Table of Contents
- Top 10 Best Ellitpicals On The Market:
- Why Ellipticals And Not Something Else?
- Low Impact Exercise
- Full Body Workout
- Different Types Of Elliptical Machines
- Compact Ellipticals
- Folding Ellipticals
- Cheap, Mid Range Or High End - Which One To Go For?
- The Universal Principle
- Entry Level Ellipticals
- Mid Range Segment
- High End Machines
- What Makes A Good Elliptical And What Features To Look For?
- Length Of Stride
- Build Quality
- Primary Features
- Secondary Features
- The Ver(ve)dict!
Top 10 Best Ellitpicals On The Market:
Going with Kettler is one of the easiest ways to finding a good, reliable piece of fitness equipment. When it comes to ellipticals, Kettler ELYX 1 is about as good as it gets unless you want to go into commercial machines. This elliptical has it all. Kettler has used what is essentially a very standardized design, but upgraded it in a few pretty substantial ways.
The frame itself is very robust, offering plenty of support and stability. This particular model features a 40lb flywheel that is mounted in the front position. The flywheel itself is impressive. You are looking at precision machining on a level that surpasses the needs of most users. Then we have the drive system which brings 20 inches length of stride to the table. That is also one of the best length of stride numbers you will see in this segment of the market.
The computer module that sits on top is a no-nonsense unit fitted with simple controls and a very easy to read layout. You have plenty of workout programs to choose from along side the usual stats. Generally speaking, Kettler ELYX 1 is a reliable, focused and challenging machine aimed at serious users.
Simple and streamlined designs are not exactly what most people expect to see in the higher end fitness machines. Contrary to popular belief, this segment of the market isn’t full of aesthetically pleasing and kitted out models alone. When it comes to ellipticals, you can find machines such as the AFG Sport 5.9AE. This model packs all the right hardware in all the right places.
AFG Sport has used the tried and tested chassis design which means proper stability no matter what. With a front mounted flywheel, this elliptical relies on classic skids to deliver that fluid motion. The good thing is that both of these components are really well made to a point where pushing the pace leads to a smooth and silent experience. The fact that the flywheel is a 23lb unit also helps considerably in that regard. Once you look up, you will see a surprisingly basic control module.
It features a relatively small display and the most basic controls. The reason for this is that AFG Sport ships these with a dedicated app you can run on your tablet or phone which allows you to fully control the elliptical. Overall, this is a proper performer.
One of the names that tends to pop up a lot in the world of fitness equipment is Schwinn. There is a good reason for that too. They Are one of the few brands out there who know how to deliver great performance, good quality and reliability at a reasonable price. Schwinn 470 perfectly represents that policy. On a quick glance it looks just like any other elliptical on the market.
That was probably the point. The fact that it uses the same standardized design means that Schwinn went for what works. This has allowed them to spend the remaining time and effort on improving performance and features to a very competitive level. The result is a very capable machine that will give you a challenging workout no matter what.
With a precision machined flywheel, great length of stride and an abundance of built in workout presets, chances are slim that you will plateau with Schwinn 470. However, that isn’t all. Schwinn has also included a number of entertainment options such as the RunSocial support as well as built in speakers. All in all, this package represents a great value for the money, especially if you want something that’s reliable.
Mid range ellipticals are becoming more and more competitive these days. As a result, we’re seeing awesome models such as Exerpeutic 1318 5000 hit the market. As you can probably tell those are pretty good circumstances for anyone looking to get a decent machine on a budget. Especially when you have brands such as Exerpeutic involved.
The overall build quality and design are great. Exerpeutic went with a standard H patter frame that has leveling caps installed in the back. They have also opted for a rear mounted flywheel setup, with a decent 3 piece crank drive linked straight into it. The performance is very smooth all things considered. What surprised us the most is the length of stride. Exerpeutic 1318 5000 is one of the rare models in tis price range that packs 18 inches length of stride.
The built in computer module makes the whole deal even better with its 12 workout presets, various training modes and so much more. There aren’t any features that offer entertainment. However, there is a built in media shelf which allows you to mount your tablet or phone. If you’re looking for a great bang for the buck option, this is it.
Compared to most ellipticals out there, Fitness Reality 2366 X-Class 710 really does feel like a purpose built, performance optimized machine. Whether it is the bare bones design or the fact that everything about it just looks so sleek is up for debate. What matters the most is that this elliptical brings all the features and capabilities you could need.
The frame itself is a fairly standard design, although a somewhat lighter version. The lack of any kind of flywheel housing allows you to see the 44lb flywheel in all of its glory. It is a massive unit that is well machined and quite smooth during use. You won’t notice too much noise, if any at all. The length of stride is probably the most impressive thing about it. Where most ellipticals offer below 18 or 18 inches, Fitness Reality 2366 X-Class 710 has gone for full 20 inches of stride.
The control module adds to what is already a great package. It comes in form of a very sleek unit that packs a back lit display and a set of really intuitive controls. The features it contains include 26 factory workout presets, several heart rate programs and much more.
There are plenty of brands that offer high performance top tier ellipticals. However, find a brand that can deliver consistency, quality and performance on a really tight budget is truly worthy of praise. Marcy fits this description completely. They design and build some of the best affordable fitness equipment on the market. Their secret? Using the stuff that is proven to work. Marcy NS-40501E offers exactly that.
We have a very sturdy H pattern frame that offers good stability and support. Then there is the rear mounted flywheel with a 3 piece crank linkage connected to it. The flywheel itself isn’t too massive. However, it is well balanced which is what matters the most when you are dealing with entry level ellipticals. Looking at the display unit we see a pretty decent LCD screen paired with a set of quite intuitive controls.
As you can expect, this isn’t a computer controlled elliptical and thus has no workout presets. Instead, you get to set the resistance manually using the resistance knob mounted below the display. Marcy did include a media shelf so that you can enjoy some media as you work out. Overall, this elliptical is a great choice for beginners.
Entry level ellipticals becoming more and more popular. Especially those which are in a price range below cheap. Exerpeutic Aero Air is one of the more popular models from that group. At its core, this is one of the simplest elliptical designs you can find. So much so that they actually borrowed a number of solutions from the static bike segment.
Exerpeutic Aero Air sits on a standard H pattern frame that has leveling feet and not much else. With that said, it is one of the sturdiest frames in this particular segment of the market. There is manual resistance control which offers a good amount of challenge all things considered. The only real flaw with this machine is the length of stride.
Since they have essentially taken a static bike design and adapted it to work with the elliptical motion, the length of stride is rather short. That is just one of the compromises which are perfectly normal. One great thing about this machine is the fact that it comes with a built in display unit. As simple as it is, you can use it to track your progress and plan out your workout. Overall, it’s a good starter.
What Goplus 2 In 1 has to offer is quite unusual. As you can tell, this is a hybrid elliptical which can also work as a static bike. The reason why this is even possible is that Goplus more or less merged these two machines together. They used the static bike flywheel and frame design, bolted a 3 piece crank system onto it instead of the regular pedals, and got a basic elliptical.
The decision to keep the seat meant that you can reduce the intensity of the workout and isolate your lower body should you want to. The seat itself is adjustable by height and features a fairly comfortable design. Where Goplus 2 in 1 really comes to shine is the small display module. Even though resistance is set by turning a knob, Goplus has included a fairly complex computer module which not only allows you to track your progress and monitor your stats, but it also has a built in heart rate monitor.
That fact alone means that you can greatly increase the efficiency of your workout plan by staying within that golden heart rate range. In other words, this is a beginner machine that can keep up.
Modern ellipticals have come to a point where they are extremely popular. However, there is no questioning the fact that your average elliptical is quite massive. Finding one that can be folded after use for easier storage is much harder than it sounds. Fortunately for us, ProForm is one of the brands which are dealing in this exact type of ellipticals.
ProForm Smart Strider 935 not only folds up into a fairly compact package, but it’s also packed full of rather awesome features. With a rear mounted 18lb flywheel, you are looking at a rather smooth and silent performance. If the flywheel sounds a bit too light, there’s nothing to worry about. Combined with 24 digital levels of resistance, this machine is capable of providing a challenge even to the advanced users.
The control module mounted on the top features a color touch display which you can use to navigate the numerous workout presets and other features. On top of that, ProForm has included a built in cooling fan as well as an EKG wireless chest strap for precise heart rate monitoring. All things considered ProForm Smart Strider 935 has got to be one of the most advanced ellipticals available.
The whole Smart Strider line of ellipticals from ProForm is easily one of the most unique in the entire market. That applies even though they share a rather similar design with a couple of other brands who make folding ellipticals. Although ProForm Smart Strider 735 isn’t the flagship model, it is interesting in its own way. If you are familiar with this family of ellipticals than you are probably recognizing the design.
ProForm kept things simple and pretty much copied the entire frame across the entire Smart Strider line. That is actually a good thing in this case because 735 shares all the same hardware as the flagship model. That means a 18lbs precision machined flywheel, great length of stride and smooth performance. The things that are different are the price and the computer module.
Smart Strider 735 is among the cheaper models in the line exactly because it packs a standard, no thrills control module. We are talking dual color back lit display, standard controls and the usual deal with the exception of a cooling fan. Software wise, Smart Strider 735 packs 22 workout presets, comes with iFit support and much more. Needless to say, it’s a great machine.
Why Ellipticals And Not Something Else?
Low Impact Exercise
One of the most important reasons why so many people are switching over to elliptical machines is the fact that doing so gives them access to a low impact exercise. The truth is that running, although healthy from a cardiovascular point of view, isn’t really too good for your joints and knees. These side effects can be alleviated by running on a softer surface but only to a certain extent.
On top of that, it is also worth mentioning that a good portion of the people who run don’t really know how to run properly. Running heel first is the default technique for new runners and unless they get some coaching, most never realize just how bad this can be for your knees. Unfortunately even the modern day treadmills aren’t all that great in reducing these risks. No amount of suspension, advanced insoles and soles, or cushioning technology can completely remove the negative side effects of running.
Ellipticals, however can. When you are using an elliptical, your leg never leave the surface of the machine. This is because the inherent design of the elliptical relies on a smooth elliptical motion, hence the name. Comparing ellipticals to running, you will find that former offer all of the benefits that latter do with none of the negative side effects. Once people realized this simple fact, the market for elliptical machines has experienced a large boom.
Full Body Workout
Different Types Of Elliptical Machines
The first interesting subcategory of ellipticals are the compact type. These are also a cause of a good deal of discussion in the community. You will find those who refuse to call these things ellipticals to begin with, while there are also those who consider them to be an integral part of the family. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Compact ellipticals have their flaws but also their benefits. Whenever you try to make something more compact, chances are that you will have to trade off certain features and traits of said product. That also applies to these ellipticials.
On one hand, it is quite awesome to be able to pack your elliptical with you when you are going out of town. On the other, you can’t really expect to get the same level of performance from these as you can from a standard, full sized model. Another good thing about compact ellipticals is that you can get yourself one for cheap. In most cases you can find a great model under $200. If you are interested in learning more, check out our dedicated guide.
Compact ellipticals were designed primarily for those who are dealing with a highly limited space. However it didn’t take long before people found different ways to use these machines. For example, many like to use compact ellipticals at work while they sit behind a desk. Since they are so small, you can fit one under the table and get a good exercise in while you work.
Cheap, Mid Range Or High End - Which One To Go For?
The Universal Principle
Entry Level Ellipticals
Mid Range Segment
High End Machines
Since mid range segment is so great, why would anyone want to go for a high end elliptical at all? Well, there is always room for improvement. On top of that, higher end models bring a whole new package of features which you won’t really find elsewhere, but there are a few other things that really tip the balance in their favor. For the most part, the hardware on these machines is going to be top of the line. Where most mid range models come with what is considered to be enthusiast grade hardware, most high end models feature commercial grade components.
These are designed to be pushed to the limit all day, every day which is exactly why gyms usually have such machines in their inventory. Whether or not you need something like that at home will depend on how serious you are with your workout regimen. Truth be told casual users probably won’t see much difference between a mid range and high end segment aside from the obvious improvement in features. However, someone who takes fitness and cardio very seriously, definitely will appreciate the benefits.
What Makes A Good Elliptical And What Features To Look For?
Flywheels are the integral part of just about any fitness machine these days. Static bikes use them, some treadmills do as well but ellipticals are really dependent on them. A good flywheel can be described as one that has a lot of mass, is machined with a good amount of precision and is balanced correctly. If you can get an elliptical that has such a flywheel, chances are you won’t grow tired of it for quite a while. However, if your flywheel is light, features mediocre craftsmanship and isn’t balanced correctly, you can run into serious trouble.
For starters, your elliptical won’t give you a challenge. Even with magnetic resistance control you will find these ellipticals to be simply too easy. Worst of all, this is the best case scenario. Poorly machined flywheels tend to be very noisy. While it probably doesn’t sound too bad, the whining of a flywheel tends to get very old very fast, especially if you are using the machine on a daily basis.
Length Of Stride
Length of stride is a factor that is unique to ellipticals. It is quite self explanatory. LOS or length of stride defines the range of motion your legs have on an elliptical. While there are rarely machines that have too long of a length of stride, there are plenty of those which have a short LOS. Those are the ones you will definitely want to avoid if possible. Short length of stride prevents you from activating all of your muscles but it also develops bad habits. After all, the whole point of exercising is to get yourself into a better shape. Why would you want to settle for a machine that can’t offer that to you?
When it comes to an average length of stride, we highly recommend that you go for 20 inches at the very minimum. However, it isn’t that simple. Length of stride is going to depend on your height. If you are 5 feet 6 inches, your optimal length of stride is going be around 20 inches. However, if you are say 5 feet 3 inches, 18 inches of stride length might be a much better option for you. Lastly, lets quickly touch upon what happens if your machine has too long of a stride length? Again, this is very rare but it does happen. Trying to handle a length of stride that is too much for your body can lead to injuries. We are talking pulled muscles and that is no fun.
Primary features are those which can help you get in shape more efficiently. This is where you will find your heart rate monitors, your preset workout regimens and so forth. Not every elliptical is going to have these, especially if you are shopping for the more affordable ones. However, if there is one thing you would definitely want to have on your elliptical, it would be a heart rate monitor. Manually setting resistance levels can in theory provide similar results as using preset programs, although it might take a bit more effort.
One more factor that is kind of important is the size of the display unit. Smaller displays tend to become too busy, especially when an elliptical is chock full of various features. If you can find one with a decently sized display, you won’t have a hard time navigating different metrics and stats. Since we are already talking about displays, you might want to get a model with a back-lit display. This simple feature really helps with exercising in low light conditions.
Also known as creature comforts, these features aren’t directly involved in getting you into shape, but are definitely capable of making your journey easier. This is where you will find your Bluetooth support, built in speakers, built in media centers with virtual trail software and more. Whether or not these features are important is pretty subjective. Those who are capable of zeroing in on their workout, pushing through it with utmost focus probably don’t need any of the features we have listed above. However, we are not all robots and we all have bad days. Sometimes being able to listen to music, or talk to someone as you workout might help you get through it faster.
One of the most important features that fit into this category are the media shelves. These are simple pieces of plastic which are designed to hold your tablet or your smart phone as you exercise. This way you can enjoy music, movies or your favorite TV show without having to pay too much extra. In all honesty, there is really no reason for you not to have a media shelf on your elliptical. Unless of course you are going for an entry level model which doesn’t have one.