If you’re in search of that elusive runner’s high, the Peloton Tread (priced at $2,495, plus $39 per month for a class membership) delivers. I normally dread running, but I can’t wait to get on Peloton’s latest treadmill every morning. It’s smaller and costs $1,800 less than the Tread+, but offers a similarly engaging workout experience with an immersive touch screen, a wide variety of trainer-led classes, easy-to-use incline and speed knobs, rails that wrap around you, and no front shroud to trip on. While Peloton recalled both models over safety issues earlier this year and the Tread+ remains off the market for “the foreseeable future,” the company says it has fixed the screen-detaching problem that halted the smaller Tread’s release. Indeed, the machine feels sturdy and comfortable to run on, and Peloton is having its instructors reiterate safety warnings before and after every Tread class. With these assurances, we can confidently recommend the Tread as the best compact connected treadmill for your smart home gym, and our Editors’ Choice winner.
Peloton Tread vs. Tread+
Aside from price, size is the main differentiator between the Peloton Tread featured in this review and the original $4,295 Tread+. The latter, which was first called the Tread but has since been renamed the Tread+, is a behemoth of a machine at 73 by 37 by 72 inches (LWH).
The new Tread measures 68 by 33 by 62 inches (LWH), which Peloton says is smaller than most sofas, making it a better fit for many homes. Moreover, I’ve heard that the 455-pound Tread+ can cause significant wear and tear on wood floors (putting a heavy-duty mat underneath the treadmill can help). At 290 pounds, the Tread is less likely to wreck your floors, though you may still want to put it on a mat.
Both machines go up to 12.5mph, but the Tread+ inclines a bit higher, to a 15% grade, while the Tread tops out at 12.5%.
Like its sibling, the Tread has no front shroud (the plastic piece you normally see on treadmills where the motor is usually located). Instead, the motor is housed inside the space where the belt runs around. I highly appreciate this design feature, as the front shroud on most treadmills gives me anxiety about accidentally running into it.
The Tread offers less running space—59 by 20 inches (LW) compared with 67 by 20 inches on the Tread+—but both models are recommended for users aged 16 and up, who are between 4’11” and 6’4” tall, and weigh between 105 to 300 pounds. I’m 5’6” and the Tread feels roomy to me, but if you’re on the higher end of the recommended height range, it might feel a bit cramped.
The Tread also has a smaller screen, a different running belt, and a higher-horsepower (HP) motor than the Tread+. Though not as massive as the Tread+’s 32-inch display, the Tread’s 23.8-inch, 1080p touch screen is still big, bright, and sharp.
The Tread’s running belt may be a drawback to some. While the Tread+ features a shock-absorbing slat belt with a slightly grippy rubber top, the Tread has a traditional, continuous belt loop with a woven nylon base and textured PVC top. The Tread’s belt sits on a series of rubber dampers, but it’s not quite as springy or as easy on the joints as its larger sibling’s slat belt. Both are comfortable to run and walk on, but the Tread+ is the superior option for those with hip and knee issues, as well as long-distance runners.
Powering the Tread is a 3hp direct current (DC) motor, an upgrade from the Tread+’s 2hp alternating current (AC) motor. You might be wondering why a smaller treadmill needs a bigger motor; it comes down to belt style. Peloton says the Tread+’s low-friction slat belt system doesn’t require as much power as a traditional belt treadmill. With its traditional belt, the new Tread demands a larger motor. Both offer the same overall unit performance up to 12.5mph in speed supporting a 300-pound person, a Peloton spokesperson tells me.
As a benefit, the Tread’s DC motor is quieter, making the smaller model the better option if you plan to place your treadmill on the second floor of your home, or live with neighbors below you. When walking on the Tread at a speed of 3mph using the Just Run feature with no audio coming from the machine in an otherwise quiet room, the motor and my feet put out 58db, according to a reading from the NIOSH Sound Level Meter app. The CDC says that’s quieter than a normal conversation or air conditioner. When running at a speed of 7mph under the same conditions, I measured the volume at 68db, which according to the CDC is quieter than a washing machine or dishwasher. In other words, if you use the Tread with headphones, it’s not very loud.
The Tread looks just as sleek as the original, but sports a few more touches of red, including lines on the deck and rails. It has a small tray in the middle with two water bottle holders and a space in the middle for your phone and/or a small towel, but it doesn’t offer any other storage. The Tread+, on the other hand, has a larger tray that’s big enough to fit an iPad or even a laptop.
A Deeper Dive Into the Tread’s Hardware
The Tread’s head unit features a 2.5GHz Qualcomm QCS605 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal flash storage. It has an 8MP front-facing camera (with a privacy cover) and an array of four digital microphones, so you can video chat with friends as you work out, as well as a USB-C charging port for your devices.
For audio, the Tread has 2.2 channels with front-facing stereo speakers and rear-facing woofers that deliver clear, crisp sound. At maximum volume, the Tread fills a room with sound. When I first tested the Tread at Peloton’s Tampa showroom (months before I received my review unit), the audio was the first thing I noticed.
On the right edge of the display are volume up and down buttons. When you press one of the volume buttons, it gives you three options: Original Mix (the default setting), More Music, and More Instructor. If you’re really vibing to a track, you can use the more music button to turn it up and turn the instructor down. There’s no option to fully turn down one or the other, however.
The Tread’s rails extend out of the deck, for a continuous line that wraps around you, creating a “welcoming” experience, Peloton’s director of industrial design Jason Poure tells me. Between the rails is a crossbar that you can hold onto to steady yourself. When doing high knees as a warm-up, be careful you don’t accidentally kick the crossbar; I’ve done that and it doesn’t feel good.
Lots of other treadmills, including the NordicTrack Commercial 2950 and the Echelon Stride, feature pulse sensors on the handlebars or crossbar, so you can quickly check your heart rate without an external device; you won’t find that feature here.
The Tread features an incline knob on the left side of the rail and a speed knob on the right. The knobs are easy to use; they have a bit of grip and feel nice on your hand. The right knob lets you adjust your speed in 0.1mph increments; the left knob lets you adjust your incline in 0.5% increments.
Each knob has a jump button in the middle that lets you quickly increase your speed or incline to the next whole number. Say you’re running at a 1.5% incline and 5.5mph, for instance. Pressing the left jump button will increase your incline to 2%; pressing the right jump button will increase your speed to 6mph. If you’re doing a HIIT & Hills run and the instructor says to increase your incline from zero to 6%, you can press the left jump button six times.
Unlike some other premium smart treadmills, such as the NordicTrack Commercial 2950, the Tread and Tread+ cannot automatically control your speed and incline. Treadmills with this feature are convenient because they let you focus on your workout without having to fiddle with buttons or knobs. Considering the price of its machines, it would be nice if Peloton added this feature to future treadmill models. That seems doable, considering the Peloton Bike+ can automatically control your resistance.
A Word on Pricing
The Tread’s $2,495 base price includes delivery and assembly, as well as a limited warranty. The warranty covers the touch screen and all original components, with the exception of the frame, motor, and walking belt, against defects in workmanship and materials for one year. The frame is covered for five years and the motor and walking belt are covered for three years.
To make the cost more manageable, Peloton offers financing options through Affirm, starting at $59 per month for 43 months with no interest.
As is customary for smart fitness machines, Peloton charges extra for a membership. For $39 per month, the Peloton All-Access membership gives you unlimited access to the company’s full library of live and on-demand workout classes, performance tracking features, and the ability to set up an unlimited number of profiles on the machine, so everyone’s stats are kept separate. The All-Access membership offers a variety of floor-based workouts to supplement your runs and walks on the Tread, including barre, bootcamp, cycling, HIIT cardio, meditation, outdoor running, pilates, strength training, stretching, and yoga.
With the All-Access membership, you can also stream classes on your phone, tablet, TV, and web browser via the Peloton app. If you already have a Peloton Bike or Bike+, you can use the same All-Access Membership on the Tread as well.
Note that Peloton also offers a $12.99 App membership, but it only works on phones, tablets, TVs, and web browsers. You can use the Peloton App membership with a non-Peloton treadmill, but the main drawback is that you won’t be able to compete on the leaderboard, so you’ll miss out on the full Peloton experience.
And while it’s significantly more affordable than the Tread+, the Tread is still expensive. Its price puts it in line with the NordicTrack Commercial 2950, which is roomier, can incline higher, decline, and, as mentioned offers automatic speed and incline adjustments. But, as a compact treadmill with a big display, a premium build, a vast workout class library, and excellent social features, the Tread is in a lane of its own.
Prepare for Delivery Day
Since many of Peloton’s classes incorporate strength and bodyweight moves off the treadmill, you’ll want to procure dumbbells (light and medium sets, at least) and a workout mat if you don’t already have them at home.
You might also want to consider getting an ANT+ compatible heart rate monitor, so you can see your heart rate on the treadmill’s screen, as well as a pair of Bluetooth headphones so you can work out at the crack of dawn without waking everyone else in your household. Peloton offers several Tread packages with the aforementioned accessories and more, but you don’t necessarily need Peloton-branded ones.
In addition to ANT+ and Bluetooth 5.0 support, the Tread has a standard 3.5mm jack, so it also works with wired headphones. For safety reasons, I wouldn’t use wired headphones with the Tread, but if you do, just make sure the cord isn’t dangling near any moving parts.
Note that the Apple Watch pairs with the Bike+ to show your heart rate on screen, but it doesn’t work with the Tread. I used a Polar OH1 armband in testing and it seamlessly connected with the treadmill, letting me monitor my heart rate on the screen while working out. After going through the initial pairing process, your heart rate monitor and wireless headphones should automatically connect with the machine when nearby and powered on.
In testing, I’ve found that Apple AirPods don’t always play nice with the Tread. When I take the AirPods out of the case, and they automatically connect with the Tread before I’ve started a class, the beginning of the stream occasionally buffers. Exiting the class, disconnecting the headphones by putting them back in their case, restarting the class, then reconnecting the AirPods generally corrects the problem. Fortunately, I’ve only ever experienced buffering at the very beginning of a class. I’ve never experienced buffering after a stream has begun.
To prevent buffering, Peloton recommends placing the Tread near your home Wi-Fi router, or placing an access point between the treadmill and your router. The company says download speeds between 10 and 15Mbps, and upload speeds of 2.5Mbps should be sufficient.
When deciding where to put your Tread, you’ll also want to consider your ceiling height, and whether you’ll have enough room around the machine for floor-based workouts. If your ceiling is too low, you won’t be able to incline all the way. Peloton recommends a minimum ceiling height at least 20 inches higher than the tallest person in your home who plans to use the machine. For safety and an optimal viewing angle during floor-based workouts, Peloton says you’ll want 24 inches of clearance to the left, right, and front of the Tread, and 78.7 inches of clearance behind the machine.
The Tread’s screen can tilt 50 degrees vertically, but doesn’t swivel side to side (like the one on the Bike+ does). To see the screen during floor-based workouts, you’ll need to stand beside or behind the treadmill.
After you place your order, Peloton will contact you via email/text to schedule your delivery. At the time of this writing, the company says Tread deliveries usually take two to four weeks. While you’re waiting for it to arrive, Peloton will give you free access to its app, so you can take bodyweight strength, outdoor running, and yoga classes on your phone or tablet.
On the delivery day, the Tread will arrive in three boxes. Peloton’s technicians will carry them in, assemble the treadmill in your selected room, power it on, run calibrations to make sure it’s working correctly, and haul away the boxes. The two-person delivery team managed to get my review unit up and running in about an hour. From there, you simply sign in with your credentials, and you’re ready to run.
Just keep in mind that if you end up having to move the machine, Peloton recommends contacting its support team and arranging for professional disassembly/reassembly, which you’ll have to pay for. If you’re in search of a more portable, compact treadmill, the Echelon Stride, which folds up and can be stored vertically when not in use, is worth a look.
Heed the Warnings
We can’t talk about the Tread without discussing safety. In case you haven’t been following along, or you just need a refresher, the safety of Peloton’s treadmills came into question earlier this year, following claims by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that the larger Tread+ caused injuries to small children, pets, and adult users, including a six-year-old who died after being pulled under the machine.
After initially downplaying the problem and stating there was no reason to stop using the treadmill, Peloton in May issued a voluntary recall of the Tread+. At the same time, the company also recalled the new Tread after finding that the touch screen on pre-launch units could detach and fall.
At the time of this writing, sales of the Tread+ are still on hold as Peloton works on a CPSC-approved safety enhancement. A Peloton spokesperson couldn’t provide an update about the timing of a possible relaunch, but if you’re interested in the Tread+, you can sign up on the company’s site to be notified if and when it goes on sale again.
In the meantime, Peloton says it has fully corrected the Tread’s screen-detaching problem. In a statement to PCMag, a spokesperson said the scaled-down treadmill “includes the latest in software and hardware safety features to help Tread owners stay safe and focused on their workouts.”
“Peloton and the CPSC recently announced a free repair available for the approximately 1,000 Peloton Tread units sold in the U.S. as part of its pre-launch limited distribution,” Peloton’s statement reads. “This repair is also available for all current Tread owners in the U.K. and Canada. The repair ensures that the touchscreen will remain securely attached to the Tread. New Treads sold after today will incorporate these same changes.”
In other words, if you buy a Tread now, you can rest assured that the screen won’t come loose and fall as you’re working out.
In light of these incidents, Peloton is going to great lengths to familiarize users with the Tread’s safety warnings and instructions. Especially if you have small children and pets at home, be sure to heed these warnings.
When setting up the treadmill for the first time, the machine will prompt you to create a four-digit Tread Lock passcode, a new and required safety feature Peloton added after the recalls. After 45 seconds of inactivity outside of a class, the running belt will automatically lock, and you’ll need to enter your passcode for it to start moving again. You also need to enter your passcode every time you turn the Tread on.
“Do not write down or share the Tread Lock passcode with people under the age of 16 or persons with reduced physical, sensory, or mental capabilities that impair the safe use of the equipment,” Peloton warns in the Tread’s manual.
The Tread also comes with a physical Safety Key, which can be removed and stored away from the machine, so a curious child can’t accidentally turn it on. The Tread will only function when the red, magnetic Safety Key is fully inserted in the machine. Attached to the Safety Key is a string with a clip on the other end. While running on the Tread, Peloton says to attach the clip to your shirt or pants. If the Safety Key detaches from the machine for any reason, the Tread will come to a quick stop. There’s also a big red, oval-shaped Stop button on the crossbar, which will halt the running deck when pressed.
Peloton’s instructors go over important safety instructions before and after every running, walking, and treadmill bootcamp class. Before the class begins, they’ll tell you to make sure your shoes are double knotted, that kids and pets are away from the treadmill, and to clip on the Safety Key. At the end of the workout, they’ll remind you to remove the Safety Key from the treadmill, and hide it from children. The safety reminders might get a little repetitive, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that they can be lifesaving.
The Peloton Tread Experience
After powering on the Tread and entering your passcode, you come to a screen where you can add, manage, and access individual profiles. When you’re ready, just tap your handle to visit the interface, where you can browse classes, view your workout stats, and more.
At the bottom of the interface, there are tabs for Profile (your username), Home (where it takes you by default), Programs, Classes, Schedule, Challenges, and More. Additional buttons on the bottom of the interface let you quickly switch accounts or exit back to the login screen, build a Stack (multiple classes in a queue that play one after another), and view a social feed of your friends’ recent activity.
A button with three dots on the bottom right corner of the interface brings up a menu from which you can browse Peloton instructors, find friends on the platform, edit your profile, explore tags, change your Tread Lock passcode, view Peloton 101 instructional videos, exit to the login screen, or log out. On the top right side of the interface is a Settings button from which you can change your Wi-Fi network, adjust the volume and screen brightness, cast your Peloton screen to a different device, and connect wireless headphones and heart rate monitors.
The Home tab is customized to you, based on your workout history. Here, Peloton highlights new classes from your favorite instructors and offers personalized Daily Picks. You can scroll down to view featured and popular classes as well as challenges, recommended artists, and featured tags.
At the time of this writing, my Home tab is surfacing a new class from one of my favorite Tread running instructors Marcel Dinkins. Clicking on one of your instructors lets you browse just their classes. For my Daily Picks, Peloton is recommending a 10-minute meditation, a 45-minute advanced hip-hop bootcamp class (the Tread bootcamp classes, which alternate walking/jogging, running, and floor-based strength moves are my favorite), a 10-minute arms & light weights session, and a 10-minute full-body stretch. Peloton is likely offering all those 10-minute classes because I already worked out on the machine this morning.
On the top left side of the Home tab, it shows which days you’ve worked out that week; on the top right side, you can browse upcoming live classes and encore sessions (classes Peloton re-airs with a live leaderboard).
When you click a recommended artist, it brings up all the classes featuring their music. When you tap a featured tag (such as #BeersAfter, #TeamSlackers, or #PeloDoctors), you can add it to your profile, as well as scroll through a list of others who have added it to theirs, and follow them.
Besides Home, the tabs you’ll probably access most often are Classes and Schedule.
In Classes, you can browse the entire on-demand library, and filter it by workout type (running, bootcamp, walking, strength, cardio, stretching, yoga, and meditation), length (5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, and 60 minutes), instructor (with images of each in case you don’t remember their names), music (alternative, classic rock, country, electronic, hip-hop, Latin, indie, pop, R&B, and rock), and subtitles (English, German, and Spanish). Peloton also offers a search feature so you can easily find specific classes, and filters to quickly access your bookmarked classes and scheduled Sessions. You can also filter the on-demand library to remove, or only show, classes you have already taken.
With thousands of classes in Peloton’s on-demand library, there should be no shortage of options that suit your tastes. Its classes are all well planned and produced, with excellent music and knowledgeable instructors. Aside from SoulCycle, no other connected fitness brand I’ve encountered offers the production value of Peloton.
The company has a diverse team of instructors, so you’re sure to find your hype person, or several, on the platform. For me, that person is Dinkins, who is both extremely knowledgeable yet down to earth and hilarious. The first time I took one of her classes, I learned so much about proper running form. When she’s not coaching you to become a better runner, she’s offering words of encouragement to keep you motivated, or entertaining you with a story from her life.
In Schedule, you can view upcoming live and encore classes. With the exception of occasional breaks, Peloton offers several live and encore sessions each day. At the time of this writing, Peloton plans to air three to nine live classes, and two to four encore sessions, every day, over the next week.
“Our live schedule is ever changing, but we produce hundreds of hours of live classes a week,” a spokesperson tells me.
If you’re new to running or working out in general, I highly recommend starting with one of the regimented training plans in the Programs tab instead of picking classes ad-hoc each day. Classes in each Program are meant to be taken in order for the best results. You get a recommended schedule that includes rest days, a progress report at the end of each week, and badges for your achievements. Some of the Program offerings include You Can Run, Road to Your 5K, Beginner Strength, Beginner Yoga, Strong Core Strong Body, and Total Strength.
In your Profile tab, Peloton keeps track of your workout history, metrics, and achievements. In the Challenges tab, Peloton offers different goals you can opt into—like completing five strength workouts, running 10 miles, or taking a class every day during the month—to help you stay motivated.
In the More tab, you can access Just Run, which doesn’t require a subscription, to work out without instruction and monitor your metrics on the screen. Here, Peloton also offers Scenic Run, a feature that lets you explore picturesque locations around the world such as Big Sur, Hawaii, and New Mexico as you work out. Peloton recently started offering instructor-led scenic runs, but there’s only a handful of them available at this time. With this feature, Peloton is taking a page from rival connected fitness platform iFit (available on NordicTrack, Proform, and Freemotion Fitness machines), which already offers instructor-led global workouts filmed in 40 countries spanning all seven continents.
Working Out With the Tread
When you tap a class that looks good, Peloton brings up a preview screen from which you can watch a short trailer video and check out the playlist, workout plan, target metrics, member ratings, and more. From the preview screen, you can bookmark that class, add it to a Stack, or start it right away. Before the class begins, you can connect wireless headphones and a heart rate monitor (you can also do so during the class), and add tags to your profile to connect with other members with similar interests (I added #PlantBasedPower to mine).
During Tread classes, there are plenty of metrics to look at on the screen, but your incline, output (how much power you’re exerting, measured in Watts, based on your speed and incline), pace (in minutes per mile), and speed are most prominently displayed, at the bottom of the screen. Alongside your real-time output and pace, it shows your average and best values for these metrics, so you can quickly gauge your performance. Above your incline and speed, it shows the recommended range, as suggested by the instructor.
Like its predecessor, the Tread lets you create three custom on-screen shortcuts for both speed and incline, allowing for one-tap adjustments. When you tap speed or incline on the screen, these shortcuts appear.
Say you like to walk at a pace of 3mph, jog at 5mph, and run at 7mph; you probably want to make those your custom speed shortcuts. So when the trainer says to start running, you can just tap your 7mph shortcut instead of having to turn the speed knob or press the Jump button. To change your shortcuts, tap the screen, then select Customize Shortcuts in the middle.
You might find it annoying that the Tread doesn’t offer more physical or on-screen buttons for one-tap speed and incline adjustments. The NordicTrack Commercial 2950, in comparison, offers incline buttons (-3% to 15% grade) on the left side of the screen, and speed buttons (1 to 12mph) on the right side.
During Tread classes, Peloton also shows your distance, calories burned, total elevation climbed (in feet), as well as your total output (how much work you’ve done over the run so far, measured in kilojoules, or KJs) on the screen. If you don’t care for the plethora of metrics on your screen, you can tap a down arrow and they will all go away, except for your speed and incline, which will appear smaller.
Peloton ranks the leaderboard, located on the right side of the screen, by total output. You can increase your output—and climb the leaderboard—by upping your speed and/or incline.
During live and encore classes, the leaderboard shows everyone currently taking it with you, along with their real-time ranking. During on-demand classes, there are two leaderboard views: All Time (which ranks you against everyone who has previously taken that class), and Here Now (which ranks you against other members who are taking it at the same time). You can also filter the leaderboard to see just your own stats, only the people you follow, people with a certain tag in their profile, or by gender and/or age group.
To send someone a high five, just tap their profile photo on the leaderboard. To view their stats, achievements, and/or follow them, tap their username. Peloton instructors often give shout-outs to riders on the leaderboard, celebrating milestones like someone’s hundredth ride.
High fives and notifications about other class members’ milestones show up on the left side of the screen. If someone high fives you, you can high five them right back. Peloton’s community features help pass the time and make it seem like you’re not working out alone.
At the beginning of every song, the title and artist will briefly pop up on the left side of the screen. To bring up this information again, just tap the music note icon. If you have an Apple Music or Spotify account connected to the treadmill, pressing the heart icon next to the track details adds that song to a Peloton playlist on your preferred streaming service. I discover new music all the time during Peloton classes, and I love being able to save songs I like with a tap.
If you have a heart rate monitor connected to the treadmill, you’ll also see your pulse on the left side of the screen, along with your Strive Score, a non-competitive metric, based on your heart rate. Your Strive Score measures the amount of time you spend in each heart rate zone to help you track how hard you’ve been working during your session.
A progress bar at the top of the screen shows how much time has elapsed and remains in the workout. If you find the progress bar distracting, you can press an up arrow to make it go away. When you do that, it just shows your time remaining in the workout. If you need to leave a class early, just tap the exit button on the top left side of the screen. If you exit early, you can always delete the class from your workout history.
At this point, you still can’t pause Peloton workouts, but that should change soon. Peloton has never offered a pause button, an intentional decision that the company previously said helps ensure members work as hard on its machines as they would in an in-person class. Following user requests, Peloton earlier this year said it’s working to integrate a pause feature “in a way that maintains the integrity of the leaderboard.” A Peloton spokesperson couldn’t offer an update on timing, but said the company is still working on a pause button.
In Its Own Lane
With a compact yet roomy design, an attractive and responsive touch screen, outstanding software, and new safety features, the Peloton Tread is the best smart treadmill for small spaces. At $2,495 plus $39 per month for a class membership, it’s a sizable investment, but given its massive library of well-produced, entertaining classes featuring top-notch trainers, popular music, and fun social features, there’s virtually no risk of the Tread turning into a glorified clothing rack. Between climbing the leaderboard, monitoring your metrics, swapping high fives with other users, saving tracks to your music streaming account, and listening to your instructor’s stories and words of encouragement, the workouts fly by and leave you excited to get back on day after day. While not quite as knee-friendly as the rubber-slatted Tread+, which remains off the market, the Tread is smaller, quieter, and much more affordable, making it a better fit for most homes and budgets, and our new Editors’ Choice winner. Peloton already has a cult-like following of millions; if you’re thinking of drinking the Kool-Aid, we say bottoms up.