Different Parts Of A Treadmill (Names & Functions Explained)
- Popular Treadmill Brands (Specialized Parts + Where To Buy)
- People Also Ask (FAQs)
Different Parts Of A Treadmill (Names & Functions Explained)
1. Treadmill Frame
A treadmill should be able to easily support your weight, and for that reason a high-quality frame is important. Most treadmill manufacturers will use aluminum or steel for their frame constructions. Aluminum has a firm feeling when running, while steel provides a bouncier spring-like experience.
If you decide to go with a steel frame, also be on the lookout for continuous seam welds when two pieces of steel are joined. Cheaper treadmills will take shortcuts in their construction and will often make use of spot welding which is not as durable and strong.
Weighing the options of whether to go with a steel or aluminum frame will depend on your budget and home-gym considerations, for example, sound and space specifications. It’s therefore of great importance to check the warranty before buying. Any manufacturer can claim their frame is strong, but make sure this includes an extended or lifetime warranty for absolute certainty.
2. Treadmill Motor
The motor is one of the most important parts of the treadmill because it dictates how much power will be available to you during your workout. It is commonly believed that if a treadmill has a good amount of horsepower (hp) then the motor is probably high-quality. Although this statement is somewhat true, there are a few things to look out for when deciding on a good treadmill motor.
When reading the specifications sheet of your potential treadmill keep a lookout for the “hp” and “chp” values. Peak treadmills will likely list their power as something around “2 hp”, however, this does not mean it will maintain the speed throughout the workout. Peak treadmills are a good option for those looking for quick workouts 2 to 4 times a week, but consume more power and tend to overheat during extended use. They may also require regular servicing and maintenance.
On the other hand, treadmills that are rated as “2 chp” will provide continuous power at the maximum speed advertised. These types of motors are more powerful and ideal for those looking to work out daily. You’ll often find high rated “chp” motors in gyms, but they come with the trade-off of being more expensive.
One final thing to consider when looking at treadmill motors is RPM and how it ties into horsepower. If you have to decide between “treadmill (A)” with 5 hp and 8000 RPMs, and “treadmill (B)” with 2.5 chp and 4000 RPMs, you should go with “treadmill (B).”
Treadmills that offer fewer RPMs result in optimal performance, increased torque, and overall better performance and increased lifespan. This is of course all within reason of your expected workout routine, budget, and what kind of warranty the treadmill manufacturer is offering.
3. Treadmill Deck
What is a treadmill deck made out of? High-end treadmill decks are made with a medium-density fiberboard (MDF) which is a wood that combines a wax and resin binder. If you plan to use your treadmill for a few years, then we would recommend an MDF deck as it is less prone to bowing overtime. Average-to-low-end treadmills are made out of plywood or particleboard, so be wary of your longevity expectations.
Another important question to ask is, does the treadmill deck coating matter? Yes, a good treadmill should have some type of protective coating. Cheaper models may be painted with a gloss black enamel, whereas premium brands will apply phenolic resin, which is a synthetic polymer.
If your treadmill is coated with phenolic resin on the top and bottom side of the deck, and it is made from MDF, then it is also reversible. This means when you flip the deck upside down it's almost brand new again. This isn’t a compulsory requirement for a treadmill deck, but may be of interest for those looking at value for money over a long period of time.
The materials used for a deck might seem far-fetched if you only plan to use the treadmill for 30 minutes, but let’s actually grasp the context. Always remember, treadmills don’t simply break, they break down over a period of time. If you run 30 minutes at 6 MPH, averaging 120 steps per minute, you’d cover 3600 steps during your workout session.
If you workout 4 times a week that is 14,400 steps. When we multiply 14,400 by 52 weeks, you are averaging 748,800 steps per year. Now ask yourself the question, will particleboard last 3,744,000 steps (5 years)?
4. Treadmill Belt
If you’re considering a treadmill for your home, chances are there will be multiple users who will want to work out. For this reason, a treadmill belt is a big selling point and manufacturers are quick to promote their “longer and wider” models. A standard belt will often be around 18 x 50 inches, but you should know that this comes with a somewhat limitation.
Your treadmill can have all the horsepower in the world, but if the deck is too narrow you’ll struggle to perform the actual running movement. For this reason, if you have a family, or users around 6 ft tall and 200 lbs, we recommend a treadmill belt around 20 x 60 inches. A belt of this size will be accommodating to everyone and will allow you full free range of motion when running.
Now that you know what treadmill belt size is appropriate, what are the types of treadmill belts? There are three categories: single-ply; 2-ply; and multi-ply. Single-ply treadmills are one piece of solid rubber and are often found on low-end models. 2-Ply is recommended because the top side of the belt is made of high-quality PVC rubber, while the underside is cotton, urethane, or polyester. Finally, some treadmills have multi-ply (4-ply) which claim to add cushioning and absorb vibration.
But does more ply mean better? Not always and that's because the multi-ply that promises additional cushioning and support may be the same as a regular 2-ply cushioning system. Since your treadmill is going to be at home you’ll want it safe on your knee joints with shock absorption, and as quiet as possible to not disturb the neighbors.
Therefore most, if not all, treadmills use a rubber grommet or rubber elastomer that goes between the deck and the frame. So when you’re looking at single, double, and multi-ply, check out user reviews to ensure those extra layers are indeed adding additional support.
See Related Article: Replacing A Treadmill Belt
The last thing to consider on a treadmill belt is whether it will require frequent lubrication. Premium brands may try to mislead you by stating their treadmill has a lubricant-free belt, but this is likely untrue. In most cases, these belts will have lubricant embedded in the belt and will gradually release it over time.
Not having to lubricate it yourself sounds great, but what happens when the embedded lubricant eventually runs out? You’ll likely leave it as is, resulting in the motor working harder, which consequently wears down the deck. With that being said, how would you know when to lubricate your treadmill? Feel the deck surface under the belt, if it's not slightly oily or waxy, then apply a coat of lube.
5. Treadmill Incline Motor
Previously, we have spoken about the treadmill motor that turns the belt, but the treadmill may have a secondary motor you’re not aware of. Incline mode is a setting that raises the top half of the treadmill to various angles. Adjusting your treadmill to incline can help you burn more calories, and additionally tone your hamstrings, calves, and glutes. It is important to note here that there are different types of treadmills available, so the incline system may be motorized or manual.
Some manufacturers make use of a ‘manual’ incline system where you need to physically change the angle of the treadmill, but more premium brands include an incline motor. However, treadmills that include incline motors are usually more expensive, and you should proceed with caution when buying. A high price tag does not necessarily mean a quality motor.
When scanning through your potential treadmill specifications sheet take a look at the ‘thrust rating’ of the incline motor. Although it may say 300 pounds, this needs to accommodate for the weight of the treadmill too.
Therefore, if your treadmill weighs 250 pounds and you weigh 200 pounds, you’re going to exceed the thrust rating limit. You should therefore look at brands like Precor for example, they have treadmills with thrust ratings of up to 1000 pounds. Alternatively, instead of spending too much money on a cheaper motor incline system, stay safe and opt for a manual incline system.
Remember to also check the location of the incline motor and bracket. If your treadmill arrives and it feels somewhat wobbly on the incline setting this is a good indication that it is a lower-quality treadmill. Premium treadmill manufacturers will place their incline motor at the center of the treadmill. This will keep the treadmill stable and balanced while running at different incline levels.
6. Treadmill Rollers
Rollers are one of the most important components of a treadmill, and consequently the most common part to break over time. No matter how high-end and high-quality your motor may be, the treadmill belt will not move unless the rollers are turning.
Their purpose is therefore to get the belt moving smoothly and to also ensure that the belt is centered at all times. What kind of treadmill rollers are best? The answer is most often, rollers with substantial size and weight.
The reasoning behind this is that in terms of size, the larger the diameter of the roller, the more grip will be applied to the belt. Consequently, if your treadmill rollers are a good size they will also increase the lifespan of the entire drive system and keep constant tension on the belt.
A quick tip to remember here is that rollers perform better when treadmills are used regularly, when you stop using the treadmill entirely, this will lead to more maintenance and cost of ownership.
Rollers should also have some weight behind them because the heavier it is, the more inertia it will have, which reduces stress on the motor. A good way to check that your rollers are high-quality is to see if they have been made from a single piece of solid steel. This will also mean they won’t strip over time.
7. Treadmill Console
What is a treadmill console? The treadmill console is your command station. A few years ago treadmills had simplistic consoles which offered preset programs, an on/off switch and water bottle holders.
As with everything else, the advancement of technology has seen today's treadmill consoles become full entertainment systems while providing current fitness information relevant to your workout.
At first, a treadmill console may seem overwhelming because there are so many readings and buttons. Quick controls are usually found under the LCD monitor and they can instantly: increase/decrease speed, change the incline level or alternate different preset programs.
On the side of your treadmill, you will find rails to place your hands which more than often have pulse grips. These pulse grips can monitor your heart rate and calculate how many calories you have burned during your workout.
All of this information will be displayed on your LCD monitor. Depending on what kind of treadmill you have, your LCD monitor can do a lot more than you expect. New models can now feature YouTube or full cable television! In addition, you can connect your smartphone via the docking station to play music through the built-in speakers.
Those looking to get their hands on the most premium entertainment consoles can even look forward to built-in web browsing and cooling fans.
These features are all optional and do not determine whether a treadmill is of good quality. The high-end entertainment console could very well be making up half the cost of the product itself.
Is the treadmill console a necessary part? Yes, within reason it is important to keep track of your fitness data. However, if you can afford your own home gym, you’ll maybe be willing to cough up a bit more for new lavish features.
8. Treadmill Safety Key
Most modern treadmills now include a safety key. The purpose of the safety key is to make sure the treadmill stops immediately should the user fall off and prevent further injury. Different treadmill brands may change the size or style of the key/clip but the premise and function remain the same.
The treadmill safety key is usually attached to the gym-goer's clothing or wrist. Unfortunately, the safety key is seldom used, so most people have actually not seen how it works. With one end of the safety key attached to your body/clothing, the other end attaches to the treadmill front panel. The treadmill requires constant power, and should the key/clip be removed, the treadmill shuts down and stops moving.
The safety key can be made into a thin card that inserts into the front panel, or a magnetic key that attaches to a pad. Each of these designs has their shortfalls with the card being more susceptible to breakage/bending, while the magnetic key being overly sensitive.
Luckily for you, treadmill safety keys are the cheapest parts to repair on a treadmill should you need a new one.
Popular Treadmill Brands (Specialized Parts + Where To Buy)
Treadmill brands differ in their features and pricing, so we thought it would be a good idea to include some unique parts/designs that you could consider checking out. We have included links on where to buy them too!
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How long should a treadmill last?
Treadmills can last up to 10 years if serviced and maintained correctly. Most manufacturers will include a 1-year warranty on servicing and part replacement, but after that the responsibility of maintenance will fall onto you.
How can I maintain my treadmill?
You can prolong the life of your treadmill by performing basic maintenance. This can include wiping the frame with a damp cloth; vacuuming underneath the treadmill; and lubricating the deck when necessary.
Should a treadmill be on a mat?
Yes, rubber mats can reduce vibrations felt through the floor. If you want to minimize noise you can try placing rubber mats underneath your treadmill. Mats are not a necessity, but they can come in handy should you live in an apartment surrounded by neighbors.
Can treadmills be repaired?
Yes, treadmills can be repaired but the cost of parts and labor can be expensive and time consuming. When buying a treadmill, it's best to choose one with an extended warranty for servicing and parts. Premium treadmills also tend to use high-quality parts so repair work will be required less frequently.
These are the different parts of a treadmill. In particular, we focused on the frame, motor, belt, deck, console, incline motor, rollers, and safety key.
We hope you have a better understanding of what goes into compiling a treadmill and which parts to look out for when buying and maintaining your home or commercial treadmill. As always, check for the fine print, warranties and high-quality parts are what guarantee a long-lasting treadmill.
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