The “Best Buy” awards are based on a number of factors. We physically test the machines to determine overall quality and product performance. In addition, we consider customer feedback, third party reviews, company reputation and product warranty. In particular, it is important to look at the company reputation and the product warranty.
When you purchase an elliptical trainer, you are not just buying a machine, but also the company that stands behind it. Whether you have a question about the elliptical operation, or you need service, you want to purchase from a company that stands behind their equipment.
When selecting an elliptical trainer, you also want to consider the extent of the warranty. An elliptical trainer warranty can be very revealing. Obviously, limited warranties suggest a machine that is not built to last, while extensive warranties imply a quality built machine designed for vigorous use.
2007 “Best Buy” Recommendations:
Under $1,000 – Spirit ZE110
Spirit Fitness ZE110 – I usually am reluctant to recommend any elliptical trainer under $1,000. At this price range, you are buying a budget machine, built with budget components. There are certain aspects of the ZE110 I can criticize, but for the price, it is a reasonable value. If you are looking for an inexpensive elliptical trainer for moderate usage, this model is worth considering.
$1,000 – $1,500
Smooth Fitness CE 3.2 – The one feature that immediately stands out on the Smooth CE 3.2 is the lifetime warranty. That generally is a clue about the quality of the machine. If the components cannot withstand rigorous use the company would go out of business replacing parts. The CE 3.2 is equipped with a heavy flywheel giving it a very smooth elliptical motion. Other features include an impressive console, a wide selection of challenging programs and wireless heart rate control. Smooth sells only direct and online, which results in a degree of savings to the consumer.
$1,500 – $2,000
Sole Fitness E55 – Sole’s marketing strategy is to build quality machines with quality components at reasonable prices, and the Sole E55 proves they are very successful with this value proposition. Besides the smooth and quiet elliptical motion, I really appreciated the 20″ stride. The motion does not feel as confined as so many other treadmills under $1,500. It comes with a 2-year service warranty. There is only one other manufacturer I am familiar with that offers similar coverage and their ellipticals start at over $3,000. This machine is comparable to higher end models.
$2,000 – $3,000
Life Fitness X3/X3i & Precor 5.17i – There are a number of excellent choices in this category, but the 2 companies that stand out are, Life Fitness and Precor. Since they both offer excellent products, we decided the “Best Buy” winner is a tie between the Life Fitness X3/X3i and the Precor EFX 5.17i. Both are quality machines that are very durable and extremely quiet. You can really tell the difference in their solid and stable performance. They are commercial quality at a residential price. It should be noted, the Precor EFX 5.17i offers only a lower body workout.
Precor EFX 5.23 – Most industry professionals agree the Precor EFX 5.23 is the top elliptical trainer in the market. Precor ellipticals are a favorite with top health clubs. The patented CrossRamp technology is their premium feature. It allows you to adjust the incline of the ramp as with a treadmill. By changing the incline, you can workout different muscles. It adds a whole new dimension to elliptical training. While testing a model at a fitness store, a woman walked by and said, “I own one and luv it.” If money is no object, and you can live without the upper body workout, then the EFX 5.23 is an excellent choice.