Spirit XT685 Treadmill Review

This is the top-of-the-line in Spirit’s ‘XT’ range of treadmills. It’s classed as a ‘Light Commercial’ machine but what does it offer for the home user? Well, for starters, if you have the space for a non-folding machine, check out the spec sheet and then look at the price tag – this is a lot of machine for the money! We have set about testing the XT685 to see exactly what you can expect…

Every time we test a treadmill we start off by giving it the rudimentary ‘shake test’ and so far Spirits consistent track record of bulletproof build quality remains literally unshakable! The XT685 is constructed to eat up all the punishment you can dish out. Spirit have such confidence in the longevity of this machine in the home, that they have covered every aspect of the machine (frame, motor and all parts) with a Lifetime guarantee!(including 2 years labour).

Another advantage of the rock solid construction is the unrivaled maximum user weight capacity. The XT685 can cope with 30 and a half stone making this an ideal choice for heavier users. There is a trade off….You get at least an extra 4 stone + on the max. capacity compared to other similarly priced machines, but you don’t get the folding deck. Space restrictions in the home are often a deal breaker but that said, every folding treadmill needs the room to be unfolded when in use, and the XT685 has about the same footprint as every other, unfolded treadmill in this price range.

If you can justify the full-time space needed, then the XT685 offers plenty of of running space in return! It has a huge commercial sized running surface of 60” in length by a whopping 22” in width. This vast area allows you to be blissfully unaware of your position on the belt and stride out in complete unrestricted freedom.

The running belt itself is not classified as ‘orthopaedic’ but being 2.5mm thick duraweave it feels very much like it! The belt runs over hefty 3” rollers so not only does the motor not have to work as hard for the belt to cover the same distance as if they were a smaller diameter, the noise is kept to a minimum too.

On the topic of the motor, the XT685 packs 3.0 Continuous Horse Power under the hood. This is what you’d expect of most machines at this price point. Perhaps due to the ‘overkill’ spec of other aspects on this machine, this doesn’t seem to be a breathtaking amount of power, but a top speed of 12mph should be more than enough to get most runners breathing very hard!

The cushioning system is simply made up of 3 chunky elastomers positioned under each edge of the running deck. There’s nothing too innovative to mention, but what we can report is that the 6 rubber shocks support an inch thick running deck and the combination gives a firm feel that should be appreciated by runners. If joint protection is top of your ‘must have’ list then there are machines with far more giving cushioning systems out there, so really you have to consider if the stability and firmness of the XT685 suites you and the type of training you’ll be focusing on.

The incline function is very responsive and it doesn’t labour in sending the deck right up to the maximum 15% gradient. There’s various controls positioned around the machine to adjust the incline or speed. On the left handlebar there are arrows marked ‘up/down’ for incline and on the right they are simply labeled ‘fast/slow’ for speed. For users who like to hold on while walking then these are a great feature. Better yet, there is a console button which can disable the handlebar controls if you find they impede.

We are big fans of ‘Quick keys’ and judging by how common this feature is becoming we are clearly not alone in rating these as a superbly convenient method of adjustment for speed and incline. Normally there are dedicated buttons for both these levels meaning that depending on the increments, it takes one touch to set the machine at the right speed and perhaps another press if you want to change the incline. Spirit have a less simple and efficient method. Despite the console having plenty of space for both incline and speed quick keys, they have instead opted to use a single horizontal strip of buttons from 0-9 that controls both. This means that before you press any numbers you must first engage the incline or speed button then enter 2 digits to set the value. (If you want incline level 8, you must press ‘Incline’ then ‘8’ then ‘0’). This means that these controls don’t have ONE touch convenience, but on the flip side, at least they’re quicker than scrolling with arrows.

Aside from this niggle, the rest of the console is very intuitive. The crowning glory has to be the big 9” display screen. The large size gives plenty of dedicated space for all the important training feedback such as Calories burned, Speed, Incline, Laps completed, Pulse etc. There is also a Speed and Incline profile graph that shows your efforts during segments of the session as well as what’s in store in the up and coming ones. The clear layout, as well as vivid contrast of the white LED’s against a bright blue background, makes it easy to keeps an eye on your progress.

The XT685 offers 7 pre-set programs, 2 heart rate controlled sessions, 2 user defined programs and a ‘Manual’ workout, all of which can be accessed via their respective buttons located either side of the console screen. Spirit machines are not renowned for having a vast selection of workouts to choose from, however although the number of choices may seem rather limited, the programmes themselves can be varied considerably by the user when setting up the parameters of time, maximum speed levels and incline profiles. Obviously the nature of the user programs allow for complete customization and these sessions can be saved for future use too.

Whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your fitness levels the programs offer plenty of relevant workouts to achieve those results. In particular, the Calorie, Fat Burn and Heart Rate 1 session should prove very popular with users who want to shed the pounds. HR1 automatically adjusts the treadmill speed to keep the user at around 60% of their Maximum heart rate which is widely recognised as the % that’s most efficient for fat burning. HR 2 is pre-set at 80 %, that is ideal for fitness training. To utilize these programs it is essential to wear the heart rate transmitter strap. Though the machine does feature a pair of pulse grip sensors on the motorbike-style handles, these should only be used for very approximate readings so we are pleased to report that a highly accurate chest strap transmitter is included for wireless heart rate monitoring. In terms of improved accuracy of feedback, it was also good to see the provision to allow the user to input their age and weight when setting up the programs ensures more accurate calorie consumption figures as well as the correct target heart rate percentages.

For many users with previous experience of using treadmills, most of the pre-set program titles should be familiar (Hill, Cardio, Interval etc)….but ‘Fusion’ even had our review team looking puzzled! This is a rather innovative new program (which perhaps is the reason why Spirit haven’t given it much publicity at this early stage) but this deserves a quick overview at least! Basically, Fusion takes you through interval training sessions with a distinct difference – the user gets a TOTAL body workout due to the inclusion of upper body exercises! The program is highly adjustable in terms of interval times, recovery times, maximum speeds etc but in essence the user will perform a short burst of high intensity cardio on the treadmill….the treadmill then comes to a gradual halt allowing the user to grab some dumbbells and perform a set of one of the exercises instructed in the message window on the console (dumbbell rows, push ups, overhead tricep extensions, bicep curls or shoulder press) and then there is a recovery period on the treadmill before starting another interval. How many times have you heard respected fitness experts and personal trainers preaching about the benefits of resistance training combined with cardio? Yep – it seems at last a manufacturer was listening in on this sound advice!

Finally, we should point out some of the welcome features that are dotted around the machine to enhance the users workout experience. The XT685 has an abundance of storage space with a total of 5 separate storage holders (2 on the console and three inbuilt in a tray that spans between the uprights) so you will have loads of room to hold drinks bottles, keys, phones, TV remote and other paraphernalia.

There is also a fan built into the console, which unlike many we’ve tested, actually does circulate a noticeable amount of air. This is part due to there being two 4 inch fans spinning simultaneously, plus because the fan has a tilting vent, you can angle the direction of flow much more effectively.

There is an audio input for your iPod or MP3. You will still need to operate the controls via your device rather than there being any onboard controls, but the sound quality of the console speaker system is good enough that this feature potentially does away with needing a hifi.

On either side of the console are LED gauges. On the right is a rather useful Heart Rate Bar Graph which lights up anytime your pulse rate is detected. Based upon your personal user details (age, weight) it will show you your current heart rate percentage. Plus it illuminates in a traffic light sequence with and Red lights giving you clear warning that you need to slow down!

The other gauge is positioned on the left of the console, called a ‘Muscle Activation Figure’. Basically, there is an LED on each of the important areas of the figures musculature which light up in either green, amber or red to show light, medium or heavy muscle involvement when working out at different incline levels. Undoubtedly it looks rather ‘flashy’(forgive the pun) but practically speaking it probably does more to enhance the looks of the console than it does to improve your workout.

Finally, at the front of the machine are a pair of twin rollers, meaning that it is possible to wheel the machine along IF you are strong enough to lift the rear of the deck up in the first place. Although we’ve touched upon the benefits of combining cardio with strength training, attempting to move a treadmill that weighs nearly 20 stone, before you start your run, is going to be a workout that few could perform or recommend! The idea is that the machine really needs to be installed and assembled in situ, then it’s ready for action whenever you are.

Program-wise, this is Spirit’s top end product so fortunately they’ve packed in a little more options than is typical on their cheaper models, and there should certainly be plenty to keep most users feeling engaged and challenged. Plus we are now firm fans of the ‘Fusion’ program so if you’ve got a pair of dumbbells kicking around at home, we’d recommend blowing the dust off them and seeing some great results from this new innovation!

IF you have the space for a fixed platform treadmill, and the budget, then this model represents outstanding value for money. We would struggle to think of a machine that could offer more in terms of solid functionality and reliability for anywhere near the price that Spirit are asking for the XT685.

Best Price

The Spirit XT685 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

So is the XT685 a machine that we would recommend if you’re shopping for a £2500 treadmill? For those with the space and budget to be able to afford the luxury of a fixed (non-folding) treadmill, the XT685 is a good choice. As we've established, the maximum user capacity of 30 and a half stone makes this a great option for heavier users who would typically max out the capacities on folding machines. The build quality obviously has great advantages for users of all shapes and sizes, as does the vast running area. The only question that needs contemplation, is how soft and shock absorbent you like the running surface to be, as the deck on the XT685 is on the firm side.

Spirit XT685 Specifications

  • 3 hp continuous duty motor
  • 1-20km/h (0.5-12mph) speed range
  • 0-15% power incline
  • 152cm (60″) x 56cm (22″) running deck
  • Dimensions in use (L x W x H): 214cm (84″) x 89cm (35″) x 145cm (57″)
  • 9” Console with LCD display
  • 12 workout programmes
  • Heart rate measurement via hand pulse sensors or a wireless receiver (chest strap included)
  • Conveniences: 2 speakers, iPod compatibility, Dual Turbo Cooling Fans
  • 127kg product weight (279lbs)
  • 195kg (425lbs) maximum user weight
  • Guarantee: lifetime frame, 3 years parts & labour

Spirit XT685 Treadmill - Console / Display Unit

Spirit XT685 Treadmill - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Awesome build quality!
  • Suitable for users up to 30 and a half stone.
  • Large 60”x 22” Running area.
  • Home warranty of Lifetime guarantee on Frame, Motor & all Parts with 2 years labour.

The Cons

  • Doesn’t fold for storage
  • Very heavy to move
Spirit XT685 Treadmill Reviewer Ratings

Power - 9
Appearance - 9
Running Area - 8
Comfort - 8.5
Reliability - 9
Noise - 9.5
Ease Of Use - 7.5
Controls - 8
Warranty - 9
Value for Money - 6.5
Best Price

The Spirit XT685 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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