Is the Bowflex TreadClimber Worth Buying?

4.0 / 5.0

We decided a Bowflex TreadClimber review was in order, especially given the great feedback that we got from our Max Trainer test drive. Unlike that cardio machine, which is an elliptical and a stepper combined, the TreadClimber adds a 3rd machine to the mix, and given the name can you guess what that is? Yes, a treadmill.

The question we get asked the most is how does it compare to an elliptical or a treadmill? Does it give you a better workout? Is it just as low impact? Can you really burn more calories? We set out to answer those questions for you, as well as tell you everything you need to know about these hybrid cardio machines…

Bowflex TreadClimber TC200There are currently two models on the market today: the TC100 and the TC200. We tested out both at the same time to give you a complete review to help you make an informed decision.

As you can see from the picture, they kind of look like treadmills that have been sliced right down the middle. The two parts are called treadles, and they move independently.

(NEW YEAR SALE IS ON: Bowflex is currently offering over $1,308 in savings including free shipping and a free gift on select TreadClimber models)

Check out the special limited time sale here for the best savings of the year!

Rather than jog or run as you might do on a traditional treadmill, here you are walking, but it’s still a moving belt like you have on the treadmill. As you move you are stepping up as you would on a step machine, and as you step the treadles rise up in an elliptical motion. So that’s why the BowFlex TreadClimber is considered three machines in one. It’s a bit of a stretch, but we’re OK with that.

The main allure of the TreadClimbers, and the Max Trainers as well for that matter, is the fact that you can purportedly burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than you can on other cardio machines, including the stepper and the treadmill.

According to the company, you can burn 423 calories in 30 minutes on the TreadClimber, vs. 191 on the stepper and 165 on the treadmill. The elliptical was not part of this comparison for some reason, which combines the results of two studies, one from the University of Wisconsin, the other from Adelphi University.

Nevertheless, we were very excited to hop on our Bowflex TC200 and see for ourselves if the workout was as good as they say. Being elliptical users for over 20 years, we were a bit skeptical…but we were pleasantly surprised, although we hate to admit it. 🙂

BowFlex TreadClimber Review – The Pros

Let’s start out with the pros of our Bowflex TreadClimber review. For starters, set up is relatively easy and can be accomplished in 30-45 minutes or so by one person, but two is preferable.

As we mentioned above, the TC200 is simply an upgraded version of the TC100, and the workout is essentially the same. The TC200 does however include 5 workout programs: a simple walk (manual), calorie, distance, time and intervals. The TC100 does not come with built in workouts.

Also, the TC200 goes up to 4.5 mph while the TC100 tops out at 4.0 mph…not a big difference.

The TreadClimbers are very cool looking machines, as are most of the cardio machines in Bowflex’s lineup. They have a sleek, modern feel to them. The TC200 felt surprisingly solid when we got on, probably more so than the base model as it is almost 50 lbs. heavier. Both machines can accommodate up to 300 lbs.

As expected the TC200 is very space friendly, about as wide as a traditional elliptical trainer but about 20″ shorter, which makes it much easier to place in your gym.

You’re probably thinking…that all sounds great…but what about the workout? We were getting to that. Although it definitely takes some getting used to, after about 5 or 10 minutes it starts to feel very natural. The combined motion is very interesting…we had an urge to grab the handles and try to move them like we do on the elliptical, but we realized soon enough that that was not possible.

We started with the Just Walk program to get acclimated, then moved to the other programs. You can choose speed intervals, or enter a calorie/time/distance goal to reach. The workouts aren’t that advanced but they get the heart pumping and the sweat dripping, and that’s what working out is all about.

We were able to sync our results via the TreadClimber app to our Google Fit account, and that worked pretty seamlessly. Note that the TC100 does not have that capability. The TC200 also comes with a free heart rate chest strap for more accurate readings…the TC100 only has grip pulse capability.

Other nice features include a large backlit display, water bottle holder, USB port and a place for your tablet.

BowFlex TreadClimber Review – The Cons

Although we did enjoy the workouts on the TreadClimber TC200, there are some drawbacks to point out. They may not matter to you, but they are worth pointing out so you can make the most informed decision possible.

There are a handful of workouts here, but as we mentioned, they are not as diverse as the ones you might find on an elliptical trainer or treadmill at this price range. The TC200 has 4 on top of the manual mode…as a comparison the popular NordicTrack FS7i elliptical has 35 built in workouts. You also don’t get the resistance levels of an elliptical, so it’s more like a treadmill in that regard.

The TC200 tops out at 4.5 mph, so it is strictly a walking machine. This is perfectly fine for most users but for those who prefer to jog or run, a long stride elliptical or any treadmill is a much better option.

The display is very basic. Again, not a deal breaker, but given the just under $3000 price tag, it would be nice to have a more advanced display. Note that many ellipticals and treadmills in this price range offer touch screen consoles, some even have internet capability. You can however sync your results via Bluetooth, which is a nice feature.

The last negative we should mention isn’t related directly to the workout, but rather the machine itself. Although the TC200 is definitely a step up construction wise from the TC100, the warranty only covers you for three years (two years on the TC100). Compare that to lifetime frame on most ellipticals and treadmills in the price range and you can see how the TreadClimbers fall short. As such an extended warranty is definitely recommended.

What’s the bottom line?

If you’re looking to walk your way to fitness, the TreadClimber is definitely a good option for you. It is low impact, allows you to burn a lot of calories in a shorter amount of time, and fits nicely into the home gym with its compact design.

However, if you’ve been using an elliptical or treadmill for years, this might not be the ideal cardio machine for you. Ellipticals offer the added attraction of resistance levels, additional workouts and incline, and treadmills offer more freedom of movement and the ability to jog or run.

Between the two models, the TC200 is definitely the better option, although it is an additional $1000. It is more durable, with more workouts,tracking capability, wireless heart rate monitoring and a better warranty. But if money is an issue, the TC100 should suit your needs just fine.

Bowflex usually offers free shipping, free gifts as well as special sales throughout the year. They also have a solid 6 week return policy so you can try out the machine to see if you like it.

So if you are considering a Bowflex TreadClimber, you can order one risk-free and make sure you enjoy working out on it. If so, you’re good to go, if not, just return it! They’ve sold millions of these machines, so obviously there are a lot of satisfied customers.