Treadmill Basics

The Motor Factor

A typical treadmill is comprised of seven main components. These are:

The frame : which is that piece of metal that extends perpendicularly from the running deck and is where the handlebars are located

The running deck :
which is the surface that you run on
The running belt : the moving portion of the running deck
The motor : the engine that makes the running belt
The motor controller : the gadget that allows you to control the speed of the motor
The incline motor : a tiny motor that controls the degree of inclination as you run
The console and control computer : that part of the treadmill which makes you do all the other stuff

Out of all these seven components, the most important is obviously the motor. Of course, because it's what makes your treadmill work in the first place. For this reason, you need to consider the motor first when you buy a treadmill.

As mentioned, most treadmills have two motors - one to drive the belt and the other to raise and lower the bed for inclines. When you look over a few treadmills as you shop, choose one with a continuous duty belt motor with at least 1.5 horsepower. 1.5 horsepower is the average, but remember that more horsepower doesn't necessarily mean better. This is particularly true if the motor is not continuous duty. So, when the salesperson tells you that 'maximum power' is what's it all about, don't be fooled. You know better. Get the treadmill with the continuous duty motor.

Here are some other terms you need to familiarize yourself with as you shop around for the best treadmill:
a) Fixed Speed Alternating Current (AC) Motors : while motor runs at a constant speed, it uses a transmission to regulate the speed of the treadmill
b) Direct Current (DC) Motors : directly regulates speed, using variable voltage and not a transmission; this means that the motor itself changes speeds as the user makes adjustments
c) Variable Speed AC Motors : also regulates speed directly and connects directly to the drive belt
d) Peak Horsepower : the maximum horsepower a motor is capable of reaching before stalling out
e) Continuous horsepower : the actual horsepower being used when someone is using the treadmill