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Last Updated: August 5, 2021
We’re excited to review the new AssaultRunner Elite by Assault Fitness. This high-end manual treadmill is great for serious athletes, coaches, and competitors looking to take their workouts to the next level. New for 2021, Assault Fitness has designed this treadmill to promote excellent running form to help you hit your goals and crush your workouts. The mechanics of the slat belt combined with the curved deck design make for a smooth and comfortable feel while you’re running on this treadmill. The Runner Elite is an exciting and powerful treadmill but there’s a learning curve if you haven’t been on one before. Stick around as we take you through all the details of the AssaultRunner Elite curved treadmill.
Treadmill Award: Best Manual Treadmill 2021
We’ve given the AssaultRunner Elite the award of the best manual treadmill for 2021. The features and build quality of this slat belt treadmill make it an easy pick for us at #1 on our list. We love the smooth feel underfoot and the ease of use. Once this machine arrives, it’s easy to assemble and start using to keep your workouts going strong.
Who It’s For: Conditioned athletes looking to enhance their performance and running form on an affordable curved treadmill
The AssaultRunner Elite treadmills is best for:
- Serious athletes who want to train on a high end piece of cardio equipment
- Runners looking to improve their running mechanics
- Users who want to use a treadmill for their HIIT workouts
- CrossFit athletes who want a manual powered slat belt treadmill
- Serious athletes who want to work on their overall performance
Our Video Review
- Solid Steel Frame and Uprights
- This sturdy and stable machine weighs only 290 pounds–compared to 400 pounds for other manual treadmills—two water bottle holders. Since the uprights are angled back, they are easier to use and put the hand rails in easy reach
- Front Wheels And Leveling Feet
- The AssaultRunner Elite is easy to move, just lift the steel handle on the back of the machine to engage the wheels on the front of the machine and roll it wherever you need it. There are also two leveling feet in the back to help you easily level this treadmill on your floor.
- Large Steel Beam Grab Bar At The Base For Easy Moving
- The steel grab bar at the back of the treadmill make it easy for almost anyone to lift and move this treadmill to place it where you want it in your home, garage gym, or facility
- Horizontal Handlebar Supports LCD Display
- The handlebars are placed very well and provide good hand placement for easily hanging onto the treadmill when you need to get on and off the track. The handlebars allow you to easily reach out and maintain your balance if you misstep at all.
- Easy To Use Backlit Console With Simple Metrics Displayed
- No need to plug in the AssaultRunner Elite or its display. The battery powered display powers on every time you start to move the track. Some of the metrics displayed are, speed, distance, calories burned (or estimated calories if you aren’t wearing a heart rate monitor), etc.
- No Max Speed – The Slat Belt Moves As Fast Or Slow As You Can Run
- Assault Fitness has designed this treadmill to move and work with you. If you want to run a sprint workout, you can easily get a great workout in that makes you push yourself. No more running at the speed the treadmill is determining, run at your pace, however fast or slow that may be.
- Running Surface is 17” wide and 65” long
- The running surface on the AssaultRunner Elite is narrower than most treadmills but also slightly longer. This helps promote proper running mechanics, keeping you in a straight line, not running in crooked lines or off balance. The length of the deck also allows for full stride lengths.
- Powder-coated steel frame
- Shock-absorbing slat belt that floats atop 100 ball bearings
- 62 individual slats
- Running surface is 17” wide and 65” long
- Step-Up Height: 12.5” high
- Treadmill Weight: 280lbs
- Footprint: 70” L x 32” W x 64” H
- Max user weight: 400lb
- LCD Console with both Bluetooth and ANT+
- Console powered by 4 AA batteries (not included)
- Console displays Time, Calories, Distance, Speed, Watts, Pace & Heart Rate
- Comes preloaded with Interval programs, Target programs and Heart Rate programs
- Function keys include Bluetooth and ANT+ connect
- Split time key
- Speakers on/off
- There are also start/stop keys
- Rest/Work indicator lights for interval programs
- Manual powered slat belt
- It does not require electricity
- Belt is rather narrow at just 17”
- There is no max speed, the belt will go as fast as you do
- Upright handles for balance while running
- Curved belt supports proper running form
- 10-year warranty on Frame
- Lifetime warranty on belt
- 3-year warranty for Non-Wear Parts
- 1-year warranty on Parts & Labor
In-depth Review Of The AssaultRunner Elite Manual Treadmill
The AssaultRunner Elite weighs 280 pounds, which for a manual slat belt treadmill is actually pretty reasonable. It will support up to 400 pounds, so you have a good weight ratio.
The AssaultRunner Elite has a sturdy steel frame with slanted powder-coated uprights that connect to the handrails about midway on the treadmill deck. 62 rubberized slats combine to create the belt, which sits on 100 low-friction ball bearings and 12 roller guides that line the deck’s surface. The ball bearings keep the belt in alignment and keep it running smoothly for a long period of time. The curved deck is sturdy and balanced on the floor with two adjustable leveling feet at the back that allow you to easily balance the Runner Elite on any floor.
There are two wheels on the front of the deck, and a steel handlebar at the base of the deck allows you to lift the AssuaultRunner Elite and roll as needed. This is a comparatively light machine, I didn’t have any trouble moving this machine. It weighs 290lbs, which sounds monstrous, but it’s not bad compared to other manual treadmills or other treadmills in general. For example, the NordicTrack X32i weighs close to 400 pounds itself which makes it challenging to move for some people. This Assault treadmill will support up to 400lbs, so it’s a very solid manual treadmill.
Curved Treadmill Deck
The frame is sturdy with black powder-coated sides and smooth gray powder-coated uprights. It does require some minor assembly. The deck comes preconstructed, all you have to do is attach the uprights, handrails and the console. The machine drilled holes where you attach the screws are clean and perfectly aligned. This might seem like an odd thing to mention but I have had a lot of issues putting treadmills together that didn’t have great pre-drilled holes for attaching components.
The only cushioning in a slat belt treadmill is in the slats themselves. I would compare this to having a little less cushion than an average track would have. While the rubberized slat components absorb a bit of impact shock, I noticed less cushioning on the AssaultRunner Elite than on more expensive machines that have a lot of cushion built in. This could be because of the narrower running or surface at 17” or just that cushioning is not a signature feature of the AssaultRunner Elite treadmill.
The AssaultRunner Elite running belt is 17” wide and 65” long. You have plenty of forward stride and kickback length, but the width is a little narrow. This will take a bit of getting used to but it helps you stay aligned as you run and promotes running in a straight line. If you’re used to zoning out during your treadmill workouts, you’ll want to pay closer attention while you’re running on this treadmill. If you misstep and hit the side rails it could cause you to fall and seriously hurt yourself.
Indoor Training Value
One massive benefit of the AssaultRunner Elite is the ability to train indoors all year round. Since the AssaultRunner Elite is engineered to naturally mimic running outdoors, it’s a great training option for runners who want to stay conditioned through the hot summer or cold winter months.
Many treadmills provide a smooth run, but they do not enhance or facilitate proper running form as a curved manual treadmill does. This offers extra benefits for your indoor training.
Treadmill Slat Belt
The AssaultRunner Elite has a slat belt design, which means it is constructed of 62 individual rubberized slats placed horizontally along the deck. The slats move in conjunction together to give you a smooth and sturdy feel underfoot. Each slat is a composite material with a textured tread, so your foot doesn’t slip while running. The treads are placed close enough together to ensure a continuous surface underfoot.
Slat belts look and sound different from traditional motorized treadmill belts, which feature a single piece of material that wraps around a tread deck. Since the slats are a v-shape design, they are nearly indestructible with a flat edge on top, they all move and work together to give a solid feel under foot. Instead of hearing the swooshing of a treadmill belt you will hear the sound of the rollers and bearings moving inside of the deck to keep the belt moving. The AssaultRunner Elite belt has a lifetime warranty and should last hundreds of thousands of miles. A bit of lubricant may be needed from time to time, but the slats will not wear out. This makes these belts much more durable.
The slats sit on 100 bearings that line the sides of the deck. The belt is also supported by twelve running belt guide pulleys that facilitate smooth motion. The AssaultRunner Elite does not have a flywheel, so all movement is runner-controlled. This does make it slightly more challenging to run on (other manual treads do have a flywheel), but the belt never feels like it is getting ahead of you or pulling you along. On the AssaultRunner Elite, you are in control throughout your routine, which allows you to run at your pace and get a great workout.
Slat belts support non-motorized running much better than a traditional sliding belt. The weight of the slats combined with the resistance in the belt makes it more challenging to run on a manual, slat machine which is one of the main reasons runners burn so many more calories with this design. However, the slat construction and the way the slats rotate over the deck creates a hearty running surface that is both durable and supportive.
On the AssaultRunner Elite, your legs and feet are the motor. As you walk or run, the belt moves in conjunction with how fast or slow you want to move. That is one of the beauties of a non-motorized treadmill. It allows you to move the belt and work as hard as you’d like, instead of the belt moving you like a traditional treadmill. There is a slight learning curve, but once you get the hang of it you’ll love workouts on this treadmill.
This being a manual treadmill means you don’t have to plug it in and can place it anywhere in your house, garage gym, or facility. This is one of the reasons manual treadmills are a favorite in the home gym community and CrossFit gyms. They can be easily moved around and require little maintenance, you can even use the AssaultRunner outside if you need to wheel it out of your garage gym to clear up some space for floor workouts. A bonus perk is that there are no cords or anything like that to trip on.
The console is an LCD screen with control buttons on the right side. It is firmly attached to the horizontal handlebar and runs on four AA batteries. For a manual treadmill, this is actually a pretty impressive console. There are numerous programs you can run and the Rest/Work lights are very helpful. The console has multiple programs for intervals, target programs, and heart rate programs. There is also a yellow light for rest and green light for work to help you easily know how to pace your intervals. The screen is not super large, but the numbers are digital. Time elapsed, calories, distance, speed, watts, pace, and heart rate are all displayed. An enter and start/stop buttons sit at the base of the console.
The console is both Bluetooth and ANT+ enabled, so it will pair with any Bluetooth or Garmin device. This allows runners to store their metrics in their personal app for future reference and comparison.
There are several benefits to running on a curved treadmill:
The curved design supports proper foot strike.
The best foot strike pattern is a midfoot strike with a roll through the ball of the foot and a strong toe-off. Many runners develop a heel strike pattern that can cause hip and knee pain with prolonged running. Its curved design means the AssaultRunner Elite naturally pushes runners from the front of the machine towards the middle. At this angle, it is more intuitive to run with a midfoot strike as your front foot reaches forward, connects the midfoot with the curved belt, and pushes it back, releasing contact at the point the backend starts to curve up. This is one of the main reasons why conditioned athletes and seasoned runners used curved treadmills.
A curved treadmill burns calories faster.
Running on a curved, manual treadmill burns 30% more calories than running the same speed on a flat treadmill. This is in large part because it is more difficult. Rather than a tread belt that moves automatically underneath you, a curved slat belt treadmill is only powered by your cadence. This requires much more work by the runner to move the belt.
Curved treadmills are perfect for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
You’ll increase your heart rate faster and keep it up, increasing your need for oxygen and helping torch more calories than regular aerobic exercise.
A curved treadmill engages more muscle groups.
Curved treadmills force your legs to provide all the motor power, employing everything from your glutes to your hamstrings.
A curved treadmill reduces the impact on joints.
The rubber surface of the AssaultRunner Elite helps absorb the impact on your joints and connective tissue as you run. This helps prevent overuse injuries. While the cushioning on the AssaultRunner Elite is not as soft as on the NordicTrack incline trainers or Woodway Curved Tread, it is undoubtedly better than training outdoors on asphalt or concrete.
Incline / Decline range
There is no incline or decline on the Runner Elite. It has a fixed, curved frame.
Noise level on the Runner Elite is commensurate with running on other slat belt treads. There is a bit of impact noise as your foot hits the tread, but there is no motor, so you don’t have background motor noise while running.
Storage / Folding
The Runner Elite does not fold, but it has wheels and a lift bar so you can tilt and roll it when necessary.
Assault Fitness claims the Runner Elite tread belt will last up to 150,000 miles. Most users report favorable experiences with the Runner Elite. There are a few reports of the belt wearing out or getting noisy before the 150,000-mile mark, but Assault Fitness offers a lifetime warranty on the belt, with 10-year frame and 1-year labor warranty. It is also significantly less expensive than comparable manual curved treads by nearly half, so we find the Runner Elite to be a good value.