Horizon Fitness T81 Treadmill Review – to Buy or Not to Buy

Horizon Fitness T81 TreadmillThe Horizon Fitness T81 treadmill – new in 2007

The new Horizon Fitness T81 treadmill is a slight upgrade to the popular T71 treadmill model – both belonging in the lower end of the market as far as prices are concerned. The T81 is Horizon Fitness’ current base level model.

Was a new model number really necessary? Horizon Fitness are one of those companies with the infuriating habit of changing their model numbers as often as the rest of us change our workout routine. They create names for particular dealers and new models for very little change in spec.

I have a suspicious nature after dealing with fitness equipment and consumer goods for so long and I always worry when companies do this. You see it gets in the way of doing any kind of price comparison and I think it also hides poor exercise equipment reviews and ratings. If you have a great product why change the name? You want people to be able to find out about it. You want them to see all the positive reviews about your treadmill.

So where are the consumer reviews about the Horizon Fitness T81 treadmill – there are none at the time of writing (11/07).

Horizon Fitness Consumer Reports and Ratings

Although there are currently no T81 buyer reviews, you’ll find plenty of reviews and consumer reports about the T71 and other Horizon treadmills out there on the web and surprise, surprise some of them are a little worrying!

Now, to be fair, that’s not unusual at the lower end of the treadmill market. When you’re spending significantly less than $1000, let’s face it, you can’t expect gym quality and there will always be someone disgruntled with their treadmill who had false expectations.

But the issues that concern me most are around build quality and, though Horizon Fitness seem to be taking steps to improve that, it certainly has been a problem for some people trying to assemble their treadmill. (See Amazon reviews for T71 and T72)

Having said all that you do get a lot of treadmill for your money with the Horizon Fitness T81 so I don’t dismiss it out of hand. In fact if you are prepared to do a little work with customer care should you be unlucky with your Horizon treadmill assembly then you’ll probably feel like you got yourself a great deal.

And it’s some comfort that customer care for Horizon fitness equipment does seem more responsive than that for a number of other companies at the lower end of the market, so any problems should get sorted out to your satisfaction.

So why do I think you are getting a good deal?

Horizon Fitness T81 Features

  • Powerful 2.0 HP continuous-duty motor which runs quietly compared to treadmills at the gym. This means you can listen to music or watch TV while working out without the machine sounding like a jet engine in full flight. The 2.0 CHP motor is a slight upgrade on the 1.75CHP motor which you got with the T71
  • Large, heavy frame adds stability to your exercise session – with treadmills heavier is actually better for this very reason. The T81 is not the heaviest but it is OK if you are not pushing the maximum weight load of the machine.
  • Speed range of 0.5 to 10 mph, fine for most home exercisers looking for a sports treadmill
  • Touch button incline controls with an incline range of 0 to 10 percent with 0.5% increments also more than most of us will use (but you might prefer more if you are training for hill running etc)
  • 8 workout programs, including Manual, Intervals 1, Intervals 2, Weight Loss 1, Weight Loss 2, Foothills, Golf Course, and Custom
  • Comfort Zone air-cell-cushioned, 2-ply 1.6mm tread belt which provide the right combination of firmness and cushioning.
  • 20″ by 50″ running area – this is an extra 2″ over the T71 (but the tallest runners might still prefer a longer belt )
  • You can fold the treadmill easily and safely. You raise and lower the deck by means of Horizon’s exclusive Feather light hydraulic lift mechanism, – making it easier to move and store your treadmill as required (although treadmills can not really be seen as completely portable fitness equipment – a good treadmill is HEAVY and big).
  • You’ll also find Transport wheels on the treadmill too
  • The Horizon control console is clear and has logical control locations along with a 2.4″ by 3.1″ backlit LCD screen which offers feedback on your workout with metrics including speed, time, pulse, distance, and calories burned
  • Heart rate monitoring via hand grips. (Note that in general (on all treadmills) these do not tend to be very effective so you may be better with a separate heart rate monitor with chest strap)
  • Built-in cooling fan (as with most built in fans you’ll probably find that a separate pedestal fan placed by your machine will be more effective if you tend to get very hot when you workout)
  • Product Dimensions 71″W x 69″H x 35″D
  • Weight Capacity : 275lbs
  • Treadmill weight : 176 pounds
  • Powered by standard home 110V outlet
  • Warranty : The T81 has a good warranty for the price of the machine with a lifetime warranty on the frame, 20 years on the motor (the most important part of the treadmill) and 1 year parts and labor. You can also buy an extended warranty to cover your treadmill fully for a longer period

Our Summary

The Horizon Fitness T81 treadmill is a reasonable option for a cheap treadmill – it is feature packed and though not as sturdy as more expensive models it will serve you well if you are a light user. Just be prepared to spend a little time with Customer care if your treadmill proves tricky to assemble.

Where to Buy the T81 Horizon Fitness treadmill

You can get the Horizon Fitness T81 treadmill from Amazon with free shipping and usually a sizeable reduction on the M.R.P. – a great price for all you get with this treadmill.