Pros: strong and quiet motor, 30 programs
Cons: belt length
This is my review of the Nordic Track 5100 R Treadmill. This is a treadmill you will find in the $1600 range. It is manufactured by the fitness giant Icon fitness. Icon also makes treadmills for Weslo, Image, Pro Form, Reebok, and Health Rider. I have had good experiences with most of the Icon products I have used especially with the Nordic Track line. I have reviewed a handful of Nordic Track models and was pleased with all of them.
The motor in the 5100 R is a 2.5 continuous duty motor. This is a good sized motor for this unit. Icon Fitness uses both peak duty motors, usually in their cheaper Pro Form and Weslo lines, and continuous duty motors, usually in their more expensive Nordic Track and Reebok lines. Does more expensive mean better? In this case yes it does. I have had experience with both peak and continuous duty motors and have found that the continuous have more power, last longer and are generally smoother running than their peak counterparts. I realize that power is a relative comparison but most people won't have power issues with most continuous duty motors on the market. I cannot say the same thing for the peak motors. If you want an example of this check out my review of the Weslo 340 CS. When walking on the 5100 the motor was nice and smooth no skipping and slowing down of the belt. This is an important test of a treadmills power for me because many units I have tried will have trouble pulling me at slow speeds. This was not the case here.
I turned the unit up to 6.0 mph and began jogging. The Nordic Track had good response to the changing speeds and flowed nicely. There was no jerking it gradually climbed speeds until it got to the 6.0 mph. The motor was able to pull me just fine while jogging as well. This is another feature I look for in many treadmills. When running is there any slow down in the belt? Does it feel like the motor is having trouble keeping up with my weight? The 5100 passed all the tests I felt comfortable at a 3.0 mph walk and a 6.0 mph jog. I think this is an important aspect of the buying process that many people overlook. If you plan on both walking and running on the treadmill you need to do both of these while testing the unit. Too many people see the features and figure I'll buy it and get home and it's not comfortable or the motor is not large enough. That's just my two cents.
The console is actually pretty standard compared to other Nordic Track models. Nordic Track used almost the same design for many years. It has the basic design matrix which shows a circle track and details where you are in relation to the track. This is basically worthless in my opinion but some people like the idea of walking around a real track I guess. There are 5 LED workout display windows in the middle of the console. They monitor your basic readouts:
You are able to adjust the speed from 0-12 mph. This is plenty of room for adjustment for the average user. When you press on one of the up or down arrows to adjust the speed it will move .10 mph. This is a very small adjustment and I like this if you are trying to find the exact speed that is comfortable for you. If you were to press and hold the speed arrows it will begin to jump much faster. It will start adjusting .5 mph at a time. This is also helpful if you step on the unit and want to get to 3 mph. You don't want to have to hit the up arrow 30 times. On that same note there is a feature on this treadmill that I enjoy. This is a feature that is on many other units in this price range but for me I never get sick of talking about it. This is the one touch speed adjustment. There are a row of buttons toward the bottom of the console that have the numbers 1-12 on them. Each number corresponds to a mph. So let's say you are walking at 3 mph and you decide you want to start jogging at 6 mph. Rather than press and hold the up arrow you can just select the button labeled 6 and the treadmill will ramp up to 6 mph. It does this gradually as well so you are not thrown from the machine. You will learn to love this feature even though it is such a small item.
The incline is another major feature that many look for when shopping for treadmills. The 5100R has the ability to incline up to 12%. I feel this is sufficient for anyone who is looking to just walk and run. There are treadmills out there that have incline rates much higher for people looking for an exercise mimicking a hike but this is just fine for the average person who just wants to walk and run. The control works very similar to the speed with up and down arrows to control the incline. When you press a button the treadmill will adjust .5% up or down depending on which you select. Holding the arrows will move the incline faster just like the adjustment for speed. There are also one touch incline adjustments. These work exactly like the speed adjustments. You push a button for your desired incline and the 5100R takes care of the rest. When the unit moves up or down it is fluid and slow so that the user is not shocked with a rapid change in deck height.
There is a cardio grip pulse sensor on the Nordic Track that will read your pulse. This is good for people who are trying to stay in a target heart zone to burn the maximum amount of calories. The problem is that the grip sensors are not nearly as accurate as a chest monitor. If I were trying to exercise in a certain zone I would wear a chest monitor rather than use the one on the Nordic Track to get an accurate reading. Also, if you are running it is not always convenient to stop running, stand on the side rails and wait while the machine takes your pulse. By the time you get your reading your heart has decreased anyway. It is a nice feature though if you enjoy walking and like to get your heart rate into a wide range say between 100-120. With this margin of error you can use the cardio grip sensors effectively. There are 30 built in programs that the Nordic Track offers. I will not go into detail about these programs as they are pretty standard to most Nordic Track models. I did like the ability of having 30 programs at my disposal. This is quite a few more than many other treadmills in the same price range. Personally, I like to use the programs to keep my workouts fresh and new. They are also a great motivator for someone who gets stuck in the same exercise routine day after day. There are also a couple of 2 lb. weights that the treadmill comes with. These are of no use to me but others maybe like to walk with weights, so if you want them they are there.
Deck and Other Things
One of the major selling points for me on treadmills is the deck size. I am a big guy so if the belt and deck are not long enough and wide enough for my comfort levels I immediately pass on them. The 5100R has a nice 20" wide and 55" long belt. The width was the perfect size for me. I can both walk and run with comfort without the worry of having to step in the same place every time I move. The 55" is comfortable but I would have preferred a 60". I was able to run easily but I found myself cheating up toward the front of the unit to overcompensate for my fear of falling off the back. Probably 95% of the people who use this treadmill are not as tall as me and this won't be a problem for them.
The deck is what Nordic Track calls a reflex deck. This makes life much easier on your joints while walking and running. I also like the feel of the reflex decks much better than the standard cushioned decks under my feet. The decks that have the cushioning under the belt can feel like you are sinking when you step down. The reflex deck gives you a springing feeling. In my opinion it feels much more natural.
Assembly is quick and easy and will take no more than 15 minutes when using the instruction manual. The 5100R comes with a 3 year warranty on the motor, 2 years on all the parts, and 1 year on labor. This kills the old Pro Form 90 day parts and labor warranty.
Overall, I really enjoyed using this unit. It has a good motor, belt size, and plenty of programs to fulfill the average person's needs. It is toward the top of its pack as far as bang for you r buck in my opinion.