Best Cheap Ellipticals Under $500

A $500 budget for an elliptical trainer is quite low, but that doesn't mean you can't get a decent machine. With careful shopping you can avoid the troublemakers and choose a strong value-priced machine. To make that tricky shopping task easier, here are our picks for top three cheap elliptical trainers. We also list a few other less than ideal ellipticals under $500 and explain what you can reasonably expect from a machine at this price level. By the end you might decide to jump to a higher price level, but you also might find a simple elliptical in here that suits your home gym needs just fine.

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.

See All Ellipticals Under $500 »

Buying Guide to Elliptical Machines Under $500

By now, you've probably noticed that plenty of ellipticals cost $2,000 or more. If that's not in your price range, you may be wondering what to expect from a cheaper elliptical trainer and how they differ from luxury cross trainers. Here's a brief guide to help you choose the best elliptical under 500 dollars..


Basic factors that shape an elliptical machine's performance are resistance and stride length. Here's what to expect out of those categories 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 (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 in general they should be avoided. Compromising on stride length can cause knee pain and other discomforts, which defeats the purpose of using an elliptical in the first place.

Resistance Type: As an elliptical machine's flywheel spins, the pedal resistance is controlled by contact braking or 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 Strength: 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. 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 skill 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.


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, low quality parts.

Warranty: A warranty package is usually the best indicator of a fitness machine's 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. In contrast, High-end ellipticals 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 for a new model, the manufacturer's reputation is a good indicator of what to expect. If last year's models earned poor reviews, then this year's machines probably won't fare well either.

Read Elliptical Brand Reviews


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 as well.

Workout Programs: The workout guidance on a 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 workout programs. Plus they have wifi 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 and are 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 compromises from users, but they can still be useful tools for regular light training or rainy day workouts. Here is a list of all ellipticals under $500 that we have reviewed. For comparison, check out the lists for the $500 to $1,000 price 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 »
Sunny Magnetic 2-stars Under $1,000 See best price »
Gold’s Gym Stride Trainer 380 2-stars Digital resistance Under $1,000 See best price »