The fact that the non-electric Bowflex TreadClimber TC5 offers 3 modes – as a stairclimber, an elliptical, and a treadmill – is somewhat deceptive in that it doesn’t do any one of the three well.
Although it is a popular model, for us it just doesn't live up to all of the hype.
Let's jump in to see what the TC5 is all about...
The TreadClimber is self-powered: when you start walking, the console automatically lights up. The LCD display has four windows showing Speed, Distance, Time, and Calories.
The specs on the Bowflex TC5 include:
UPDATE: This model is no longer available. Bowflex has introduced all new TreadClimbers to replace the TC5.
The new lineup is much better than the older models, with a TC100 and a more advanced TC200, both with much more functionality than their predecessors.
These are strictly walking machines, with a maximum speed of 4.5 mph, so if you are a jogger or a runner these are not the cardio trainers for your home gym.
Still, they do target unique muscle groups with their three workouts in one, and the more advanced TC200 has tracking capability so you can keep tabs on your workouts.
Previous models, including the TC5, did not have this capability.
With no motor to worry about, the Bowflex TreadClimber TC5 needs no power supply to light up the console or move the dual treadles. It is completely manual so you can put it in any room.
Nevertheless, the drawbacks are the components: for example, the hydraulic shocks will wear out and need replacing. Past user reviews report other problems mechanically with these machines as well.
One point not often mentioned in reviews but something you should be aware of (that doesn’t seem evident in the TV infomercials) is that this is a difficult machine to work out on.
You constantly work on maintaining balance and placing your foot correctly down on two independent moving belts which are wider apart than your normal walking gait. Just thinking about it should cause you some concern.
The Bowflex TreadClimber TC5 is a no-go.
The walking area is short, the treadles are far enough apart that the straddling motion will have shorter users waddling like a duck, it is difficult to use when compared to a traditional powered treadmill, the warranty is short, the customer service of Bowflex is notably bad, and due to this treadclimber’s complex design, it will break down sooner rather than later.
For $999, you can buy a very good treadmill with an array of features and a power incline that you’ll be thrilled to own. Trust us; you want to skip the Bowflex TC5.
Editor's Note: Look into the newer models as they have really come a long way from the problematic TC5.