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Schwinn’s 411 compact elliptical perfectly represents what most of this category is all about. It is one of those machines that is every bit as functional as a full sized model, yet it brings on a fraction of the footprint. They have managed to pull this off by combining good hardware and key features which make or break ellipticals. For example, the lengths of stride on this model is 18″. That is the type of stride length you generally see on full sized units.
It being compact usually leads potential users to wonder whether or not the flywheel they put into this machine is capable of delivering the necessary challenge. The answer is that it can. You are looking at 16 levels of resistance which can be set via the console. Speaking of which, the console is rather chunky. It features a number of large buttons used to shuffle through different screens which show you stats such as distance, calories and so forth. This elliptical is fully compatible with RunSocial app that offers 19 virtual locations and 27 routes to choose from. Last but not the least, you also get a heart rate monitor with sensors built into handle bars.
Our top pick represents what most people think when they imagine a compact elliptical. However, there is also another format that is becoming more and more popular. Cubii Pro under desk elliptical belongs to this category and is probably one of the best, if not the best model of its kind. Despite its tiny chassis and somewhat toy like appearance, Cubii Pro is a very real fitness machine that has plenty of benefits to offer. As we have mentioned earlier, these machines are designed to be used under the table or elsewhere while the user is seated. Everything about it is optimized towards that type of use.
The largest differences between these and their full sized brethren is the length of stride as well as the lack of a handle bars. Cubii Pro comes with a manual resistance selector knob which is conveniently placed at the front of the device. On top of that you can pair it with your smart phone and track your progress via various apps. Overall it is a perfect fitness machine for those who spend the majority of their day behind a desk. Another thing worth mentioning is that Cubii Pro is built like tank.
Next up is a model from EFITMENT that falls into the rear drive category of compact ellipticals. That means that you are preserving the compact form factor but can enjoy a fairly larger flywheel compared to our top pick. The downside to this design is the length of stride. This particular model offers 11 inches of stride length, which isn’t particularly ideal, but is in line with the whole compact theme. The entire setup sits on a standard H pattern frame which is robust yet light. The rear of the frame features leveling caps which will allow you to perfectly level out the elliptical no matter what.
Generally speaking, the build quality is pretty good. Moving onto the drive system itself we find a flywheel that is well balanced and pretty sizable compared to most other. With that said, you are looking at 8 levels of magnetic resistance which is manually set. The console is a small unit that is compact in its own right. Due to the manual nature of the resistance control, console on this model is used strictly to track your progress although it does feature a media deck. Additionally, you also have heart rate sensors available.
Aceshin may not enjoy the same type of popularity and trust as some of the other brands on our list, but they are pretty much up there with the best. Their compact elliptical is on the larger side of the scale. Some would even go as far as to say that it is stretching the whole compact designation to its very limits. We’ve added it to our list because compact has a different meaning for different people. What makes it worthy of being on our list and in your home is the overall build quality paired with great hardware. This elliptical features a rear drive flywheel layout which automatically means a larger flywheel to begin with.
The pedals are large enough to facilitate everyone’s taste and needs while the length of stride comes in at around 13 inches. This puts it somewhere in the middle between optimal and minimal values. Thanks to a robust frame, you are looking at solid stability and plenty of support during your workout. The resistance selection knob is located right under the simple console and offers 8 levels of resistance. Despite being fairly affordable, this elliptical offers things such as heart rate monitoring and more.
Next up we have a model of similar size as our previous pick, that comes to us at a very affordable price. That alone makes it interesting especially for those who are looking to get into a compact elliptical, but aren’t prepared to commit large amounts of money just yet. From a hardware standpoint, it is a classic package. What differentiates it from most of the competition here is the size of the flywheel. You are looking at a rear drive setup that packs quite a sizable flywheel unit. It is smooth, well balanced and surprisingly silent. The frame is a standard H pattern design as expected.
Similar to our previous pick, this one also tends to push the definition of compact to its limits with its size. Nonetheless, it is still smaller than most full sized units out there. Controls include the resistance selection knob with its 8 levels of magnetic resistance as well as a simple console unit that features your standard information such as distance, calories and more. It is worth mentioning that this model comes with a hear rate monitor as standard. Sensors for this feature can be found in the handlebars next to the console.
Body Rider BR1958 brings something truly different to the table. Where as every other model on this list is a flywheel driven unit, BR1958 is an air powered elliptical. What does that mean? That means you are not dealing with a flywheel and setting the resistance level via a selection knob. Instead by operating the pedals, you are powering a fan. The faster you push it, more resistance it produces. This means that you are working with a progressive resistance machine and that is something many competitive and casual users appreciate. As far as build quality goes, BR1958 is rock solid.
The frame is made out of proper quality tubing which can handle frequent, heavy duty use. Interestingly enough, Body Rider went with a 12 inch length of stride. That is not as much as we would have liked to see on a machine such as this one, but it absolutely works if you can adapt to it. Finally, the console is located right above the air fan housing. That means that you will have bend over to cycle through various screens while the small display doesn’t help with legibility. All that considered, it is still a functional setup overall.
Last but not least we have a well proven, ultra compact elliptical to show you. It is of course the Stamina In-Motion under desk strider. Similar to the other under desk model we have talked about, this one brings a few important differences to the equation. For starters, you can use the In-Motion both while standing and sitting where as there are similar models which are only suitable for use while being seated. The other difference is the price. This is a super affordable device that is great for those who are on a tight budget or simply aren’t yet comfortable investing in a more concrete piece of fitness machinery.
When it comes down to it, Stamina In-Motion is great for a number of reasons. It features a built in display unit which allow you to track rudimentary data and progress. The flywheel they install in these is great. You can expect to see smooth, relatively silent performance on a consistent basis. Much like other ellipticals, this one comes with a resistance selection knob. While these types of ellipticals aren’t necessarily as efficient as their full sized relatives, there is no denying that they simply work. They are generally awesome.
Compact ellipticals are a very unique category of the market. Almost every type of fitness equipment and machines we have access to today has compact versions available. However, it is also true that not all machines are inherently suitable for compact form factors. This is the issue with ellipticals. You can’t just scale them down all that easily. It all comes down to the length of stride.
Length of stride is going to depend on a lot of things, such as the layout of the elliptical, how the drive system is designed and more. Even so, the optimal length of stride is generally around 18 inches. As you can tell by the models on our list, most of them aren’t meeting this value. That is just one of the compromises you will have to deal with if you want a space saver of a machine.
Benefits of a compact elliptical are obvious. You are getting a machine that providing you with a very low impact cardio exercise, but also one that just doesn’t take up too much space. Whether you are looking to store it after use, or just have it permanently sitting in your living room, a compact elliptical should never pose an obstacle. Most of the models on our list fit this description.
Some of the under desk models, which are fully deserving of being called compact, offer benefits you won’t otherwise have access to. These benefits include the ability to keep your self in shape while working or gaming. Additionally, you can pack these up and take them with you on a trip if you want to.
The process of finding a good compact elliptical is rather simple. All you have to do is figure out which design fits your needs the best, what kind of features you want and how much space you have to spare. All of these are items you can put on a short list. Our recommendation is to get a model that packs a length of stride that is the closest to what full sized models offer.
Compact ellipticals are a very interesting category of the market that absolutely deserves some attention. Whether you are looking for a small footprint fitness machine to run at home, or something you can use at work, these ellipticals will get you situated. We did our best to put together a number of models which represent everything this segment of the market has to offer. That includes compact upright ellipticals, under desk models, air resistance models and more. All that is left for you to do is figure out what is it that you need in terms of design and features.