The RW Takeaway: A road-like running surface will handle your high-mileage runs while live trainers will put you through interval workouts, all without leaving home.
- A 32-inch touchscreen display is sharp and bright.
- The slatted running belt rolls smooth and feels more realistic than traditional treadmill belts.
- Rail mounted controls make it easier to change speed and incline.
Running Surface: 20"W x 67"L
Max Speed: 12.5 mph
Max Incline: 15%
Motor: 2 HP
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The Peloton Tread arrived at our Pennsylvania offices just one week after the company got loads of crap on Twitter for the ridiculous placement of its bikes in advertisements. My first impression: This thing is f*ing gorgeous, it deserves someplace better than our cramped little office gym. So, yeah, I have Peloton’s back here. If I were the proud new owner of a Peloton Tread, I sure wouldn’t be jamming it in a dank corner of the basement or in the garage.
The highlight of the machine is, of course, the 32-inch touchscreen display that beams live studio classes straight into your home. And propping that up is a stunning, angled frame with thoughtful design and a minimalist appearance. It’s a work of art. Thankfully, it runs just as great as it looks.
There’s one reason you should buy the Tread: studio classes and connecting with other runners in real time, in your own home. The running classes are typically held in the morning before work, and the evening starting at 5:30 pm. That makes sense, of course, since participation would be light during work hours. One problem, however, is those are East Coast times, so if you’re a few times zones west, you’re out of luck—or getting up really early.
The live classes are fun, if a little sterile. The trainers—I worked out with Becs Gentry and Robin Arzon—bring big doses of energy and are skilled at keeping you going the entire workout. It has to be hard to deliver that motivational talk when you’re cruising alone in front of a camera for a half-hour or more. They make a solid effort.
During the live class you can see a leaderboard, which shows your rank among all active participants based on output. Your current effort is prominently displayed in watts, and changes depending on the speed and incline of the ’mill, but you’re ranked based on kilojoules (kj), your total energy output over the course of the workout. I loved that I could click on any “competitor” to see their machine’s speed, incline, and output. Since I have a bit of a competitive streak, I ended up pushing harder during an interval class than I intended. To stay atop the leaderboard, I nudged the incline of our Tread up to 2%, so I’d burn a bit more than other class participants.
If you’re running outside of the live class schedule, you can still participate in a pre-recorded session. The scoreboard works, too, displaying your place among all runners who have taken that class, or you can filter to see only the runners who are also taking the same workout at that moment. Your output (and that of the rest of the class) increases from 0, so you can see your position relative to the other runners as the class progresses.
CLASSES, NOTHING ELSE
That huge screen is wonderful for displaying Peloton’s classes, but can’t do anything else. It’s a shame, too, because that screen would be awesome for watching a basketball game or a movie during a long run. This, by the way, is the same complaint we had with the NordicTrack Commercial 2950. The new Woodway 4Front will let you stream Netflix on a similar display. Then again, the Woodway costs $10K more than the Tread, which would buy you a killer OLED TV you can mount on the wall.
Forget numbered buttons and arrows. And, frankly, we didn’t miss them. Instead, the Tread uses dials mounted on the side rails. The right dial controls speed—roll it forward to go faster, roll it back to ease up. Alternatively, a click on the button in the center of the dial jumps the speed to the next full number—if you’re cruising at 5.3 mph, a click takes you directly to 6.0; a second click increases speed to 7.0. The same goes for the incline dial on the left rail.
The dials don’t necessarily make the changes faster, but definitely make it easier. NordicTrack has quick keys on the console that you can poke to make big jumps in speed and incline. And Precor has a paddle shifter-type control, but you have to press and hold it in the direction you want. In the case of the Tread, you simply swipe or turn without even looking at the dial.
FIRM UNDER FOOT
In terms of the running experience, the Tread is likely to be compared to a Woodway because of its slatted running surface. The rubber coating makes your landings softer than if you were hitting the pavement, but each slat is hard and more realistic. The slats roll along the machine on a system of bearings, unlike traditional belts that slide along a deck under your foot. The entire build gives you confidence with each step and makes the experience feel more like a road run.
That ride is bolstered by a rock-solid frame. Once we got it leveled, the entire thing stayed planted even when I was sprinting at the end of an interval workout. It was so stable that the display barely vibrated while I was all-out.
Jeff is Runner-in-Chief for Runner's World, guiding the brand's shoes and gear coverage. A true shoe dog, he's spent more than a decade testing and reviewing shoes. In 2017, he ran in 285 different pairs of shoes, including a streak of 257 days wearing a different model.