The Difference Between Manual Treadmills and Motorized Treadmills

Manual Treadmills and Motorized Treadmills

Vladyslav Starozhylov/

By Simon Gould

Treadmills are the best fitness equipment. You can do the most natural of movements on them which is walk or run. There are 2 real differences between treadmills and that is manual or motor driven. The differences between the 2 are massive. They almost make one worth buying and the other not buying so here I look at which one you should go for and why.


Manual Treadmills – are very low in cost. Motors are the most expensive part of the treadmill and contain the moving parts that push the belt around. The manual treadmill doesn’t have this, the user pushes the belt around with their own momentum. Therefore a manual treadmill without so many moving mechanical parts just needs a belt and the rollers and so will cost less.

Motorized treadmills – Motors cost a lot of money because they have a lot of moving parts and requires electricity to power them. The belt moves for you and you select the speed you want to go. You can have a variety of size of motors and generally the larger you go for the more they cost. The consoles are often more elaborate and will have preprogrammed workout routines. The inclines are also powered which requires more cost to implement.

Ease of use

Manual Treadmills – are very easy. You get on them and push your feet on the belt and it starts moving. It can sometimes require some effort and practise to get it moving but it does eventually. The console will be very simple and will tell you the distance, speed and calories burned. Some don’t even show that and are very simple.

Motorized treadmills – in comparison are complicated pieces of machinery. You can’t just get on and go there is some navigating of the console to get the machine to do what you want. That’s just getting the belt started, beyond that there will be workout programs available to you. Once you know how to work your motorized treadmill it will become second nature and you’ll get used to getting on and going.


Manual Treadmills – win this one hands down. These treadmills are made for walking and often have a shorter belt to cater for this. The belt can be tricky to get going but once you do you’ll be walking and you can go at any pace you desire. You can go faster or slower without having to press any speed buttons. You have the freedom when it comes to walking.

Motorized treadmills – These treadmills can do walking. Their motors are used to going a lot faster. You have to choose your speed and change it on the console if you’d like to go faster or slower. The speed goes up in increments and some have a minimum although that should be ok for most. Walking is handled well and the console will display all the information you could want about the walking you’re doing.


Manual Treadmills – These can handle slow jogging at best. You need something to power the belt more than your legs to get running on a treadmill successfully. If you want to incorporate running in your workouts now or at some point in the future then a manual one may not be the best choice. Users have always reported that manual treadmills are never very good for running.

Motorized treadmills – are the best for running. The maximum speed is faster than what most will need as they go up to 12 mph usually which is 5 minutes per mile. Not many people can go that fast and you’ll find that’s good for very fast speed workouts. Running is what most will need for their exercising and you’ll naturally go for what you’re used to using and that will be a motorized treadmill.

Assembly & location

Manual Treadmills – require very little assembly at all and are often just folded when they arrive. They can go in a very small room or part of a room and your exercise can be happily done. They don’t need to be near any power supply so an electrical socket is nothing to worry about. They don’t usually weigh very much so moving them is not usually a problem.

Motorized treadmills – are the worst when it comes to assembly. Most are so heavy they need two people just to carry in doors. The main part of the assembly comes when they’re in the right room. They often come in pieces even if their foldable and need someone with technical experience to put together. Motorized treadmills are usually larger so they can’t be transported very well. They generally have to stay where they’re fully assembled.

Maintenance & longevity

Manual Treadmills – suffer similar problems to motorized treadmills because they too have a belt and rollers which enable the belt to move. These need to be lubricated as well using special treadmill lubricant you can buy. As far as longevity goes the manual treadmill is at a disadvantage in the way that they are normally less sturdy in construction and have a much lower maximum user weight capacity.

Motorized treadmills – Buying a descent one has a long warranty that usually includes multiple years of labor in home. If it goes wrong then the manufacturer will send someone round to fix it. The maximum user weight is very high also, so the treadmill is built to last. Having a motor though is another component to go wrong and the warranty on that is usually separated from the frame and belt.


Manual Treadmills – As I’ve said earlier these are no good for running at any speed. However the cost is so much lower where you can buy a good one for less than $500. They don’t come with any thrills and this goes for every part of it. The console will be basic as will the assembly you’ll have to do if any. If you’re a senior or someone who only plans to walk then get a manual treadmill.

Motorized treadmills – If you have the money then these treadmills are better. I don’t just mean money up front to buy I also mean maintenance and repairs. If you are taking running seriously in any way then motorized will be what you need to buy if you’re after a treadmill. Be conscious of the location and assembly as electricity will be needed and some room required as even foldable ones need space. However you should be able to enjoy it for many years.

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