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The Secret to Low Belt / Deck Friction for Your Treadmill

Everyone in the treadmill business that has been in the business for more than a few moments knows that to keep a treadmill operating properly, you must keep the walking belt in great shape. Keeping the machine clean, lubricating the belt, and changing the walking belt when there is significant wear on the underside of the belt will almost guarantee a trouble-free ownership experience. But, there is one secret that many people will overlook.

Back when we first started in business, a guy brought me a commercial treadmill that he had bought from a local club. He only gave a couple of hundred for it but wanted us to go over the entire machine with a fine-toothed comb and bring it up to an almost new standard. What we found when we took it apart astounded us!

First of all, the machine was so filthy that we stripped it to a bare frame, sandblasted it, and then repainted so we would have a good base to start with. Then, we tore the motor, rollers, and incline motor apart and replaced bearings, put in new brushes, and made sure everything was properly lubricated and sealed.

We put a new drive belt, new walking belt (you can run on these too but that’s just what we call them), and all new electrical wiring on the machine. You might ask, “why did you replace the wiring?” The reason was because of what astonished us…the unit was still operating but it had worn down to 2 deep grooves in the deck that was just sawdust. It literally went down about 1/2” below the surface of the original deck. Most home machines would have blown up the motor controller and the motor way before that point but not this tank.

Needless to say, we also tested and changed components on the motor controller due to the excessive heat, amperage, and load that it encountered. All of that brings us to the overlooked part…the deck. Many people forget about the deck. If the deck on your machine stays as smooth as glass, you won’t have problems related to friction unless you have a bearing seize up.

Most people forget about the deck or think a few grooves won’t hurt anything but putting a new belt on a deck even with some small grooves will act like a scouring pad on the new belt and will quickly wear it out. If you let the walking belt get too worn before you replace it, it will create these grooves but the most important item that is overlooked is dirt. That is what typically creates the grooves in the deck.

That’s why we say to make sure to keep the machine clean and only use a pair of shoes that are dedicated to the treadmill (no walking outside with them). Keeping your machine clean is the main way you can keep your machine running great for years. We have even seen 6-month machine that had a belt and deck ruined because they kept the treadmill close to the door and sand blew under the belt every time the door was opened. Keep your treadmill clean and well maintained and you will thank yourself for it down the road.