Review: TrueForm Runner + Trainer Treadmills
Jun 13, 2020
article & images by Nick Salazar
Although it looks similar in appearance, and actually is similar in construction, the Assault AirRunner has a few key differences. In the end, it's not as well-built as the TrueForm machines, but still a pretty decent option.
On the inside, the AirRunner is well-made. Most similar to the TrueForm Trainer in construction, it has at is core a welded frame made of square tubing, which houses the bearings. The overall curve and bearing structure are similar. There are fewer cross members compared to the TrueForm Trainer, and they are a little smaller in cross-section, so I imagine the AirRunner is less durable. But for home use purposes it seems just fine. All of the internals look well-built and durable. The slat-based belt is very similar to the TrueForm belt. The outer cover is plastic, as with the TrueForm Trainer.
Put simply, the overall concept is identical: the top surface is curved, so that the force of gravity helps your legs propel the belt. But two significant differences change that function.
First, the curve is pitched up a bit higher than on the TrueForm treadmills. The overall arc is very similar, meaning a similar radius and similar arclength. It's just that the top of the curve is higher (and thus, the back of the curve a little lower). Imagine the lower rails of a rocking chair at rest (that's the TrueForm), versus those rails as you lean back (that's the AirRunner). So it's easier to get moving, because the steeper curve means a faster initial push.
Second, the AirRunner belt moves a lot easier than even the TrueForm Trainer belt. That is, once the belt is spinning, it really wants to keep spinning. Others have described this as a "flywheel feel" although there's no true flywheel inside. Also, something about this unit makes it a bit louder and more rattly than either of the TrueForm treadmills. I don't have any concerns that it's going to fall apart. But it's just got a little more noise than the other machines. To be fair, I didn't receive this unit directly from Assault, and it was a used model. In fact, all of the models in this review had been heavily used and still functioned perfectly, a testament to their durability. But I can't categorically say that all AirRunners will exhibit this same sound, as I only tested the one unit, and it wasn't from Assault.
Running on the Assault AirRunner is a little different from running on either of the TrueForm machines. Because of the steeper slope at the front, the ideal running location is a little further aft, where the curve flattens out a little. Moreover, the flywheel means that you're not really pushing at all to keep this guy going, at least as compared to either of the TrueForm machines. To my feet, and the feet of all eight people who tried the machines here, it's a much different ride from either TrueForm treadmill. If we compare these treadmills to the Goldilocks story, then the TrueForm Runner is Papa Bear (too stiff), the Assault AirRunner is Mama Bear (too soft), and the TrueForm Trainer is Baby bear (just right). But that would suggest an even spread between them, which is not the case. The two TrueForm machines are relatively close in feel and function, with the Assault far removed from either of them.
On the other hand, I found it easy to adjust my running to suit AirRunner, and as time went on, I found myself liking it more and more. Running on the AirRunner is more like floating above it, and is pretty close to real road running as well. If I were gifted this unit, I'd be happy to run on it. But if Santa was bringing me whatever was first on my wish list, I would likely pick the TrueForm Trainer.
Ok, hit the jump one more time, and we will get to our conclusions.
The TrueForm Runner is the flagship treadmill for the company. It is built like a tank and has a great ride, although it takes a little more effort to propel than either of the two other treadmills in this review. Because each of these machines rides a little differently, I've included a lot of images of my natural stride on each machine. They all feel good, but feel different; check the review for all the details.
The TrueForm Trainer was my favorite the three. Its resistance felt just right, and it is a machine that will last a lifetime. Because each of these machines rides a little differently, I've included a lot of images of my natural stride on each machine. They all feel good, but feel different; check the review for all the details.
The Assault AirRunner was a bit of a different beast; its belt wants to keep spinning, like a flywheel, so you don't need to do any extra work to keep it going. Because each of these machines rides a little differently, I've included a lot of images of my natural stride on each machine. They all feel good, but feel different; check the review for all the details.