Best Front Drive Ellipticals of 2021
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 2019 are featured on the chart below.
Top 5 Best Rated Front Drive Ellipticals
Rating: 95.1 %
Rating: 94.1 %
Rating: 94.1 %
Rating: 93.9 %
Rating: 92.6 %
|Resistance||ECB||20 Levels||ECB||15 Levels||20 Levels|
|Stride Length||20"||20"||20"||18" - 24"||20"|
|Flywheel||27 lbs||32 lbs||20 lbs||34 lbs||25 lbs|
|Pricing||See Best Price||See Best Price||See Best Price||See Best Price||See 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: