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Top Picks for Elliptical Trainers


Updated May 24, 2014

Elliptical trainers are growing in popularity due to the low impact and combined upper and lower body workout. The prices for elliptical trainers vary from a few hundred dollars to over $5,000. The list below consists of recommendations in the $700-$1,999 price range. Recommendations from Fred Waters are based not only on his personally testing the machines, but also third-party reviews, customer testimonials, and company reputation. Other picks are chosen by their top ratings by other reviewers.

1. Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer

Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Sole has built a reputation on quality fitness equipment at a value price. Their treadmills won several best buy recommendations and are used by the Hilton chain for in-room workouts. The Sole E35 sells for under $1,400, which includes shipping. For the price, you get a machine equipped with a heavy 29 lb flywheel, a long 20-22" stride, wireless heart rate control, and a sturdy 215 lb weight. Best of all, the sole E55 is covered with a 5-year parts and 2-year labor warranty. This model earned the Best Buy 2014 designation from TreadmillDoctor.com.
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2. Smooth 3.6 Elliptical Trainer

Smooth Fitness CE 3.6 Elliptical Trainer
Smooth Fitness
Fred Waters says: In addition to being a quality machine with a very smooth elliptical motion, the Smooth 3.6 comes with a lifetime parts warranty. I am not familiar with any other company that offers comparable coverage. In comparison to the Sole E55, the Smooth 3.6 uses a rear wheel drive, electromagnet brake system. Some find the rear drive preferable and find the elliptical motion more natural. The 3.6 is also equipped with wireless heart rate control and pivoting foot pedals. The pedals angle with the elliptical motion, further reducing stress to your joints. TreadmillDoctor.com gave it their runner-up Best Buy Award 2014 for ellipticals priced $1000 - $1299. However, they noted that it has a fixed stride length of 18 inches, which may be too short for users over 5'10" tall.
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3. Octane Fitness Q37ci

Octane Fitness Q37ci
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
This elliptical got top ratings from Consumer Reports in 2012. It comes with both a chest strap heart rate monitor and grip pulse monitors, with four heart-rate based exercise programs. In addition, it has X-Mode, Glutekicker and Armblaster programs to tone specific areas. But of even more interest is that it has stationary platforms and resistance bands to use in doing circuit training routines. For safety, it has a MOM mode so kids can't play with it and hurt themselves. But it all comes at a hefty price tag of over $3000.
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4. Smooth CE 5.5 Elliptical Trainer

Smooth CE 5.5 Elliptical Trainer
Smooth Fitness
You can adjust the stride in 1-inch increments from 18 inches to 21 inches. It comes with 24 different intensity levels and 26 built-in workouts. Four of the workouts are heart rate controlled, and it comes with a wireless chest strap heart rate monitor. Smooth has a great warranty - 60 day money-back guarantee, lifetime warranty on the frame, 5 years on parts and 2 years for in-home labor. It also has a smaller footprint at only 60 inches long.
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5. NordicTrack A.C.T. Commercial Elliptical Trainer

NordicTrack A.C.T. Commercial Elliptical Trainer
Icon Fitness
This compact design is called "commercial" but it would fit nicely in your home fitness room. It's only about half the length of most elliptical trainers at 51 inches long. You can adjust the stride length from 18 to 20 to 22 inches. It's compatible with the iFit add-on for interactive workouts. It comes with a CardioGrip heart rate monitor and a wireless Polar heart rate monitor strap. It earned TreadmillDoctor.com's Best Buy 2014 for the $799 - $999 price range.
Manufacturer's Site

6. Smooth CE 8.0 LC Elliptical Trainer

Smooth CE 8.0 LC Elliptical Trainer
© Smooth
If you are looking for a very stable, durable elliptical trainer, the CE 8.0 LC is a good choice. It is rated for users up to 400 pounds. It has a fixed stride of 21 inches and doesn't have an incline feature. Smooth has a 2-year warranty on labor and 10-year warranty on parts.
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7. New Balance 9.0e Elliptical Trainer

Fred Waters says: The New Balance 9.0e is one of the slickest looking ellipticals on the market. Selling for around $1,000, it has a very solid feel and a comfortable motion. It is equipped with a (6) window LCD display, allowing you to get numerous readouts simultaneously. I particularly like the heart rate monitor on the moveable handlebars. Most companies place the monitor on stationary grips, defeating the benefit of the dual action workout. The one drawback is the 9.0e only has (8) levels of resistance. You may find, when going from one level to another, the change in resistance is significant.
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