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Top 5 Best Ellipticals - A Quick Comparison

Model Rating

Our custom rating considers all of the elliptical's features, specs, warranties, and 100's of user & expert reviews, to save you time!

List Price

Suggested retail price, typically higher than the price you'll pay with our recommended retailers.

Resistance

Resistance is what determines calories burned per stride. The more levels, the more precisely you can control the difficulty.

Stride Length

Stride Length is important for comfort and smooth strides. A stride length of 18-21 inches is ideal for most heights (5'3 - 6'7).

Programs

Elliptical Programs allow you to complete a workout with changing speeds and inclines, without changing anything manually.

Flywheel

The flywheel controls the smoothness and resistance of your workout. In general, the higher the better.

Pricing

Since prices change daily, this link goes to our preferred retailer for the best price we've found.

1

Sole
E95

Rating: 95.1%
$2,69920 levels20"1027 lbsSee Best Price
2

NordicTrack
FS7i

Rating: 94.5%
$2,99924 Levels0" - 38"3520 lbs.See Best Price
3

Sole
E98

Rating: 94.1%
$3,49920 Levels20"1030 lbsSee Best Price
4

Sole
E55

Rating: 94.1%
$2,499Multiple20"1017 lbsSee Best Price
5

Sole
E95S

Rating: 93.9%
$3,29915 Levels18" - 24"1034 lbsSee Best Price


Best Elliptical Trainers by Category

To ease your search for the right trainer, we organize elliptical reviews into useful categories: price, drive type, size and more. Click a category link for part-by-part reviews of the best ellipticals in the bunch.

Best Ellipticals by Price

What's your home gym budget? On the dropdown menu up top, our elliptical reviews are divided into several price brackets. Here are summaries for a few price popular price ranges:

  • The cheapest ellipticals are in the under-$500 category. hese are entry-level cross trainers with short warranties. You can see our top rated ellipticals under $500 here. Keep in mind though, a machine over $500 could last much longer. When you move out of the cheapest elliptical category, you get much better value per dollar.
  • Most shoppers choose machines sale priced from $999 to $1999. These tend to be the best ellipticals for overall value. We break the choices down with elliptical reviews for the $1000 - $1500 range and $1500 - $2000 range.
  • Elite home ellipticals cost $2500 or more. Some are strong enough for light commercial use. See a list of our top rated high end ellipticals.

Best Ellipticals by Drive Type

Elliptical machines are also categorized by where their drives (big metal flywheels) are stored. With a quick glance you can tell whether a trainer is rear drive, front drive and center drive. The drive location can influence machine size, durability, noise level, and your exercise posture.

  • The classic elliptical design is the rear drive. The best rear drive ellipticals are quiet and dependable. This is partly thanks to their suspended pedals...Cheaper rear drive machines have pedals that glide along rails, so they’re more prone to noisiness and wear.) But a possible drawback of choosing a rear drive is the machine size. Unless you choose a fold-up elliptical, you'll need to dedicate a good amount of floor space.
  • Front drive ellipticals are sometimes preferred because they cost less than rear drive ellipticals and need less floor space. A possible drawback though is that these machines could be noisy in comparison. Also, some front drive ellipticals encourage you to lean into the console, which isn’t your best possible training posture. To get an idea of how your body would be positioned on a trainer, you can see how a model uses the machine on a sale page or in a YouTube demo.
  • center drive ellipticals are the third category. Like rear drive trainers, these promote good posture -- and compared with rear drive trainers, these machines have small footprints too. When you actually use one of these machines though, your arms and legs will likely extend far beyond the base of the unit. Despite being compact these trainers tend to support long strides.

Best Ellipticals for Small Spaces

As just mentioned above, center drive ellipticals require the least floor space. Front drive trainers take a moderate amount of space, and rear drive machines need the most room.

Special options recommended for small spaces are folding ellipticals and Bowflex Max Trainers.

  • Folding ellipticals might have shock-assist for very quick folding that requires little upper body strength.
  • Bowflex Max Trainers look similar to center drive ellipticals and support especially high intensity exercise. With a Max Trainer you can burn calories at about double the rate compared with using a more traditional elliptical cross-trainer.

Best Club-Quality Ellipticals

Fitness machines are categorized as light commercial, commercial or residential. Light commercial ellipticals are typically under warranty for up to three hours of use per day. Commercial ellipticals are designed for up to six hours of use per day.

Choosing a Home Elliptical Machine

Elliptical trainers are popular for allowing comfortable workouts even when you’re recovering from injury or have sore joints. The best ellipticals give treadmills a run for their money by eliminating harsh impact and allowing faster calorie burn. Plus, they let you exercise your arms, legs, glutes, abs, shoulder and back -- nearly every major muscle group -- all in one workout.


But while benefits of elliptical cross training can be beautiful, success depends on choosing a machine that fits your body and workout goals. For example, you'll need a trainer with ideal choices for strength or resistance. Read on for tips to compare ellipticals and find your best buy.

The best ellipticals are especially adjustable...

When an elliptical trainer is more adjustable, maybe the most obvious benefit is that it can be useful to more people. Besides that, each user can "mix it up" or get more variety in each full-body workout. Here we look at four kinds of adjustability:


  • Lower Body: The two main kinds of pedal adjustability are resistance and stride length. Sometimes a third choice is incline.
  • Upper Body: Handlebar shape can let you vary an upper-body elliptical workout as explained below.

Adjustable Resistance Level

Understanding resistance is a big key to understanding how elliptical machines work. Your pedaling turns a heavy metal flywheel, and a brake for that wheel controls how difficult the pedaling will be. Nowadays magnetic resistance is the most common setup; a magnetic brake takes the place of an old-fashioned friction brake. As magnets move closer to the flywheel, the resistance increases. Magnetic resistance is also called eddy current resistance.


How much resistance is available? Except on the cheapest ellipticals, you usually get a choice of about 20 resistance levels. You can change the settings yourself or let resistance be controlled by a workout program. On a cheap machine the lowest and highest settings might not be dramatically different... and they’re probably easy for the average trainee to master. But on a high quality machine your choices for resistance level will range from very light to very forceful. The best ellipticals can help you attain higher and higher levels of fitness for many years.


Besides controlling the challenge, the resistance system is largely responsible for smooth motion. (Smooth motion helps explain various benefits of ellipticals, like why they let you burn calories especially quickly, and why they cut the chances of next-day muscle soreness.) Fitness machine advertisers tend to describe any elliptical as "smooth," but check the specs list to judge for yourself! Smoother elliptical trainers have heavier flywheels in their resistance systems. If you’re a beginner you might be satisfied with a 20-pound flywheel. For a more club-quality feel though, you should choose a trainer with a heavier drive.

Adjustable Stride Length

The special appeal of elliptical training is striding naturally but without the harsh impact of "real life" walking or running. The pedals stay in constant contact with your feet to allow low-impact (if not zero-impact) exercise. But to let you stride naturally, of course the pedals need to support the length of your natural stride.


What is elliptical stride length? It’s the distance between the front of the foremost pedal and the heel of the back pedal. Stride length on an elliptical trainer can be fixed (permanent) or adjustable. The most common setting for fixed stride is 20 inches. Adjustable stride is a more expensive feature, but for some home gyms it's the only choice that makes sense.


  • People who are 5'3" and shorter could feel comfortable with elliptical strides of 18 to 20 inches. (Twenty inches might feel like a stretch.)
  • People who are 5'7" and taller should start with 20-inch elliptical strides. Up to 22-inches might feel most natural if you're over 6 feet. With shorter strides, the pedaling could feel choppy… more like climbing stairs than gliding flat.

Common choices for adjustable stride are 18" - 20" and 18" - 22". On high-end ellipticals in particular, the choices can be more generous. Octane Fitness -- which is maybe the most expensive brand on our elliptical review site -- has patented SmartStride ergonomics. This lets Octane ellipticals automatically adjust to the trainee's gait.


Some machines are so adjustable that they’re also called hybrid fitness machines. Our favorites can serve as great treadmill alternatives, letting you take extra-long strides without the jarring impact of pounding a track. A high-end example is the Octane XT4700. A low-budget example is the ProForm Hybrid Trainer.

Adjustable Incline

Adjustable incline is a feature on ellipticals in the middle and upper price ranges. With incline training you’ll naturally get a more challenging cardio workout and burn calories at a faster rate. This is because your body works harder to use an elliptical with incline, just as it works harder when you walk or run uphill instead of across flat land. Adding just a few minutes of higher intensity training to a 20-minute elliptical workout can also help keep your energy up for even longer after exercise concludes.


Another big benefit of incline training is using your muscles in different ways. The lower incline settings will especially recruit your calves and quads. The steeper settings will especially focus on your gluteal muscles and hamstrings. On the best ellipticals for 2017 the steepest incline setting is typically 20 percent. NordicTrack, Horizon and other brands build machines that automatically adjust your incline to match interactive video of landscapes.

Multi-Grip Handlebars

Upper-body exercise is an option built into most ellipticals. As your legs pedal away, you can grip moving handlebars to engage your arms, shoulders, chest and back. Usually your arms will swing back and forth as if you were cross-country skiing.


Cheap ellipticals and entry-level ellipticals usually have simple handlebars. They let you hold on with just one form of grip. Ideally the handlebars are slightly angled to suit people with different arm spans.


On better elliptical trainers the moving handlebars curve at the end. This lets you grip in more than one way, so you can adjust your body position to focus on different muscle groups. Multi-grip for the handlebars is akin to incline for the pedals; it helps you sculpt muscle groups in different ways.

The best home ellipticals are easy to live with...

What makes a fitness machine home-friendly? Three features that might matter to your home are quiet operation, compact size, and portability.

Quiet Operation

Magnetic resistance helps make the best ellipticals virtually silent. As mentioned above, magnetic resistance systems are friction-free unlike the original style of friction-based elliptical braking with felt pads.


But even with magnetic resistance, an elliptical can make a ruckus. Heavier flywheels, and flywheel advertised as spin-balanced, can spin more quietly.


On cheap ellipticals some of the most common culprits are loose bolts. To ensure quiet operation, you might need to tighten the bolts after every few workout sessions. The bolts and other parts of the machine (such as the rollers) might need frequent lubrication to avoid squeaking too.


In any price range, usually the center drive and rear drive ellipticals have especially quiet operation compared with front drive ellipticals. That's because they lack same rollers, which are a source of friction and therefore sound.

Compact Size

Of the three kinds of elliptical trainers, center drive machines are the most compact. A center drive elliptical saves space by having you stand over the drive (the big flywheel). In comparison, a front drive or rear drive elliptical trainer has a longer frame because its drive isn't stored underneath you.


Rear drive machines tend to have the biggest frames. Many are fold-up machines for easy storage in between workouts.


For recommendations see our chart of best compact and folding ellipticals.

Portability

Ellipticals advertised as "portable" might not be simple to move across town or up a flight of stairs… but portable ellipticals do have transport wheels attached. These wheels might pop out when you slightly tilt the machine. They make it easy to move the unit into a corner, for example, until your next workout session. Attached wheels can make it surprisingly easy to reposition a trainer weighing up to 300 pounds or so.


For the best portability, a folding rear drive trainer with transport wheels could be ideal.

And the best ellipticals have features that fit your style.

Choosing special features is probably the most enjoyable part of elliptical shopping. Here are some options to keep in mind as you browse.

Comfort

The comfort of low-impact motion is a perk of any good elliptical… but for extra comfort some of the better ellipticals have pedal cushioning. Pedal cushioning can help minimize fatigue, so it might help you train harder and reach fitness goals more quickly.


A bit of "climate control" from a built-in fan can also boost your comfort. Ideally you'll get more than one choice for fan setting. The best elliptical fan design is on NordicTrack consoles; their AutoBreeze fans can self-adjust to your workout intensity.


Choosing a machine with a water bottle holder is also wise. Ample hydration is of course critical to getting a great elliptical workout.

Connection

Internet access during workouts can be a wonderful motivator to exercise. Imagine how much longer you might train with on-board email access, social media, breaking news and so on.


In just about any price range, you can buy an elliptical with a touch screen and Android browser.


But the most cost-effective choice might be a "BYOC" fitness machine. That is, bring your own computer. Save money on elliptical electronics by docking your own tablet computer to the console. NordicTrack and many other brands let your own tablet serve as a secondary console for workout programming as well as entertainment and multitasking.

Data Sharing

Do you use FitBit or a similar mobile app? Many people are using mobile apps to log daily step counts, heart rate and other health/fitness data. Thus it's becoming more common for exercise equipment to be app-friendly. Sole Fitness is one of the leading fitness brands that added Bluetooth connectivity to their ellipticals for 2017. If you use an elliptical with Bluetooth, you can automatically sync your workout stats with FitBit, iHealth, MyFitnessPal and countless other mobile apps.


Many fitness equipment manufacturers have their own mobile apps and wearable trackers too. The most popular example might be the iFit Vue that's advertised with NordicTrack ellipticals.

Wireless Heart Rate Monitoring

When we say that an elliptical is a "cross trainer" we mean that it delivers both strength and cardio workouts. With cardio in mind we recommend ellipticals that have wireless heart rate receivers. These are common on ellipticals in the middle and high price brackets.


With a constant stream of accurate heart rate data, you can train more efficiently by always staying within your target heart rate zone. Also with good data, you can keep track of your pulse from month to month -- and when you see improvement, that’s excellent motivation to keep up your healthy lifestyle.


Contact heart rate monitoring is also an option. This feature is included on most trainers, even very cheap ellipticals… but a common customer complaint about cheap ellipticals is that their heart rate monitors are inaccurate and therefore useless… possibly even dangerous if you trust their "alternative facts!"

Workout Programs

Built-in elliptical workout programs automate your trainer, helping you get smartly-designed workout sessions with minimal need for set-up. Basically an elliptical workout program controls the machine’s speed and resistance. If applicable, it can control incline and stride length too.


Programs can be customized in different ways (e.g., time, distance or calories), and on a good elliptical the general selection is varied. For example:


  • Common categories on elliptical workout menus are Cardio, Interval, Performance, Strength, and Weight Loss.
  • Generic program names are Manual, 5K, Rolling Hills, Interval, and Heart Rate Control.

Besides the above categories, advanced cross training elliptical workout programs are supplied by Octane Fitness, NordicTrack and a few other manufacturers. These prompt you to perform cross-training exercises on and off the machine.


Displays for elliptical workout programs are extremely varied. At one extreme, many brands still use classic dot matrix displays. At the other extreme, various leading brands use full-color touchscreens and can show high-definition workout video programs. With WiFi connections they might allow unlimited new workout downloads too. And in any price range, you can buy an elliptical that has a bracket to hold your tablet computer. For many fitness equipment brands, your tablet can interact with the machine and serve as your control panel.


Take time to read elliptical reviews and compare your workout program options, as these can significantly shape the price and your exercise experience. In our part-by-part reviews you’ll see other popular elliptical features too: USB charging ports, wide-screen TVs, iPod-compatible speakers and more.

List of Ellipticals by Review Score

The following models aren’t featured on the “Top 5 Best ellipticals” chart but are still worth a look.

6

Bowflex Max Trainer M5

Rating: 93.5%
Price: $1,599 - Best Price: $1,549

Max Trainer Editor's Choice: The M5 is the premium model in the Max Trainer line. Its unique compact design provides a workout that burns 2.5x the calories of a traditional elliptical. With lots of programs and resistance levels, the M5 will continue to get results for a long time. Read Review »

7

NordicTrack FS9i

Rating: 92.8%
Price: $3,999 - Best Price: $2,999

The NordicTrack FS9i is the top of the line Freestride Trainer with all of the extra features and programs. Read Review »

8

Sole E35

Rating: 92.6%
Price: $2,299 - Best Price: $1,399

The Sole E35 is an elliptical that features all the basic specs (20 resistance levels, 20 inch stride, 20 lb flywheel) needed to reach your fitness goals. The elliptical also features cushioned and adjustable pedals as well as iPod/mp3 compatibility and is backed by a quality warranty. Read Review »

9

Sole ST600

Rating: 92.6%
Price: $2,999 - Best Price: $1,999

The Sole ST600 Strider is an adjustable crosstrainer that mimics low-impact elliptical stepping, walking and jogging at an affordable price point compared to alternatives from competitors. Read Review »

10

NordicTrack Commercial 14.9

Rating: 92.3%
Price: $2999 - Best Price: $1,499

The NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 features a full-color 10" web enabled LCD display with 32 workout apps and all sorts of bells and whistles. Read Review »

11

Cybex 770AT

Rating: 92.3%
Price: $8,645 - Best Price: $8,645

The Cybex 770AT is a great alternative to traditional elliptical machines. It is an arc trainer that enables an even lower impact workout than ellipticals can, plus it supports rapid calorie burn and targeted muscle toning. Read Review »

12

Cybex 770A

Rating: 92.3%
Price: $8,245 - Best Price: $8,245

The Cybex 770A is an appealing alternative to elliptical machines. Using an arc shape instead of an elliptical shape, it delivers superior muscle toning and calorie burn while being lower impact than ellipticals too. Read Review »

13

Bowflex BXE216

Rating: 92%
Price: $2,199 - Best Price: $1799

The Bowflex BXE216 is a brand new elliptical machine for Bowflex in 2017. Bowflex has a good track record for making quality machines and we are sure this one will follow. Read Review »

14

ProForm PRO 16.9 NE

Rating: 91.9%
Price: $2,499 - Best Price: $1,499

The ProForm PRO 16.9 Elliptical is full of options for the workout and entertainment lover. Read Review »

15

Cybex 625AT

Rating: 91.8%
Price: $7,845 - Best Price: $7,845

If it fits your gym budget, the Cybex 625AT is highly recommended. This total body trainer makes it possible to sculpt and strengthen the whole body, manage weight, exercise the heart and avoid joint pain. Read Review »

16

NordicTrack C 9.5

Rating: 91.6%
Price: $1,999 - Best Price: $999

The NordicTrack C 9.5 is a top buy front drive elliptical machine. It is quipped with 24 Digital Resistance Levels, 32 workout apps and a 7-inch web-enabled color touchscreen. Read Review »

17

Diamondback 1260Ef

Rating: 91.5%
Price: $2,299 - Best Price: $2,299

Rated as a top pick by FitRated and other related sites, the Diamondback 1260Ef elliptical is a sturdy and reliable machine with many of the basic expected features in an elliptical. While not the most feature rich machine, it's value shines in the quality. Read Review »

18

NordicTrack A.C.T. Commercial 10

Rating: 91.4%
Price: $2,999 - Best Price: $1,499

The Nordictrack A.C.T. Commercial 10 Elliptical is a space saving elliptical machine that offers a good mix of features and workouts. Read Review »

19

Sole E25

Rating: 91.3%
Price: $1,899.99 - Best Price: $999

The Sole E25 elliptical is of good value at under $1,000. The elliptical features adjustable stride length up to 20 inches, a 6.5-inch LCD display, 10 programs and pulse grips for heart rate monitoring. Read Review »

20

ProForm PRO 16.0 NE

Rating: 91.1%
Price: $2,499 - Best Price: $1,249

The ProForm PRO 16.0 NE features 20 levels of Silent Magnetic resistance, 20 inch stride length, 40 workout programs, iFit and iPod compatibility. Read Review »

21

Sole SC200 Stepper

Rating: 91.1%
Price: $1,499 - Best Price: $899

The Sole SC200 Stepper is a simple yet high quality stepper that respects your knees. Now priced at just $899 with a three-year warranty on parts and electronics, it also respects your hard-earned cash. Read Review »

22

NordicTrack C 12.9

Rating: 91%
Price: $2,299 - Best Price: $1,299

The NordicTrack C 12.9 is full of advanced features to make your workout effective and something you look forward to. Read Review »

23

NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

Rating: 90.8%
Price: $2,499 - Best Price: $1,299

The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i takes up the smallest footprint on the market when folded up for storage. The elliptical also features a web-enabled 7" display and 30 workout apps. Read Review »

24

Octane Fitness ZR8 Zero Runner

Rating: 90.8%
Price: $4,299 - Best Price: $4,299

The Octane ZR8 Zero Runner is an ideal cardio trainer for runners who want to avoid injury and boost performance. If the ZR8 fits your budget, it could be your best choice for a zero impact home cardio trainer. Read Review »

25

Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Elliptical

Rating: 90.8%
Price: $7,999 - Best Price: $7,999

The Platinum Club Series Elliptical is a favorite among luxury shoppers. It features the impressive performance of spa fitness machines, plus it connects with the world to enhance workout options and provide entertainment. Read Review »