You may have spotted these intriguing curved treadmills at your gym. Perhaps you passed by someone raving about how they’re much better than electric treadmills. But what’s so special about them anyway?
Below we break down the benefits of these non-motorized machines and delve into the top curved treadmills worth purchasing. Barefoot runners may want to put some shoes on for this.
Curved treadmills make use of gravity and friction instead of electricity. The movement of your feet exerts a horizontal and vertical force that pulls the belt down and backward, putting it in motion. One of the benefits of the curved shape is that it mimics your natural stride, making for a less strenuous run.
Below are more benefits of using a curved treadmill:
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons curved treadmills have grown in popularity is that there’s no electricity required. The only energy needed to get a curved treadmill going is your own, making for a more eco-friendly workout.
A curved treadmill encourages you to land on the balls of your feet, which means you’ll experience less impact. Your knees and joints will thank you.
The faster and higher up on the curve you step, the faster the belt moves, and vice versa. You’re not bound to the controls of a traditional treadmill to set your pace. This makes for a more naturally paced run as you won’t have to wait for an electric motor to adjust speeds.
Curved treadmills usually cost more than the average electric model, but they require less maintenance. Manual treadmills have fewer components at risk of damage or breakage, so you’ll be spending much less, if anything, on repairs.
Because you’re propelling the curve machine yourself, you’re using muscles that you wouldn’t otherwise need on a motorized treadmill.
Many curved treadmill manufacturers claim that their machines burn around 30% more calories than regular treadmills. A recent study found that runners experienced significantly higher oxygen consumption and heart rates on a manual treadmill.
Best Curved Treadmill Buying Guide
While it may seem best to choose the most expensive or highest rated treadmill, it may not be the right fit for you. Below are a few factors to consider before purchasing a manual treadmill.
Curved treadmills tend to come with a hefty price tag. This will likely balance out in terms of the lack of electric consumption and low maintenance requirements. But, the point still stands that the cost of these manual machines usually outweighs the cost of electric treadmills.
This factor should be considered in conjunction with the price. If you’re looking for a treadmill to use now and then, the high cost may not be worth it. If you’re a regular runner intending to use the treadmill almost daily, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
If you have a dedicated exercise area in your house or garage, the size and weight of the machine may not be as much of an issue. But, if you’re living in an apartment, these factors are well worth considering.
Not only do these treadmills tend to be bulkier, but they also tend to weigh more. You may have difficulty getting it upstairs or fitting it into a small space.
Some treadmills have relatively low weight limits, which may be a limiting factor for heavier runners. Taller runners may also want to consider the length of the running surface. A shorter running surface, like in the Trueform Runner, may limit your stride.
We’ve rounded up and analyzed some of the best sloped treadmills on the market. The list below will help you make a more informed decision on which product may best suit your needs.
- Best For: Durability & intensive use
- Weight Limit: 400lbs running, 700lbs walking
- Dimensions: L: 64”, W: 36”, H: 57”
- Price: $$$
We loved the comparatively flatter curve of the Trueform Runner, as walking and running felt more natural. However, it is easy to lose balance if you’re not focusing on your form.
We noticed that walking was more difficult, as the resistance was relatively high. But once we got into a running pace, the resistance became less noticeable and provided much-needed stability. We’d recommend this more as an intensive sprinting treadmill, while the more affordable TrueForm Trainer may work better for light use.
The shorter running surface (54″ length) is a definite downside as taller runners may have to limit their stride length.
Perhaps our favorite feature about the Trueform Runner is its customizability. You can choose the color, add a logo, and choose your tread. While we went with the standard rubber tread, you also have the option of a running track surface or astroturf.
The 7-gauge, hand-welded steel and aluminum frame make for a durable (and heavy) machine. Weighing in at 360lbs, you can trust that this solid frame will last a lifetime.
- Best For: Elegance and noise reduction
- Weight Limit: 353lbs
- Dimensions: L: 71”, W: 28”, H: 55”
- Price: $$$
As a relatively new release and sitting at one of the highest price points, the Sprintbok hasn’t been around for long enough to garner a lot of attention. But you won’t find a curved manual treadmill more aesthetically beautiful than this. Of course, aesthetics alone cannot justify the price.
The sustainably sourced, solid wood frame has 62 wooden “flexi slats” that absorb impact and limit noise. We found walking as smooth as sprinting, with less resistance than the Trueform Runner. The higher curve also made it easier to propel the belt. This makes the Sprintbok a great addition to your home for general use.
We loved the large and sturdy handlebars, and the 17.3” tablet and Sprintbok app are handy additions. We put on a forest trail video to get as close to nature as one can on a machine and managed to zone out on a steady jog.
The only downside to this elegant machine is its price. The quality of this product is evident, and the linoleum finish should ensure longevity. But there are more affordable curved products that perform equally as well.
- Best For: HIIT & CrossFit
- Weight Limit: 350 lb
- Dimensions: L: 69.9” x W: 32.8” x H: 64”
- Price: $$
The AirRunner is marketed as being durable enough for commercial use – with a 150 000 mile belt life. We loved the sturdy steel frame but have yet to run far enough to see the belt live up to its 150 000 mile claim. Though still costing much more than an electric model, the AirRunner is in the lower price range for a curve treadmill.
We found running on this concave treadmill to be extra smooth. But, while the easier glide was helpful, we found it harder to regulate our pace. You may feel like you’re about to fly off at first, but it gets easier once you get a feel for the machine.
We found the small LCD monitor to be disappointing as it simply didn’t match the overall quality of the machine. The monitor was hard to press and seemed a bit outdated. Luckily, we weren’t too bothered with the metrics and enjoyed our run overall.
When it comes down to it, the AirRunner, endorsed by Crossfit Champion, Ron Ortiz, is a no-fuss, hop-and-go treadmill. It’s a great “budget” option for intensive training or regular jogs at home.
- Best For: Budget-friendly, all-rounder
- Weight Limit: 400 lbs
- Dimensions: L: 69” x W: 32” x H: 61.5”
- Price: $$
The IN10CT (Pronounced “Intensity”) runner is a great mid-range option, suited for all purposes and users. Whether you’re trying to get in a daily walk or want to do some High-Intensity Interval Training workouts, this machine will do well.
The steel frame has rubber slats, which we found great at easing impact, with a few plastic components on the sides. We loved the wheels as they gave us the option to move it around but found the performance monitor a tad confusing. We struggled to change the measurements to miles, and the controls took a bit of getting used to.
But, if you’re not bothered with metrics, you’ll get to enjoy a smooth and quiet run for as long and fast as you want. As with most non-motorized curved treadmills, the belt is on the narrow side, with a width of 17.6 inches. But with a comfortable 61” long-running space, we didn’t feel too restricted.
- Best For: Value for money
- Weight Limit: 375lbs
- Dimensions: L: 72” x W: 31” x H: 62”
- Price: $
While it may not be the prettiest, we found the SB Fitness CT400 to hit the sweet spot when it came to attention to detail and helpful features. To top it all off, it’s the cheapest curved treadmill on our list and has aten-year warranty to back it up.
It’s also the lightest curved treadmill, weighing only 145 lbs – making it an excellent option for those living in apartments. The slat belt runs smooth and silently, with the thin, flexible slats providing comfortable shock absorption.
Where this treadmill truly shines is in the small details. The CT400 not only has handy transport wheels, but it also has adjustable feet for leveling the frame. We loved how the handrails accommodate multiple running positions and enjoyed the slight curve and seamless flow of the belt.
Our favorite part was the magnetic resistance controls on the handlebar. We weren’t expecting anything fancy for its price point, so the three resistance settings blew us away. This product will work well in a household as there’s a resistance setting to accommodate everyone.
Because you’re the one propelling the belt, you’ll have an entirely different experience than running on motorized treadmills or outdoors. But don’t let the learning curve put you off. Once we found our feet, we genuinely enjoyed the freedom to control and change up our pace.
Keep in mind that you’re going to struggle to keep up your usual pace, as the extra resistance requires more energy. This is good as it engages more muscle groups than on a treadmill and burns more calories. But manual treadmills can’t be used to assess outdoor running performance accurately.
You’ll also be forced to be more mindful of your form, especially as you start out. We stumbled a few times from leaning too far forward and not focusing on where we stepped.
Because it consumes more physical energy, we wouldn’t recommend curved treadmills for long-distance running. However, you may be able to get in a more extended jog on the “slippier” AirRunner or CT400.
Are Curved Treadmills Better?
From our experience, we’d say curved treadmills may be better than regular treadmills but don’t entirely simulate road running. Like all fitness equipment, it has its place and purpose.
CrossFit and sports athletes will find the most benefit from these machines, as they’re great for interval training, encouraging correct running form, and burning calories. After a few weeks of testing out the curved treadmills, we found that running outside felt more effortless.
Unless you have the money, we wouldn’t eagerly recommend this to someone who’ll be using it less often or less intensively. It’s an excellent training tool, but a more budget-friendly treadmill will do the job if you’re only looking to do daily walks.
We’ve highlighted some of the top curved treadmills on the market. Whether you choose the budget-friendly CT400 or the durable Trueform Runner, you’re bound to have a great workout. You may want to have a look at another worthy curved contender, the French Fitness CT80.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with curved treadmills. Let us know what your favorite product is or if we left out any good options.