Proform 520 ZN Treadmill Review
Overall Rating: 4.93
A great looking treadmill, but that's where looks can be deceiving!
The Proform 520 ZN is a great treadmill if you're trying to make guests think you exercise or if you like really expensive coat hangers. At $599, it's actually a good value. Unfortunately, a good value at this price doesn't translate to a good treadmill. If you want a good quality machine, you're going to have to pay more than $600 for it.
The walking area is a good size. The belt measures in at 20" x 55". This is a bit shorter than the standard 20" x 60" walking belt, but you can find several models that are more expensive than this one that don't offer a walking surface this accommodating.
The motor in this machine is quite weak. Not too many treadmills have less power producing capabilities than this one does. Still, it's not that bad within its price range. It can reach speeds of up to 10 mph. We wouldn't recommend using this model for running, however, as it will probably damage the structure and drive system. Cheaper models like this one should only be used for light walking.
The cushioning system is okay. AirStride Max cushioning is used to reduce the impact that running has on your joints and back. In this price range, you're not going to find much better, but overall more forgiving running surfaces are readily available.
The projected reliability of this treadmill is bad. Other machines that cost as little as this may have a shorter life expectancy, but if you're willing to pay a few hundred extra dollars, you can get a major jump in life expectancy. There aren't many models that use lower quality parts than those used in this one.
This is one of the loudest treadmills we reviewed. Even among machines in its price, it is louder than most. If quiet operation is important to you, stay away from this model.
The warranty on the Proform 520 ZN is sad. Parts and labor are covered for 1 year, the motor is covered for 25 years, and the frame is covered for life. This kind of coverage is common for treadmills that are this inexpensive.
These products are produced by Icon Health and Fitness. They are the largest retail fitness company. This is one of the original Icon brands and can be found in most mass merchants. They typically range between $500 and $1,500 and have short warranties for the most part, although we have seen a shift in regard to that on mainly motors in some units. The higher end units have much longer warranties. The gee-whiz factor is high on these machines because they are packed with features, but some of these features can be glitch prone. Except for the higher priced units with a selling price of $1000 or more, we wouldn't recommend these for serious runners, but the quality of the machine is so much better than those produced just a few years ago. Most people who are walkers or occasional joggers will be satisfied with the new Proforms.
Quality / Philosophy
Proform is produced by Icon, a company with thousands of employees and large resources. Put simply, their machines have the best design in the business. Icon has a long, storied history that provides an example of how the big keep getting bigger. Icon used to be the mass-market darling because of their cheap prices, but they had the quality to match. These days they put quality into the machines and pack them with features. On the low end, expect low quality, but that is more of a function of price rather than engineering. Proform is still saddled with many problematic models from their past, but the quality has rapidly improved, especially with their machines in the $900 and up range.
Icon is the largest fitness equipment producer in the world with over $1 billion in sales. If the fitness industry were a solar system, Icon is so powerful that they would be the Sun. In terms of stability they are the best, but overall their customer service isn't up to the standards of any of the lower volume producers. They have promised an improvement on this and have new management in the service department, so we hope this helps. Although you get a value price for the product, you also get value service, so keep this in mind when buying their machines. Due to the sheer number of units they produce, we pick up support in many cases where this factory leaves off.