Elliptical Machine Reviews for 2018 – Best Ellipticals Compared
If you’re trying to train without stressing out your joints, an elliptical is undoubtedly one of the best tools out there. These powerful machines offer a gentler alternative to high-impact treadmills, allowing you to target lower body muscle groups and get in a nice cardio workout without the strain on weight-bearing joints. This makes it a wonderful option for those with knee injuries, arthritis, or trainees recovering from muscle pain and repetitive use injuries.
However, if you’re going to plunk down a thousand dollars or so on a big piece of equipment, you want to be sure that what you’re buying will have all the features you want in an elliptical. The guide below will introduce you to some of buyers’ most highly rated machines for the year. The models listed below are well reviewed, include innovative features for well-developed elliptical workouts, and offer the best warranties, customer service and return on investment.
Best High End Model
If you’re going to spend all the money to buy an expensive piece of equipment like an elliptical, you might as well go for one of the best. The Sole E95 definitely falls into that category. This machine tops many home physical fitness equipment lists this year. With a steep incline and adjustable stride, it’s a top choice for serious athletes and advanced trainees. Below, we’ve listed some of the more enviable features:
- 9 inch LCD screen with blue backlighting
- 22 inch adjustable stride
- 40% tilt adjustable incline
- 10 built-in workout programs
- Wireless and handlebar heart rate monitors
- MP3-compatible speakers
- Workout fan and water bottle holder
The bottom line: This is a fairly pricey machine—the original list price on Sole Fitness is $3,399.99, but you can often find it on sale for much, much less. For instance, at the time of this writing, Sole Fitness is selling it for $1,799.99. However, it’s consistently been one of the most well-reviewed machines for serious athletes. The adjustable stride and high tilt allow you to hit different muscle groups that are harder to target with less versatile equipment. This machine is definitely worth the money you’ll spend on it, but only if you’re working out enough to take advantage of some of the best features.
Best Folding Elliptical
Not everyone has the space for a dedicated home gym, which is why folding ellipticals are so handy. The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i is overwhelming the reviewer’s darling this year for folding machines. Some of the highlights include:
- A 7 inch HD touchscreen
- Android browser
- iFit compatible
- Bluetooth chest strap for wireless heart monitoring
- Programmed with 30 workout apps
- 24 resistance levels with digital control
- Resistance and incline controls on handlebars
- 2 inch speakers on console
- Ergonomic pedals
The bottom line: Overall, this is a great elliptical for novice or intermediate trainees who don’t have a ton of spare room. But it will run you at least $1,200. NordicTrack also offers a similar foldable model, the SE7i, for a somewhat lower price—but it doesn’t have all the digital bells and whistles of the SE9i. Try before buying, however, because the 18-inch stride isn’t always comfortable for taller users.
Best Budget Buy (Under $1000)Most shoppers spend around $1000 to $2000 on an elliptical—anything over that and you’re starting to get into premium territory. However, it’s definitely possible to get a good machine for much less, a maxim proven by the Schwinn 470, our favorite elliptical in the $500 to $1,000 range. Currently selling on Amazon for $873.06, this machine makes a great cardio option for a home gym or for anyone just starting to get back into a workout program. Some of the plusses are:A charging USB port and media shelf that allows you to charge your devices while you workout
- Bluetooth compatible to upload workout data into smart apps
- 25 levels of computer controlled resistance
- 29 preprogrammed workouts with 4 user settings and a proprietary goal tracking program
- 20 inch stride
- Integrated heart monitor
- Two blue back-lit LCD screen
- Console with speakers
- An adjustable three speed fan
The bottom line: Beginner to intermediate level trainees with a limited equipment budget will be quite happy with the versatility and intuitive features on this machine. It comes with impressive bells and whistles for a very reasonable price tag. It is, however, quite a heavy piece of equipment, so it’s not a great choice if you’re dealing with space issues or need to be able to move it around in the future. However, if you’re looking for something that the whole family can easily use to achieve their fitness goals, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better elliptical at such a low price point.
Best Budget Buy (Under $500)
Let’s face it: $1,000 is just not a realistic price for everyone, especially if you’re in the middle of setting up a large gym with several pieces of equipment. It is possible to get a solid elliptical for less than that; however, it may not last as long as some of the more expensive pieces—so it’s typically a question of whether you want to save now or save later. That said, the ProForm Hybrid Trainer is one of the best low-cost trainers for your money. This model is a cross between an elliptical machine and a recumbent bike, making it one of the most versatile pieces of entry-level equipment out there. Some of the plusses are:
- Heart-rate monitors on the handles
- Enabled with iFit
- 16 built-in training programs
- 16 resistance levels
- Recumbent bike feature offers a two-for-one value
- Transport wheels make the equipment easier to move
- Tablet and water bottle holder on console
The bottom line: This bike boasts some impressive technical features and offers a lot of bang for your buck, but at 15 inches, it does have a relatively short stride. Additionally, with a 90-day parts and labor warranty, the coverage is pretty short. However, for its price, it definitely delivers a quality trainer—although listed at $799, it’s for sale on Amazon for just $349. if you’re looking for value, there’s no better buy.
Best for Serious Training
Those serious about their fitness need a serious machine to go along with it. The AFG Sport 5.9AE features some of the most advanced monitoring system and workout programming to help you achieve a custom workout for every step in your training program. Here are some of the must-have features for athletes:
- 23-pound flywheel offers extra stability for high-impact workouts
- 20-inch stride accommodates most stride lengths
- Console integrates with popular fitness tracking apps, including MyFitnessPal, UA Record and MapMyFitness. Also includes proprietary fitness app from AFG.
- 43 preset workout programs
- 12 resistance levels
- Chest strap heart rate monitor
- Quick-start programming allows you to begin exercising without setting a workout
- Up to five distinct user presets
The bottom line: This is one the best bikes you can buy if you’re looking to accommodate a wide range of training levels and create a variety of workout programs. All in all, you won’t get bored using this trainer!
Regardless of your desired features and price, however, nothing beats a good old fashioned test drive. Testing ellipticals before you buy will help you feel out the equipment ergonomics and see how easy and intuitive the programming is, as well as analyzing features like the flywheel weight and stability. After all, in the long run, it’s about what feels right to you!