Spirit XT285 Treadmill Review

Spirit have a global heritage of over 3 decades. This is a brand that has built its esteemed reputation on consistently producing high quality, well-built machines, so every couple of years, we eagerly await the unveiling of their new ranges.

As soon as it landed on our shores, we were fortunate enough to test out the XT285. This particular model is actually not a new model, but one that’s been available in the US for some time and has been brought into the UK market in order for Spirit Fitness to compete in the all important mid-priced treadmill market.

So, with its competitive price tag, have Spirit Fitness compromised all of their brand values and brought out a really budget machine? Let’s find out!

It’s undoubtedly a good looking machine, but only when you climb aboard and get a feel for the rock-solid construction do you really have to remind yourself of the promotional price to truly appreciate what is on offer here! The build quality should far exceed anyone’s expectations considering the price tag.

Underfoot is an inch thick phenolic running deck supported on 3 pairs 1” deep rubber elastomers to provide the cushioning. The running deck is a decent size (20″ wide by 55″ long) and should provide adequate room for most runners. However, what most impressed was the ‘feel’ of it in use. Ideal for running, it provides a stable, firm yet slightly cushioned surface without being springy or spongy.

It’s reassuringly quiet in use too – The over-sized diameter of chunky 64mm rollers combined with all the power that comes from the 2.75 CHP motor means that even at top whack the 1.6 mm thick belt can whizz round with little more than a strong hum.

The XT285 boasts a large, imposing console housing a 7.5” LCD monitor at its centre. This screen is divided into 3 sections. Along the top, the crucial feedback of Pace, Calories, Time, Distance and Pulse all have a clear and dedicated area of display. The bulk of the centre of the screen is taken up by a Dot Matrix display, where you can view your progress in one of the pre-set program courses. The speed level is to the left and incline gradient is shown on the right. All of which is surrounded by a quarter mile track with flashing segments indicating your progress during the manual program.

Along the bottom of the screen, there is a message window which scrolls through various details keeping you informed of things like Lap counts around the track, segment times during programs and the name of the program you’re doing.

Aside from the standard ‘Manual’ option and 2 heart rate controlled sessions, the pre-set programme selection gives you the choice of Hill, Fat Burn, Cardio, Strength and Interval workouts. On paper, the selection may seem rather limited, however, because the programs allow the user to alter certain speed, incline and time settings , there is more scope to keep things challenging and interesting than first appears.

You can adjust the duration of the session, the top speed and the top level of incline. For making a ‘quick start’ on any preset programs it’s simple just press ‘Start’ and begin the program with the default values. However, we recommend taking the extra minute to input your age and your body weight, which ensures more accurate calorie consumption figures, as well as allowing the computer to calculate the correct heart rate percentages to suite you.

While extolling the virtues of accurate feedback, we must mention the benefits of utilising the free chest strap transmitter that’s included. The motorbike style pulse grip sensors certainly look great and work as well as any we’ve tried but, as always with hand sensors, the readings are very approximate. To ensure super accurate pulse monitoring and make the most of the 2 heart rate controlled programs, the chest belt must be worn. The HRC programs have 2 different target setting. One is set at 60% of your maximum heart rate which is considered ideal for fat-burning and one is set at 80% for improving fitness levels and cardiovascular conditioning. The computer automatically changes either the speed or the incline of the treadmill in order to keep the user exercising within the desired heart rate range.

There are various ways the user can personally adjust the speed or incline levels. 10 Quick keys are positioned underneath the screen, from 0 to 9 with a button at either end to select ‘speed’ or ‘incline’ before entering the value. Most other treadmills that posses the ‘quick key’ feature have 2 strips of buttons for dedicated adjustment of both speed and incline independently, which allows for simple one-touch adjustments. Although this setup can’t be described as ‘one touch’ as your finger and brain has to work a slight bit harder, the process of adjustment soon becomes habitual and intuitive and it’s certainly quicker than scrolling through with the standard arrow keys. That said, the console is plenty big enough to have housed both speed and incline keys so it seems a pity that this feature seems compromised.

Plenty of console space has been allocated to some other welcome features to enhance the users workout experience. There is a jack plug to connect your ipod or MP3 player and the speakers in the top corners of the console delivered a surprising rich sound.

To keep you hydrated there are 2 large bottle and accessory holders and just as refreshing is the inbuilt fan. So often we are disappointed by the inadequate airflow generated by treadmill fans but Spirit have ensured their fan is up to the job by doubling up to have two side-by-side fans blowing plenty of cool air through a directional vent.

We are seeing Handlebar speed/incline controls becoming more and more popular on treadmills in recent years and this model is no exception. What is less common, is the neat idea of putting a ‘disable’ button on the console to turn off or activate them. This is ideal for users who frequently hold onto the rails but want the freedom to grasp anywhere along the handlebars without the concern of inadvertently pressing the controls.

The XT285 has a folding mechanism that’s superior to many other treadmills we’ve reviewed. Instead of the typical foot-operated lever tucked away under the deck, or a pull-pin midway down the underside, Spirit have conveniently located a yellow handle near the top of the running deck, so you can simply and safely release the deck from the locked folded position. As you’d expect, there is hydraulic assist to ensure a smooth drop as well as to make folding easier.

By folding the deck, you reduce the dimensions of the footprint by a substantial 30” in length. The deck doesn’t fold quite as compactly as some machines we’ve seen but where it outshines many is the ease of which it can be maneuvered. There are 4 wheels mounted beneath the substantial frame which allow the machine to be easily rolled along when in the folded position (IF its on a smooth!)

Overall, the XT285 is yet another fine example of Spirit’s simple winning formula – they just keep on producing durable, functional machines built with high quality parts! As well as packing plenty of power and a decent array of features, the construction of this machine is rock-solid. In fact, the only thing that could be shaken is the competition!

Best Price

The Spirit XT285 is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Review Summary - In Brief

The Spirit XT285 is a true running machine that will take any punishment thrown at it! Its build quality and engineering pedigree is more akin to a machine at a much higher price point and for a no-nonsense, solid treadmill, we highly recommend this Spirit.

Spirit XT285 Specifications

  • 2.75 hp continuous duty motor
  • 1-20km/h (0.5-12mph) speed range
  • 0-12% power incline
  • 140cm (55″) x 51cm (20″) running deck
  • Dimensions in use (L x W x H): 191.5cm (75.4”) x 88.5cm (34.8”) x 144.5cm (56.9”)
  • Dimensions Folded (L x W x H): 112.5cm (44.3”) x 88.5cm (34.8”) x 165.5cm (65.2”)
  • 7.5” Console with LCD display
  • Console Feedback: time, speed, distance, incline, calories, programme, heart rate
  • 8 workout programmes
  • Heart rate measurement via hand pulse sensors and a wireless receiver (chest strap included)
  • Conveniences: fold-able, 2 speakers, iPod/mp3 compatibility, cooling fan,
  • 96kg product weight (211.6lbs)
  • 130kg (286 lbs) maximum user weight
  • Guarantee: lifetime frame, motor, parts. 2 years labour

Spirit XT285 Treadmill - Console / Display Unit

Spirit XT285 Treadmill - User Reviews

The Pros

  • The overall build quality is exemplary
  • The running deck has a nice feel – ideal for runners
  • Easy to fold and wheel along
  • The Lifetime warranty on the frame/motor and all parts are guaranteed with 2 years on-site labour

The Cons

  • Slightly limited selection of pre-set programmes compared to similarly priced machines
  • No user profile memory for multiple users
Spirit XT285 Treadmill Reviewer Ratings

Power - 9.5
Appearance - 9
Running Area - 8
Comfort - 8
Reliability - 9.5
Noise - 9
Ease Of Use - 9
Controls - 8.5
Warranty - 9.5
Value for Money - 9.5
Best Price

The Spirit XT285 is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Also see our Treadmill Comparison Table

Whilst every effort is made to give you accurate information we cannot guarantee the technical specification. Models change on a regular basis and may differ slightly from the above review. We recommend you contact the retailer if you have a question regarding technical data. Please read our Legal Disclaimer

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