Xiaomi/Kingsmith/Versadesk WalkingPad Under Desk Treadmill Review
- Forensic Review
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We’ve reviewed some substandard walking bases before but this one takes the prize from the most poorly designed, poorly constructed, unreliable, noisy and unsafe unit ever brought to you by China.
|MSRP / List Price||$599|
|Street Price||Scan for available discount deals|
None. Literally. And no returns.
Extremely lightweight construction offers no rigidity to the frame, resulting in constant movement of the belt into the side rail, destroying it quickly.
Claims 220-lb user
|Walking Belt Size||
47” x 16.5”
Open dimensions: 56.5” x 21.5” x 5”
Very loud, not usable while on the phone.
Has an app which connects through Bluetooth but extremely buggy
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|Competition||Compare to All Standalone Under-Desk Treadmill Bases|
|User Reviews||Verified User Reviews on Amazon|
|Where to buy||
Buy on Walmart
Buy on AliExpress
Buy on Amazon
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Positives||Lightweight and folds down to be stowable under a desk or high-sitting sofa.|
|Negatives||Abominable design borders on engineering fraud. Extremely weak, noisy and unreliable mechanism, that any first year mechanical engineering student would have gotten an 'F' for. Company doesn't honor a warranty, there simply isn't one. Whiz bang features like the smartphone app and adaptive belt speed flat out do not work. Components fall apart quickly. The belt is both too short and too narrow for all but the smallest people, as is its measly maximum user weight rating of only 220 lbs (the lowest of any under-desk treadmill base we've ever reviewed).|
A Folding Treadmill? Is This A Good Idea?
Kingsmith, the actually-Chinese manufacturer behind this WalkingPad A1 Foldable Under Desk Treadmill (not British, as they want you to imagine), sells this product through multiple shadowy resellers under different brand names on Amazon. They have what sounds like a novel concept. A treadmill that can fold in half and be tucked away under a bed or desk when not in use.
This is not a new concept. It is one that newly-minted mechanical engineers from a second-rate university might come up with on their first day on the job at a treadmill manufacturing company. After which they would be publicly scolded by the chief engineer who explains all the problems with that idea. The newbie engineer would then go crawl into the fetal position under their desk out of fear for voicing such a career-limiting suggestion on their first day.
Unfortunately, most consumers do not possess the technical background to understand why this sleek-looking design is such an abysmal idea. Consumers who don’t possess a treadmill engineering background can be easily duped by slick marketing and fake reviews, which the Chinese companies are getting better and better at. But their money will soon disappear if they actually fall for it. This is a company that not only ships a product that fails within weeks, at best—if not dead on arrival—but will not pay for return shipping or refund your money. That is because it is literally sold without a warranty.
Your only option for contacting the company is an email address in the useless instruction manual (that has no troubleshooting assistance), which they don’t ever respond to. We’ve already seen some Amazon listings for this product go cold, although they just spin up another new listing as soon as one gets taken down, continuing the fraud. These unsavory Chinese factories will churn through company shells month after month, they have this practice down to a science. Sadly, thousands of consumers have already been taken to the cleaners by this foldable treadmill scam.
Takes The Record
Since 2013 we’ve reviewed every treadmill desk ever introduced. There are many “me too” fitness equipment manufacturers that have comically jumped into the fray thinking there must be a huge market for these, and they can’t be that complicated. After all, how different can an office treadmill be from a running treadmill? They have less in common than you might think.
As a result, there are now more defunct products and companies in this category than viable ones. The two brands that command 98% of the market share are the cheaper, consumer-grade Lifespan treadmills and the top-rated, professional-grade iMovR Thermotread. After that it’s a long list of dead pool contenders like TreadDesk, RebelDesk, Signature, Modtable, InMovement, NordicTrack, Woodway, ProForm and the 2007-vintage original Steelcase Walkstation, to name but a few. And there are some truly horrible units we’ve reviewed that are still in the market somehow, like the EgoFit Walker, Exerpeutic Workfit, Versadesk and InMovement re-hash Unsit-1, probably just until inventory depletes.
But this new unit from “Kingsmith” takes the cake. It is by far the worst under desk treadmill base we’ve ever reviewed, and that’s saying something.
Engineering Fraud Is The Best Way To Describe It
Sadly we often have to report on outright marketing fraud by office fitness gear manufacturers, especially by Chinese companies pushing products on Amazon that sound too good to be true. And WalkingPad is no exception in this regard. But for this review, we had to go a step further and declare “engineering fraud.”
Treadmills are high-impact mechanical devices that use a powered motor to overcome the friction between the belt and the deck when dragging a dead weight (you) across it at slow speeds. Running treadmills are designed to have the highest amount of torque (rotational force) at their top speed, when you are running and actually helping by kicking the belt in the direction it is moving. But for office treadmills that torque is needed at the low end, when walking at typical treadmill desk speeds of 1 – 2 mph.
The consequence of the design engineer not understanding this simple concept is that the motor has to work extremely hard, will heat up fast and either burn out quickly or shut itself down abruptly and frequently if it has an overheat sensor.
Because the aim of this foldable treadmill is to be low profile this also means that the flywheel on the motor shaft, which keeps the momentum of the belt going so that it doesn’t hesitate every time your heel strikes the belt on the next step, can’t possibly be correctly sized. This is why treadmills like Lifespan’s TR1200 have such a hard time with this hesitation issue, being designed to work as a running treadmill but merely “re-skinned” as an office treadmill. The low-profile design forces a smaller flywheel that doesn’t have the mass necessary to create a perfectly smooth belt speed.
The frame and running deck of this folding treadmill are made from extraordinarily light materials. This is great from the standpoint of making it easier to slide under the sofa when not in use, but lacking the normal rectangular rigidity of an honest treadmill this means that the two rollers at each end of the belt wiggle an awful lot. The result is predictable. The belt has an impossible time staying centered and quickly moves to one side or the other and starts scraping against the metal. Thus the belt rapidly destroys itself from the edges in.
And that’s not the only abuse of the treadmill belt. When folding the treadmill the belt is actually creased and compressed, further destroying its integrity.
Treadmill belts are notoriously tricky to keep properly taught. That’s part of why frame rigidity is so critical. If the two rollers are too far apart the belt becomes too tight and starts to stretch out, ultimately falling apart. If they’re too close together the belt will be too loose and will cause a safety issue, or at least a lot of discomfort to the user every time their heel strikes the deck and the belt hesitates. But when folding the treadmill in half the belt is literally completely loose.
Unfolding the treadmill re-tensions the belt but likely it is already off-center and either too tight or too loose. There is no adjustment as there would be on any honest treadmill for adjusting that belt tension again. With the additional slop introduced by the folding hinge, the entire mechanism has such loose tolerances as to throw out any hope of ever getting the treadmill to function properly for more than a few days or weeks at most before it heads to the dumpster.
The final insult to the belt is that the seam between the two deck pieces creates a friction point to destroy the underside of the belt in short order. But that may be a moot point, as by then the severely underpowered motor may have burned out first. In any event, a destroyed belt would cost more to replace than the entire treadmill cost in the first place (the entire treadmill would need to be disassembled and re-assembled by a trained technician in the field; did we mention they have no service organization or even a service manual?). So it would head straight to the dump.
In comparison to an honest office treadmill like the iMovR Thermotread GT, which weighs 150 lbs, this lightweight miracle from China weighs only 62 lbs. That right there should tell you everything you need to know. There is simply no way to build a rigid, precise, mechanically robust treadmill with only 62 lbs of metal, motor and tread deck.
Between the small stride length and weak motor, the A1 folding treadmill in fact has a user weight max rating of only 220 lbs. Anyone heavier will either hasten the already-short expected useful life of motor or be so tall as to have a stride length that could result in their back foot sliding off the end of the tread deck.
These user weight ratings are rarely to be trusted anyway, as for most treadmill desk manufacturers it’s simply a marketing claim rather than a lab-tested result. But even for a company that creates a lot of fictitious marketing claims like this one, it’s the lowest of any treadmill base that we’ve ever seen. They could have at least lied and sold some more. Why stop here? Learn more about why user weight ratings on treadmill desks matter.
Whiz Bang Features That Are More Bang Than Whiz
This walking pad is marketed as an under-desk treadmill base, so let’s take a look at how that would actually work. It has a gimmicky sensor built into the deck that allows you to set the speed of the treadmill based on where you “stand” on the deck. That is, if you move closer to the head of the treadmill the belt will automatically speed up, and if you slide back a bit it will sense that and slow down. The first problem is, as you can see in this video, it doesn’t work. Period. Flat out doesn’t work.
But even if it did work you would have to literally walk through your desk to go faster, or stand too far away from your keyboard to slow it down. Either way, treadmill desks are supposed to be ergonomic marvels, not ergonomic death traps.
So this leaves you to resort to using the supplied remote control, once you figure out what kind of funky batteries it takes and go find them. Suppose it works, there’s still the problem that the display showing your speed is now underneath your desk where you can’t see it. There is no desktop controller as there would be on any true office treadmill base.
No worries, there’s still a third way to control the treadmill, which is by using an app on your smartphone. Which doesn’t work. Doesn’t function at all. Some users reported that they couldn’t get the treadmill to go to its published top speed of 3.75 mph no matter which method they used; it would top out at 1.75 mph, way too slow for many users.
The WalkingPad A1 Foldable Under Desk Treadmill is the worst abomination of an office treadmill we have ever seen. And the most inconvenient way to set $600 on fire. At least when you set money on fire it disappears. But in this case, you’ll actually have to pay to take it to the city dump to get rid of when it fails, with no hope of warranty repair much less any way to service it at all.
Lacking UL certification, lacking a safety-required kill switch (the red and yellow key on a lanyard as required by UL) and having too small a walking area, this treadmill base can reasonably be considered a death trap. At the very least no employer should ever allow it on company premises. If you want to buy one for your home and are a bit of a thrill seeker no one can stop you from throwing your money away.
Even though it lacks UL certification it seems unlikely to catch fire since the motor quits as soon as it gets hot. Repeatedly. User reviews say they need to take breaks from walking to let the motor cool down and restart. Just remember that every time its motor overheats that much more insulation has burned off the wires. Eventually, you’ll get a short circuit in the motor windings and say bye bye to your treadmill. It is severely underpowered.
Check out our lab tested Under Desk Treadmill Base Reviews for a better choice. Or our round-up of integrated treadmill desk options including the sit-stand desk.