There are many different brands and models of elliptical trainer machines. But generally they all fall into one of 3 different categories. The easiest way to differentiate ellipticals is by price: “budget” priced, mid-level priced, and high-end models. The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to buying elliptical training machines is that, like most types of home exercise equipment, you definitely get what you pay for.
These are the low-end machines that can often be found in places like Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, and discount sporting goods stores. They also include most of the “infomercial” elliptical products seen on TV. They tend to be lighter and made out of flimsier, lower-quality materials. In general budget ellipticals don’t last more than a year or two, and sometimes even less.
The main benefit of buying budget ellipticals is obvious: you save money. The good news is that it is still possible to find a decent-quality model for $900, $800, and sometimes even as low as $500 if you really shop carefully. Well cared-for used elliptical machines sometimes are a great sub-$1000 bargain.
The negatives associated with budget priced ellipticals are low-quality construction and bad warranties. Some really cheap models may even have stability and safety issues. Also, the low-end machines usually have few if any extra features. Unless you find an incredible deal on a used machine or older model elliptical you should stay away from the cheap, budget-priced machines!
These are usually the highest-quality, best-made elliptical machines available. They feature very good materials and strong construction. “Gym quality” models are often the best and highest-priced, mainly because they offer incredibly smooth workouts for many years.
The primary benefits are: solid construction, smooth operation, and lots of extra features. They also usually have the best ergonomics and very good warranties that protect your investment for years.
The negatives associated with the most expensive elliptical trainers include: high price and big, heavy equipment that’s not at all easy to move around your home. Also, high price isn’t a total guarantee of quality. There are a few over-$2000 models that have serious design flaws and or common manufacturing defects. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on your elliptical you definitely need to do a lot of research to make sure you’re not overpaying.
There are many good mid-price ellipticals (generally between $1000 and $2000) on the market. Most of the best deals on elliptical trainer machines are found in this category. Mid-level models usually offer good material and construction quality, decent warranties, and a few popular features.
The main benefit of mid-priced ellipticals is value. You can get a lot of machine for your money, in other words. This is why most elliptical machine purchases are around $1500. The best deals give you near gym-quality construction and feature-set for significantly less than what you’d pay for the most expensive models.
The main negative of mid-level ellipticals is risk. If you don’t do you research you can get ripped of easily. Some $1700 models are no better, and often worse, than the best $1000 models. Also, some mid-level ellipticals come with pretty bad warranties that significantly lower their lifetime and re-sell values.
Next: The Best Elliptical Machine Features