The Spirit XT685 treadmill is a solid unit that sits on the line between residential and light commercial. It has a huge running deck and offers a full range of programs for a very good value. If you do not need your home unit to fold up I would suggest this as a must try in the sub 2k range.
The shock absorption system on the Spirit XT685 is six rubber durometers spread out evenly underneath the deck. This is pretty much the standard system for most mid level treadmills and to Spirits credit they do pair it with a 1 inch deck. Spirit also takes the additional step of putting a life time warranty on the deck along with the motor and frame in order to offer the customer some piece of mind on their unit.
The unit also has quick keys spread across the bottom of the console in order to make it easier for users to change speeds and inclines. I do like this feature but the spirit version does take some getting used to. He user must press a speed or incline button first and then 2 additional number in order to make it switch. This creates 3 button strikes whereas most units with this feature would just have you press a number once. Not a deal breaker but definitely something I would try out while trying out the unit.
The units warranty is top notch for a mid level unit, lifetime motor/frame/deck with 10 years on parts and electronics and 1 year labor is pretty good. I will always take the five years of additional parts over the second year of labor.
The unit is relatively quiet and the beeps of the console can be turned off in order to not wake up the house but the iPod speakers will wake them up anyways if you decide to use them. The headphone jack actually works with anything with a headphone output so if you still have your Walkman laying around you can play some tapes.
Speakers for MP3 players
The speakers sound ok and the jack works with any music player with a headphone output so it does replace a sound system in the room. The volume is controlled by your unit and headphones are not an option once plugged in. I consider this feature as something nice to have, but I don’t base buying decisions on it.
The unit has a fan just below the reading rack and it is able to be directed up and down. I will say that it will not overwhelm you with air but does help keep you cool in a poor circulation zone.
Heart Rate Control
The treadmill has 2 Heart Rate control programs that will control the incline of the unit but not the speed. They are nice to have and the programs will ask you all the required questions so you do not need a personal training certification to get it right. 1 Polar strap is included.
Remote Speed/Incline Controls
The Spirit XT685 treadmill has a set of buttons on the right and left hand rails which allow the user to change speeds and inclines with their thumbs while holding on. This is really nice for users who do not want to let go but not really useful for runner. Another item I would point out to try before you buy but not a deal breaker either way because you can turn them on and off.
The Spirit XT685 is a heavy solid feeling unit that has a good range of programs and a good warranty backing it all up. The feel is not on par with the high end units but it comes in at least 1 thousand dollars less then those with a good solid feel. If you are a taller or heavier user and you don’t want to spend over $3k, I would suggest this treadmill for its ability to eat up the punishment day after day.