An elliptical machine is a stationary exercise machine that simulates walking, running, or even stair climbing. Good elliptical machines provide different levels of resistance, to increase workout intensity, and can involve the arms, to create a full-body workout.
It’s great for people who want to exercise from the comfort of home, as well as for people who have certain injuries, as it’s safer than running or climbing outside.
Sunny Health & Fitness’ elliptical machine has earned the top spot because it’s just all-around a great option:
It’s got good features and has been quite well-received by customers. On top of that, it’s got an unbeatable price. In particular, it’s ideal for those who have limited space in their home.Pros
- Excellent pricing, especially for what’s offered
- Adjust workout intensity by choosing from 8 levels of magnetic resistance
- Handy micro-controller lets you switch resistance levels easily
- Digital monitor that shows time, speed, distance, calories, and pulse (pulse sensors are built-in)
- Anti-slip handlebars and foot pads
- Onboard stabilizers keep movement smooth and even
- Small size and short stride length (11 inches) makes it ideal for crowded homes
- High 4/5 rating backed up by well over 8,000 reviews, plus Amazon’s Choice for elliptical machines
- As it’s intended to be compact, it may be too small for some; consistent complaints that it’s not suitable for those much taller than 5 ft
- In particular, consistent complaints that the stride length is too short
- Consistent complaints about build quality (in particular, screws coming loose and foot pedals breaking)
This elliptical machine has the unique distinction of being offered by a reputable brand in fitness products: Marcy turned 60 years old not too long ago.
And that long-standing reputation shows in this elliptical machine, which has everything you’d want, and for a decent price, too. It’s only held back by some complaints about assembly and build quality.Pros
- Generally affordable
- 8 resistance levels that can be easily tweaked
- LCD screen that displays time elapsed, distance traveled, and calories burned
- Ergonomic handles and pedals, which keep things comfortable, but also help you target different muscle groups
- Can support up to 300 lbs
- 2 year limited warranty
- Generally well-received; 3.7/5 rating backed up by over 400 reviews
- Batteries not included
- Consistent complaints that assembly is difficult, and that some parts may be missing or damaged upon arrival
- Some complaints that it’s not very sturdy
Schwinn’s 411 elliptical machine is an interesting, and polarizing option. To put it simply, this elliptical machine is great for the enthusiasts and those passionate about working out.
To those people, the high price is fully-warranted and the high resistance levels are the perfect challenge. To those who just want an elliptical machine to stay fit but who aren’t crazy about it, this is probably too costly and too difficult to use.Pros
- 16 levels of resistance, which is double the more common 8 levels
- Console displays time, speed, distance, calories burned, and heart rate (heart rate sensors are built into the handle)
- Built-in media rack (for holding phones/tablets) and water bottle holder
- Compact design but 18” stride
- Explore the World app displays virtual routes on a tablet/phone for immersion, and can track your workout by syncing with the elliptical machine’s measurements
- Generally well-received by customers: 4/5 rating backed up by over 800 reviews
- Consistent praise by customers for stability and build quality (even in negative reviews, this is noted)
- At over 100 lbs, a bit weighty (and thus less portable)
- Some would say the Explore the World app isn’t very useful, plus a subscription is needed to make the most use of it
- Consistent complaints that the resistance is too high even on the lowest setting
Body Power’s 2-in-1 elliptical machine combines multiple exercise functions into the general format of an elliptical machine, as you can probably surmise.
These are not modes you switch in and out of, but one motion that combines the benefits of both elliptical motion and stepper motion.
So it’s a great elliptical machine for those who are eager to have a more holistic workout. But for those who are mostly interested in just having an elliptical, this is not as advantageous.Pros
- Price is decent considering it’s two workout functions in one machine
- 2-in-1: elliptical machine with vertical climber function
- Curve crank technology applies constant tension to X and Y axes, delivering smooth and efficient motion
- 8 levels of resistance
- Smooth heavy-weight flywheel keeps things quiet
- LCD display tracks calories burned, time, speed, and distance
- Built in media shelf by LCD display for watching or listening to media on your device
- Generally well-received by customers: 4/5 rating backed up by over 700 reviews
- To those who just want a simple elliptical machine, this is probably overkill in terms of both price and design
- Consistent complaints about difficult assembly
- Consistent complaints about build quality and parts breaking or falling out
SNODE’s elliptical machine is a bit of a mixed bag, but will be a great option for some people. It's held back on this list by complaints about build quality.
However, it’s still generally well-priced for an elliptical machine, offers some more unique features, and has great customer service.Pros
- Generally decent pricing
- 8 levels of magnetic resistance
- LCD monitor displays distance in miles, calories burned, speed in miles, and pulse
- Adjustable horizontal stabilizer to keep the machine level
- 3pc crank enhances the machine’s durability and intensity
- Easy assembly
- Consistent praise for customer service; also guaranteed customer service response within 16 hours
- 1 year warranty and free replacement for damaged parts within the first year
- Generally well-received by customers, with dozens of reviews upholding a 3.9/5 rating
- Consistent complaints about build quality
- Consistent complaints that machine emits loud squeaks when in use
- Complaints that price is not proportionate to what’s on offer, though many also disagree with this
Item 6: Doufit Elliptical Machine
Doufit’s elliptical machine is held back on this list by some complaints about build quality and it not being fit for users of certain heights.
However, it’s still been pretty well-received by customers and comes at a pretty affordable price.
The general consensus on this elliptical machine is that it’s not ideal for power-users, but is great for those who just want to get a bit healthier in their side time.Pros
- Affordable pricing
- 8 levels of resistance
- LCD display and sensors track (and show) your calories, time, speed, virtual distance, total mileage, and rate
- Heavy duty steel frame for stability
- Built-in bottle holder
- Built-in phone/tablet holder
- California warehouse means faster shipments for US customers
- Easy assembly
- Manufacturer also offers the same product with a seat added on for not much more cost
- Generally well-received by customers: 3.9/5 rating upheld by over 900 reviews
- Recommended height is between 5’ and 5’9”, which may limit those who are shorter or taller
- 12” stride may be too short for some
- Consistent complaints that the parts needed for assembly don’t fit or are damaged
- Consistent complaints that the machine is very squeaky
- Complaints that there isn’t enough resistance
Ultimately, our winner is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine. It’s a high-quality elliptical machine that comes at a very low cost—what’s not to like?
But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the winner for YOU. Everyone has different preferences. If you’re passionate about fitness, then you should consider the more serious Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine, or the Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical Trainer.
There are many great options out there, and it’s okay if you’re not 100% committed to one yet. Check out our buyer’s guide below for help:
What are the basics I should have in my elliptical machine?
You’ve noticed by now that there are many different features available for these devices. The most basic features you should look for are as follows:
- Several levels of resistance available for you to increase difficulty—the standard is 8 levels
- Large footpads for varying foot sizes
- Choice of stationary or movable handles, so one can choose to exercise their upper body as well
- A display that can tell you some basic things about your workout, such as time or distance
- A recommended maximum weight capacity than can support you
As for the ‘extra’ features:
Some machines are definitely fancier than others. For example, some sellers partner with apps and fitness software, which tend to not only give you guided workouts, but track your progress in more advanced ways.
Others also have built-in media holders for you to watch content on your phone or tablet. This isn’t particularly high-tech, but many would find that it makes the machine much more usable.
Similarly, some have built-in bottle holders, which is handy, but probably not essential for most people. For the most part, these extra things are nice, but not not essential. Here’s the exception that some people should keep an eye out for:
Some people with health problems may find that it’s an essential feature. Still others may simply find that they want to keep as many metrics about their workouts as possible, so pulse is still practical.
Size and Space
The size of your elliptical machine, and the amount of space it takes up in your home, are important considerations for a couple reasons.
Put simply: elliptical machines are generally big and take up a good chunk of space. Many newer models prioritize smaller footprints, including some of the options here; however, this brings the risk of the machine being too small for you.
Luckily, many taller people have been able to use elliptical machines with smaller footprints. So it’s not like that goldilocks zone is too hard to find.
It does mean, however, that you should pay close attention to the sizing of the machines you’re interested in. Almost all of them are going to list their dimensions.
For example, Sunny Health & Fitness’ elliptical machine, which is one of the smallest ellipticals, has these dimensions displayed prominently:
In general you should try to apply the measurements to your house. You don’t need to be exact, but it’s better than just eyeballing it.
Note that if you’ll be working out in a room with a low ceiling, you’d need to make sure to take height into account. Your height will be elevated somewhat by the machine, so you should make sure it’s not so much that you’d bump your head on the ceiling.
Additionally, some of those with more limited home space may want an elliptical machine that’s more portable. That way, it can be moved away for more space between usage.
Some elliptical machines are more portable than others:
The more portable ones have small wheels for smoothly rolling the machine rather than lifting it, provided the machine is titled in such a way it won’t scratch the floor. Additionally, some of these models are specially designed to be easily folded up.
Easy assembly is important
Many people are quick to discount an easy product assembly when purchasing larger items. In some cases, that makes a lot of sense:
For example, a simple table or chair that’s ordered online is almost always going to come in a box of parts for the user to assemble. However, for a simple table or chair, the assembly will consist of just a few parts. In the scheme of things, it’s easy to assemble.
In contrast, even the simplest elliptical machine is going to be a bit difficult to assemble compared to other large items you might order online—let alone one an elliptical machine that’s a bit tougher.
Now in the scheme of things, assembly isn’t as important as other basic factors like price or stability during use.
But it’s still MORE important than it would be for other products, and many customers have been so frustrated with elliptical machine assembly that they returned their products.
Moreover, an assembly job done poorly can both damage the machine and even be dangerous in the long run, if it causes instability.
This is also why customer support can be a lot more important when considering an elliptical machine than when considering other products.
Even if there’s nothing wrong with the delivery and everything arrives intact, you may still have difficulty with the assembly and require a service representative to help you out.
Not all sellers have customer service reps for assembly/installation help. Many of the representatives deal with sales, warranties, and defects. However, it’s a point worth considering, and if a company does provide some help with installation, it’s probably worth noticing.
As stated, our winner is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine, for just doing everything right, and at a great price.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the best for every single person, so make sure you fully consider what you really prioritize in an elliptical machine. The right option for you is definitely out there, and it’s probably already on this list.
Stay healthy and have fun!