Best Elliptical Machines of 2017

Guidelines on Buying the Best Elliptical Machine

Are you new to buying elliptical machines? Then these guidelines will help you make the right choice. Basically, elliptical trainers are perfect for workouts because they are low impact, easy on joints and challenge both lower and upper body parts, thus, providing users with their ultimate calorie burn. Unlike available treadmills, they use special cushioned pedals and drive systems to create a circular and smooth motion similar to jogging or walking. The main difference is that users’ feet never leave pedals, while their joints remain supported all the time. Another advantage of elliptical machines is their ability to work out both upper and lower body parts simultaneously, which is perfect for achieving people’s optimal calorie burn and increasing their muscle tone. Before choosing the right trainer, consumers should consider a few key factors to understand what to search for to end up with the best one for their needs.

Basic Goals and Budget Limits

First, it’s necessary to think about your available budget before making a final purchase. How much money can you spend? You should review all available features of elliptical trainers, such as elite, standard and basic, to define the price range to focus on. For instance, when shopping for a compact elliptical trainer for everyday personal use or if consumers are not interested in advanced and customized features, they should choose basic and affordable machines with a durable frame. When planning to reach advanced workout goals and being interested in heartrate-monitoring programs or more advanced consoles, choose elite or standard models that are more expensive. Consumers shouldn’t pay more if they want less, so they need to know their goals while staying within the chosen price ranges according to personal needs and fitness goals.

Design and Space

Based on a specific design or brand, some elliptical machines are more compact and have a foldable design or wheels, while others don’t have these features. Everything depends on where their flywheel or drive system is located: on the sides, in the back or in the front. Rear-drive elliptical machines with their flywheel in the back are easy to transport and compact. However, front-drive trainers with their flywheel in the front are even easier to store and compact for their simplified transportation, while some brands offer foldable designs. The newest models with their center-drive designs have the flywheel on the sides and they are quite compact, while some models also offer foldable designs.

Moreover, buyers need to know their space requirements to choose the right build and design of elliptical trainers. More elite models or those that have higher weight user capacities tend to be heavier and harder to maneuver, especially if they have no transport wheels. If you want to transport your exercise machine on a daily basis, you should pay attention to wheels, foldable designs and lighter models. Don’t forget to check the best elliptical machines for home use.

Brake and Resistance Systems and the Flywheel

The weight of the flywheel and brake and resistant systems are the most crucial factors when buying elliptical trainers as they are responsible for controlling such important factors as durability, overall feel and loudness when operating. When shopping for the best model, people should focus on machines with their eddy current brake systems, which use special magnets to create the necessary resistance. In general, electronic-magnetic resistance systems are the smoothest and most popular type because they involve only 3 basic parts, such as:

  • Magnets that create resistance;
  • Servo motors that move magnets into positions;
  • Computer boards that signal motors when to move magnets.

This type of brake system allows people to control their resistance just by pressing buttons either on handlebars or on consoles. When it comes to manual brake systems, they use tension knobs that don’t provide users with adjustable resistance levels, but they are very rare these days. The weight of the flywheel also plays an important role because electronic-magnetic resistance systems use magnets on it to provide the necessary tension. Standard and basic elliptical trainers come with flywheel weights about 15 pounds, but elite models are usually heavier. The heavier their flywheel, the smoother all strides will be. The only problem is that flywheel weights are not posted all the time, so consumers should figure that out. Different brands have different names for this brake and resistant system, so they may call it quiet drive or silent magnetic. It’s important to search for this feature when shopping for the quietest elliptical models that can offer quite a natural and smooth feel.

Console Features

For most buyers, they are a matter of their personal preference. For example, if they prefer more advanced entertainment options, including Internet connection, Android or Apple compatibility and built-in speakers, they should choose elite trainers. Some standard models have device compatibility and speakers, but they often don’t contain the full package. Nowadays, most consoles feature quality LCD screens, but some of them are backlit, which makes them easy to use or see in dim spaces, while others are not. If you prefer to use your elliptical machine in dim settings, backlit models are your best choice.

Besides, the sizes of screens also vary according to prices and brands. More affordable trainers have screens about 6 inches, while elite and expensive models have LCD screens about 10 inches and more. Most elite and standard elliptical machines also offer such basic features as reading racks, cup holders, accessory trays, built-in fans and others. Some brands can’t offer the same additional features, regardless of their high price, and that’s why consumers should check their basics. Another important factor to consider is the placement of a cup holder because some brands have it mounted well below a console, so users need to stop their workout sessions to reach down, while other elliptical models have these holders placed conveniently at an arm’s reach.

Consumers also need to consider a number of workout programs available on a console in addition to a special heartrate-monitoring system. They can expect anywhere from 8 to 28 workout programs, and everything depends on price ranges. The best part is that some elite elliptical trainers offer wireless heartrate-monitoring systems that can be linked to pre-set workout programs. Most models contain these monitors in their handlebars, and only elite and a few standard trainers have the wireless ones.

Customized Options

They are perfect if elliptical machines are intended to be used by many people, and such options can be great for those users who want to change their exercise routines and work their different muscle groups. Some of the most common customized options include adjustable pivoting pedals, inclines and strides. Those trainers that belong to the elite category also offer their automated and electronic adjustable inclines according to the built-in workout programs that adjust automatically based on the chosen exercise program and muscle groups. Unfortunately, standard elliptical machines lack this important feature.

Customizable strides mean that users can set the necessary stride, which is the length from the front to the back of their trainer, to be either longer (24 inches) or shorter (18 inches), and this option also depends on price ranges and available brands. Longer strides are often chosen by taller people, while the shorter ones are perfect for shorter users. Different stride length versions can come in handy when targeting certain muscle groups, too.

Adjustable pedals are not available on all elliptical machines, but they are perfect for most users. The main reason is that the less they have to lift their foot to meet the motions of strides, the less strain they put on the lower body. There are some models that come with pedals that can pivot with natural stride motions of people’s legs. If you prefer fixed movement elliptical machines that are less expensive, you should understand that they don’t have the option to adjust different features, and this means that they can’t offer a customizable and more comfortable workout experience.


They should be checked by all consumers because they serve as important indicators of quality and trust that companies have in their products. Warranties may vary considerably based on different factors, but many brands offer their lifestyle warranties on frames, regardless of the type of elliptical machine (elite, standard or basic). For basic models, buyers can expect labor and parts warranties as low as only 90 days. For elite and standard trainers, these warranties often last from 1 to 3-5 years. More elliptical machines have a shorter labor warranty (around 2 years) and longer parts guarantees (about 5 years). Expensive models come with parts and labor warranties that last up to 3 years, but affordable trainers have shorter terms. In conclusion, consumers shouldn’t overlook another important aspect, which is a warranty on the brake system. Some models list it separately or don’t provide it at all, while others include this warranty along with the frame one, but the best one is a lifestyle type.