Reviewers praise the Life Fitness F1 Smart for its spacious belt and soft ride. However, its 2.5 continuous horsepower motor and maximum speed of just 10 mph are limiting factors.
Surprisingly roomy deck. The Life Fitness F1 Smart's running deck measures just 20-by-55-inches, but reviewers at Runner's World swear it leaves "plenty of room for even the longest-legged runners to lope freely." They also praise its soft ride, which they say "firms up and feels even better" as you go faster. Another expert source says the F1 Smart does an excellent job of accommodating users of various sizes.
On the downside, the F1 Smart's 2.5 continuous horsepower motor maxes out at a speed of 10 mph, which may not be enough to challenge serious runners who want to do intervals. It adjusts between 0 and 12 percent incline in half-percent increments, with Runner's World calling the speed and incline transitions "slow but butter-smooth."
Easy-to-use controls. A leading consumer research organization gives the Life Fitness F1 Smart a rating of "very good" for its ease of use. Reviewers at Runner's World say bottles tend to rattle in the water bottle holder, but they're otherwise happy with the F1's performance. Its built-in iPod charging dock's buttons are hard to miss, and they like the unit's energy-saving feature that cuts power consumption by 90 percent when not in use.
The F1 Smart remembers your preferred walk and jog speeds between workouts, and you can create your own custom workouts online and transfer them to the treadmill via a USB dock. It comes with both handgrip heart sensors and a wireless chest strap heart monitor. Preset workout programs include hill, random, fat burn and cardio, plus a fitness test and cool-down mode.
Limited feedback, but looks promising. Reviewers don't say much about this treadmill's durability except that it provides a solid, smooth ride. It earns very good marks for construction in one expert test.
Need more input. So far, owners don't post comments about Life Fitness customer service. The F1 Smart comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame and shock absorbers, which are one of reviewers' favorite features. The motor is covered by only a 10-year warranty, however. The F1 Smart also has five years of electrical and mechanical parts coverage, and one year of labor.
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Review Credibility: Excellent The Life Fitness F1 Smart is one of 49 treadmills evaluated in ConsumerReports.org's latest round of testing. Each machine is assigned an overall rank, and scored individually in categories such as ease of use, construction and ergonomics. Full ratings are available to subscribers.
Review: Treadmills, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of October 2012
2. Runner's World
Review Credibility: Excellent Runner's World usually publishes a roundup of treadmill reviews every year or so. In this latest iteration, unidentified testers evaluate 13 of the newest machines, and select the seven they think offer the best ride and features at the best price. Although brief, reports are well rounded and objective, and usually list a tester comment about each treadmill.
Review: Tread Lightly, Brian D. Sabin, Jan.10, 2012