Best Cheap Ellipticals Under $500

A $500 elliptical trainer budget is small but useful. With careful shopping you can avoid the troublemakers and choose a good value. To help you out, here we share three top-ranking cheap elliptical trainers. We also list other ellipticals under $500 and explain what you can reasonably expect in this price category. You might decide to jump to a higher price level, but you might find the best elliptical for you and your home gym right here.

Top Elliptical Machines Under $500

Our elliptical review writers assign scores for machine durability, display, features and customer service. These three winners earn the best overall scores in their price class.

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Buying Guide to Elliptical Machines Under $500

Shopping for an elliptical machine, you've probably noticed choices that cost $2,000 or more. What can you expect from a cheap elliptical trainer? How is it different from a luxury cross trainer? Here's a brief guide to help you choose the best elliptical under 500 dollars..

Performance

Basic factors that shape an elliptical machine's performance are resistance and stride length. Here's what to expect from an elliptical under $500.

Stride Length: Natural stride is essential to comfortable and low-risk elliptical workouts. Most adults have natural strides of about 18 to 22 inches, and the standard for elliptical trainers in health clubs is 20". Unfortunately stride length is often much shorter on ellipticals under $500. Some machines have strides as short as 13 inches and should generally be avoided. Note - Compromising on stride length can cause knee pain and other discomfort.

Resistance Type: As an elliptical machine's flywheel spins, the pedal resistance is controlled by contact braking or with touch-free magnetic force. Magnetic resistance is now the standard for cross trainers in all price categories. Compared with contact braking it is quieter and lower maintenance.

Resistance Amount: A key difference between cheap elliptical trainers and higher-priced alternatives is the amount of resistance. Very cheap ellipticals have light resistance and tend to produce not-so-smooth rides, especially if a user carries more weight. The relatively light resistance also means that workouts are less challenging. Ellipticals under $500 tend to have maximum resistance of about 12 to 15 pounds, which is generally only suitable for beginners. Making elliptical comparisons, machines priced from $500 to $999 tend to have 20-pound resistance systems for smoother rides and training through the intermediate ability level. Club-quality cross trainers have even heavier drives to produce the smoothest motion and support any ability level.

Resistance Levels: How many settings are available? With more resistance settings, you can get a more precise challenge. Your best elliptical under $500 will offer everything from light to powerful force, and you'll get at least 16 settings.

Durability

Elliptical trainers are complex machines. Knowing a few specifics can help you make an educated guess about durability.

Maximum User Weight: Elliptical trainers at health clubs typically have user weight limits of 300 to 400 pounds. When buying a cheap home elliptical, insist on a unit that can hold at least 250 pounds. Exercise machines with lower capacities tend to be comprised of lightweight, substandard parts.

Warranty: A warranty package is usually the best indicator of fitness machine quality. The most important section to consider is the parts coverage. Even with the best elliptical under $500 you can only expect a six-month parts warranty. High-end ellipticals, in contrast, have their parts under warranty for a few years or more. They also have much longer labor coverage.

Brand Reputation: When you can't find elliptical reviews about a new model, the manufacturer's reputation can be a good clue about what to expect. If last year's models earned poor reviews, then this year's machines probably won't fare well either.

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Features

Discount elliptical shoppers seeking good value should focus primarily on performance and durability. The highest-rated $500 elliptical trainers are rather light on special features. Here are some guidelines.

Heart Rate Monitor: The best cardio trainers make it easy to monitor heart rate. This helps you exercise in a target heart rate zone and easily track improvement over time. But heart rate monitoring is one area in which cheap ellipticals fall short. An elliptical under 500 dollars won't include a wireless heart rate monitor, and the contact pulse readers on board can be very misleading. If you do choose an elliptical under $500, consider treating yourself to an accurate heart rate monitor too.

Workout Programs: The workout guidance on a very cheap elliptical trainer tends to be limited. Expect preset programs in one or two categories. Program variety and quality tends to be significantly better in the next price class. Some of the best ellipticals let you design and save customized programs, plus they have online connections for downloading new workouts.

Display: Ellipticals under $500 tend to use older display technology. The screens tend to be small. Some screens aren't backlit, so they're difficult to read. In higher price classes the ellipticals tend to have larger windows and crisper readouts. Some have colorful touchscreen displays.

List of Elliptical Trainers Under $500

Ellipticals under $500 require some compromise, but they can be useful tools for regular light training or rainy day workouts. Here is a list of all ellipticals under $500 for which we have reviews. For comparison see lists for the $500 to $1,000 category.

Best Ellipticals Under $500

Model Rating Flywheel Resistance Price Lowest Price
ProForm Hybrid Trainer 4-stars 12.4 LBS 16 Digital Levels Under $1,000 See best price »
Bladez E300 3-stars 13 LB 16 resistance levels Under $1,000 See best price »
Gold’s Gym Stride Trainer 380 2-stars Digital resistance Under $1,000 See best price »