Reviews tell us that non-folding treadmills are the best type for serious runners and others that need the heavier duty performance and durability they provide. We look at some top choices in non-folding treadmills in our separate discussion of best treadmills. However, for those looking for a more basic piece of equipment for home exercise, a folding treadmill could be a better fit. They take up less space than non-folding treadmills when not in use, and they cost less. You can get folding treadmills for less than $1,000, but experts say the best value and performance can be found in folding treadmills costing at least that much. If that's too much for your budget, and you understand the tradeoffs that a cheap treadmill entails, we look at some that are worth considering in our discussion of best cheap treadmills.
There are several very good choices in this category. If you are looking for a folding treadmill with solid construction and many features, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 (Est. $1,500) earns top billing. Updated for 2016 with an adjustable tablet rest and a new WhisperQuiet design that NordicTrack says "reduces the sound of each step on the tread deck." While there are no professional reviews of this newest version of the 1750, it is otherwise identical to the 2015 version, which is highly recommended by experts and owners. Last year's model is listed as "sold out" on the NordicTrack home page, although it's shown as available if you click on the link, albeit at the full $2,499 MSRP. The old version of the 1750 treadmill is also available at Sears, as the NordicTrack Elite 5700 (Est. $1,500).
TreadmillDoctor.com names the 2015 version a Best Buy as does Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com. It also earns a Recommended label in another large comparative review. TreadmillDoctor.com notes that you can buy a better treadmill, but then adds that "you will have to pay substantially more for it." The maximum user weight is 300 pounds -- slightly lower than the maximum user weight of the top-flight non-folding treadmills. The 22- by 60-inch tread belt should give most runners all the room they need for a workout, yet it's rather more compact than most comparable folding treadmills; plus, of course, it can fold up when not in use. The treadmill is backed by a lifetime warranty for the frame and motor, five years for everything else, and two years labor. One negative: maker Icon Health and Fitness doesn't have the best track record when it comes to customer service.
In addition to the 2016 upgrades noted above, features on the NordicTrack 1750 include a running deck that can incline (up to 15 percent) to simulate running up hill, or decline (to -3 percent) to simulate running downhill. The two-setting Runners Flex cushioning system can soften to ease the impact on your joints, or stiffen to replicate the feel of running on the road. There are 38 built-in workout apps, and the treadmill has iFit technology (subscription based, $100 per year) for interactive training programs and workout tracking. The 7-inch touchscreen is web-enabled, so you can browse the Internet as you run.
If the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is just a little bit beyond your reach price-wise, the ProForm Power 995i (Est. $1,000) is an excellent alternative. Reviewers agree that it's an exceptional value, with editors at TreadmillDoctor.com saying, "The Power 995i offers a decent product blessed with quality components and excellent features that enhance value for money in the low-end price bracket." They also praise its large, 3 HP motor that offers power often found only in higher end models.
The ProForm 995i is almost as feature-rich as the NordicTrack 1750, including 30 workout apps that can be expanded with its iFit enabled technology (which, like with the 1750, requires a subscription that will run about $100 a year). The belt is just a bit narrower than the belt on the NordicTrack, at 20- by 60-inches, and there is no decline to simulate running downhill, but it does incline to 15 percent. The top speed is 12 MPH.
ProForm says that the 995i accommodates users up to 350 pounds, a bit higher than the NordicTrack 1750's upper weight limit, but editors at TreadmillDoctor.com warn that the 995i is not for serious runners, saying the 995i is, "A great machine for walkers, but if you run extra miles on this machine you may need servicing and that's when your real problems start!" Their caveat notes that ProForm treadmills, like NordicTrack treadmills, are made by Icon Health and Fitness, which gets poor reviews for customer service.
There are a few other treadmills in this category worth considering. Owners and experts alike say the Sole F80 (Est. $1,400) provides powerful, reliable performance for runners. "This is one of the best choices in the $1,500 price point," says TreadmillDoctor.com, but that's largely based on the quality of the company and its customer service. Value, however, falls short. "When you compare the Sole with the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 side by side, you wonder how Icon can sell a product for the same price that is so much more impressive at first glance than the Sole," the experts at TreadmillDoctor.com say. Missing features compared to the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 include the ability to decline the running deck, the ability to change the level of cushioning, and iFit/Internet compatibility.
The LifeSpan TR4000i (Est. $1,500) is another solid choice in this category, with good reviews from experts and owners. It's recommended in one large comparative review, and TreadmillDoctor.com notes that the quality of the parts used is "impressive" for a treadmill in its price range, though the reviewers there think that higher-end and lower-end machines in the LifeSpan line offer better value.
Still, the LifeSpan TR4000i's 20-by-60-inch running deck and 3.25-continuous-horsepower motor deliver a quiet, solid and smooth experience, owners say, even for fairly serious runners. The TR4000i has 15 levels of incline adjustment and a maximum speed of 12 mph, although it takes a few seconds to get up to speed.