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ProForm is one of those brands that you can just trust. As it so happens, they also offer ellipticals among many other fitness machines. ProForm Smart Strider 935 is an awesome piece of kit for a number of reasons. The most obvious one being that they have managed to pack some of the flagship features into a model that is affordable in comparison. Before we get to that, let’s look at the core hardware. Smart Strider 935 sits on a robust frame that offers plenty of stability and support. The drive system consists of an 18 lb inertia enhanced flywheel, which won’t blow anyone away but will offer solid performance.
The length of stride is fixed at 18 inches, which is below average but well within the comfortable zone for most users. Looking at the console, we see a massive, 7″ full color display. The console also features 30 workout apps, 24 digital resistance levels you can manually select and so much more. Some of those flagship features we have mentioned include the workout fan and a wireless chest strap for heart rate monitoring among others. What really blew us away is just how silent this elliptical is during use.
Sole Fitness definitely has a way with designing machines which are both cost efficient and performance oriented. Their E35 front loaded elliptical is the perfect example of what we mean. Not only is it a near commercial grade machine but it comes with some features which are in high demand these days. One of those is the adjustable length of stride. You can set it anywhere from 22 to 20 inches, which should cover most users. The pedals are large, offer plenty of grip and generally feel comfortable once you dial everything in. As far as the flywheel, it is a smooth riding, nicely balanced unit that is easy to get going. Most importantly, it’s very silent during use.
One more cool feature aside from the adjustable stride is the adjustable incline. In other words, you can really design yourself a challenging workout. The console setup is pretty great. You get a large display that is back lit and very similar to what they offer on their flagship ellipticals. The controls are easy to use and intuitive which definitely makes things easier. Best of all, Sole Fitness offers a lifetime warranty on frame and an extended warranty on everything else.
Next up is a model from XTERRA Fitness which represents their take on the front loaded ellipticals. The XTERRA Fitness 159003 may come across as a fairly generic model but it really isn’t. This thing is a capable piece of kit that actually offers some pretty awesome features you don’t see too often these days. We are namely talking about things related to the console. Before we get to those details, let’s address the hardware. This model sits on a sturdy frame made out of solid tubing all around.
The front loaded flywheel is a 25 lb unit which gives it a very fluid feel no matter how hard you go at it. It is easy to get rolling and offers pretty progressive resistance across the range. The length of stride is set at 20 inches. While adjustable length of stride would have been more attractive, we can’t really be too picky at this price. The console is what makes this model very interesting. It features a very large, back lit display. It is by far one of the largest displays in the segment. Besides that you get a great suite of presets and user customized programs to choose from.
Compact isn’t really a word you get to hear too often in this segment of the market, that is for sure. However there are models out there which can pass as compact if you are willing to compromise a little. NordicTrack NTEL71218 is one such machine. This elliptical packs a front loaded flywheel. Compared to most other models that use this layout, this one is sitting on a fairly short frame. With that said, the frame is designed in a way that allows it to deliver great stability no matter how hard you go at it. There is no wobble or movement even at full tilt.
The pedals are pretty massive, which is another area where NordicTrack stands out from the competition. Length of stride is fully adjustable, thus making it a great choice for those who don’t often find ellipticals comfortable. The 30 lb flywheel deserves praise on its own. It is silent, smooth and explains why NTEL71218 features over 30 built in presets. If that was not enough, you can adjust the power ramp for 20 degrees. Overall, this is by far one of the most capable, bang for the buck models in this rather competitive market segment.
Sole Fitness is definitely well represented when it comes to higher mid range ellipticals. Call us biased if you will, but we just can’t ignore the fact that Sole offers an awesome solution no matter what your price range is or what kind of performance you require from your elliptical. Sole Fitness E25 hits that spot for machines that sit on the more affordable side of things in this segment. With that in mind, E25 is a true performer in every sense of the way.
For starters, it offers an adjustable length of stride that can be set anywhere from 20″ to 22″. That is definitely not something you often see this far down the price range. The console comes in form of a pretty sizable unit that incorporates a 6.5 inch back lit display surrounded by simple controls. One of the reasons why the console is so massive is the fact that the entire tip portion is reserved for built in speakers and a built in fan. You can select any of the 10 offered presets which will give you more than decent enough challenge. At this price, this machine is a steal that much is definitely certain.
Next up is a Schwinn model, this time around we are looking at Schwinn 470. Much like Sole Fitness, Schwinn also has a knack for building high performance machines which are always offering what appears to be a surreal bang for the buck. At its core this is a front loaded elliptical sitting on a somewhat compact frame. Is this one of those space saver designs? Not really, but there is no denying that it is much more compact than most other front loaded ellitpicals in this particular segment of the market.
Features wise, you are looking at a well balanced flywheel that runs very smooth and quite. In fact, it’s probably among the least noisy ellipticals in this segment of the market. This is partially due to it being perimeter weighted. The length of stride on this thing is 20 inches which is more than decent all things considered. As far as the console goes, you are looking at 29 built in programs, 4 user presets and 25 levels of manual resistance. On top of that, this elliptical is compatible with SchwinnConnect and MyFitnessPal app. You can sync it with said apps using the built in USB charging port.
Last but not the least we have the ProForm Pro 12.9. This elliptical is at the very bottom edge of the price range but it is absolutely worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the other models on this list. It’s a great option for those who are looking at a somewhat simpler front loaded package which may not feature every bell and whistle in the book, but offers decent enough package of options to make things interesting. The important thing is that you have a 32 lb effective inertia enhanced flywheel in front of you that is linked to the 20 inches length of stride pedals.
The console offers 35 workout presets that will always keep things interesting. Cool features don’t end there, though. You also have a number of comfort features at your disposal. Namely, we’re talking about the integrated workout fan and a massive media shelf that can accept a larger tablet or a smart phone. In reality, ProForm Pro 12.9 is the prefect choice for budget oriented users who are looking to tap into those flagship performance numbers without spending the flagship type of money. As such, it deserves to be on our list.
This is one of the question most users have which are coming over from the affordable segment. It can be pretty hard to commit this kind of money on a machine that is not really flagship but not mid range either. This segment of the market feels like it is sitting in that nasty in-between area. However that is just an illusion. The models you can find in this category are noticeably more complex in comparison to ellipticals found in the $1000 price range. However, they aren’t quite up there with the model you can get for $2000 or under. With that said, lets take a quick look at some of the features you can expect to see in this segment.
Adjustable Length of Stride.
Even though it appears here and there in the lower priced segments, adjustable length of stride becomes nearly a standard in this particular price range. By having access to the adjustable length of stride you are essentially ensuring that you will always access the full potential of the machine you are using. Not only that, but you are also greatly reducing any risk of injury.
Flywheels, although not as important as many may think, still hold a pretty high place on the least of feature you might want to look into before making a definitive choice. The good thing about this particular price range is that most flywheels found here are both massive enough to offer good resistance but also extremely well balanced. The result is a setup that runs well, runs smooth and runs silent. In a world where most fitness machines either are noisy or become noisy over time, having that type of quality is definitely a treat.
Lastly we need to address the console designs. To be more specific the amount of features you get. Models from this category are simply loaded with all kinds of features. We are talking factory presets, user generated presets, all kinds of integrated apps and so much more. This is where you really start seeing advanced software suites. However, there’s more. Aside from software, hardware is also improved. Because of that stuff like integrated speakers and fans is the norm.
At the end of the day spending this type of money on an elliptical really makes sense if cardio is something you care about. The models from this category may even be the optimal bang for the buck choice if you put everything down on paper. We did our best to find a set of ellipticals which hit all the check boxes and cross all the Ts. As you can tell, front loaded designs are prevalent. All you are left to do is find the one that best suits your needs and your style. Overall, you’re looking at great performers.