Origins of the manual treadmill
Manual treadmills are not new. In fact as far as we know they've been around since 1818 when prisoners were forced to use the treadmill to mill grain as punishment. Later, there were treadmills for horses and dogs. In the 1920s motorless treadmills started appearing in gyms. Those treadmills were inclined and users wore a harness for safety.
Today, most treadmills are motorized. Modern manual treadmills are no longer inclined and instead have a curved running surface. Most are made of a combination of plastic, rubber, and metal.
A modern premium wooden treadmill
Like most manual treadmills today, the Sprintbok by NOHrD is curved instead of inclined. It uses linoleum-finished wooden slats for the belt and a frame made of smoothed, curved solid hardwood. You get to choose between Ash, Oak, Club, Cherry, Walnut, and Shadow. Linoleum is used to protect the wood surface and restores its natural beauty.
The wood helps absorb shocks and vibrations to make running a pleasure. Running on the Sprintbok has been described as "natural, forest running feel". And since it doesn't require power, you can take it outside and enjoy nature while running on a comfortable treadmill.
Better than a motorized treadmill?
The Sprintbok is comfortable to use, but it also burns more calories than running on a motorized treadmill. This is based on two studies: one published at The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and the other a Masters thesis at Eastern Washington University. The former found that running on a manual treadmill burns 30% more calories and the later found that it 44% more!
Another benefit of a manual treadmill is that it's not limited by a motor. You can run as fast as you want and the Sprintbok would still be able to keep up. Home treadmills can usually go 12 -14 mph. We saw one guy go 23.5 mph and another 23.9 mph.
Because the Sprintbok has no motor, obviously it won't be breaking down because of it. It's also relatively quiet - not completely quiet though. Aside from the dusting of surfaces, no maintenance is required. No belt-tightening and no oiling or greasing of parts necessary.
You also don't have to mess with settings. Simply run as fast as you can or as slow as you want.
At $6,799, the Sprintbok by NOHrD is an expensive treadmill. But manual treadmills are known to be expensive. Woodway Curve, a popular manual treadmill has a suggested retail price of $8,995. The Trueform Runner, also a popular motorless treadmill retails for $5,695. In my opinion, the Sprintbok is the most premium looking of the bunch.
Also a manual treadmill tends to be used more than a motorized one because it removes the need to turn the machine on and adjust the settings. Simply get on it and run.
A manual treadmill like the Sprintbok also tend to last longer than its motorized counterpart because there are no motors to break down.