TreadDesk Treadmill Base Review

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TreadDesk Treadmill Base Review

Reviewed By

The Editors

Review Summary

TreadDesk has been around for since 2007 and has been a popular unit in the absence of the kind of competition that has started to appear over the past few years. However, the product is past its prime. For just a little more money you can get a unit that complies with regulatory safety requirements, with a lot more features, a stronger drive train, better warranty, and a nicer desktop console.


It's much easier to build a treadmill desk around the TreadDesk base than it is to convert a conventional running treadmill in a walking base, and it should last you much longer. Add any adjustable-height desk to complete a walking treadmill workstation suitable for light duty. Free equipment mat and shipping are included with every order.


At $895, our in-depth review finds that the TreadDesk is not as capable or as good a bargain as others on the market (see our comprehensive comparison reviews). The warranty is weak and the unit's design pushes the limits of what could be considered safe operation. The belt area is a little narrow and shorter than we like to see. The confusing control console takes a lot more desktop space than it should. The unit lacks regulatory certification. Overall, this treadmill distracts from working way more than it should.

Experts' Rating
Customer Experience
Quality and Aesthetics
Suitability for Treadmill Desking
Bottom Line

TreadDesk has been around since 2007, just about as long as Steelcase. The product deserves some recognition for the trailblazing role it played, but new units like the LifeSpan TR1200 and iMovR ThermoTread GT just run circles around its vintage design, and the new players that have since stepped into the industry are many times larger and more experienced in the office equipment and exercise equipment fields. Their scale economies are better, so you get more quality for your money. Even the bottom-end LifeSpan TR800 treadmill is a better product, and it actually costs $100 less than the TreadDesk base. So we’re not quite sure how TreadDesk plans to be competitive in the future. But our biggest gripe on the TreadDesk base – and it’s a serious one – is the lack of attention to operational safety. Treadmill desking shouldn’t take away from focusing on your work. It just takes too much presence of mind to use this product without potentially hurting yourself.

As for the desk, it’s a nice product for what it is, built on good Danish (Linak) componentry. But we believe it to be overpriced given the other desks available today, and we have some concerns about its lateral stability over the long run. If you’re shopping for a treadmill that you’d like to keep using for years and years, keep looking – this isn’t the one for you.

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Review Details

[Update Feb 8, 2017: We have recently received numerous calls from TreadDesk customers indicating that the company is not responding to service requests for failed treadmills, or any inquiries at all. According to external website traffic scores like Alexa, it appears the website is no longer receiving measurable traffic. Their last post on their Facebook page was from July, 2015, and last tweet from a year prior.  We’ve been unable to confirm whether the company is still in business, or in some sort of hiatus. Curiously, they seem to have recently revamped their treadmill offering. What they are showing on their website as “The Original Tread” appears nothing at all like the original. Photos appear to be mock-ups of a new model with a very small 46″ x 18″ walking belt and a “soft deck.” Our review below is of the original original, as that was the only unit the company submitted for lab testing.]

Walking Worries

We managed to get a full TreadDesk workstation (base and desk) in at the office for a long-overdue test run, after several attempts to get the company to submit their product to the WorkWhileWalking labs. Evaluation began on a positive note. Our TreadDesk base arrived well-packed. Custom-shaped Styrofoam blocks kept all components stationary and intact. Given the thought put into rattle-proofing the Tread, we were surprised to find the accompanying desk’s electric base buried in a sea of packing peanuts. Nothing was broken, but pawing through the peanuts took some time and trouble. Once we cleared the floor of peanuts, we put the TreadDesk base in position, and had our first close look at the product.

Early impressions were less than rosy. The light weight of the unit concerned us as well – walking treadmills receive plenty of punishment, and a lighter unit generally lacks the structurally-reinforced frame we’ve consistently observed on top-rated products. Even the shrimpiest Lifespan, the TR-800, weighs 20 lbs more than the 101 lb TreadDesk base. On the plus side, the TreadDesk base’s relatively lighter weight made it easier to heft around; on the minus side, hefting was necessary because the unit lacks the rear casters found on virtually all other walking treadmills.

We were even more dismayed by the walking deck. We’ve long taken the raised side rails and end caps of other treadmills for granted, and were surprised to find them absent on the TreadDesk base. No end caps meant that the roller on the back end of the treadmill was exposed to shoe laces, neckties, cat tails and small children’s fingers. Even if your personal penchant for safety precautions is lower than most, employers concerned about potential liability from treadmill desk accidents – a heretofore unheard of thing – would probably have heartburn over this very evident shortcoming of the Tread Desk base. The lack of side rails was even more problematic, and not on a hypothetical basis like the exposed roller ends, but rather on a day-to-day practical usage basis. Most every other treadmill manufacturer builds their treads with slightly-raised, ruggedized platforms – so-called “landing strips”– to stand on while starting the treadmill, taking a break, or pausing for delicate work. Shockingly, the Tread Desk base doesn’t actually have landing strips at all; instead, it has two 3” strips of deck that the belt doesn’t cover. Sure, this saves some significant manufacturing cost, but for our money it’s like leaving seatbelts out of a car. The real issue here is that these strips aren’t raised – they’re at the same level of the belt, which will catch at the feet of all but the most dextrous, slender-footed users standing on them. It’s a discomfiting feeling at best, and is positively dangerous at worst, as a moving belt can easily take your feet out from under you.

Also be aware that the TreadDesk lacks any feature comparable to the Lifespan TR1200’s Intelliguard, a system that stops the treadmill if a user’s footfalls are no longer detected. A TreadDesk base in motion will stay in motion, so exercise caution and turn it off whenever you walk away. Every staff member at WorkWhileWalking is a seasoned treadmill desk user, and not one of us felt safe on this unit after only a few minutes of walking. It became a struggle to stay on for a full hour without incident, as we each took our first turn checking out the equipment. There were no volunteers for second turns. The TreadDesk base meets all the basic criteria for a walking treadmill – low top speed, low noise level, smooth operation, and so on. If we had to describe the TreadDesk base in a word, it would likely be “somewhat passable”. A TreadDesk will definitely get you up and walking, but it holds up poorly against newer and much better designs. And that’s to say nothing of some serious safety concerns we have with the product. It’s worth noting that TreadDesk products are not UL-certified. The company claims that their unit is certified under the tougher TÜV Rheinland® European standard, however there was no label on the product attesting to this and we could not find TreadDesk in the online directory of certificate-holding manufacturers. We challenged the company, through their legal counsel, to provide evidence of their certification compliance. They failed to do so. We’re fairly certain that this 8+ year old unit does not meet current certification standards in any event, which have been made more stringent in 2015.

Exploring Under the Hood

Our mechanical evaluation of the TreadDesk was not reassuring. Pop the motor housing cover off a TreadDesk base and you’re going to run headlong into many of the hallmark problems of a low-cost treadmill. A relatively low-torque, 2.0 horsepower, high-RPM motor and smallish flywheel explain the Tread’s very, very, very slow acceleration. In fact the instructions caution the user not to stand on the treadmill while it’s coming up to speed, which validates our technical assessment of the unit’s low-torque at low speeds. This is contrast to units like the iMovR ThermoTread GT, which not only has a much stronger 3.0 horsepower motor, but its entire drive train is geared to produce dramatically higher torque at the low speeds of a walking desk. Clearly the TreadDesk base unit was not re-engineered in any way for the slower speeds that treadmill desk users utilize.

Small-diameter rollers (the two tubes at either end of the belt) are a common sight on cheaper treadmills, and we weren’t surprised to find them here. Small rollers don’t have as much surface area to grip the walking belt as larger ones, and hence they’re more likely to start slipping as the belt stretches. They also wear the belt down faster by forcing it around a sharper curve. To prevent slippage, manufacturers have to ratchet up the belt tension, which keeps things nice and tight, but also places extra stress on an already vulnerable part of the machine. It also causes the ball bearings and walking belt to lose their integrity sooner. It is likely that Tread Desk procures their base from a mass-market oriented, Chinese treadmill manufacturer. While we can’t say for certain that this is true of TreadDesk’s source, we do know that these kinds of manufacturers often leave extras like the motor mount auto-tensioning spring out of the design in order to cut costs. They know full well that 85% of treadmills are stored in the garage after 50 hours of use. Well, treadmills used in walking workstations don’t often meet that fate. They tend to get used day-in, day-out, for years and years. What does all this mean for the prospective treadmill desker? It means that the Tread Desk was not designed to withstand years of the heavy use most walking treadmills receive.

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

In the words of one TreadDesk customer who posted in a public forum: “There were a few scuffs on the motor housing cover, but no damage otherwise. It comes with a thick foam pad to placed underneath the unit. The pad is undersized by two inches in each dimension, which means the feet of the treadmill overhang on each side. Seems like such a trivial mistake to make given the quality of the pad, and the cost of the treadmill. The display console is freaking huge, I have no idea why they made it so damned large. It takes up considerable space on the desk, its not a deal breaker it just looks stupid and cheap. Again, given the cost of this unit they could do better. The controls are simple to use, the display is big (see above) and easy to read. First time I started up the tread and tried to walk on it, the belt slipped like crazy and I almost fell over. When I contacted they support they said a number of people had complained about the same problem in this shipment. They felt it was probably because of the heat wave temperatures being seen around the country and that the belt probably stretched during shipment. I had to adjust the tension on the belt a number of times before it stopped slipping. It no longer slips but it does make a squeaking noise when I walk. Support said this was normal and would go away after a week or so of use. I’m now almost two months in of daily usage and it still makes noises. I have lubricated the tread, but still some squeaking. I’m 215lb’s, and the unit is rated for 320 so I don’t think thats the problem, although it does make less noise when my wife 140lbs tested it.”

The Desk

When we first reviewed the treadmill, we were pleasantly surprised by the adjustable-height, electric desk that came with our Tread Desk base. Assembly was much, much easier than we’re used to, thanks to TreadDesk’s helpfully penciled leg attachment outlines on the tabletop. The tabletop also came outfitted with pre-drilled holes and self-adhesive cable control clips already stuck on. Once assembled, we found the desk to be a responsive, quiet mover that could reach an excellent 51” maximum height.

The one sour note about the desk comes from the knee-level crossbar that comes with it. These support structures have fallen out of favor of late – they’re clunky, and pose a mild threat to the knees of seated users. TreadDesk’s decision to stick with them was necessitated by their desk’s lack of an upper crossbeam – something that the vast majority of electric desks feature. Even worse, TreadDesk’s particle board support bar is relatively flimsy and liable to fall apart after extended use.

As the wood fibers disintegrate over time the desk is likely to start swaying laterally, especially at high vertical positions. Not a good thing for treadmill deskers who induce oscillations into the desk whenever they touch the keyboard. Such oscillations can really make your screen shake badly, especially if it’s mounted on a monitor arm, as they so often are. With the rare exception of the Omega Everest, Olympus and Denali desks, whose SteadyType keyboard tray is designed to maximize desk stability.

Lifespan TR1200 Walking Treadmill

TreadDesk’s so-called ‘LS’ model, though we know it’s really a LifeSpan

Of course, all this table talk is a bit moot now. When we first reviewed the Tread Desk, their combination treadmill desk system combined the TreadDesk with a standing desk. Recently, their website seems to have dropped the original Tread Desk from their desk bundles, pairing the height-adjustable table with a LifeSpan TR1200-DT3, dubbed the ‘LS’ model, instead.

The treadmill’s desktop controller is monstrously large in comparison to those of LifeSpan or Rebel membrane keypad style desktop consoles, and vastly larger than the ThermoTread GT‘s touchscreen LCD console. Despite this size the display is ironically hard to operate. It isn’t backlit so you need decent ambient lighting to read it. But by far the most unfavorable aspect of its design is the confusing button scheme. In TreadDesk’s design view, making the “slower” and “stop” keys the same color (red), and the “faster” and “go” keys the same color (green) somehow made sense. We found it confusing at first, and constantly hit the wrong buttons.

User Feedback

Our previous “forensic” review of the TreadDesk, prior to receiving it in our test labs for a closer look, was based largely on feedback from users that we found out on the web. And it authentically matched our experts’ empirical lab observations. There is even a troubleshooting page on TreadDesk’s website that foretells some of the difficulties users may experience, from creaks and groans coming from the frame, to slipping belts and error codes on the console. Not a good sign. One proxy we use for externally assessing the success of a product that is sold only through the internet (TreadDesk has no dealer channel) is the company’s Alexa ranking. According to this ranking there are very few daily site visitors to the company’s website. It appears most of TreadDesk’s user base growth was in their past. The company has displayed a habit of running out of inventory, as well; offering to take 50% deposits from consumers. All these indicators lead one to a sense that TreadDesk is past its prime, and no longer a trailblazer in the industry, or in a position to invest in R&D to update its long-in-the-tooth product.

TreadDesk Treadmill Base Price Options

Treaddesk Treadmill Base Price
Treaddesk “Original” $895.00 Includes Shipping & Product Mat

WorkWhileWalking’s Comparison Review of Walking Treadmill Bases

Leave a response
  • L. Leseberg
    March 3, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Ordered and paid for a Treaddesk January 12, 2017. We are still waiting for our desk! No one answers the phone, comments via their website form, Facebook or emails. Filing a claim with the credit card company. So very disappointed in this company.

  • Marilyn
    February 17, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    My Treaddesk started humming and vibrating in January. I contacted the company, and immediately got a very helpful response from the CEO. I tried the troubleshooting recommendation, and then he sent instructions on how to remove the circuit board and send it for repair. We did that, and… silence. Multiple emails and phone calls – no response – none. It’s awful! I own a $900 platform now. I don’t think there is anyone there.

  • Margaret
    February 14, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I was happy with my TreadDesk until it started making a loud buzzing noise every time I turned it on. (This happened 3 years after purchase.) After consultation with the company I was able to get it working again by unplugging it for 24 hours. But this fix didn’t last, and ultimately they said it was likely that the board needed to be repaired. I mailed the circuit board to them in December 2016 and never heard from them again.

    I have tried contacting them repeatedly for six weeks, and now I am giving up.


  • Mark LeRoux
    February 1, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I have owned and regularly used aTreaddesk for approximately four years. I have generally been happy with it. About a year ago, the circuit board went out. I purchased a new one. It worked for another year and then began to malfunction. I sent it back to the company for repair. It has now been seven weeks. No one answers emails or telephone calls. Has the company gone out of business?

  • kurt wagner
    January 13, 2017 at 9:20 am

    TERRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE!! TERRIBLE UNRELIABLE PRODUCT!! Purchased the tread desk 6 months and it stopped functioning. I have tried calling and emailing the owner 5 times over the last month and he ignores all my requests for a simple replacement part needed to fix the tread desk. Secretary says the treadmill is no longer under warranty. What a waste of money. A COMPANY THAT IGNORES ITS CUSTOMERS AND DOES NOT HONOR ITS WARRANTY SHOULD NOT SUCCEED. SHAME ON YOU TREADDESK INC!

  • Katie Skipper
    January 12, 2017 at 7:23 am


  • Nate Carmody
    October 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I bought my TreadDesk after I wore out a ‘craigslist’ treadmill as a trial. I didn’t want to drop a chunk of change on a treadmill only to find out I didn’t like walking all day long. I bought the TreadDesk 18 months ago, in April of 2013. I added the TreadDesk to my existing home-made stand-up desk (did I mention I’m frugal?).
    My purchase criteria were as follows:
    -Must be rated to handle me walking slowly for at least 8 hours a day,
    -Must be able to support a user of at least 250 lbs,
    -Must have a detached control unit, and
    -Must be lower profile than my original treadmill that put me 7″ off the ground.

    I have been thrilled with my purchase. Reading the review above, I see that I have very different priorities than the professional reviewers.
    As with anyone looking to buy a treadmill for a walking desk, I also looked at the Lifespan TR800, TR1200, and TR5000. Only the TR5000 was rated for the continuous use I needed, but all hit my other criteria. The TR800 was only rated for 3 hours a day, with the TR1200 rated at a more respectable 6 hours a day (If I was buying this for home use in the evening, either would be enough, but I’m looking at heavy-duty office use all day long). Both the TR5000 and the TreadDesk are rated at 10 hours a day. The Lifespan models conveniently post their rating on their website, while I had to contact TreadDesk to get their rating. Since it was my own money, I was very cost sensitive. The almost $2000 price tag made the TR5000 too expensive.
    I’ve put a little over 1500 miles on the treadmill since purchasing it. It does exactly what it is supposed to do with no frills or silliness. I walk between 1.2 and 1.8 mph, depending on my activity (typing is slower, web browsing is faster, handwriting requires me to stop).
    Is the lack of a raised side a problem? No. In fact I prefer the flat side to my previous treadmill that had a raised side. I start on the treadmill and walk as it turns on.
    Is the lack of a rear guard a problem? No. I am near the back of my office, so I don’t ever walk back there, nor would I ever have the treadmill on when I’m not actually using it (now that would be unsafe, as a co-worker found out when he left his on and walked away, only to forget it was on when he returned. Ooops. He has a regular desk now…).
    Has the motor been inadequate? No. I’m averaging 7 hours a day in 2014 and occasionally hit 10 hours a day. I’m on the larger side, so if it was stressed by my weight/speed/duration, I would be running into problems. I’m not.

    What would I change? Easy:
    -The controller should be smaller.
    -The controller should remember my last speed when I turn it on. I press the ‘Fast’ button about 100 times a day adjusting to my desired speed with each restart.
    – As with everything, if it could be quieter, I would be happy. It is not loud, in fact it is much quieter than the last one I had. However, I would love it if it could be silent. All current ones produce about the same noise levels.
    – Wider belt. I think 48″ would be enough. Anything smaller is a sacrifice. I don’t expect to ever find a full 4 feet, but every extra inch would be a better solution for an actual desk where you are moving laterally from time to time. All the current models are functionally the same width.
    – I would LOVE to build an elevated platform around it so the surrounding area is the same height. This one is on me to do, but it would be great to do. If a manufacturer offered modular units to do this, I would contemplate buying them (price dependent, I’m frugal).

    Would I buy it again? Yes. Without any hesitation. I love the treadmill desk concept. I love walking all day long at my desk. I love being the guy in the office that makes the office a little bit quirky. And, I love my TreadDesk.

  • Jamie
    October 1, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    We have had 2 Treaddesks for about 4 years now and we purchased a lifespan tr1200 treadmill desk 6 months ago. We are looking to purchase another one for our employees (68) as they have been a big hit.
    After reading your reviews, I disagree with some of your comments regarding the Treaddesk. We don’t find the control panel hard to use or too large nor has anyone complained that it was unsafe. We have had to change out both belts but these units get used a good 8 hours per day so that’s understandable. Your review of the Lifespan is very accurate and while I agree that it is a better product, they are more expensive and the desk portion is not as nice as the treaddesk – moving a manual desk like the Lifespans up and down is not very easy. Not sure which one we will purchase yet but thanks for your reviews.

  • Romeo C. Garcia
    August 6, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    After only a couple of weeks of use the TreadDesk turned problematic, I am not using it anymore. I am a retired architect and thought it would be great to walk while I worked at my desk. First, the machine started turning off on its own, every 15 to 30 minutes, and then the belt started sliding off the roller no matter how much I adjusted the tension according to their instructions. The final stroke was during the last couple of weeks I used it, a loud disturbing electrical noise developed. I opened it up made sure it was clean and according to the instructions I received after numerous calls was to make sure that all electrical connections were properly plugged in.

    I should have known better!! It was too good of a deal. The old saying is so true in my case, “You get what you pay for!!.

    Signing off disgusted

    • Tracy
      September 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

      I’m having the exact same issue. My husband looked at it and you can see smoke on the board, and the transformer is making a loud electrical noise. I didn’t get to use it long before this developed. I’ve also called the company several times, they don’t answer, and won’t call me back.

  • Brian
    May 21, 2014 at 12:46 am

    So I ordered a Tread Desk. Buyer beware, this product is UNUSABLE. I had been wanting to buy a treadmill to go with my height adjustable desk, and figured it would be a good option. The product is advertised and marketed for use at a desk / computer, unfortunately…

    THIS PRODUCT INTERFERES WITH INTERNET CONNECTION. Any time I would start the product and walk, my internet would go off. Magically when I turned it off, the internet would work again. It didn’t just kinda mess with the internet, so long as the tread was on, the internet would be off. 100% of the time. I contacted the company and the owner responded by saying I should buy a new computer because maybe that would fix it. I was shocked that I should have to buy a NEW COMPUTER to POSSIBLY make their product work as intended. It’s kind of a given that this treadmill is to be used in the vicinity of a computer, and no where on their website do they disclose that it interferes with internet (owner even admitted this was a problem for others also!)

    After repeated emails, the owner offered a refund, so long as I pay freight shipping to return it (which would cost some $300 or so – so it wasn’t really worth it). I don’t see why I ought to pay the shipping when the product is basically a lemon. I suppose the thing works if you don’t need internet access. So basically I’m stuck with this junk treadmill that doesn’t work.

    As for the product itself, it’s flimsy, thin, and does not feel sturdy. When using the treadmill, you can hear crackling noises. You have to lubricate the belt, and there’s all kinds of maintenance that seems needed after time.

    STRONGLY do not recommend this product, find an alternative.

  • Julie Carrigan
    December 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Our company purchased a Walkstation back in 2009 and it quickly became a very big hit. The interest grew quickly and we needed to purchase another one but our owner did not want to pay another $4500 so we then purchased a treaddesk. While the treadmill portion is not quite as nice as the Walkstations, the desk is just as good and we saved about $2100. We have since purchased 2 more treaddesks and are very happy with them. I just read your reviews of the Walkstation, Lifespan and Treaddesk and really think your Treaddesk review is inaccurate. While it cost us about half as much as the Walkstation, it is still a fine product. We have had to have a service tech out 3 times over the past 4 years for the Walkstation but only once for the 3 treaddesks. We are considering another Treaddesk but are taking a close look at the lifespan.

    • The Editors
      December 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      Julie, thank you so much for taking the time to post about your experience with these products. The LifeSpan equipment has only been on the market for the past two years, so given the timeframe of when you purchased your TreadDesk units they were indeed the best alternatives to the Steelcase Walkstation available on the market. Since then, however, the LifeSpans have been introduced, and we suspect if you give one a try side-by-side with the TreadDesks you’ll completely agree with our review. We keep our reviews fresh with the most current information available on all treadmill desk products, and have to compare them on their contemporary merits, notwithstanding their historical merits prior to new competition entering the market.

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