Running is something I am late to the party with. It’s just never captured my imagination as much as weightlifting, cycling or other sports.
Recently though it’s caught my attention as an awesome way to work on something completely novel to me. Running outside is a freeing experience, but trying to do it all-year-round here in the UK can be tough – particularly with the level of severe ice we’ve had the past couple of winters making the pavements treacherous for several weeks at a time.
Enter the Bulldog Gear Curve Runner 2.0 – I’ve been looking to add more cardio options to my home gym for a while, and a curved treadmill is a perfect match…
At a glance…
- Bulldog Gear Curve Runner 2.0 is the best value curved treadmill in the UK
- Parts warrantied for several years
- Priced @ £2,950, it is almost HALF THE PRICE compared to its predecessor!
- Curved treadmills are self propelled – no trailing wires or mains power needed
- Also great for injury rehab
Review vs preview…
One of the things that treadmills need is SPACE.
My current garage gym is fast running out of this most valuable commodity so at the moment I have not got my curve runner in place.
I’ve done all the research and am confident that the Bulldog Curve Runner 2.0 will be set up in my garage gym shortly – I just have the small matter of moving in to a larger place to do first (which is also in progress!)
Once set up I will refresh this review with additional pictures and longer term ownership experiences.
Bulldog Gear Curve Runner 2.0
So I think the Bulldog Gear Curve Runner 2.0 is the best curved treadmill on the market in the UK right now, pound for pound.
Why is this the case? Well it is pretty much down to PRICE. The Curve Runner 2.0 is approaching HALF the price of the previous Bulldog curved treadmill (well, 55% of the price!)
This is a total game changer as it makes the Curve Runner 2.0 ‘affordable’ for a home gym. I’ve used the term affordable loosely here as at £2,950 it is still a pricey piece of equipment – but compared to the whopping £5,000+ most rivals are charging this is a COLOSSAL saving.
The best thing is the reduced price seems to have come at the expense of virtually nothing. I am struggling to find any discernible differences between the Curve Runner 2.0 and other much more expensive machines.
So what features does the Bulldog Curve Runner offer up?
Similar to most bits of cardio training equipment the Bulldog Curve Runner comes with its own console mounted on the handle bar.
This displays the usual range of metrics while you’re working out and as you would expect can be flipped from miles to kilometres to suit:
- Pace (minutes per mile or kilometer)
- Heart rate
You can just jump on the belt and start running, keeping an eye on these metrics as you plug away – or you can use the console to set targets or session goals – so target calories, distances, split times etc. to help you during the session.
I’m not a competitive runner so my main goal with cardio is general fitness and conditioning, as well as keeping my bodyfat levels down as best I can. I tend to use targeted times or calories when doing cardio – you may prefer other challenges though!
The base itself is quite big – the front sits around 42cm high (measured from the ground), curving down to be 32cm high in the middle of the arc with the rear a little shorter at 36cm. A 10cm drop from the front to the base of the curve is pretty noticeable in use.
If you’re space constrained like I currently am (although hopefully not for too much longer!) then you might need to wheel your treadmill out of the way when not in use.
You are in luck with the Bulldog which sports wheels and a handle to make shifting it a doddle. While far from a deal breaker having proper OEM integrated and designed handles and wheels make this curve runner 2.0 hugely appealing for a home gym where we tend to move things around more than a commercial setting.
Hey guys, no wires!
We cover this extensively below, but one of the main advantages of a curved treadmill is that there is NO ELECTRICITY REQUIRED. It is self propelled.
This matters in a home gym as it means it can be wheeled around to suit – so for example I am planing to keep mine against a wall when not in use, but would quickly pull out to the middle of the gym space when I’m running on it. I can do this quickly and easily with no trailing wires or extension leads.
Obviously every space is different but with most UK garages having few mains sockets with those that do have generally being high up the wall not having to plug in is a nice feature.
High quality construction
I originally thought curved treadmills were a gimmick when I saw them and the relatively high prices they sell for – that is until I stepped on one and tried it out (I actually got a few day passes to my local commercial gym to put these through their paces.)
Compared to budget flat treadmills honestly these feel like they are from a different planet. Where a cheap flat treadmill is an inherently rickety device, these curved runners feel like they are carved out of stone they are so solid.
The belt itself has a nice level of rebound designed in to cushion your step, but the body of the thing is completely solid from the base all the way through the handle.
Having tried a few different styles from running freely through to almost pushing against the handles like you would push a sled I felt completely confident in the build quality. It speaks volumes when you almost FORGET what you’re using and just concentrate on actual DOING what you want to do.
It reminds me of a similar step change in quality experienced when moving from a budget squat rack (such as the Bodymax range) to a commercial spec beast (such as the ATX PRX-830.)
Not everyone NEEDS commercial equipment, but for those who have the means and are invested in keeping fit as a hobby it is a FANTASTIC place to spend your money and tangibly feel the benefit in your training.
Saying that, I am just putting this out there – I prefer the look of the original Bulldog Curve Runner with the thicker arm supports positioned further forward on the base compared to the 2.0. That said the saving is a whopping £2,400 – that is to say the 2.0 is almost HALF THE PRICE of the original – so it is a compromise I will live with.
Excellent warranty included
For top dollar you would expect a decent warranty and luckily the Curve Runner 2.0 meets expectations with the following:
- Frame warrantied for 10 years
- Parts warrantied for 5 years
- Console warrantied for 2 years
- Labour cover for 1 year
It would have been nice to see the console warranty extended out a bit longer than 2 years in my opinion, but overall I would expect the majority of any issues to be with the frame or parts given the mains ear and tear will be on these while running or sprinting on it.
Any gremlins should make themselves known quite quickly – but regardless it is good to have the cover there.
As an aside Bulldog Gear have been around for quite a few years now so I feel at ease that they will still be around to honour their warranties, unlike no-name or no-brand competitors. That is worth an extra few pounds in my opinion to know there is that fall back option.
Easy to build
It’s a quick job to assemble as well as the treadmill base comes as one part and then the handle just slots in to place. The computer console needs hooked up – but again that’s a quick and easy job (even I can do it!)
What are the benefits of a curved treadmill?
So WHY have I decided on a curved treadmill over a flat one, or even a rowing machine or SkiERG?
Well a curved running machine has a few things going for it that I think make it a worthy partner for cardio training.
Crossover to other sports
Running is a fundamental part of many sports from the obvious track and field activities through to contact sports like football and rugby.
Not to mention running is itself an increasingly popular sport – marathons, half marathons, 10km, 5km, you name a distance and I am sure there is a running group near you training to tackle it.
By incorporating running in to your training regime you are preparing yourself to better tackle these other sports if you so wished. Having a fairly wide operating window and high general level of fitness is pretty awesome and is a sign of someone who is ‘fit’, and not just someone who ‘lifts’.
No motor = No electricity
While there is an environmental angle here in that we are not using electricity to power our curved runner, perhaps the bigger impact for a garage gym user is not being tied to mains power.
These units are free standing and can be moved anywhere – want it in the middle of the gym? No problem. Want to move it in and out of the way quickly? No issues.
This is near-essential if you’re in a garage or outbuilding with no mains power. It’s VERY nice to have if you’re in a standard garage gym with a limited number of sockets which are often up high leading to unsightly hanging power cables and trip hazards.
Unbelievably simple to use
Step on, then step forwards. There you go. No constantly tweaking of speed settings and buttons to worry about, no resistance changes to take account of – simply step on and get moving.
One of my bugbears with regular treadmills is the plethora of settings. I find myself constantly tweaking and fiddling with everything from angle through to speed. It really distracted from the running and I found it difficult to run at a consistent pace as after a few minutes I would be back down tweaking things again.
By contrast curved runners are a breath of fresh air. With no settings to worry about they are really similar to the likes of an AirBike where it’s no hassle, no fuss – jump on and go.
There is – of course – a console with a bunch of stats to track which we’ve covered above, but in terms of setting the thing up to use it’s hassle free.
Perfect for self pacing
Following neatly on from being unbelievably simple to use, curved treadmills are amazing at letting you self regulate your speed intuitively.
As there is no motor in these curved runners they are powered simply by your stride. They simply speed up and slow down in line with your effort.
This means if you speed up naturally over the course of your run, or conversely slow down as you flag towards the end, the curved treadmill simply adjusts itself to your stride.
Honestly this is amazing – no messing around with buttons or trying to game yourself by setting certain speeds or goals. Just you and the treadmill in harmony.
Burns 30% more calories
Compared to doing a similar workout on a flat treadmill studies have found curved treadmills burn around 30% more calories. This means you are getting more out of your precious time – perfect.
This makes the curved runner a brilliant companion for those looking to shift some stubborn bodyfat, or looking to keep themselves lean and fit while continuing to weight train. This is the niche I find myself in – and the curved running fits perfectly.
Great for injury rehabilitation
Luckily not something I’ve had much experience of, but when researching curved treadmills there are numerous reports of people using them to rehabilitate running injuries.
The curved shape mimics the shape of a running stride and the belt is much kinder to your joints than running on a hard and possibly uneven pavement. This makes it a great way to get some miles in if you’re recovering from shin splints or knee / patellar issues.
Other users have reported it as an excellent tool to help rehabilitate Achilles’ tendon injuries. This is due to the design of the treadmill encouraging us to run through the he balls of our feet (i.e. better running form) which eases pressure on your body elsewhere.
So to conclude I think the Bulldog Gear Curve Runner 2.0 is the best value curved treadmill available in the UK. It’s backed by a growing brand with a track record dating back several years, comes with a warranty running for several years, and it undercuts its predecessor by almost 40%.
I’m looking forward to getting my larger gym space set up and putting this in pride of place!