By Simon Gould
New technologies are popping up everywhere. Everything is “smart” now. Smart TV’s, lights, thermostats, almost anything is being connected to the internet for you to control and get information about on your PC, tablet or smartphone. This technology is coming to treadmills too. Here are the best treadmills with the latest Bluetooth technology.
What is Bluetooth FTMS (Fitness Machine Service protocol)
This is the latest Bluetooth protocol for fitness equipment including treadmills. It enables you to get data and control your treadmill via Bluetooth. By using FTMS you can take advantage of the latest 3rd party apps like Zwift. Some treadmills only have Bluetooth speakers, but you need the full FTMS profile to get the most out of the feature.
If you’ve never heard of Zwift, it’s an interactive community of thousands of like minded treadmill users exercising together. This video explains it best:
Here are the 4 best treadmills with Bluetooth FTMS connectivity. These are the only brands that currently have it and these are the most popular treadmills in their range.
Top Pick: Horizon 7.0 AT Treadmill
This Horizon 7.0 AT is part of the Studio series by Horizon Fitness. They have the latest Bluetooth FTMS connectivity on the whole series*. It’s become one of their best selling treadmills and was designed just a few years ago, which is why it has the latest technology.
- Motor Power: 3.0 CHP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 325 lbs
- Bluetooth: Heart rate 4.0 receiver, speakers and FTMS
On top of the Bluetooth technology which is it’s main feature, the 7.0 AT is a feature packed treadmill in it’s own right. The display is a 7″ LCD screen in front of you on the console which has a rack to hold a tablet. The deck is long and wide so you can exercise with confidence. I like the warranty, it’s 1 year of labor, 3 years parts and lifetime on the frame and motor.
A good warranty is a sign the manufacturer has made the product to last. The speed goes to 12 mph and the incline 15%. 12 mph is a 5 minute mile which is faster than 99% of runners out there. Zwift runners will love this treadmill. It’s powerful motor is robust enough to take regular running usage. The other models in the series have bigger motors and can still connect to Zwift.
It comes into it’s own with the apps it can use. It can stream media like Spotify, Netflix and Hulu. You can use fitness apps like Peloton, Nike and Daily Burn. The Bluetooth FTMS can pair with Zwift, MyFitnessPal and FitBit. Plus it can transmit your heart rate data to Peloton and Zwift. That’s pretty impressive, they’ve used the Bluetooth technology to it’s full potential.
|ProsFree shippingGood warrantyBluetooth FTMSGood top speedLow price||ConsHeavy treadmill|
2. Xterra TRX4500 Treadmill
The TRX4500 is part of the performance series of treadmills by Xterra Fitness. It is Bluetooth FTMS enabled and connects to Zwift, Kinomap and others. Not all this series has FTMS but this one does. It can share data with the popular workout app Strava. It has very similar specifications to the Horizon above, although the price is $300 more.
- Motor Power: 3.25 CHP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 350 lbs
- Bluetooth: FTMS
While the maximum user weight is better than the Horizon, the incline and display aren’t as good. However, it’s still a good treadmill with a generous 12 mph top speed and a wide deck. There are 30 preset programs, so they can cater to beginners as well as advanced treadmill users. The high weight capacity means people of all shapes can get a good workout and lose weight.
The deck has it’s own technology to cushion you as you exercise, they call it XTRASoft Deck Cushioning. A nice addition is the handlebar controls, you can change the speed and incline in a more comfortable position. The screen is 7.5″ LCD and displays all your expected workout information like calories, pace, time, distance and pulse.
|ProsHigh torque motorHandlebar controlsBluetooth FTMS30 preset programsHigh weight capacity||ConsSmall display|
3. NoblePro Elite E8.0 Treadmill
This is a UK treadmill. There’s no stock in the US, they can deliver to a specialist shipper in the UK for a small charge, but you would have to organize shipping from there. It’s a Bluetooth FTMS treadmill designed for runners who take their runs seriously. They advertise a seamless Zwift connection and proudly say it replicates outdoor running in the home.
- Motor Power: 4.2 HP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 135 kg (300 lbs)
- Bluetooth: BLE heart rate, speakers and FTMS
Compared to the two treadmills above, this one has a higher top speed and a bigger deck. The Elite E8.0 even gives you the ability to update the FTMS chip by Bluetooth. So you have a future proof treadmill. Using their own app “NoblePro Go” you can design an infinite number of custom workouts, record and share stats. Screen shots of it look quite impressive.
There’s a USB charging port, dual speakers and an 8″ LED screen. This is bigger than all of the treadmills above. There’s free delivery to the UK mainland and assembly is available at an additional charge. When I need a new treadmill, it’s the sort that I would definitely consider. It seems to really cater to those who enjoy their running.
|ProsFree delivery (UK)High top speedBluetooth FTMS and future proofImpressive appLarge display||ConsLimited motor warranty|
4. Spirit XT285 Treadmill
Spirit Fitness sell a wide range of commercial and residential fitness equipment. Five of six residential treadmills they sell have Bluetooth FTMS including this one. This one caters to runners with it’s 3.0 CHP motor and why it’s recommended for Zwift users. It has significantly better specifications than the budget model below it.
- Motor Power: 3.0 CHP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 350 lbs
- Bluetooth: FTMS
At 20″, the XT285 has a wide deck. So if you do any speed training or endurance running, you can be confident in your stride. The 350 lbs is a big weight capacity for a treadmill at it’s price. To take a large weight it needs to be sturdy, and therefore, durable. The top speed is 12 mph which is more than enough.
The cushioning system is advanced with 6 shock absorption panels in the deck. The 7.5″ screen tells you all the workout stats you could need and a tablet holder is there, should you use that for your Zwift runs. There’s a 30 day money back guarantee and the warranty is good, being 1 year labor, 10 year parts and lifetime on the frame, motor and deck.
|ProsHigh weight capacityGood warrantyBluetooth FTMSZwift compatibleAdvanced cushioning systemGood deck thickness||Cons12 levels of incline|
More Bluetooth FTMS treadmills from these brands
Horizon Fitness Studio Series treadmills
I’ve reviewed the Horizon 7.0 AT above and it’s my top pick. The other Studio treadmills are just as good but higher spec and therefore, more expensive. They all have Bluetooth FTMS. Here they are and their prices:
As you go higher by model the motor size increases, from 3.0 CHP to 3.5 CHP, then 4.0 CHP. The screen gets bigger and so does the deck. Even the warranty is better. I think the budget model is good and at $999, it’s the minimum I recommend you pay foe a treadmill. But if you’re willing to pay more, you’re getting a better treadmill for your money with the better models.
Xterra Fitness Performance Series treadmills.
Xterra fitness have their own range of Bluetooth FTMS enabled treadmills. Not all of their Performance Series has it, only 3 out of 4 and it’s the higher end models. Here they are and their prices:
Prices may differ at Amazon.
I like the TRX3500 and TRX4500. But the TRX5500 disappoints me as the motor is only 3.25 CHP. For the price I would expect 4.0 CHP like you get with the Horizon above. Otherwise they’re all perfect for Zwift. Xterra are not the most well known brand, but they’re gaining a reputation and the Performance Series helps it. The warranties show they have faith in the durability of their treadmills.
Advantages of treadmills with Bluetooth
Bluetooth enables the treadmill to transmit your stats as you run to an app on your phone or tablet. This includes speed, incline, distance and more. Some treadmills brands come with their own app as part of the package and the most impressive, for me, are Horizon Fitness*. They should make more of their Bluetooth FTMS capabilities, but they don’t. This is what makes them stand out from their competitors..
Some Bluetooth treadmills don’t come with an app but there are plenty online that you can use. The most popular are RunSocial and Zwift. These fantastic apps enable you to compete with other users on runs. You can create workouts to follow and track your statistics on graphs for you and others to see. They make exercising on a treadmill a new experience.
You input your details on these apps and compare yourself to other runners. They also organize events where, via Bluetooth, a 5k or 10k run could be arranged with many participants. It really gives you something to get out of your runs on a treadmill. You have a screen in front of you and you pass or get passed by other runners on the screen.
Most modern treadmills have some Bluetooth capabilities
If you’re going for a motorized treadmill, then nearly all that are sold for $999 or above, will have Bluetooth. That is the minimum I recommend you spend on a treadmill. The one I recommend the most is the Horizon 7.0 AT. This is a Bluetooth treadmill priced at $999. It has the Zwift compatible, Bluetooth FTMS chip built in. The first of my top 3 recommended treadmills has been the Horizon 7.0 AT* for the past 2 years.
Even if the treadmill you’re looking at has Bluetooth, check it’s capabilities. Some can only connect an audio device using Bluetooth. Whereas others have the features I describe above. This can make a big difference to how much you enjoy your treadmill. One with just audio is no different from using your own music system. You usually need the version of Bluetooth to be 4.0 or higher.
Modern treadmills that typically don’t have Bluetooth are curved and manual. These don’t have many features you find on motorized treadmills widely advertised. Manual treadmill tend not top have power of much of a console, therefore Bluetooth is not needed. Curved treadmills are for runners who want to run high speeds. They aren’t powered by electricity and don’t have Bluetooth.
Using apps without a Bluetooth treadmill
There are ways you can make your treadmill smart without having the facility built into the treadmill itself. There are devices called foot pods which you attach to the middle of your running shoe in the front using the laces. These can transmit all the information that a treadmill running app needs. They don’t cost that much either.
There are run pods made by Zwift, Stryd and Garmin. All those links will give you more information about each run pod. These really give an amazing boost to your treadmill running. No longer will you find the treadmill boring and you’ll look forward to running with others on your treadmill. Like running a race.
The good thing about run pods is that you don’t need a screen in front of you. You can use them at a gym and record all your stats and connect them to your device to see them. Bluetooth in treadmills is really catching on, you may pay a bit more for them but you’ll enjoy your workouts a whole lot more. There is a bit of research to get to know the app but you’ll be thankful you did.
Your choice when buying a new treadmill is Bluetooth or not. You can buy a cheaper treadmill and not have Bluetooth built in. With run pods you can cheaply upgrade an old treadmill or buy a cheaper one. A smartphone is needed and they can be quite expensive depending on whether you buy the newest technology or not. It really is worth it as your fitness and health will be all the better with all this exercising.
If you want a treadmill for Zwift and you don’t mind which Bluetooth version you have, I created a page of the best smart treadmills for Zwift that you may find useful.