Best Ellipticals Under $1,000

The best elliptical machines priced from $500 to $999 serve well for light to moderate exercise. They aren’t ultra-smooth performers like health club ellipticals, but they’re a big step up from the budget class. Here we show three top-scoring choices in this price class. We also list many other elliptical machines under $1,000 and share some guidelines for machine quality in this price category.

Top Elliptical Trainers Under $1,000

Using scores from our elliptical review articles, we show three top elliptical trainers priced from $500 to $999. These are overall winners when judged for durability, display, features and the manufacturer’s customer service.

See All Ellipticals Under $1,000 »

These three choices are good examples of three popular elliptical trainer brands. Sole, NordicTrack and Bowflex all take different approaches to home fitness machines. Sole elliptical machines are best buys for people who value simplicity over flashy features, though the Sole E25 shown here does have Bluetooth and iPod-compatible speakers. With NordicTrack on the other hand, the best elliptical under 1000 dollars is more feature-rich; the NordicTrack C 9.5 above has a web-enabled touchscreen along with iPod-compatible speakers. Sole and NordicTrack also provide a water bottle holder, cooling fan and other amenities on each machine. Finally, the Bowflex Max Trainer is built especially for high-intensity workouts. This compact elliptical trainer is a popular low-impact alternative to treadmills and standard ellipticals.

Buying Guide to Elliptical Trainers Under $1,000

Compared with very low-budget ellipticals, those priced from $500 to $999 tend to have much better ergonomics, resistance and durability. Here's a quick guide to the typical elliptical trainer in this price range.

Elliptical Trainer Performance

Elliptical machine performance is mostly shaped by resistance and stride length. In other words, the quality depends on how much force the pedals can deliver, and how long your steps can be (you don’t want to feel cramped). Sometimes in the under-$1000 price range you can get the performance perk of an incline. Here are some tips about stride length, resistance and incline.

Resistance:  Comparing elliptical machines for resistance, you’ll notice type and amount of resistance.  Most elliptical machines for 2017 use magnetic resistance. Magnetic resistance is quieter and more durable than mechanical resistance, which could use felt brake pads that quickly wear down from friction. As for amount of resistance, this tends to increase with price. On very cheap ellipticals the resistance might be 12.5 pounds, which is too light for most shoppers. Only on the best $999 cross trainers can you expect the equivalent of about 18 to 25 pounds of resistance, which is respectable for beginners and intermediate trainees. Many of the pricier elliptical trainers for home gyms and clubs provide 25 to 35 pounds of force at the highest resistance level.

Stride Length: A key to comfortable elliptical training is a natural-feeling stride. Cheap ellipticals tend to have very short strides, but the best options under $1,000 have at least 18" strides -- an ideal length for shorter trainees -- or the industry-standard 20". In higher price categories you can see elliptical trainers with adjustable stride length. Adjustable stride helps the machine fit different users. It also provides each trainee with extra workout variety; you can get a different sort of lower body workout by taking shorter or longer steps.

Incline: Some of the best $999 ellipticals have automated inclines. An automated incline gives an instant metabolic boost; an uphill workout demands more energy. An incline also makes the machine even more effective for muscle sculpting. With each slight change in angle, different muscle fibers are recruited.The steepest incline you’ll see in our elliptical trainer reviews is 20 percent.

Elliptical Trainer Durability

The best elliptical trainers under $1,000 are designed to deliver at least two years of exercise before requiring significant maintenance. Compared with ultra cheap ellipticals, these are more durable partly because they have metal parts instead of plastic. Their electronics also tend to be higher quality. Here are some details to look for in elliptical reviews and on sale pages to judge durability.

Maximum User Weight: An elliptical machine's maximum user weight capacity is a clue about how well the unit will perform over time. Look for a machine that can hold at least 250 pounds. Also, choose a machine that has at least a 50-pound higher capacity than your own weight.
Warranty: An elliptical trainer warranty package is usually the best indicator of its durability. With the best elliptical trainers under $1,000 you can expect two-year parts warranties and one-year labor warranties. This is a big jump up from the under-$500 price class in which parts and labor are often free for just 90 days to six months.
Brand Reputation: Some fitness brands are hit or miss, but most are known for a certain quality level across their lineups. See our elliptical brand ratings for fitness industry leaders.

Best Ellipticals Under $1,000 for 2017

Your best elliptical under 1000 dollars is likely right here. Check out these five favorites on our elliptical trainer comparison chart updated for this year.

Best Ellipticals Under $1,000

Model Rating Flywheel Resistance Price Lowest Price
Bowflex Max Trainer M3 4-stars N/A 8 Levels Under $1,000 See best price »
Sole E25 4-stars 19 LBS ECB Under $1,000 See best price »
NordicTrack C 9.5 4-stars 25 LBS 22 Digital Levels Under $1,000 See best price »

Features

The best elliptical machine under $1,000 go beyond the basics. With enough resources available for reasonably good biomechanics and challenge, manufacturers can invest a bit more in electronics and other special features. Here are a few examples.

Heart Rate Monitor: The best cross trainers under $1000 have wireless heart rate receivers.

These receivers are more accurate than the contact grips provided on $500-and-under machines. They're also more convenient to use. With a constant readout of heart rate, a trainee can be sure to exercise within a target heart rate zone and have the most efficient training sessions possible.

Console Displays: A common screen size in this price range is about 5" x 7", which is much larger than what's found on very cheap ellipticals. Generally these screens don't have the full color, video and touch technology found on higher-priced models. However, on some units these benefits are available through connected smartphones or tablet computers.
Workout Programs: Built-in workout variety on the best $999 ellipticals helps keep trainees motivated and engaged. Newer ellipticals in this price class have Bluetooth connections to integrate mobile devices too. This supports new program downloads and lets tablet computers work as machine controllers and workout displays.

List of Elliptical Trainers Under $1,000

The best ellipticals under $1,000 are basic but make the average user happy. Top options have good ergonomics with 18" to 20" strides and maximum resistance of about 18 to 20 pounds. Some have special features such as automated inclines and mobile app integration. The following list shows ellipticals under $1,000 with a variety of ratings.

For comparison you might see the top ellipticals under $1,500. Some of the best machines in that category have adjustable stride length and a more challenging max resistance level.