Best Ellipticals for 2017

Finding the best elliptical machine for your needs is a daunting task. With so many brands – and even more models – out there, how can you possibly know which one is best for you? We’ve listened to our wonderful followers and have assembled “best ellipticals” lists by the most popular use-cases to make it quick and easy to find the right elliptical machine, quickly. If price is the most important factor for you, check out our favorites by price tier. Listed below are the top 3 best ellipticals by the most popular categories. Click on ‘read review’ to learn more about each machine.

Best Ellipticals For Home Use

An elliptical machine in the home gives instant access to a variety of cardio workouts. More people are adding an elliptical trainer into their workout routines and even making it the primary cardio machine since the low-impact trainer is so easy on the joints. See our top elliptical choices for home use below.

Best Compact / Folding Ellipticals

Compact elliptical trainers are ideal for in-home use as they are typically smaller, lighter, and more compact overall than traditional elliptical trainers. Our best elliptical trainer picks in this category feature space-saving features such as a folding design that makes it very easy to be stored away.

Best Front Drive Ellipticals

Front drive elliptical trainers have the fly wheel, or drive system, located in the front of the trainer. Front drive design is the most widely used, typically found is less expensive, more compact models, mimicking the feel of a stair climber.

Best Center Drive Ellipticals

Center drive elliptical trainers have the fly wheel, or drive system, located on either side of the trainer, centering the weight of the user just over the drive system. Center drive models are newer and therefore harder to find and less researched.

Best Rear Drive Ellipticals

Rear drive trainers have the fly wheel, or drive system, located at the back of the trainer. Rear drive designed models can be found in more expensive, bulkier models, and mimic the feel of walking or jogging.

Best Hybrid Ellipticals

Cross-Trainer elliptical machines are designed to be a cross between an in-door or recumbent bike and an elliptical, also called a “hybrid” trainer. These top elliptical trainers are front drive designed and feature an adjustable seat and pedals.

Best Elliptical Bikes

Elliptical bikes are designed to be a cross between a traditional outdoor bicycle and an elliptical trainer. Like a traditional bicycle, the brakes are built into the handlebars, and like an elliptical trainer, the user is in a standing position, using oversized pedals.

Buying Guide for Home Elliptical Trainers

The quality of home elliptical trainers varies widely. Low quality machines sometimes cost less than $500, and some of the best home ellipticals cost thousands more. How much should you spend? Here are some tips about elliptical machine performance, parts warranties and more. You can also see our lists of best ellipticals by price.


Some of the best home ellipticals perform like health club fitness machines. Very cheap ellipticals on the other hand are poor imitations. Here are some performance essentials to know when shopping.

Resistance: The best home ellipticals offer wide ranges of resistance. They can challenge trainees in peak condition as well as those getting gentle physical therapy. A heavier flywheel makes a machine cost more, but it makes a big difference to performance quality. Look for a flywheel weight of at least 20 pounds if you want an elliptical to carry you beyond the beginner’s level. Also choose heavier resistance if an intended user is rather heavy. Otherwise the elliptical motion might not feel sufficiently smooth.

Stride: The best home ellipticals have stride settings for every intended user. In some families one size fits all, but in others it’s wise to choose an adjustable stride elliptical. This feature isn’t available on the cheapest ellipticals but becomes more common in the middle and higher price categories. Some of our favorite ellipticals have especially generous stride ranges. These are considered hybrid trainers because they work as low-impact treadmills and/or steppers as well as ellipticals.

Upper Body Training: Most but not all home ellipticals have moving arm bars. The best elliptical handlebars are angled to comfortably fit people of different sizes. On the best home ellipticals the coordination between the upper body and lower body training feels especially natural, whereas on cheap alternatives the movements might feel awkward.


At the cheap end of the price spectrum, the best home ellipticals have rather simple electronics. Most resources are put into essential components for durability. But when you spend an average or higher budget on an elliptical, you can expect great features along with long-lasting high performance. Here are some factors contributing to elliptical durability.

Metal vs. Plastic: Durable ellipticals have metal parts instead of breakable plastic. The metal also contributes to the higher weights of better machines, which makes them more stable during exercise.
Sealed Bearings: One problem with cheap ellipticals is that they wobble and squeak after just a few uses as bolts loosen. Better ellipticals have steel powdercoated frames or are sealed with a shroud of aluminum.

Rear Drive Design: Rear drive ellipticals are generally associated with the fewest maintenance needs. Still, durable ellipticals with center drives and front drives are easy to find. An advantage of center drive and front drive ellipticals is that they’re more compact.

Maximum User Weight: Maximum user weight is a great clue about elliptical durability. The best home elliptical trainers have user weight capacities of at least 300 pounds.

Warranty: Read the product warranty to get an idea about durability. The best ellipticals include electronics warranties as well as coverage for the moving parts and frame. If an elliptical parts warranty is for just 90 days or six months, then overall low quality is very likely.

Best Elliptical Picks: Summary

Model Rating Flywheel Resistance Price Lowest Price
Bowflex Max Trainer M5 5-stars N/A 16 Levels Under $2,000 See best price »
NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i 5-stars 20 LB 24 Levels Under $2,000 See best price »
Sole E95 5-stars 27 LBS ECB Under $2,000 See best price »


The best home ellipticals have just the right amount of features to keep people motivated with training variety and entertainment. Here are some popular features.

Adjustable Incline: While some ellipticals have adjustable stride, others have adjustable incline. These let people simulate climbing at different angles for muscle toning and especially rapid calorie burn. In general the incline options become greater as price increases. Some of the most popular ellipticals pair incline training with interactive video; look for technologies such as iFit and Passport.

Customized Programs: The quality and variety of exercise programming can contribute a good deal to the overall cost of a crosstrainer. On cheaper elliptical machines there might be many programs but little variety. The best home ellipticals support multiple user profiles, have excellent preset program variety, and can also supply personalized workout programs.

Heart Rate Control: The best home ellipticals can work with chest straps for wireless heart rate monitoring, plus they have programs for heart rate control. These ellipticals adjust their resistance to help people work within target heart rate zones.

HDTV: Premium home ellipticals have widescreen high definition TV screens. They make it easy to track workout data and watch your favorite programs at the same time.

iPhone/iPod Compatible: Home ellipticals at all price points have speakers for MP3 players. The better ellipticals have higher quality speakers and convenient console controls for mobile devices. Secure holders, sometimes with charging ports, are also built into the machines.