Sports Authority Black Friday 2015 Elliptical Sale Review

Looking for the latest 2016 sales for Black Friday? Check out our 2016 guide here.

For Black Friday 2015, Sports Authority will have special sale prices for six models of elliptical trainers. The cheapest elliptical will sell for just $199! The most expensive model will go for $949, which is about 50% off its MSRP. But just how good are these elliptical deals? Here we review the Sports Authority Black Friday offers, which will take effect Thanksgiving night and hold through Saturday. The ellipticals below are listed in order of price.

Body Rider Cardio Dual Trainer – Advertised at $199

The Body Rider Cardio Dual TrainerDouble your options! The cheapest elliptical in Sports Authority’s Black Friday ad is actually two trainers in one. The $199 Body Rider Cardio Dual Trainer works as both an entry-level elliptical and an upright exercise bike. Full price for this unit is $599, but the sale price is a better match for its 90-day warranty. Amazon sells it for just $169 with free Prime shipping.

Despite its light weight and short warranty, this product gets enthusiastic customer reviews. The Cardio Dual Trainer operates quietly, is easy on the knees and has plenty of preset programs. (It also arrives with a workout DVD, which has one 20-minute session.) Most owners would recommend it to their friends, although not to friends who are especially tall or especially small. The drive is a 15-pound flywheel.

The bottom line: The Cardio Dual Trainer is a definite entry-level trainer, but it’s great for the price. This is a good option for budgets under $200.

ProForm Hybrid Trainer – Advertised at $299

ProForm Hybrid TrainerThe ProForm Hybrid Trainer functions as both an elliptical trainer and a recumbent bike. It has a 15″ stride, 14 levels of rather light resistance and 14 preset programs. The Hybrid Trainer’s MSRP is $799, and Sports Authority is advertising a $500 discount for Black Friday. Is that a great deal? Not really. Here are some points to consider:

  1. The components are low-end. For example, the flywheel weighs just 12.4 pounds. This not only limits the workout challenge, but also produces a not-so-smooth ride.
  2. This product gets oodles of negative reviews. We’ve seen hundreds of complaints about the extra-frustrating assembly process, squeaky operation, wobbly rides, defective consoles and snapped parts.
  3. The warranty is for 90 days only.

Our verdict: Save your hard-earned cash! If your budget is very low, then the Body Rider Cardio Dual Trainer mentioned above is a better choice. If you can afford to spend a few hundred dollars more, then you can get much better value. The next ProForm on our list is a good example.

ProForm Endurance 520 E – Advertised at $549

ProForm Endurance 520 EWith a Black Friday sale price of $549 (shipping included), the ProForm Endurance 520 E is a good choice for new elliptical trainees and people with smaller budgets. Warranty coverage is for one year on parts and labor. Sports Authority shoppers can purchase an extended warranty that provides for in-home repairs.

Main features of the Endurance 520 E include a 20″ adjustable stride, a 15-pound flywheel and a five-position ramp for enhanced muscle targeting. Eighteen workout apps are included in the categories of calorie burn, performance, incline and speed. Progress is displayed on a 5″ LCD with backlighting.

iFit workouts are an option too, but there are two drawbacks to consider. First, the iFit monitor is sold separately. Second, a neat benefit of iFit is how it controls an elliptical trainer’s incline. That’s not an option on the 520 E because the ramp can only be adjusted manually. See the ProForm Smart Strider 935 for an example of an alternative.

The main perk for entertainment is an iPod port and 2″ speaker set. Trainees can also use a ledge to support a tablet computer, although it isn’t wide enough to hold certain tablet models.

All in all, this is a pretty good deal at $549. The Endurance 520 E has a much better reputation than some other ProForms we’ve reviewed. If you’re willing to spend $250 more, then you can get the more challenging Endurance 720 E instead. It has a 20-pound flywheel and a two-year parts warranty. It normally sells for $799 at Sports Authority and directly from ProForm.

Schwinn Journey 4.5 or Schwinn 470 – Advertised at $599

Schwinn 470The Schwinn Journey 4.5 Elliptical and Schwinn 470 are the same fitness machine. They’re discounted by $1,000 for Black Friday at Sports Authority. Unlike the ProForm described above, these Schwinn ellipticals have a comfortable 20″ stride and aren’t prone to breaking down. The Journey 4.5/Schwinn 470 has lots of other good points too:

  • Wireless heart rate monitoring
  • A motorized ramp with six incline choices
  • 29 workout programs
  • A USB charging port
  • Advanced data tracking
  • Speakers
  • A three-speed fan

We also like how the arm bars can remain static or move along with lower body workouts.

Any drawbacks? Our main criticism is that the Schwinn 470/Journey 4.5 has a light flywheel. It weighs about 13 pounds. Advantages of heavier flywheels are smoother rides and wider ranges of resistance. For comparison, the Elite 10.7 by NordicTrack – which Sears will sell for just $599 on Black Friday – has a 28-pound flywheel and a nice specs list overall. The NordicTrack also has a longer warranty for parts and labor.

FreeMotion 645 Elliptical – Advertised at $949

FreeMotion 645 EllipticalSelling for $949 on Black Friday, and normally priced at $1999, the FreeMotion 645 is the most expensive elliptical model in the Sports Authority ad flyer. This product looks pretty good on paper – especially with its long stride and 28-pound drive – but it’s inspired some very disappointed reviews. The average customer review on the Sports Authority website gives the FreeMotion 645 Elliptical two stars out of five. Four of those reviews give one star only, citing a combination of broken parts and poor customer service from the manufacturer.

Fortunately, shoppers have plenty of reliable alternatives! We’ve written positive reviews for a good number of elliptical trainers costing around $1,000 for Black Friday. One favorite is the $999 Sole E25 Elliptical. It has a long stride, a 25-pound flywheel and excellent ergonomics. Another is the $999 NordicTrack E 11.9, which has a web-enabled touchscreen and is ready for use with iFit interactive workouts. Both of these trainers have three-years parts warranties, and Sole customers get in-home labor for free.

For more elliptical deals, see our favorite elliptical trainers in five price categories.