Bowflex 18 Folding Treadmill Review

Bowflex has been trading since 1986 and in all those years it’s never been anything but a quality brand that produces quality equipment. After successfully Initially starting out as a strength training brand it quickly moved into cardio equipment and over the years has established itself as a leading global cardio fitness brand. With a range of premium treadmills to suit a wide range of users and budgets Bowflex continues to be a popular choice amongst fitness enthusiasts due to its reputation for building reliable, high-quality kit at sensible prices. We took a look at their Bowflex 18 folding treadmill to see what’s on offer for your hard-earned, here’s what we found…

Like most treadmills the Bowflex 18 needs some assembly before you get to go for a run. Thankfully unlike many models, this one is particularly easy to put together. There’s clearly been some good thinking put into practice here and the assembly manual as well as the process itself is easy to follow+. While two people are recommended to complete the assembly, in truth one person can complete this job without too much trouble. All the parts on our test unit were present and correct and everything fitted together smoothly without the need to force anything (which is always reassuring). Yes, we’ve built lots of treadmills, but the average person should have this assembled in comfortably less than an hour.

Once built this is a chunky-looking bit of kit. The designers at Bowflex have a bit of a flair of making their kit look heavy duty, but this is by no means skin deep. The thick gauge metal used throughout the construction makes this a heavy duty machine, as does the impressive 170kg (375lbs) max user weight. The addition of a stabilising crossbar adds significantly to the rigidity, a fact that’s easily demonstrated by trying to give the machine a ‘shake test’. Many other models move laterally a significant amount when this test is applied but the Bowflex 18 does not want to move and just sits there, almost defiantly, so full marks on the topic of build quality. In fact Bowflex is so confident in the build quality of this model that is has gone as far as stating that the warranty even covers light commercial use in environments such as rehab clinics, corporate and hotel gyms, and personal trainer studios – impressive indeed.

The running deck is an oversized 51cm x 152cm (20” x 60”) that provides ample space making it ideal for beginners providing a large safe area to move around on, while experienced runners and those who are especially tall will appreciate having the room to really stretch their legs when getting up to sprinting speeds. And, with a top speed of 12mph (20kph), and 15 levels of incline, even the fittest of runners will find that they’ll be able to push themselves hard. The running experience is excellent thanks not only to the amount of space available, but also Bowflex’s Comfort Tech cushioning that provides more impact absorption at the front and slight less at the rear meaning that when you hit the deck you get a lovely, well-cushioned, landing and as you push to launch, your energy goes into pushing you forward rather than getting swallowed up by the shock absorbers. The balance has been well engineered here and it makes for a really, really good running experience.

The console features an advanced high-definition 7-inch touch-screen display that’s clear, easy to read, and intuitive. Despite the amount of options, it’s actually easy to use and the initial setup is simple with the screen guiding you through the process of connecting to your WiFi network as soon as you boot it up. Once the initial registration and configuration is complete, it’s possible to use the Bowflex 18 without a Wifi connection, however, only the manual workout and basic functions are available. All coaching videos, custom workouts, virtual outdoor runs and trainer-led workout videos are only available to stream through a Wifi connection and a JRNY membership (more on that in a moment). Sensibly, despite the touch-screen capabilities, Bowflex has opted to keep physical buttons on the console, so the Start and Stop buttons, speed and incline one-touch keys and incremental speed and incline keys are all easy to press even in the middle of an intense run, and it’s easy to stop the treadmill if you need to do so quickly short of needing to use the safety key.

Included in the package when you purchase a Bowflex 18 is a 1-year subscription to the JRNY app giving you access to a ton of interactive training workout options. You can choose to stream guided workout videos with personal trainers encouraging and instructing you, or you could opt to stream a traditional programme to the treadmill and then proceed to watch Netflix, Disney or a bunch of other services including Amazon Prime Video while you run. To get started you download the JRNY app to your tablet or phone, create your JRNY account and follow the on-screen instructions. Once the setup is complete you can then use your login details to log in via the embedded 7-inch screen on the treadmill.

The first time you log in it’s necessary to complete a fitness assessment, after which it’s possible to access the rest of the features and functions, but crucially, any training option you select, be it an adaptive workout or guided video, the system ‘knows’ your fitness levels and tailors the workout difficulty to suit you. The main screen defaults to the ‘just for you’ menu that presents a range of different workouts that the system thinks will suit you best. You can then select a range for the length of your workout (eg 30-39minutes) and it will show you a handful of workouts, change the length of the desired workout and you’ll be presented with a different set of workouts, each of which will be tailored to suit your individual fitness levels. If you’d prefer to choose from the full range of adaptive workouts rather than go with any of the suggested ones, just tap on ‘programs’ and you’ll be able to scroll through all the available adaptive workouts. There’s also the ‘explore the world’ menu which contains all the videos that enable you to ride through different locations all around the world (nice and scenic), and the ‘videos’ menu which takes you to all the workout videos featuring personal trainers to guide you through the session. It’s possible to mark any of the available workouts as a favourite and all your favourites are accessible via the ‘favourites’ menu too, and another feature we really liked was that when selecting an adaptive workout, you then have the option to stream videos or music from a range of different apps (Netflix, Bowflex Radio etc) while you’re doing your run. The whole interface is intuitive and easy to use and most people will be able to find their way around without much/any reference to the manual.

Other features include Bluetooth Smart wireless receiver, Built-in Bluetooth speakers, Bluetooth headphone compatibility, ual water bottle holder, integrated media rack, accessory tray, USB charging port and cooling fan.

Reflecting the build quality to be found here, the Bowflex 18 comes with a home warranty of 2-years parts and labour and 10 years on the motor, as well as a light commercial warranty covering 2-years on the frame and motor, as well as 1-year parts and labour cover. You will be hard-pushed to find any other treadmill in this price bracket that offers anything like that kind of cover!

Best Price

Currently available for £1299.00 from Sweatband.com

Review Summary - In Brief

The Bowflex 18 passes all the tests that you'd expect a premium treadmill to pass and it does it with aplomb.  It delivers a first-class running experience, has a myriad of training options, and is easy to use. It's built incredibly well and does more than most machines at this price point. It also comes with a year's subscription to the JRNY app included in the price and is capable of testing even the most hardened of runners. We loved it and it makes our treadmill of the month as easily as it handles anything that you can throw at it. Outstanding! Well done Bowflex, this is a very impressive running machine...

Bowflex 18 Specifications

  • 0-20kph (0-12mph) speed range with Quick Touch Speed controls on the console and right handlebar
  • 15 levels of power incline with Quick Touch Incline controls on the console and left handlebar
  • 51cm (20”) x 152cm (60”) running surface
  • Comfort Tech™ deck cushioning
  • Console: 7” HD touchscreen display
  • Feedback: Time, incline, distance, calories, program, pulse, speed, interval, burn rate, pace
  • Programmes: Manual mode
  • Compatible Applications: JRNY™ + access to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime (1-year free JRNY™ membership included; streaming subscriptions not included), Explore the World™
  • All coaching, custom workouts, Explore The World™ virtual outdoor immersive runs and trainer led workout videos are only available through a Wi-Fi connection with a JRNY™ membership
  • Heart Rate Measurement via Hand pulse sensors + Bluetooth® Smart wireless receiver (Bluetooth® HR armband included)
  • Audio: Built-in Bluetooth® speakers, Bluetooth® headphones compatible
  • Extras: Dual water bottle holder, integrated media rack, accessory tray, USB charging port, oversized levelers, cooling fan
  • Folding System: SoftDrop™ folding technology
  • Dimensions in use (L x W x H): 215cm (85”) x 92cm (36”) x 140cm (55”)
  • Folded Dimensions (L x W x H): 133cm (52”) x 92cm (36”) x 170cm (67”)
  • Max. user weight: 170kg (375lbs)
  • Product weight: 127kg (280lbs)
  • Power supply: mains
  • Warranty:
  • [Home Warranty:] 2 years parts and labour, 10 years on motor
  • [Light Commercial Warranty:] 2 years frame/motor, 1 year parts and labour for non-fee paying gyms and environments only, < 3hrs/day use – A light Commercial environment is defined as being a Personal Training Studio, a Rehabilitation Centre, a Corporate Gym or similar with less than 3 hours use per day. This does not include environments that have fee paying members.

Bowflex 18 Folding Treadmill - Console / Display Unit

Bowflex 18 Folding Treadmill - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Easy to use touch-screen display
  • Impressive build quality
  • Spacious running deck
  • Excellent cushioning
  • 170kg max user weight
  • Light commercial warranty
  • 1-year free JRNY™ membership included

The Cons

  • Being picky here, but it's big and heavy which is good thing, unless you need to move it
Bowflex 18 Folding Treadmill Reviewer Ratings

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

Currently available for £1299.00 from Sweatband.com

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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