Bowflex Treadclimber Treadmill

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Bowflex Treadclimber TC 5000

Mar 13, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Compact size. Great workout each time.

Cons:Questionable durability. Customer service needs to improve.

The Bottom Line: Great machine while it's working. But expect problems to develop eventually. Don't buy one if you can't take it apart and fix it when anything goes wrong.


My husband and I bought the Bowflex Treadclimber TC 5000 in February 2006.

We love this machine for some reasons, and don't like it for other reasons. I'll explain below.

ASSEMBLY:

We assembled this machine ourselves. The assembly instructions were fairly easy to follow. Two persons must work together to lift and assemble some parts. It took us about 2 hours to put the machine together.

IMPRESSION:

We chose this machine because of its compact size. The space available in our home does not allow room for a treadmill or elliptical machine.

We feel great, invigorated, and sweaty at the end of each workout on this machine.

My husband says that this machine gives him a more vigorous workout than regular treadmills.

USAGE AND RESULTS:

Since 2006, I've been using this machine 5 days a week for 35-45 minutes, at medium speeds ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 mph.

For nearly 2 years, my husband stuck to a fast-paced (3.5 to mostly 4.0 mph), 5-days-a-week, 80-minute regimen. He now reduces the workout to 3 days a week

Before buying this machine, we were in good health. Now, we're in excellent health, God willing.

I've lost about 3 lbs. My husband has lost about 7 lbs. We've toned up visibly over the last 2 years, but not entirely because of this machine.

After each Treadclimber workout, we add 30-40 minutes of lifting weights (25-50 lbs).

When time and energy permit, I also add a 10-15 minute abdominal exercise, and about a 25 minute Taebo workout to my daily routine.

RESISTANCE LEVEL:

We started at the lower resistance levels. Within a few weeks, we quickly progressed to the maximum setting.

Since then, we leave the resistance at the maximum level. We feel no need to interrupt any workout to adjust the resistance level.

FUNNY NOISES:

We put a rug under our machine for cushion and noise reduction.

When we began to use this machine, the right hydraulic piston made squeaky noises. Terribly annoying.

We sprayed silicon oil on all the hydraulic joints we could think of. But the noise continued.

After a month or so, we sort of became tone-deaf to this squeak. Eventually, it disappeared.

Thereafter, from time to time, we hear unusual noises from the machine. Not loud, but clearly noticeable.

Out comes the silicon spray can. A squirt here. A squirt there. Silence restored.

If you own this machine, arm yourself with a lubricant spray can, and prepare for sporadic battles to vanquish weird noises.

MOTOR:

After almost 2 years of usage, our machine broke down. The odometer reading was 49,400. (This is the number that briefly flashes on the console after you insert the safety key.)

Through the phone, Bowflex customer service department walked us through different diagnostic steps to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Yes, one needs to be next to the machine (i.e. at home) while calling in for help. Calling from work is futile without the machine.

The final verdict? The motor died, within the 5-year warranty period. Thank God.

We weren't happy to learn that the warranty covers parts, not labor. Customers must replace the parts themselves. This is an important point that you need to keep in mind, if planning to buy a treadclimber.

After our machine was kaput for 5-weeks , the motor finally arrived. Without instructions. Perhaps a shipping oversight. Again, we called Bowflex. They sent the instructions by e-mail.

We're the do-it-yourself type. In spite of previous engineering degrees, we found the written instructions hard to follow. But the photos in the instructions were helpful.

It was a great challenge to replace the motor. The most difficult part was pulling the tight, new drive belt over the roller pulley and motor flywheel.

Without my husband's muscles, there's no way I can do the work myself. Together, we spent over 3 hours on this project.

BELTS:

We keep the treadles and belts regularly lubricated, even more often than instructed in the manual.

Almost immediately after we installed the new motor, the belt on the treadle began to make a scraping noise.

We squirted silicon oil, and adjusted the belt tension. But the noise got worse and more annoying.

When the odometer reached 49,600 or so, the scraping sound progressed to a loud screeching noise.

The belt was tracking excessively to one side, and scraped against something under the treadle.

Again, we called Bowflex customer service. We had the number memorized and on speed dial by now.

The customer service representative told us to adjust the belt tension. Several times. No good. She could hear the screeching noise over the phone.

The final diagnosis? The belt got old, and over stretched. So, they sent new belts, under the 3-year warranty. Thank God.

A few days later, a set of new belts arrived. With instructions this time.

Unfortunately, the belt replacement instructions is a complete enigma.

No pictures. No drawings. No idea what they're talking about.

Again. Two laborers. Two engineering degrees. Much head scratching and muttering. Many cuts, scrapes, and grunts. More than 4 hours later. Two aching backs. New right belt.

The left belt? It's worn, too. But not making any noise yet. And we had no energy left to replace the left belt.

The left belt is tougher to replace than the right. We must remove the drive belt, roller pulley, and motor flywheel to remove the left belt.

With fresh memory of our struggle with these parts, we want to leave them in peace for now.

So, we're walking very carefully on the left belt, and hope to delay its replacement as long as possible.

CUSTOMER SERVICE:

If you buy this machine, guard the receipt with your life. When problems develop, to get parts under warranty, you must first fax your receipt to Bowflex.

Their customer service department is open on weekdays, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST.

This meant having to juggle our work schedules to be at home during the times that we contacted Bowflex.

You need to be next to your machine when calling Bowflex for help. Their customer service representative will walk you through certain steps.

You'll have to follow each step, and describe over the phone what your machine is doing.

It's like getting your car mechanic to figure out, over the phone, what's wrong with you car.

He'll send you the replacement parts and instructions. Although in English, some written instructions make absolutely no sense to you.

At the end, you'll have to take your machine apart and fix it yourself.

Below is our tally of contacts with Bowflex after our machine broke down.

- 13 phone calls to Bowflex - too many wasted hours to recall without pain.
- 10 days delay for Bowflex to return our 1st phone call.
- 9 Bowflex representatives - some inept, 2 helpful, 1 knowledgeable.
- 3 wrong diagnoses (replacement of speed sensor, jumper wire, and circuit board).
- 3 failed attempts to take the machine apart pursuant to wrong diagnoses.
- 1 correct diagnosis (motor replacement), finally given by the 6th representative.
- 1 shipment delay due to bad data entry - wrong shipping address.
- 4 e-mails sent to 2 representatives - no reply received.
- 3 weeks delay for new motor - part not available.
- 1 run-around attempt to get supervisor's contact information - wrong information given, still no clue who's the head honcho of customer service.

The above is the good, bad, and ugly account of our experience with our TC 5000 Bowflex Treadclimber over the last 2 years.

We hope that you find it helpful in your decision whether to purchase one for yourself.


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