Let me be clear right off the bat – I’m not convinced that manual treadmills are the best way to go, so before I even took a real look at the Phoenix 98510 I had some serious reservations about it. This is not a high-tech gadget by any means and it’s not the biggest treadmill around, but it does have some surprisingly decent features that make it worth a second look. If price isn’t a serious concern for you though, there’s probably not much reason to give this machine serious consideration.
If on the other hand you’re trying to find a treadmill that will provide you with a decent home workout on a limited budget then this one definitely fits. This is one of the few treadmills you’ll find priced under $200, which makes it an affordable option for just about anyone. While it’s always nice to save a few bucks, there’s not much point in choosing a machine that you’ll never use, so you always want to be careful when considering such a low-cost model.
As we’ve mentioned above this treadmill operates manually, which means your workout is completely self-powered. If you want to go faster that’s up to you; how fast you go is not really limited, although I wouldn’t attempt to go too fast on this machine as the tread is very narrow and not very long. If you try to go at extreme speeds there’s a good chance you’re going to injure yourself. This treadmill is really more suitable if you intend to use it for walking at a brisk pace – I wouldn’t recommend it for running. Quite a few customers have complained that the belt can be a little bit jerky and may even slip once in a while.
The other reason that running on this machine isn’t very practical is because you have to hold onto the handlebars as you use the machine – it’s all but impossible to gain any momentum on the treadmill without using the handlebars. That doesn’t make running impossible, but it does make it rather difficult to do so fluidly.
The flywheel that controls the movement of the belt is made of a relatively heavy-duty construction, so it can stand up to a bit of wear and tear. The machine is rated for people up to 250 pounds, which isn’t bad for such an inexpensive model, but some of the more expensive models can handle up to 400 pounds, just for comparison purposes, so it’s definitely got limitations in this area.
The frame itself is pretty solid and it does come with a one-year warranty, although again, more expensive models have much more extensive warranties – some even offer lifetime warranties on the frame. Chances are the machine will last a lot longer than a year, but if it does break down after that time you’re going to be on your own, so warranty is definitely something to consider.
This treadmill’s console is pretty basic – it has one button that you can use to alternate between modes which track things such as your calories burned, the elapsed time of your workout, and the distance you’ve traveled. On either side of the small LCD display are cup holders so you do have a place to store your water bottle or smart phone. In fact, this machine even comes with its own water bottle, so that’s a little bit of a bonus.
If you’re looking for things such as built-in workout options that will push you to your limits, this is not the machine for you. If you want some self-adjustable variety in your workout this machine won’t be of any help to you. It also has no sound system, no built-in Wi-Fi, and no way to communicate your workout progress with any type of app or computer program. It’s just a bare bones, basic console that provides you with a few vital statistics.
The best treadmills for your home gym will feature important safety features such as keys that pull out of the machine if you fall. You won’t find that on this machine and you won’t find many other safety features either. The running area of the belt is quite small at 13 inches wide by 41 inches long, so you don’t have a lot of room to maneuver. It’s pretty easy to step off the side or to fall off the back of this machine, so if you’re a larger person or if you have a long stride, this treadmill may pose a serious safety hazard.
The other thing that concerns me about the safety of this machine is that the handlebars are not very long. This may be to prevent you from moving too far to the back of the machine and falling off the back, but I’m not entirely sure this is the case. What it does mean is that you don’t have a lot of surface area to grip, and that’s definitely a cause for concern.
I want to save a little money as much as the next guy, but I’m not willing to compromise my safety to do it. This machine just doesn’t feel safe enough to me and it doesn’t have a lot of the features I’m looking for. I still think an electric treadmill is the way to go and the Phoenix 98510 treadmill hasn’t convinced me that I should change my mind.