Smooth treadmills are building an impressive reputation. But it's not just the equipment that is receiving acclaim. Founded in 1984, Smooth Fitness is the #1 seller and manufacturer of fitness equipment on the Internet. We took a closer look at Smooth treadmills and the company behind them.
Smooth have positioned themselves as the company that sells factory direct. With no third party taking their cut they claim to be able to offer treadmills at a 40% discount compared to models of similar specification.
While, for the most part their claim is true, with a little research it's possible to find online merchants who can offer a range of similar treadmills that compete on price…
But if the saying "you get what you pay for" is true, do Smooth treadmills compromise on quality to bring you a significant saving?
Not according to many independent reviews. The industry-famous evaluation compiled by Runners World Magazine a few years ago placed Smooth treadmills in their Top 10. They gave Smooth one of the highest ratings for cushioning, ranked them in the top two for stability and pace accuracy and top for quietness. Other reviews from Monster, Treadmill Doctor and Kiplinger confirm the findings of the Runners World report.
The Company Behind the Product
Although Smooth Fitness is not an Internet Company, since 1996 they have sold their treadmills exclusively online exclusively through their own website. What does this mean for the consumer?
With reduced overheads and without the need for local distributors, e-commerce allows a company to lower their prices while maintaining the same profit margin. That's nothing unique. But what makes Smooth different lies in the way they do business, a quality that has done as much to boost their reputation as their treadmills...
Their website is dedicated to just Smooth treadmills and ellipticals. Their whole infrastructure including customer care and servicing is geared towards treadmills. Compare that to a general exercise equipment store that sells everything from golf clubs to diet supplements.
What an independent retailer will offer though is impartiality. There's no advantage for them to place a bias on one particular brand, like Smooth are obviously going to do.
The Smooth Treadmill Range
Smooth offer eight different treadmills, including six folding machines (three of them power folding) and two premium machines designed for heavy use.
Smooth treadmills fall into the mid-range price category at $1000-$3000 and come with free shipping. If you intend to use your treadmill for more than a power walk or light jogging and you want your treadmill to last, expect to pay $1000 upwards. Treadmills under $1000 "lack general beefiness, structural integrity and overall quality," says Dave Sellers, product test editor for Runner's World "They're light-duty machines."
The continuous horsepower of all Smooth treadmills is at least 2.5hp (remember this relates to how powerful your treadmill can continually operate without dropping off). If you're a runner/fast walker you want at least 2.0hp and ideally 2.5hp. The top speed on all of their models is at least 10mph... with two machines reaching 12.5mph. A speed of 10mph is not far off a flat out sprint for most people (not recommended on a treadmill!).
The Smooth treadmills below are what I consider to be the best in their latest 2005 range. Some models have not been included simply because they offer little extra over and above lower priced machines.
If you prefer to look directly at the site for side by side comparisons Click here
Warranties and Servicing
As with any expensive motorized unit a good warranty is essential. And After all a treadmill is essentially just a motor. If that breaks down you'll need deep pockets to replace it if it's not covered. When it comes to warranties Smooth treadmills are strong contenders for top spot...
All smooth treadmills have a lifetime warranty on the motor. The warranty on other parts such as the belt, deck and electronics vary but typically range from 3 to 5 years. All smooth treadmills come with a 12-month labor warranty. One quick but important point...
Be sure to look after your treadmill in accordance with Smooth's guidelines. This includes keeping the belt lubricated and failure to do so will invalidate your warranty.
The Smooth Fitness Service Agreement covers the whole of the USA and parts of Canada. They offer a toll free service number and promise to respond to your request during the next business day.
All Smooth treadmills purchased through their official site are accompanied by a 30-day money back guarantee. If for any reason you don't want your treadmill you have 30 days for a full product refund.
You won't find Smooth treadmills at your local Wal-Mart store. But don't let that put you off. There are impressive savings to made by buying your treadmill over the Internet.
In the mid-price range, Smooth treadmills are worth serious consideration. Stick to their official website to find a model that fits your budget and then compare the features and price to other brands. Be sure to read the independent comparisons by the likes of Runners World and Monster while you're there...