Though we tend to focus on established fitness brands on TreadmillReviews, we occasionally get questions from our readership about some of the more affordable treadmills currently floating around places like Amazon and Walmart.com. These units, like the Merax JK1603E Folding Treadmill we’re looking at today, undercut any of the established competition by a significant price margin, and sometimes manage to get fairly reasonable reviews on Amazon as well (though you should read about how to decipher those reviews here). That said, the more you dig, the more risks you’re up against if you consider purchasing one of these VERY entry level treadmills. Given the growing demand for information, we’ve taken a closer look at the Merax JK1603E Folding Treadmill to give you a better look at what to expect from the lightweight and low spec piece of kit.
What We Like:
- Dirt Cheap. Calling it like it is here, at just over $200 this is one of the cheapest treadmills you can buy, and to some, sticker price is the be-all-and-end-all of purchasing decisions.
- Extremely Compact. When folded, the Merax JK1603E is tiny, taking up only a 25 by 22.5-inch footprint and standing 53 inches tall.
- Large Cupholders. You won’t be shy on space to store your water bottle (and likely your phone) when running on this unit.
- Light and Easy To Move. Because it isn’t built to the same durable standard as more reputable treadmills out there, at the very least the Merax JK1603E Folding Treadmill will be easy to move around your workout space.
Merax JK1603E Folding Treadmill Treadmill - Key Specs:
|Running Area:||14" x 44"|
|Top Speed:||6.2 MPH|
|Weight Capacity:||220 LBS|
|Dimensions:||43.7" L x 25" W x 53" H|
- Not Reliable. Several reviewers, despite its overall 3.4 star rating, have reported failures of the motor or console within weeks or months of purchase.
- VERY Narrow Running Belt. Frankly I thought this was a typo, but it seems the running belt on the Merax J1603E is only 14 inches wide. This is an awkward width if you’ve ever run on a standard width treadmill (usually averaging 20″ wide).
- Flimsy Construction. Just looking at this thing, it’s easy to tell that it’s just not up to par with any standard issue treadmill out there. both its arms and base appear undersized, and several reviewers mention its shortcomings in terms of sturdiness.
- Warranty Issues. Though the listing states that the motor and frame are covered for one year, several have reported that making any kind of warranty claim is a nightmare. Amazon says to contact Merax, and Merax says to contact Amazon. This is exactly the kind of thing that no one wants to deal with when it comes to their home fitness equipment.
- Just Too Small. Review after review reads the same—the image Merax uses of the runner on its treadmill is entirely misleading. Even runners as short as 5’5″ have reported that this treadmill is just too small. Its tread belt/running surface is only 14 inches wide and 44 inches long. To give you a sense of scale, the “average” tread deck is around 20 inches wide and 55 inches long, and can go up to 22 wide and 60+ long. Even if you’re on the shorter side, once you’re up at a running pace these dimensions are just plain dangerous.
- Low Speed Range. The maximum speed attainable by this treadmill is well below standard—6.2 mph. For runners, we always recommend a treadmill capable of a minimum of 10 mph. At best this unit is good for walking or a light jog, but that’s really it.
- Frequent Need For Adjustment. In the product description alone, there are at least a half dozen mentions of adjusting the treadmill for proper function. Frankly, though we do know that any treadmill can need minor adjustments over time, this is very concerning.
- Lack Of Incline. Even the most affordable of the entry level treadmills we recommend here offer a decent amount of power incline. This unit on the other hand has three incline “settings”, though they’re entirely manual. Locking pins in the feet of the rear of the treadmill provide adjustment after significant fussing around. We’ll file this in the “you get what you pay for” category.
Quite frankly, this isn’t the kind of treadmill we could ever recommend. Based on available information, it’s unreliable, it’s undersized, and though it’s cheap it is also just a giant headache waiting to happen. $200 doesn’t buy you a worthwhile piece of equipment, so we’re going to suggest that you save your hard-earned coin and wait until you can afford a different entry level unit that won’t fall apart on you in the first few months. There are ample better options on our site, but at the very least you’ll be well served checking out our list of top-rated entry level treadmills here.