I know some people love running and might feel a bit triggered by what i’m about to say. In my opinion, running on a treadmill is boring at best - don’t click away now! - I’m a competitive guy, and what others find relaxing and peaceful - is a bit too dull for me.
That’s why I could never get enough cardio in. Cardio for me, was just lifting weights faster..
Until I discovered Zwift. Now honestly, even to this day, I can’t wait to hop on a treadmill and go for a run. Competing against people from all around the world really resonates with my competitive nature and makes me run longer and harder than I ever would without Zwift.
It's a freaking blast let me tell ya. If you haven't ever ran with Zwift you are missing out and you need to get going asap.
However, as most are unaware, not every treadmill fully integrates with Zwift.
You may think that old thing you’ve had for ages in your basement can do the trick. But for Zwift, you need a bit more firepower.. and not just firepower but also some up and new tech.
Thing is, for the past month or so, I have been thinking about getting an upgraded zwift treadmill for myself and have literally spent about 2 full weeks researching which one is going to be the best option.
This is why I put this research article together.
My Personal Search Effort and Research into Finding The Best Treadmill for Zwift
**Note: For those that are made of money, this is not going to be the article for you. I for one, am not made of bucku bucks, so my research is based on affordable options. I am quite frugal so my research goes towards finding the best bang for buck type options.
Not the best of the best ever made.
What is Zwift?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard of Zwift before. But just in case you stumbled in here by mistake and want to revamp your treadmill experience, I’ll explain what Zwift is all about.
At its most basic, Zwift is a running gaming app that connects you to other runners all around the world, in order to make training FUN. By using a special treadmill, you are able to compete in races, run beautiful courses, or just jog along with friends. All from the comfort of your own home.
Want to take a stroll through London or anywhere in Italy just for the heck of it? Zwift allows you to do this.
What Does a Treadmill Need to Work with Zwift?
If you’re paying attention, you should have noticed I mentioned you need a special treadmill for Zwift. This doesn’t mean you’ll need some space-age, NASA approved treadmill, you’ll just need a smart treadmill that can tell Zwift just how fast you’re running, calibrate your footsteps, have the power needed, the incline, decline, etc..among other things.
Your next question should be “What the hell is a smart treadmill then?”. In an age where you can connect your phone to a toaster and order groceries with your fridge, it shouldn’t surprise you that treadmills can be connected to the internet and even Bluetooth.
For Zwift, you’ll want one of these, since it will communicate directly with the app to transfer your cadence and speed as accurately as possible. They can also tell the app your incline, heart rate and other useful data.
There is a way to use “Non-smart” treadmills with Zwift, but it involves using a foot pod that you need to calibrate and you might have a poor connection or lose it completely. Nevermind that the data transmitted won’t be as accurate and that you’ll miss out on some features.
You’ll get the basic Zwift experience, but miss out on everything else. And in my experience this is seriously not even worth it. I tried using my old T101 Treadmill, bought my footpod and everything.. What a waste. I recommend not taking this route if Zwift is what you want to run with.
However, I always make it a point to make fitness and health available to anyone, regardless of your budget. That’s why I’ve also compiled the best “Non-Smart” treadmills that have the most desirable features for Zwift. That way those that don’t want to spend as much can still enjoy it, as long as they’re willing to get the foot pod and set it up.
My Top Pick
Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill - Editors choice
- Best Overall Bang For Buck Zwift Treadmill
- Foldable, Compact, Easy to Move
- Extremely Cushioned Running Deck - Excellent for People with Bad Knees
- Provides 100% Integration with Zwift
- No Footpod Required
- No Setup or calibration required
- Built like a Tank - mine is 3 years old and still looks and runs like new
- Popular & Highly Rated in The Forums
What to Look for in a Treadmill
Why? Well there are many things that make a great home treadmill, but the most important by far is CHP, Continuous HorsePower. It’s a measure of the size and power of the engine on your treadmill. Please please, if you do not decide to go with a treadmill on this list, make sure you do not pay attention to top horsepower. This is just a way for brands to try and sell you.
CHP is the only thing that matters.
Anything less than 3CPH and your tread will slow down when you stomp on it while running, meaning you’ll have to put in more work to achieve the same speed. Clearly not good if you’re racing someone or planning to go on a long distance run.. actually not good for any situation.
The top speed for your treadmill of choice will vary quite a lot depending on your goals. Those that turn to Zwift for intense racing will want to get a machine that can reach 12mph, otherwise, you might find yourself losing a sprint because your treadmill can't go fast enough.
If you’re more of a light jog kinda guy, you can coast just fine with a 10mph treadmill.
Best Treadmills for Zwift with 100% Compatibility and Best Experience
1. Bowflex BXT216 - Editors choice
Best Overall Zwift Treadmill
- Best Overall Bang For Buck option For 100% Zwift Integration
- Compact, Foldable, Space Saving Low Profile Treadmill Design, And Easy to Move
- No Need To Buy Foot Pods
- No Need to Calibrate
- Popular & Highly Rated
- Highly Raved About in the Zwift Forums
- 4 CHP Motor
- 12 MPH top speed
- 15% Incline
- 15 year warranty on frame and motor
- 5 year warranty on mechanic parts and electronics.
Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill Review
Alright, I’ll be the first one to admit that the BXT216 does look a bit space-agey. It’s probably the best treadmill out there. Period. Even if you didn’t even use Zwift, this would be my first option if I had to buy a treadmill right now.
It comes from a well known brand like Bowflex and is filled with features to make your training easier and far better:
Like all 100% compatible treadmills, this one has Bluetooth connectivity, which will allow it to communicate with Zwift and send over your speed, cadence, heart rate, and more. Even when you’re not using Zwift, it can access other fitness trackers such as MyFitnessPal, and even use the “Explore the world app” to make running more fun. And this in itself is insanely fun.
It features a handy tablet holder, which will help keep your device stable while you run. You might think its dumb, but try an intense sprint with your phone on top of a treadmill and see if it falls off or not. Even better, you can charge your device while you do it!
Finally, it can measure your heart rate. Most treadmills do it through handrails, but this will impede your running since you have to keep your arms still. Bowflex has also includes a heart rate sensor strap. For free.
There are plenty of ways in which Bowflex makes this one more user friendly. One of the most ingenious ones is the handrail integrated treadmill controls. A treadmill that has a screen is great and all when setting up, and yes you do get a bright 9-inch display for that. However, using a screen can make it hard to make on the go adjustments when running, that’s when integrated controls really make a difference. And that's just what this treadmill brings to the table.
Even better, the BXT216 features a huge 22" x 60" running path equipped with their trademark “Comfort Tech” deck cushioning system to provide the ultimate support and running experience. This treadmill is best for people with bad knees or for people who would prefer a softer and more comfortable running experience.
No need to worry about overheating yourself on even the longest of runs, thanks to the automatic, 3-speed fan! With it, you’ll be able to keep yourself cool even if your setup is inside a poorly ventilated space like a basement or attic.
Soft Drop Folding System
Definitely the cherry on top. This treadmill is foldable, which is not necessarily a must have feature, but it allows this piece of equipment to save a lot of space. There’s plenty of people looking to get into working out, but space can often be a limiting factor.
If you live in a small apartment, this small treadmill is going to be best as you probably don’t have the room to have a treadmill set up at all times. This way, you can deploy it only when you need it and avoid the eyesore when you’re not.
- Bluetooth Connectivity.
- Built In Bluetooth Speakers
- USB port to charge devices.
- CushionFlex Whisper Deck reduces joint stress
- 3 CPH Motor
- 12 MPH top speed
- 15 levels of incline
- 82.00 x 35.00 x 57.00 inches
Sole F63 Review
The Sole F63 has been named “Best in its price range” by plenty of fitness magazines, including Fit Rated, Run Reviews, and now by us here at FitLifeFanatics as well. It's truly amazing just how many features they managed to cram into a single machine.
My Zwift Treadmill Setup I Used When I Had the F63
Like our previous entry, Bluetooth connectivity can be used for 100% integration into Zwift but now you can also play music on the inbuilt speaker system. Of course, while you do that you can use the USB port to charge your devices, that can be placed on the dedicated tablet holder.
This may not seem like a big deal for my younger audience, but trust me, it is. Once you try Zwift, you’ll find yourself running more than you ever thought you would. If you do that on a harsh surface, you’re liable to get RPIs, Repeated Stress Injuries.
Your knees and ankles are going to take the brunt of the force exerted when you run on a treadmill, but thanks to the “Cushion Flex Whisper Deck” joint impact is reduced by 40%.
For our senior readers, it should be a no brainer that the easier running is on your knees the better.
Once again we have a foldable treadmill, with all the space-saving benefits that entails. I’m not gonna repeat myself, so just know you can get this one even if you’re lacking in space.
Treadmills are not a piece of equipment that you see break very often. However, Smart Treadmills usually cost a bit more, so it is to be expected that you can get your money’s worth by using them for years and years and.. yeah. years.
That’s why it’s so great that the Sole F63 is made with heavy-duty steel. Who knows what might happen in the future? You might move and need to throw your treadmill in a truck, but with the Sole F63 you’ll have peace of mind knowing it can take some punishment.
My Personal Home Treadmill
HUGE 22INCH Touchscreen
Allows for interactive training workouts and Live Training Classes
Does Everything Well - I have owned this for quite some time and to this day I still love it.
Soft Running Deck for Comfortable Long Distance Running
Aux port for Inbuilt Speakers.
- 4.25 CPH
- 12 MPH top speed
- -3% to 15% incline or decline.
- 300lb weight capacity.
- Heart Rate monitor & included bluetooth strap.
- Lifetime Warranty on frame and motor, 5 year on electronics and gears.
Nordictrack 2950 Review
First things first, I wanna make it clear that this treadmill is NOT 100% Zwift Compatible. You’ll have to get the footpods for this one. HOWEVER, it’s the treadmill I’ve owned for 3 years and it's so damn good I had to include it somewhere.
In fact, this treadmill is so DAMN good that even EMINEM uses it. Yes, you’ll have to go through the trouble of setting up the footpod, but instead of using your phone or tablet you get a HUGE, beautiful screen. Even better, it’s 100% compatible with plenty of other fitness apps, such as iFit, Echelon, Peloton and other alternatives.
Let me make it clear, this is a premium professional treadmill. The best of the best. Let me dive into what makes it my treadmill of choice, even with a footpod.
I figured I’d start with the screen since it’s the first thing you’ll notice as soon as you look at the 2950. It’s one of the only treadmills on the market that comes with it’s own large built in HD touch screen, and you won’t find anything brighter or bigger than this one. This is the all time best treadmill with a screen that you will find today. Main reason why I have loved every second I have owned it.
Coming in at 22 inches, with HD graphics and touchscreen capabilities, it’ll allow you to sightsee on street view while you run, watch movies, shows, use iFit and workout with the 40 inbuilt programs.
While you do that, you can also play your tunes on the inbuilt speakers thanks to the included aux port. You can even use non-smart devices like mp3s, which are great if you wanna unplug and ditch your phone for a while.
There’s a lot going on when it comes to comfort. First, you get an inbuilt dashboard fan that will automatically match your speed and intensity to keep you cool, without ever smothering you.
That’s not all though, the 22 x 60 tread is built with a WhisperQuiet design that reduces noise as well as friction with each step. It can also change its feel thanks to its trademark RunnersFlex cushioning, which can imitate concrete or change to be softer, according to your needs. You do not realize just how cool this is until you actually run on it.
Of course this one folds up too. I keep it deployed in my house cause I use it so often, but if you want to, you can store it to save space.
I told you that this puppy is compatible with other workout apps. But it isn’t just a few, there are over 40 workout apps that will sync with your treadmill to display on the beautiful screen and guide you along your fitness journey. Young athlete and want a workout tailored for your fitness level? Check it's got that.
Old a need a treadmill workout designed for seniors? Check it's got that too.
In fact, if you use it with IFit coach, it will sync the incline and decline to the google maps component of IFit. That way, as you traverse different terrains, your elevation setting will automatically adjust to create a greater feeling of immersion.
Bang for Your Buck Meets Luxury
Can connect your devices to the Bluetooth audio speakers
Integrated Tablet Holder
Integrated handlebar controls.
Includes USB port for charging
Includes heart rate band
CushionFlex reduces joint impact by 40%
- Engine is improved from 3 CPH to 3.5 CPH
- 12 MPH top speed.
- Weight Capacity is increased to 375lbs from 325lbs
- Frame is literally bullet proof.
- Lifetime Warranty
Sole F80 Review
If you wanna get a treadmill in the premium space, but don’t feel like breaking the bank, this is what you’re looking for. The Sole F80 manages to integrate a lot of the features you’d find in the most expensive machines, without leaving you bankrupt.
LCD Screen to display your run information.
Included Heartrate strap.
ComfortTech Tread cushioning.
Can connect to fitness trackers.
- 3.75 CHP motor
- 12 MPH top speed
- 15% incline
- 20 x 60 running path
- Soft Drop folding system
- Automatic 3-speed fan.
Bowflex BXT116 Review
This time, instead of a revamp, we have a tone down. If you wanted to get our top choice, but your budget won’t allow it, the BXT116 is the next best thing. In fact, it’s almost the same machine, just with a slightly less powerful motor.
Will it work with Zwift? Yes it fully integrates but it does lack slight power that may be needed for long and fast races which is why it is listed down here at #5.
I’d suggest this one if you want a premium experience, but know you won’t be doing any super intense racing. The engine will chug along just fine and you’ll still get to enjoy the best of the best with Zwift Run.
Much like our top choice, it features a bright LCD screen to display your speed, calories burned, and heart rate, which is measured with the included chest strap. Your device can be placed on the tablet holder and can be connected to plenty of apps via bluetooth and charged though the USB port.
Once again, the 20x60 running path comes equipped with the ComfortTech deck cushioning system to protect your joints. You’ll be able to enjoy it with Zwift or one of the nine “Push and Go” programs.
Like always, you can connect to several other fitness apps to track your progress. I find that having my burnt calories logged directly to MyFitnessPal is a great way to keep my diet in check. Especially now that I’ve been running more than ever.
6. TRX3500 - Extremely Highly Rated
Cheapest 100% Compatible Zwift Treadmill
- Very affordable, financing available
- Can play music on dashboard speakers through aux port
- Incline and Speed handlebar controls
- 6.5” Blue Backlit LCD display
- Very Highly Rated
- 3 CPH Motor
- 12 levels of incline
- 12 mph top speed
- Lifetime warranty on frame
- 20" x 60" running surface
TRX3500 Folding Treadmill Review
If your budget is really tight but you still want a fully integrated Zwift experience, the TRX3500 is as good as it gets. I’ve searched long and hard for a better alternative and have yet to find one.
Not only is it a good treadmill that will let you enjoy Zwift to the fullest, but it's also very affordable and comes with very decent financing options to spread out your payments instead of having to cough up all your cash at once.
Some standouts for this one are the dashboard speakers that can connect to your phone via the aux port, the handlebar speed and incline controls, the XTRASoft shock absorption system and being foldable. A great choice for college students living in cramped rooms and short on cash if you ask me.
- Still very affordable, with great financing available
- Can play music on dashboard speakers through aux port
- Incline and Speed handlebar controls
- 6.5” Blue Backlit LCD display
- Foldable includes the SafeDrop feature to lower it slowly.
- Includes heart rate monitor strap.
- 3.25 CPH Motor
- 15 levels of incline
- 12 mph top speed
- Lifetime warranty on frame and motor.
- 20" x 60" running surface
TRX4500 Treadmill Review
Another upgrade on our list. The TRX4500 is for those that are still on a limited budget, but need a bit more firepower in their machine or just want a little bit more luxury for a slight increase in price.
Since the frame is pretty much the same and the insides are what change for the most part, I’ll make this one quick, no need to waste your time.
What you do get aside from internal changes is a heart rate monitor strap, a bigger 7.5 inch LCD screen, a larger motor and more levels of incline. This means that you’ll be able to run faster and harder than you would be able to on the base model I reviewed before.
3 Best Traditional Treadmills for Zwift - Must Buy Footpad Sensor
Smart treadmills are pretty expensive compared to traditional ones. Considering I want all my readers to be able to enjoy fitness and better their health, I also compiled a list of traditional treadmills that are pretty good to use with Zwift.
With these you’ll get all the features you need to enjoy Zwift, though you’ll have to buy and set up the foot pod and you might not get the full Zwift experience. It’s a good alternative if you wanna save some cash or if you already own a treadmill, but I’ve used Zwift so much lately I can't help but suggest you get the fully compatible ones.
- Huge, 10 inch touchscreen
- Plenty of included workout programs
- Bluetooth speakers and audio.
- Unlimited iFit Downloads.
- Compatible with heart rate monitor straps
- Variable Cushioning preferences.
- Silent Motor
- 3.75 CPH
- 12 MPH top speed
- -3% to 15% incline
- Incline can be adjusted automatically.
- Inbuilt fan
- 60 by 22 tread
- Variable tread absorption
Nordictrack Commercial 1750 Review
Once again, I can't help but suggest Nordictrack, they may be slightly more expensive but they sure as hell make up for it in quality and a boatload of extra features.
In this case, the Nordictrack 1750 treadmill give you an unlimited subscription to the IFit coach app, with unlimited downloads of hundreds of training programs.
Like our previous Nordictrack entry, this one also syncs your elevation settings to the iFit app and google maps in order to change automatically when you traverse hills and other landmarks.
Since this treadmill doesn’t sync to Zwift directly, you could theoretically use them both at once, though I wouldn’t suggest trying a race that way.
That’s not all though, the 2019 also model brought with it Bluetooth connectivity for the inbuilt speakers so that you can play your music directly from the treadmill and charge your device while you’re at it and this carries over into the 2020 and 2021 models.
Where NordicTrack always shines is their beautiful screens. Big, bright, HD displays really make a difference when using the Google Maps option on your iFit app or when watching movies and shows. This time you get a massive 10 inch display, one of the biggest you’ll find on the market.
Complete with touchscreen capabilities, it allows you to quickly switch from your app, movie or show of choice into your calories burned, distance, speed, calories burned and more.
For Zwift, you can place your tablet on the tablet holder. However, on the 2019 model, it's built into the design of the fans and will block your view of the screen, so you’ll have to pick. I ain't complaining though.
This brings me to our next section.
While a fan, when running might seem more of a luxury than a necessity, there’s no going back after you’ve tried it. Especially if you live somewhere with warmer climates, it makes a huge difference and makes running a lot more enjoyable since you don’t end up drenched.
There’s nothing worse than being crammed into a tiny tread, where one misstep will send you tumbling down to the ground. That’s why NordicTrack made a point to have a huge tread for this one, 60’’ by 22’’.
Like our previous entry for this brand, you also get their state of the art softening system, that can be adapted according to your needs. It can mimic concrete or go absurdly soft in order to protect your joints.
The concrete function is a great way to really immerse yourself into races, you’ll be seeing the race on Zwift, but also feeling like you’re right there stepping on the concrete.
I’m sure by now I don’t need to tell you just how useful it is to have your treadmill folded up and stored when not in use. I keep mine deployed at all times cause I have the space and I use it so much there’s really no point in doing it.
BUT, I’ve lived in many tiny apartments before, and being able to lean the machine into a corner and cover it really makes a huge difference for most city dwellers. Although this is not a flat folding treadmill this is just about as close to one as you can get that comes commercially rated.
Not only does the Commercial 1750 pack a big 3.75 CPH motor, it is also remarkably quiet. You won’t have to suffer through annoying buzzing sounds and rumblings that will take your focus out of your race.
Even when running at its top speed of 12 miles per hour, you’ll have to strain your ears to hear the treadmill motor over your feet. Especially if you’re watching a show, using one of the many apps or playing your music through the bluetooth speakers.
5 inch backlit display for run information.
- 2.6 CPH Motor
- 10 MPH Top speed
- 0-10% Incline Control
- EKG Grip Pulse w/ iFit Tracking Capabilities
- 300 Lb. User Capacity
- Dimensions 73.5” L X 36” W X 54” H
NordicTrack T 6.5S Treadmill Review
If you’re on a tight budget and wanna get a treadmill, or any piece of workout equipment for that matter, I always suggest going for a well known brand. Yes, it may cost a little bit more at first, but it will pay off in the long run.
You might have to cough up a bit more cash at first, but it's worth it to know you’re getting quality stuff that will stand the test of time. I can tell you from experience, a cheap ass machine will be made with cheap ass materials.
You know what happens when you buy things made with poor quality materials? They break, and when they break you’ll have to buy an entire new machine. Meanwhile, you could have spent a couple bucks upfront and kept your machine for years.
It should be said that the motor on this machine is only 2.6 CPH, which is under the recommended 3 CPH for Zwift. Although it is lower on power, it is not like you are going to be self propelling this treadmill, it has enough power for light joggers and it's a small tradeoff in power in exchange for a lower cost, but it hopefully won't cause you too many headaches.
In fact, you might not even know it, since NordicTrack makes such good products that they often outperform other brands even with lower specs.
Even though it's their budget model, NordicTrack never disappoints when it comes to technology. Yes, you won’t be getting the huge screen you would with some of their other models, but they offer plenty of options so that you don’t miss out on anything because of that.
In this case you get a 5’’ backlit display that will allow you to set up several different workouts as well as see the data on your current run. Calories burned, heart rate, distance and more and thanks to the included heart rate strap, you won’t even have to use the handles for it.
That’s not all though, you won’t miss out on your apps and shows, since there is a smartly placed tablet holder and your device can be plugged into the integrated speakers so that you can hear whatever it is you’re watching.
Like all NordicTrack models on this list, this one also includes their amazing FlexSelect cushioning which allows you to turn shock dampeners on and off with the flick of a switch in order to protect your joints or simulate a real road running experience.
Guess what? Not only is this a top notch treadmill at an unbelievable price, it's also foldable! you’ll be able to quickly mount it or dismount it without worry, since it's set up in such a way that it drops down softly in order to avoid injuries and stress to the materials.
Like I said above, durability is a big concern when shopping on a budget. Especially when you do so online, since you won’t get a feel for the materials yourself. That’s why it's also extremely important to get a solid warranty to protect your investment.
In this case, there’s no need to worry at all. Not only is NordicTrack a top notch brand that will honor the warranty, but the warranty itself is extremely generous. You get a 10 year warranty on the frame and motor, a 2 year warranty on parts, and a 1 year warranty on labour if you choose to have it installed by professionals.
Even if something happens, you won’t have to worry cause you can get it replaced free of charge!
Cheapest Treadmill That Has All Needed Features for Zwift
Bluetooth and aux cord connection.
- 2.75 CHP motor
- 12 MPH top speed
- 12 incline levels
- 325 max user weight.
T202 Treadmill Review
If you think all that luxury is pointless, if you wanna get the most barebones, penny pinching setup you can get, the T202 is for you. Even then, it's a pretty good option to be honest, you still get a lot of functionality out of it and can definitely improve your cardio with it.
The T202 is a testament to how far treadmills have come over the years. Even the cheaper models like this one now allow you to play your own music through onboard speakers. In this case you can either connect your device via bluetooth or via an aux cord. Of course you can charge them while you do that through the USB port.
The T202 includes a tablet holder so that you can use your device comfortably. Otherwise it’d fall off as soon as you picked up the pace. Even better, you’ll get access to the no-subscription sports app that can connect the treadmill to your device and push all the data collected into all sorts of fitness trackers, such as MyFitnessPal.
When it comes to comfort, there isn’t anything flashy like our previous entry, just a cushioning system to keep your joints as safe as possible and reduce the stress from constant bouncing on tread.
There’s also a folding system to reduce the footprint when the treadmill is not in use. It’ll go from 75" x 34" x 58" to 47" x 34" x 65”, so you’ll save quite a lot of space.
One of the best things about this machine is that both the frame and the motor are covered by a lifetime warranty. I talked about how important it is to have a decent warranty covering your treadmill in case something breaks, especially for the cheaper ones. It applied to our previous entry and it applies to this one.
Which Treadmill Should You Pick? My Recommendations
Even when you narrow it down into a couple choices, it can be hard to settle for just one. Especially so when they’re all pretty damn good. So let me give you my recommendations depending on what you’re looking for in a treadmill.
Best Smart Treadmill for Zwift with Full Compatibility
This is what you came for. The best treadmill on the market right now to race on Zwift. It shouldn’t be a surprise which one I picked.
Of course it had to be my top pick! Why else would I give it the number one spot for?
It's BY FAR the most well rounded machine out right now for Zwift running. Not only does it have a bunch of features that will make running all the more enjoyable, it's also state of the art in terms of tech, so it won't age quickly at all.
It comes from a badass company too! Bowflex does a lot in the fitness space and I own a bunch of what they sell. I already own a damn good treadmill, but if I had to get another new one, it would be this one again in a heartbeat.
You can trust the company, you get high end tech and you can use Zwift in its entirety. What more could you ask?
Best Traditional Treadmill that works with Zwift
My Personal Favorite
If you’re looking for a treadmill that connects with other workout programs and does everything very well and do not mind getting the footpod, this is the one for you.
The treadmill I’ve been using for a few years now. Long before I discovered Zwift. It’s such a powerful, reliable machine that I’ve never had any trouble with it and I won’t change it until I absolutely have to.
Yes, this means I have to use the foot pod, but honestly the hassle of setting it up it’s worth it to avoid the expense of a new one. The screen on this puppy is so damn beautiful that it almost feels like i'm in a movie theatre every time I play one of my shows.
It’s from a great company too! I’ve never had any troubles with mine, but I’ve read wonders of their customer support (Cause I did a bunch of research before getting it) and I’m 100% certain they go the extra mile to help their customers.
Best Budget Minded Option
If you need to keep your budget low, options are of course a bit more limited, but I still think you can get pretty far with this one.
NordicTrack T Series
I’d say that these are the lower end cousins of the 2950. You still get that premium NordicTrack quality and feel, still get awesome joint protection, great customer support and more. But you do it for a lower price.
Yes, there are gonna be some features missing, but hey, that’s what saving is all about.
How to Set Up a Zwift Foot Pod
Let me start by saying that as a regular foot pod user, I again STRONGLY suggest you go for a smart treadmill. While the pod gets the job done I’ve tried both and the difference is day and night.
However, just in case you wanna take Zwift on the go, or for some reason or another can’t get a smart treadmill, I figured I’d help you guys set it up. It’s quite a complicated process, so buckle up and let's get down to business.
There’s a bunch of different footpods out there and it would be impossible for me to make a guide on all of them. So I’ll focus on the Zwift RunPod, which is the one I own and the one they sell themselves. If you’re gonna use a footpod, that’s the one I think you should get.
- The first step is pretty obvious. Add batteries. I assume there’s no need for me to explain why you need them. To do this, hold the base of the pod in one hand. The Z should be facing up. Now turn the other side clockwise to unlock it.
- Once you’ve unlocked it, you’ll need a screwdriver or maybe a coin to remove the battery cover. However, before you place the new battery in, make sure to write down the code you’ll see on the bottom. It will come in handy later when you’re trying to connect it to the app.
- Once you’ve done that, place the battery with the plus side facing up. Then place the battery cover back on and tighten it, but DO NOT close the pod entirely, you’ll need to keep it open for the next step.
Okay so placing the pod on your treadmill running shoes correctly is extremely important. If you don’t attach it the right way, you’re liable to have your pod fly off your show while you’re running and most likely end up destroyed.
Lucky for us, it's not that hard to do. Just place the base of the pod below where your laces cross around the middle of the shoe.
Now take the rest of the pod and while making sure that the Z is pointing towards your toes, place it on top of the base and twist until it's tight and you hear it click. you can use it on either your right or left shoe, but you should be consistent about using it always on the same side.
Pretty much any shoe can be used with the Zwift RunPod, though that might not be the case for other compatible pods. If you’re going third party with it, make sure to check it doesn’t have any crazy requirement.
Connecting and Calibrating
Once your pod is securely placed on your shoe, all that’s left is to connect it to Zwift and calibrate it.
If you’re using an Apple device, the pod will connect automatically, all you have to do is open the Zwift app and go into devices. You’ll see it pairing and it’ll guide you on how to calibrate it. The process is pretty similar if you’re using it on an android device.
However, if you wanna run Zwift on a pc, you’ll have to download the Zwift companion app, which will turn the signals the pod transmits into something your computer can understand. Once the app is downloaded, it’ll guide you on how to connect.
FAQ About Zwift & Helpful Information & Tips
These are the most commonly asked questions that new Zwift runners have when buying their Treadmill
Should I Get a Smart Treadmill That Is Compatible with Zwift or Get a Cheaper One and Buy a Footpod?
If Zwift is your main priority and your budget allows it, I think it would be pretty dumb and you would be making a treadmill buying mistake to go for the footpod instead of a smart treadmill. These treadmills are designed with Zwift in mind, so you won’t miss out on any of the content of the app. If you’re competitive like I am, just knowing you’re sending more precise data should be enough to convince you.
Just in case it isn't, let's talk about foot pods for a minute. Yes they come in clutch if you already own a treadmill, like I do. But take it from someone who use to use a a foot pod on the regular, they’re kind of a pain in the ass to set up, can get disconnected from time to time and eat through batteries.
One time mine ran out of juice in the middle of a race and I was so frustrated I almost bought a smart treadmill right then and there. The only situation in which I’d suggest a foot pod is if you travel a lot and want to be able to use Zwift anywhere.
Is a Treadmill Better Than an Exercise Bike for Zwift?
I don’t really like when people call one exercise “better” than another. There is no definitive exercise that does everything at once, so you have to pick according to your situation and your goals.
My grandpa had a saying, “The best exercise is the one that you do”. If you don’t get it, it means you shouldn’t waste your time trying to find the perfect exercise, you should get off your ass and just do SOMETHING.
So if you don’t like biking, then biking on Zwift is not gonna change that, same goes for running. Just because you get some fancy Zwift exercise bike with a big screen that allows you to virtual riding does not mean it is going to make cycling any more fun... well actually...wait a minute... Well Zwift can make things life changing and more fun. So this is going to be up to you.
Anyhoo, With that said, I’ve had tons of fun on Zwift as a runner, and I’ve heard wonders about biking on Zwift. So much so that I’m actually thinking about trying it myself, so you can expect an article about that soon!
Is Zwift a Paid Service?
If you’ve never heard of Zwift before, it's understandable that you’re not aware that Zwift is indeed a paid service. Unlike other apps, they offer so many quality services that it would be impossible to pull off otherwise.
However, Zwift is about as inexpensive as any streaming app, WAY less than what you would pay for a gym subscription. In fact, you’ll probably spend more on gas on your way to and from the gym every month than you would on a subscription.
Other Than Footpods Is There Anything Else I Need for My Treadmill to Get Started with Zwift If I Have a Basic Treadmill?
Well, yes and no. Yes, with just a foot pod and a phone or tablet, you’ll be able to get started on Zwift. However, if you stick to only those you’ll be missing out on a bunch of features. At least I’d suggest getting a heart rate monitor band to go along with it.
That way you get a better estimate of the effort you’re putting in, and also of the calories you’re burning! There are plenty of options that come with a heart rate band included, so you won’t even have to buy it separately.
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