What You Need To Know About Treadmill Motors


There’s a near-endless variety of treadmills you can choose from. Each one its special features that you’ll find attractive. Many people focus on the fancy bells and whistles: Bluetooth connectivity and screens to stream entertainment. Those features are nice, but they aren’t the most critical thing: your treadmill’s motor.

The motor is, after all, the thing that propels you through your workout. You want to make sure that the motor will be able to perform to the level that your exercise requires. If you’re going to be doing HIIT workouts, interval training, or working on your speed, then you need a motor that can keep up with you.

That being said, if you’re going to be using the treadmill for walking, then you may not need a very powerful motor.

How often the treadmill is going to be used will also play a factor when you’re looking at treadmill motors.

Let’s take a look at what is important about the treadmill motor.

What’s so important about a treadmill motor?

If we had to compare the treadmill to the human body, the motor would be the heart. This is because like the heart, the motor does all the hard work. The quality of the motor will directly affect the outcomes of your workout. When you increase your treadmill speed and incline it will also increase the strain on your motor.

The weight of the user will not only affect the cushioning and overall build quality of the treadmill, but the amount of strain that’s placed on the motor. Treadmill motor capabilities vary quite a bit. It’s a good rule of thumb to go up 0.5hp on the motor if one of the people using it is over 200 pounds.

This will not only help you get the right-sized motor. It will ultimately add to the durability of the treadmill, as it will be less likely to overheat and seize up under the strain of use.

A good quality motor means that your workouts will be uninterrupted. There’ll be no lag when increasing speed or the incline, and it will be able to keep up with your workouts. It will also require less repair time. This is especially vital for serious treadmill runners who can run for hours at a variety of intensities for their workouts.

How long are most treadmill motor warranties?

Treadmill motor warranties vary depending on the treadmill. Your high-end treadmills—the more expensive treadmills on the market—normally come with a lifetime warranty on the motor.

Still, there are a number of mid-range treadmills that offer a good motor warranties. These can range from 5 to 10 years.

What are the differences in treadmill motors and how they are measured?

The power of the motor is measured in horsepower. Most treadmills fall in a range from 1.5 hp to 4.0 hp. But treadmill motors also have different rating systems that can make the difference in your decision. They are:

  • Peak duty
  • Continuous duty

Peak duty means that the treadmill can reach a certain amount of horsepower, and you won’t get more than that. This amount of horsepower can only be maintained for a short period of time before the motor overheats.

Continuous duty motors are the highest quality motors available. They last longer, and are more powerful. These motors also deliver smoother performance.

The HP – horsepower – number will tell you the amount of power that the motor will maintain throughout your workout without slowing down.

What is RPM and why is it important?

The horsepower of the motor isn’t the only thing to take into consideration when looking at treadmill motors. Take a look at the RPM, as well. Rotations per Minute—RPM—will tell you how much torque the motor has. Loosely put, that’s the amount of power it takes to turn the belt.

If your treadmill motor doesn’t produce enough torque, you’ll notice a lag with each footstrike on the belt. This lag isn’t just frustrating. It will interfere with the quality of your workout.

When you look at different treadmills, compare the RPM ratings. You don’t want a decent CHP motor that has an RPM rating of 8000. This just means that the motor is working far too hard, which will reduce its lifespan.

It’s best to look for a CHP motor that suits your requirements that doesn’t have an RPM rating of 5000. You’ll still get the required amount of power for your workout needs and your motor will last longer.

What HP motor is recommended for walking? Running? Heavier runners?

Activity, frequency of use, and weight all need to be taken into consideration when it comes to the motor power you need.

If you’re going to be walking on the treadmill one to three times a week, a 1.5 HP motor will be fine. However, if you weigh more than 200 pounds, remember to upgrade the motor by 0.5 HP. So for walking, a 2.0 HP motor would be recommended.

If you’re going to be jogging 3 to 5 times a week, then a 2.5 HP motor would be advisable. This size motor also works for runners who will only run one to three times a week. That being said, if you’re going to be running 3 to 5 times a week on the treadmill, then getting a motor that is 3 – 4 HP is recommended.

Bear in mind any other family members who will use the treadmill. This increases the frequency of use—from light use to heavy use. You’d need to look at increasing the HP by 0.5 HP for that extra usage.

If you’re looking at using the treadmill to help you train for a marathon and you’ll be running for 2 or more hours at a time, look at getting a motor that’s 3.5HP to 4 HP.

How long does a treadmill or a motor last?

Retailers and manufactures may say that the lifespan of a treadmill can range from 7 to 12 years. However, you can prolong the life of your treadmill by maintaining and cleaning it on a regular basis. By cleaning and lubricating the belt, and ensuring that dirt and dust don’t build up on the deck and motor, you’ll prolong the machine’s life.

Regular maintenance will help you identify any possible technical issues before they get serious. That being said, there are bound to be parts or buttons that will need to be replaced over the years.

How noisy is a treadmill?

The noise of the treadmill does depend on the size and power of the motor. The stronger the motor, the less noise it will make – it’s working less hard to turn the belt.

As technology continues to evolve, you’ll find that the belt material and cushioning system help to reduce noise too.

That being said, you can still hear the runner’s foot strike on the deck of the treadmill when they’re running. The sound of the foot strike will be affected by the speed the person is running at, as well as their weight.

The good news is that there are ways to reduce noise. Sometimes placing your treadmill on a treadmill mat can help to reduce the noise of a treadmill.

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Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.