If you can't spend much on a treadmill, the Horizon Fitness T101 is a good value for casual walking but isn't the best for running or heavy use. The machine is feature-rich considering its price range, with speakers, built-in fan, automated incline adjustments and nine preset workouts.
A good value. When evaluated in the context of its low price, owners and experts say the Horizon T101 is a great value. Its 2.25 continuous-duty horsepower motor has a maximum speed of 10 mph and it adjusts up to a 10 percent incline. Many low-end treadmills require you to dismount and adjust the incline manually, if they adjust at all.
The Horizon T101's 20-by-55-inch walking area is large enough for users of average height to walk and run, but Fred Waters of Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com warns that "the motor on the T101 is not powerful enough to handle runners or extra large users." According to consumer reviews, running on the T101 causes the frame to vibrate or the flex deck to squeak. Complaints about the frame shaking tend to come from users who weigh 200 pounds or more, although the manufacturer advertises the T101 for exercisers up to 300 pounds.
When used more gently, owners agree that the T101 is quiet and smooth. "Not loud at all, a gentle hum while you walk," says one. "The belt is smooth and comfortable to walk on," agrees another. The Horizon T101 receives an excellent rating for its ergonomics from a leading consumer magazine, and a user who describes herself as tall says the handles are in the perfect location to let her walk upright.
Split opinions. Those who've assembled the Horizon T101 are firmly divided into two camps: One group says it's easy and straightforward, coming together in less than an hour; the other reports needing several hours to drill new holes and force parts to fit. A few recent complaints say that when the unit is unboxed or released from the containing strap, its legs spring open with such force that owners fear injury.
The T101 receives very good marks for ease of use from one consumer research organization. Owners say the deck folds up and down easily, but several wish the transport wheels were on the other side -- underneath the console -- to make moving it around easier. Some say this treadmill is large and bulky even when folded.
The treadmill is feature-rich, but not all of them work well. Some users wish the panel showed all of your workout information at once: "Two bloody characters. Who is going to stare at the screen for the message to show two characters at a time?" says one owner. The speakers are adequate, but the in-console fan is basically useless unless you stay right on top of it. Likewise, users agree that the handgrip heart-rate monitor is inaccurate but better than nothing.
The Horizon T101 offers three workouts, with your choice of three goals for each, which is decent for the price range.
Better than similarly priced competitors. TreadmillDoctor.com, which is known for slamming inexpensive fitness equipment, names the T101 a Best Buy in its price range and acknowledges its "solid mechanical design combined with better quality parts." Editors give the T101 a score of 4.8 out of 10 for reliability and 5.25 out of 10 for quality, and deem it "surprisingly acceptable for the price."
Others echo such reserved praise, noting that the T101 could be a solid machine for walkers but just isn't built to withstand running or other heavy use. Owners say the thin plastic console can crack if not treated gently, and a few complain of build quality even before assembly. Others report having to lube the deck monthly, and complain it's a nuisance. That said, the treadmill does receive a "very good" ranking for its construction from a consumer research organization.
Overall, the T101 receives much more praise for its durability than competitors in its price range. Complaints are sparse and don't indicate any particular problem areas.
Customer service saves the day. Numerous Amazon.com reviewers report having problems with shipping; in particular, boxes arrive damaged and in some cases components are cracked or broken right out of the box. But no matter the problem, whether it's shipping or a defective part, owners nearly unanimously report that Horizon Fitness customer service is quick and friendly, and usually gets the problem fixed in short order.
"The company is a pleasure to work with," states one customer, whose older treadmill frame broke. She says the lifetime frame guarantee was immediately honored and she received the T101 as a replacement. "Horizon was simply amazing," adds another who had problems with shipping damage. "They were well informed, fast, nice, and had the parts I needed ordered as I was on the phone." The Horizon T101 comes with a lifetime frame and motor warranty; parts and labor are covered for one year.
Review Credibility: Excellent The Horizon Fitness T101 is one of nearly 50 treadmills included in ConsumerReports.org's latest round of tests. Each machine is evaluated using a variety of criteria, including ergonomics, safety, exercise range and more. Full ratings are available to subscribers.
Review: Treadmills, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent The editors of TreadmillDoctor.com expand on their evaluation of the Horizon T101. They give it good scores for cushioning, walking area and value, but much lower scores for warranty and reliability.
Review: Horizon T101 Treadmill Review, Editors of TreadmillDoctor.com, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 65 users give the newest version of the Horizon T101, the T101-3, an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5. Previous models are similarly well reviewed.
Review: Horizon Fitness T101-3 Treadmill, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012
4. Treadmill-Ratings- Reviews.com
Review Credibility: Very Good Waters, a former executive with Smooth Fitness, says the Horizon T101 has some attractive features for its price range. He recommends it for walking, but warns that it's simply not as durable or powerful as higher-end models.
Review: Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill Review, Fred Waters, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good TreadmillDoctor.com is one of the most prolific treadmill reviewers on the Internet, but has recently cut back on the number of details displayed on the single product ratings page. Editors select the Horizon T101 as a Best Buy in the $400 to $699 category.
Review: Treadmill Best Buy Awards, Editors of TreadmillDoctor.com, As of October 2012