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Best Front Drive Ellipticals of 2017

Comparing ellipticals for home use, you’ll see two main types of machines: front drive and rear drive. The category names tell you where the flywheels (the resistance systems) are stored. Learning about the design differences isn’t fascinating, but it’s darn important for smart shopping! Each machine style generally has a unique set of advantages and drawbacks.

Front drive ellipticals have their pedal resistance systems stored up front -- underneath their consoles instead of hanging out at the back. Therefore the average front drive trainer takes less floor space. But nowadays factories make excellent compact rear drive trainers too… so what’s the BIG advantage of a front drive elliptical? Lower price. Partly because of patent protections, typically it costs less to put the drive up front.

Some of the highest-rated home ellipticals have front drives, but do shop carefully. To emulate the natural-feeling stride of the original rear drive design, the best front drive ellipticals have articulating pedals or adjustable incline. Without at least one of these features, the ride could feel uncomfortable… and that would be ironic! Ultra-comfortable cross training is the goal. Also, the best front drive machines have high quality rollers to reduce vibration and help ensure durability. Our reviewers’ favorites for 2017 are featured on the chart below.

Top 5 Best Rated Front Drive Ellipticals

1 2 3 4 5
Model

Sole
E95

Sole
E98

Sole
E55

Sole
E95S

Sole
ST600

Rating

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

Rating: 95.1 %
Rating: 94.1 %
Rating: 94.1 %
Rating: 93.9 %
Rating: 92.6 %
Resistance

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

20 levels20 LevelsMultiple15 Levels16 Levels
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).

20"20"20"18" - 24"18" - 26"
Programs

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

1010101012
Flywheel

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

27 lbs30 lbs17 lbs34 lbs27 lbs
MSRP

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

$2,699$3,499$2,499$3,299$2,999
Pricing

After carefully evaluating each online retailer that offers this Elliptical, this is the website we recommend purchasing from.

See Best PriceSee Best PriceSee Best PriceSee Best PriceSee Best Price

Front Drive Ellipticals Buying Guide

The first decision you’ll need to make when you begin shopping for a new elliptical is “Do I want a front, center or rear wheel drive?” While there is no true “right” answer, the drive system of your elliptical will impact your performance. Some exercise enthusiasts are absolutely steadfast on only using rear drive systems. Meanwhile, others have changed through the years from rear drive to front drive systems. Again, it’s a personal choice.

In order to understand front drive ellipticals, we should begin with the history of ellipticals. The first elliptical trainers started to emerge in American health clubs in the late 90s. Consequently, the elliptical is still a fairly new innovation. Today, ellipticals have all but replaced Stairmasters as the preferred lower body cardio trainer.

Because ellipticals are still a relatively new invention, manufactures are still finding ways to improve the machine. Front drive ellipticals, also known as shuffle trainers, provide a motion that is similar to the old Stairmasters and feature a stepping motion. Rear drive ellipticals, meanwhile, generally feature a smoother, natural heel-to-toe motion that is often seen on commercial models from Precor and Life Fitness.

However, that is not to say that front drive ellipticals are inferior to rear drive ellipticals. Sole Fitness, for example, features a front drive design and their ellipticals are highly regarded for the home market. On the other hand, NordicTrack offers all three different types of ellipticals for you to choose from.

Some experts will tell you that the front drive elliptical trainers are more linear and thus produce a flatter oval motion. Users may say that this design is not as comfortable or fluid. Others will feel that the front drive ellipticals lack the same stability because you are placing more weight toward the front in order to power the trainer. Consequently, the elliptical might wobble noticeably if the frame is not stable.

Regardless, front and rear drive ellipticals are both enhanced when they are equipped with a heavy-duty flywheel. You’ll find flywheels on more expensive models and they are definitely worth the higher price tag. Flywheels allow a much smoother motion and stride, which can make front drive ellipticals as fluid as rear drive ellipticals.

In the end, the decision to buy a rear drive or front drive elliptical will come down to personal preference. If you’re not sure which design works best, it is a really great idea to test ride BOTH drive designs. Do you notice a major difference? If not, you can probably save a little money and invest in a front drive elliptical.

More Front Drive Ellipticals

The following did not make the Top 5 Front Drive Ellipticals, but are still worth a look:

6

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 »

7

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 »

8

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 »

9

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 »

10

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 »

11

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 »

12

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 »

13

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 »

14

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 »

15

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 »

16

Octane Fitness XT-One

Rating: 90.6%
Price: $8,500 - Best Price: $8,500

The Octane XT-One is an exceptional fitness machine. Like no other it supports striding, running and climbing along with advanced cross training. It can even be used as just an upper body trainer if side platforms are added. Read Review »

17

Sole ST300

Rating: 90.4%
Price: $2,699 - Best Price: $1,499

The newly introduced Sole ST300 Strider is a smart, low-impact way to train. It is a flexible cross-trainer for all body sizes that has 16 levels of resistance and 12 pre-set programs. Read Review »

18

Bowflex BXE116

Rating: 90.3%
Price: $1,999 - Best Price: $1499

The Bowflex BXE116 is a brand new elliptical machine for Bowflex in 2017 and the entry level one for the Results Series. Read Review »

19

NordicTrack Elite 12.9

Rating: 89.5%
Price: $1,299 - Best Price: $1,299

The NordicTrack Elite 12.9 is packed with features and functionality that will present a challenge and intense workout to almost any user. Read Review »

20

ProForm CardioHIIT Trainer Pro

Rating: 89.3%
Price: $1,999 - Best Price: $1,499

The ProForm CardioHIIT Trainer Pro is a high quality trainer because it's gentle on the body, has many challenge levels and uses workout time efficiently. Read Review »

21

ProForm Endurance 920 E

Rating: 89.2%
Price: $1,699 - Best Price: $999

The ProForm Endurance 920 E Elliptical is a great budget elliptical under $1,000. It has a 7-inch full-color touchscreen and 32 workout apps. Read Review »

22

NordicTrack C 7.5

Rating: 88.5%
Price: $1,299 - Best Price: $799

The NordicTrack C 7.5 is a good entry-level elliptical machine that is quipped with the necessary workout features to give you a good workout. Read Review »

23

ProForm Pro 12.9

Rating: 88.3%
Price: $1,999 - Best Price: $1,299

The ProForm Pro 12.9 offers 26 digital resistance levels, a 32-pound flywheel and 35 workout apps to help you get the workout you are looking for. Read Review »

24

Nautilus E618

Rating: 88.1%
Price: 1299 - Best Price: $1129

The Nautilus E618 features a 22 inch stride length, multiple levels of resistance, built-in cooling fan and LCD display. Read Review »

25

Octane Fitness Q37

Rating: 87.8%
Price: $2,899 - Best Price: $2,899

The Octane Q37 is a winner for total body training at all ability levels. It stands out from other high-end ellipticals with moving arm bars partly because of its extra support for cross training. Read Review »