Exercise Equipment Repair

Huff. . .Puff. . .Won’t this exercise equipment ever break down? You wish! This Fix-It Guide on exercise equipment tells how exercise equipment works, what can go wrong, how to identify an exercise equipment problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives instructions for how to remove a flywheel case from a stationary bike, how to adjust a stationary bike’s belt, how to tighten a treadmill belt, and how to center a treadmill belt. The most common problem is lack of maintenance, lubricating moving parts, and keeping batteries fresh. Even so, exercise equipment occasionally quits. What to do? Burn calories fixing it! This guide also refers to the Bicycle Fix-It Guide for chain repair and another Fix-It Guide for motor repair.

How Does Exercise Equipment Work?

The stationary bike and the powered treadmill remain popular home exercise machines. The bike is a belt-flywheel machine that simulates riding a standard bicycle. The treadmill is a motor driven machine that simulates taking a walk or a jog. In addition, many people have free weights and weight machines in their exercise rooms, but most don’t break or need much maintenance.

What Can Go Wrong with Exercise Equipment?

Exercise Equipment Repair

Treadmills use electronic circuit boards to control electric motors. There is little you can do on a circuit board except replace any fuses and make sure the board is plugged in.

The stationary bike uses a flywheel that is driven by a chain and belt that are powered by pedaling the bike. So the chain or belt can break or fall off, stopping the flywheel.

Treadmills rely on an internal motor to move the running belt positioned over a running platform. The motor can burn out or, more likely, the belt can break or require adjustment. And controls can fail.

Fix-It Tip

As basic maintenance, wipe down your exercise equipment with a soft dry rag after each use to keep perspiration from corroding metal parts. Once every few months, clean surfaces with mild household cleaner and water.

How Can I Identify an Exercise Equipment Problem?

With a little routine maintenance (see below), there’s little to go wrong with a stationary bike or a treadmill. A treadmill belt may occasionally need adjustment; the belt is correctly tensioned if it gives about 1/2 inch when you try to lift it off the flywheel with a screwdriver. If the belt tension knob no longer works, check the belt adjustment clasp. If a bicycle chain is too loose, replace it as you would the chain on a regular bicycle (see the Bicycle Fix-It Guide). Belt and chain adjustments may require removal of the flywheel case.

Some electronic monitors are powered by internal batteries located near the controls. Check and replace them every few months depending on use.

What Do I Need for Exercise Equipment Repair?

You can find many replacement parts for exercise equipment through the manufacturer or aftermarket supplier. Basic fasteners (screws, bolts) and lubricants are available at hardware stores. Here are the tools you may need:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrenches
  • Multimeter

What Are the Steps to Exercise Equipment Repair?

Remove a flywheel case from a stationary bike (to replace a belt or chain):

  1. Locate and remove side and bottom screws from the case.
  2. Use a socket wrench to loosen and remove all bolts holding the crank and pedal to the bike.
  3. Remove the pedal, crank, and case side.

Adjust a stationary bike’s belt:

  1. Set the flywheel tension knob to its lowest setting.
  2. Unhook the belt adjustment clasp and adjust the belt.
  3. Re-hook the clasp when proper tension is achieved.

Tighten a treadmill belt:

  1. Unplug the treadmill.
  2. Turn the rear positioning bolt(s) one-quarter turn clockwise.
  3. Check treadmill belt tension; repeat as needed.

Center a treadmill belt:

  1. Set controls to run the treadmill at 2 MPH.
  2. Identify the adjustment bolt on the side where the belt is loose and turn it clockwise one-quarter turn.
  3. Watch the treadmill belt for 60 seconds and readjust it if needed.

Fix-It Tip

To minimize repairs, periodically lubricate an exercise machine’s moving parts following the manufacturer’s recommendations.