Opinions are sharply divided over the Smooth Fitness 5.65's build quality and customer service. Some experts call it sturdy and a great value, but numerous owners say the company won't honor its own warranty.
Smooth, but subtle issues draw concern. Fred Waters, the author behind Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com and a former executive at Smooth Fitness, is the largest expert proponent of this machine. He says the motor "will not strain at higher speeds or steep inclines," and calls it ideal for walkers and joggers. The Smooth 5.65 also draws very good safety ratings and an excellent score in ergonomics from a major consumer research organization.
The 20-by-55-inch deck is reasonably spacious, although very tall or long-legged users might find it too confining. The 5.65's 2.75 continuous-duty horsepower motor offers a maximum speed of 10 mph and adjusts up to a 15 percent incline. A handful of subtle problems are noted by owners. "The treadmill hesitates, almost stops when you begin to slow down, causing a jerking motion on the belt," writes one Amazon.com poster. Another says, "when I set it at a set speed, it continually feels like it's speeding up and slowing down."
On the upside, users like the quickset speed and incline controls; there's no need to press and hold an arrow. They also appreciate the incline and speed controls built into the side rails. Those who can get the treadmill up and running -- which can sometimes be a problem -- agree it's generally sturdy, smooth and quiet. However, several consumers complain of a persistent squeaking, even after lubricating and adjusting the belt and deck.
Simple to set up, but.... The Smooth 5.65 wins very good "ease of use" ratings from a major consumer research organization. Owners agree, saying they like the treadmill's 13 programs plus manual mode and its wireless heart-rate monitor. Yet there are a few exceptions. Several say that although the deck folds easily, it doesn't stand completely vertical, meaning you don't save as much space as you might think. This also makes it difficult to move the treadmill around.
Others warn that the pause button is really more of a stop. One user explains, "If you 'pause' your workout with the switch, the treadmill lowers the incline to the floor and stops the belt. When you go to continue your workout, it will NOT reset the incline and speed to where you left off." The 5.65 has a built-in sound system and an in-console fan with two speeds, which users call only slightly effective.
Those who get the Smooth 5.65 set up successfully call the process simple, and are done in about 30 minutes. However, quite a few complain of unspecified "glitches" that needed to be rectified before their new treadmill could be used. Furthermore, some owners experienced such poor customer service that it worsened the problem.
Not exceptional. While the Smooth Fitness 5.65 gets a mediocre grade on its construction from one expert source, some owners praise this unit's durability. A number of them have used the Smooth 5.65 for more than a year, and still love its feel and performance. "I have had this treadmill for nearly two years now and it runs just as good as the day I bought it," says one at Amazon.com.
However, others warn about problems that began within a few months of delivery or sometimes right out of the box. "I have had four service calls and it continues to squeak and be unusable," says one user who has had the treadmill only four months. "I lubricate (once) a week and it still squeaks after about five days," says another who uses the 5.65 only for walking.
Buyer beware, owners warn. The Smooth 5.65 draws lots of expert praise for its impressive warranty: lifetime coverage on the frame, motor and deck, five years for parts and two years for labor. But that doesn't mean much if the company won't follow through. Only a few owners say Smooth Fitness customer service is excellent; the majority warn that it's "beyond atrocious." Many say they can't use the treadmill at all due to backordered replacement parts. More commonly, they get no response from customer service, or they endure long hold times and promises to call back that just aren't honored.
"Sure, it has the best warranty around, but there's no way to actually use it," says an Amazon.com reviewer, who had called, emailed and left voicemails for more than two weeks with no response from Smooth Fitness.
"On the 8th day I finally received a call stating they were overwhelmed with needed warranty repairs and cannot get to all the requests," writes one owner. "If you want to get screamed at, hung up on and treated like crap, then buy Smooth Fitness," says another Amazon.com poster, prompting a cascade of agreements from other disgruntled buyers. We also found complaints about inconsistencies between the product advertised on Smooth's website and the actual product received.
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The Smooth Fitness 5.65 is one of almost 50 treadmills reviewed in the latest report from ConsumerReports.org. Each machine is evaluated on factors including ease of use, safety and ergonomics, and assigned a comparative rating. Full details are available to subscribers.
Review: Treadmills, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of November 2013
2. Treadmill-Ratings- Reviews.com
Fred Waters names the Smooth 5.65 a Best Buy in its price range, praising its warranty, stability, compact size and problem-free motor. Although he is a former executive with Smooth Fitness, his reviews are fair and well-balanced.
Review: Smooth Fitness 5.65 Treadmill Review, Fred Waters, As of November 2013
About 220 owners rate the Smooth 5.65 treadmill on Amazon.com, giving it an overall score of 4.1 stars out of 5. Several say it's a great treadmill, especially for walking, but we also find a noteworthy number of complaints about lousy customer service.
Review: Smooth Fitness 5.65 Folding Treadmill, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2013
Nearly a dozen contributors review the Smooth 5.65 at Sears.com, giving it an overall score of 4.5 stars. Most praise various aspects of the treadmill, but one notable review says customer service is terrible, echoing feedback we found at Amazon.com.
Review: Smooth Fitness Smooth 5.65 Treadmill, Contributors to Sears.com, As of November 2013