Fitness Test Lab
Spread The Word!

Xebex Airplus Runner Review

The Xebex Airplus Runner is a high quality curved motorless treadmill that doubles as a weight sled. I like equipment that can be used for multiple purposes and I love the fact that the Airplus Runner can be used as more than just a treadmill.

The ability to use this treadmill as a weight sled is the killer feature that sets the Airplus Runner apart from the competition.

Should you buy an Airplus Runner?

If you’re in the market for a motorless treadmill, the Xebex Airplus Runner is a great piece of equipment.

It’s more effective than a normal motorized treadmill and the weight sled feature allows you to do more work with the same piece of equipment.

The Airplus Runner is solidly built and includes several user-friendly features that other treadmills are lacking, like a phone holder and water bottle cage.

If you have the floor space for it, the Xebex Airplus Runner is definitely worth having in your home gym.

Xebex Fitness Airplus Runner

  Price Check

What is a curved motorless treadmill?

A curved motorless treadmill like the Xebex Airplus Runner has no electric motor to drive the belt. All of the belt movement is driven by the friction of your feet striking the treadmill and pulling the treads toward you.

This is why the running deck is curved – as your foot strikes the tread on the curve, the pulling motion of your foot combines with gravity to ‘pull’ the tread toward and behind you.

The belt is mounted on low friction bearings, so the treads move smoothly as long as you continue providing force through movement.

Benefits of a motorless treadmill

There hasn’t been a ton of research done on this topic yet, but I did find a study conducted at the University of South Carolina on the effects of curved motorless treadmills (CMT)* on running mechanics and the results were encouraging. From the study:

The results show that running on a CMT resulted in significant changes in gait characteristics (step length, stride length, imbalance score and stride angle). These findings suggest that running on a CMT can significantly influence running gait.

This was enough to at least get me started looking for a good deal on a CMT, and I ended up buying a used Assault AirRunner (full review) to use for a few years.

My wife and I recently packed up and moved from Texas to Missouri, so I ended up selling the Air Runner to save space in our moving van.

After much research, I replaced it with a Xebex Airplus Runner, which I consider to be a significant upgrade. I don’t have room to either store or use a weight sled, so having a treadmill that could double as a sled was a no brainer.

*The term ‘Curved Manual Treadmill’ is also often used to describe these machines

Here are some of the benefits of using a curved motorless treadmill:

1) Improved running form

The main advertised benefit of a curved motorless treadmill is the improving effect on running form.

Running on a motorless treadmill has helped me become a better runner and I now run on the Airplus Runner almost every day.

2) Greater speed control

A motorless treadmill like the Xebex Airplus Runner offers a more fine tuned control over your speed.

Whereas a motorized treadmill requires you to manually set the belt speed and you as a runner have to adapt to the treadmill, a curved motorless treadmill adapts to you as your pace changes.

Run as fast or as slow as you want without having to push any buttons and the treadmill will speed up or slow down accordingly.

It’s not high tech sorcery, just treads moving on low friction bearings. It works very well and makes transitioning between high and low intensity running very easy.

Needless to say, this makes a curved motorless treadmill like the Airplus Runner great for HIIT training.

3) Better running experience

Since a curved motorless treadmill adapts to your speed rather than the other way around, running on the Xebex Airplus Runner feels much closer to running outside than running on a motorized treadmill.

You might naturally ask, “Why not just run outside?”, which is a valid question considering how much a good quality curved manual treadmill can cost.

Some days I like being able to break up my runs with rounds of weight lifting. So essentially, running is what I do between lifts.

Is the Airplus Runner going to completely replace the experience of running outside? Not a chance.

The scenery and the terrain never change when running on an Airplus Runner, so unlike running outside there’s no variation beyond changing speed.

However, the experience of running on the Airplus Runner is still much more natural than running on a standard motorized treadmill.

4) High calorie burn

Since a curved manual treadmill like the Xebex Airplus Runner has no motor, the only power for moving the belt comes from your sustained effort. If you stop moving, so does the belt!

Personally, I can attest to the fact that it does take more effort to run at a set speed on my Xebex Airplus Runner than it does to run at the same speed on a motorized treadmill in my former office gym.

The experience is very different and I feel like I’ve used much more muscles in my legs after finishing a run on the Airplus Runner versus a regular motorized treadmill.

Unboxing and assembly

The Xebex Airplus Runner shipped in a very large crate on a pallet. I wasn’t home when it was delivered, so I can only imagine the cursing done by the delivery people while getting this thing off their truck and into my garage.

The Airplus Runner ships with everything you need to put it together, including tools.

The treadmill deck comes preassembled, so all you need to do is put the handles together and install the console.

I’ll just warn you up front, the treadmill deck is really heavy!

Roughly 250lbs of the listed 352lb weight of the Xebex Airplus Runner comes from the deck alone. However, there are wheels on the front and handles on the back, so it can be moved by one strong person if needed.

One I got it unpacked and moved into my home gym, it took me about one and a half hours to put it together, working by myself.

Real world use

Runnning on an Xebex Airplus Runner is a very different experience than running on a motorized treadmill.

The treadmill belt is very responsive to changes in pace. If you’ve never used a motorless treadmill before, it can take a bit of practice to achieve a smooth consistent pace.

Using a curved motorless treadmill is an entirely different experience than using a motorized treadmill so a learning curve is to be expected. The Xebex Airplus Runner forces you to be mindful of how you move and it may take a few minutes to get used to.

Incidentally, I believe this forced mindfulness plays a big part in how a curved manual treadmill can make you a better runner. Let me explain…

In my experience I’ve found it’s very easy for me to zone out when running on a regular treadmill since the motor is doing the bulk of the work. All I have to do is keep pace with the speed I set.

In contrast, the Airplus Runner is enforcing the steady smooth coordination of my brain and limbs by forcing me to be aware of how I’m moving in order to keep a steady pace.

Plus, running on the curved deck is like running on a perpetual slight incline, which forces me to keep a more upright posture and engages more of my leg muscles.

As a result of these changes, I’ve learned to appreciate running and I regularly run 3-5 miles every week on the Airplus Runner.

Airplus Runner as a weight sled

The killer feature of the Xebex Airplus Runner is the ability to use it as a weight sled. Thanks to magnetic resistance, it’s possible to increase the difficulty up to near impossible levels for even the most beastly of you out there.

I don’t have room for a weight sled in my home gym, but I recognize the value in being able to do sled pushes and pulls. When it came time to replace my Air Runner, I decided to splurge on the Xebex Airplus Runner specifically for the weight sled option.

The Airplus Runner uses magnets to generate resistance, so there are no pads that can wear out over time. There is a lever on the right side that allow you to select from eight different resistance levels. It’s very easy to switch between resistance levels using the lever.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Fitness Test Lab (@fitnesstestlab)

At first I thought it would be good to know what the equivalent weight I was pushing at each resistance level would be. However, the team at GetRXd explained that this would not be the right way to measure effort output.

There is a “watts” measurement on the console which shows how much power you’re producing in order to move the slats of the treadmill. That measurement takes into account resistance level and the speed you’re moving at to give you the watts produced.

It’s not really accurate to translate this into “pounds of resistance” for each resistance level because the magnetic resistance gets harder as you move the slats faster. And, pounds of resistance on a sled on turf will be different from pounds of resistance on a sled on concrete.

Further, pounds of resistance on a sled gets easier once you build momentum, so even if level 8 was equal to X pounds at the start, it would be a different amount once it was moving. Watts is a more universal and accurate measure of the amount of power generated.

Another cool feature that isn’t really talked about on the Airplus Runner product page is the fact that the treads can move in either direction. This means you can also walk backwards with resistance to mimic sled pulls as well as sled pushes!

Airplus Runner and barefoot running

The Xebex Airplus Runner is very friendly to minimalist footwear and barefoot runners. When I run on the Airplus Runner I’m usually completely barefoot.

The first time I ran barefoot on a motorless treadmill I was concerned the treads would pinch the soles of my feet, but it’s never been a problem.

If you happen to be considering a transition to minimalist or barefoot running, the Airplus Runner is a good way to make that transition. The Airplus Runner treadmill deck has a small amount of give that makes it more forgiving on your feet than hard ground.

Just take it slow and ease into it, your feet will need time to adjust!

Airplus Runner console

The Xebex Airplus Runner console has a well designed intuitive interface. The display provides time, distance in miles or kilometers, speed, watts and pace

All this information is clearly shown and easy to see at a glance. You can change the units and cycle through several pre-programmed interval programs.

The Airplus Runner supports connection of smart devices like heart monitors via bluetooth and ANT+.

However, I did not test these features.

Another nice feature of the console is the fact that it can be tilted to different angles. So if you’re using the treadmill as a weight sled you can tip the console down to make it easier to see.

Airplus Runner extras

My old Assault Airrunner was a great basic non motorized treadmill. My only gripes with it were that it did not include a proper place to hold your phone or have a water bottle holder.

Unlike the Assault treadmill, the Xebex Airplus Runner does include a phone holder and a water bottle holder.

Adjustable phone holder

These are small details that many people may not care about, but they are nice touches and I appreciate them.

Water bottle holder

Bottom line

I love my Xebex Airplus Runner and I use it almost every day.

The Airplus Runner is well built and I love the fact that it works as a weight sled in addition to a treadmill. The ability to do weight sled pushes and pulls is the killer feature that sets this treadmill apart from the competition.

If you can afford it and if you have room for it, the Xebex Fitness Airplus Runner is definitely worth having in your home gym.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments if there’s something you’d like to know that I didn’t cover!

Xebex Fitness Airplus Runner 

Buy Xebex Fitness Airplus Runner

About the Author Mario

I'm a software product manager with a full-time job, family, and a desire to stay strong, mobile, and fit. I separate fact from fiction to find the most effective and affordable options for home fitness. If you'd like to build your own home gym, start here.

>