Well here we have it, the all-new 2021 NordicTrack EXP 10i treadmill. When the brand discontinued their T-series line of treadmills we knew something new would be coming down the pipe; it was really just a matter of when they would launch. This new EXP 10i comes as a replacement for the outgoing T 9.5S we reviewed here, and a cursory glance reveals that the two are pretty close in specs, though with a reasonable price gap between the two. At full retail, the new EXP 10i comes in about $400 cheaper than its older sibling.
By and large, it’s the little upgrades that make the new EXP 10i a win. The addition of connectivity for Bluetooth headphones—allowing users to listen along to their training programs without using the treadmill’s speakers—is a welcome perk, as is the upgrade to its incline drives that help keep the machine relatively quiet. One trade-off, mind you, is the screen size of this new model. Its 10″ HD touchscreen with upgraded graphics processing and dual-band WiFi is downsized compared to the 14″ unit found on the outgoing model, but for many this screen size will still be adequate for most.
As for the specs that haven’t changed, the NordicTrack EXP 10i has an incline and decline range of -3% to +12%, which is lower than what’s found on higher spec treadmills, but not by much. When following iFit training programs, your speed and incline will be adjusted automatically as you follow along, which is a nice plus. Its top speed is 12 mph, which is standard industry-wide. Looking at the specs, the closest competitor at hand here is the Horizon 7.4 AT, which I would argue is a slightly better option for more seasoned runners, as well as those who are less interested in or motivated by video-based training options. We’ll get into that in more detail in the Verdict section.
From a comfort and convenience standpoint, once again the appropriate boxes all remain properly ticked. The accessory tray of the machine has space for two large water bottles. Its Auto Breeze fan keeps runners cool during a strenuous workout. Of course theres the aforementioned Bluetooth capabilities, but the unit still has a pair of built-in speakers should you want to avoid the use of headphones when on your treadmill. The treadmill deck uses the same Flex-Select running deck as its more expensive counterparts, allowing runners to dial in the level of cushioning when running. Softening things up will help reduce joint strain, whereas a firmer deck will be helpful in replicating that real-world running feel. As with most NordicTrack treadmills, the EXP 10i can be folded up for easy storage when not in use. A hydraulic cylinder helps with this, keeping you from having to lift the entire mass of the deck yourself.
What We Like:
- Motor: If you want a quiet treadmill, the motor of the EXP 10i delivers. Like other throughout the NordicTrack line, a new Smart-Response motor delivers 3.5 CHP, changes speed quickly, and reaches speeds of up to 12 mph. This makes it ideal for long-distance running as well as smooth interval training.
- Touch Screen Control Panel: With this model comes a 10-inch touch screen which allows you to flip between workout programs, as well as check calorie and mileage numbers, and use iFit Coach so you can take advantage of on-the-go fitness guidance. You’ll also be able to run through real streets by checking out Google Street Views or using the HD video feature that offers exercise paths around the world. With new graphics processing, expect great resolution and image quality.
- iFit Coach Treadmill Workouts: This treadmill’s -3 to 12% decline/incline feature syncs with the elevations and dips of the landscape you choose to explore through iFit’s Google Maps feature, ensuring that it really does feel like you’re running outside on that terrain. This feature is ideal for those who struggle to stay motivated to keep exercising as it allows you to explore new locations.
- iFit Coach Data Tracking: This machine allows the iFit Coach to keep tabs on fitness stats with every session. Whenever a workout is completed, the data is logged into the treadmill and then paired with any other device on iFit. This makes getting exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle recommendations easier.
- Workout Programs: It seems the days of basic built-in programs are long gone, but that doesn’t mean a lack of workout variety. With iFit you gain access to the largest catalog of virtual streaming live and on-demand classes, which includes a library of over 17,000 workouts.
- Incline & Decline Abilities: The EXP 10i is one of few treadmills that actually add decline to its list of capabilities, which is an interesting touch especially when following real-world mapped workouts. That said, its incline is a few degrees shy of the industry standard—12% instead of 15%. The biggest calorie burn is at the steepest incline, so keep that in mind.
- Audio: The EXP 10i, like much of the NordicTrack lineup, has Bluetooth audio capabilities, so you can listen to your favorite workout playlists through its set of 2” digitally amplified speakers wirelessly. The ability to connect instructor-led training to your Bluetooth headphones is also a nice plus.
- Cushioning Preferences: If you’re preparing for a road race but find that you have to train on a treadmill, the last thing you want is a cushy deck making things too easy for you. This treadmill offers the ability to turn the cushioning on or off according to your preference so you can either save your joints and use the cushioning or mimic real outdoor conditions and turn it off. Keep in mind that by having it off you are adding 30% more impact to your joints, so you shouldn’t train this way in the long term.
- Cooling Options: If you want to stay cool while you run or walk, a pair of dual AutoBreeze workout fans will do the trick. While this may seem like a treadmill luxury rather than a necessity, it’s definitely nice to have while you work out.
- Easy Folding: Using a hydraulic strut, it’s easy to fold up the EXP 10i, freeing up roughly half of its footprint when folded.
- Weight Capacity: This is a pretty heavy-duty treadmill and can support users of up to 300 pounds.
NordicTrack EXP 10i Treadmill - Key Specs:
|Incline:||-3% / +12%|
|Top Speed:||12 MPH|
|Weight Capacity:||300 LBS|
|Dimensions:||79.9"" L x 35.08"" W x 59.25" H|
What We Don’t Like:
- Large Console/Small Screen: Really more of a visual issue than anything, the EXP 10i has a large flat panel for a console, taking up a fair bit of unnecessary space on the unit. It’s nice to have access to a broad range of quick controls, but there’s a lot of empty/extra space there that serves no purpose.
- Short Warranty: With only 2 years on parts and electronics, the warranty on the Commercial 1750 is shorter than that of its key competitors.
Overall the EXP 10i is a great candidate that will appeal to many, while still being a clear step below the much-loved NordicTrack Commercial 1750. If you want better overall specs (a larger running deck, a stronger motor, and steeper incline, it’s worth paying more. If you’re on a budget and not a seasoned runner, or more of a walker/jogger looking to improve your at-home training plan, the EXP 10i is a strong contender.
As mentioned above, the stiffest competition for the EXP 10i (which comes in at the same price and very close in spec) is the Horizon 7.4AT. Now, the Horizon doesn’t have an HD touchscreen, nor does it have the -3% decline capability, but it does have the fastest reacting motor in the business, a wonderful set of quick-adjust rollers for speed and incline, and the ability to connect to a range of training programs using a tablet or iPad. The EXP will win by its ability for iFit to control the machine while you’re training, but it really comes down to how sold you are on the entire iFit training experience to begin with. If instructor-led training is to be your bread and butter, stick with the NordicTrack. If it sounds like a nice “bonus” feature and you feel like you could take it or leave it, spend the money with Horizon instead.