As more fitness enthusiasts move towards low-impact workouts, ellipticals are gradually becoming a piece of preferred exercise equipment. When ellipticals were first introduced, they were cumbersome and costly. This made them mostly available in commercial gyms.
With more advancements in design and technology, compact, portable, and affordable elliptical options have become available. For many fitness fanatics, investing in cheap ellipticals may be an ideal way to save money, but they would rather not compromise on its quality and functionality.
The article seeks to bring to the forefront the best affordable elliptical machines available in today’s fitness market. It also examines the factors to consider when buying these best budget elliptical machines.
- 1 Things To Consider While Buying An Affordable Elliptical
- 2 List Of The Top 3 Best Affordable Elliptical
- 3 10 Best Affordable Ellipticals Review
- 3.1 Sunny SF-E905 - Best Budget Elliptical 2022
- 3.2 Schwinn Fitness 411 - Best Affordable Elliptical Machine
- 3.3 Sunny SF-E3912 - Best Value Elliptical
- 3.4 Plasma Fit - Best Cheap Elliptical Cross Trainer
- 3.5 Body Power BRT5088 - Best Budget 3 In 1 Elliptical
- 3.6 Body Rider BR1830 - Cheap Recumbent Elliptical
- 3.7 Niceday - Best Value Elliptical For Home
- 3.8 Marcy NS-40501E - Best Low Cost Elliptical Machine
- 3.9 Fitness Reality E5500XL - Best Budget Friendly Elliptical
- 3.10 Snode E20I - Best Economical Elliptical
- 4 What Are The Main Differences Between Cheap Vs Expensive Ellipticals?
- 5 Conclusion
Things To Consider While Buying An Affordable Elliptical
There are several things to look out for when buying the best affordable elliptical. These would act as guides to ensure substandard products are not purchased in trying to save on the dollar. To begin, here are seven features the best budget elliptical should have to be considered a valuable purchase.
Keeping track of workout progress and body vitals helps fitness fanatics create and set individual workout routines. It also helps monitor overall daily workout performances. So even when settling for an inexpensive elliptical, good elliptical exercise equipment should come with a reliable tracker.
Handles For Upper Body Workout
There are two sets of handlebars on a typical elliptical fitness machine — fixed and movable handlebars. Other variants, like recumbent ellipticals, can sometimes feature additional handles in the seating area.
The movable handlebars are designed to assist in upper body muscle workouts. The arms (biceps, triceps) and pecs are particularly targeted when working with the movable handles. To achieve a total body workout experience, a good budget elliptical should have movable handles.
The effectiveness of an elliptical workout lies in the chosen tension and resistance level. Ellipticals are designed to ensure users exert pressure or transmit energy on the pedals by moving and pushing the legs and foot against the pedals. Without any significant resistance or tension from the machine, users would easily move the pedals as quickly as possible without achieving any meaningful results.
Since users differ in weight and size, manufacturers of quality elliptical machines provide different adjustable tension levels. This gives users the option to scale up or scale down depending on the intensity of the workout. The best affordable elliptical machines should have adjustable resistance levels of at least 8 to as high as 22.
The flywheel is essentially the powerhouse of an elliptical machine. It is the only engine component on the machine and is responsible for the amount of pressure users will exert on the pedals. In other words, it reads and controls the resistance levels irrespective of the resistance mechanism used.
The weight of the flywheel also determines the smoothness and quietness of the engine operation. Since the flywheel controls the movement of the pedals and handlebars, a heavier flywheel will guarantee a smoother and quieter operation than a lighter flywheel. Generally, flywheel weights range from 13 to 35 pounds.
The design position of the flywheel on the elliptical plays a vital role in the naming of the drive system. When the flywheel is located on the front of the elliptical, it is regarded as a front-drive elliptical trainer. It is known as a rear-drive fitness trainer when located at the back or rear. Recently, centrally located flywheels are slowly becoming commercially available. These are regarded as center drive elliptical trainers.
Portability & Dimensions
With the rise of home gyms, workout equipment manufacturers began looking to design more compact and portable elliptical fitness equipment options. Many of these cheap elliptical machines are portable and come in space-saving dimensions. This tackles the stress of dealing with cumbersome and extraordinarily large elliptical designs in the home.
As long as these portable and small-sized ellipticals can deliver the same quality of workouts, they will always be a preferred home gym use choice for many fitness enthusiasts. When buying a cheap, best-value elliptical, its design and size should always be considered.
Stability & Stride Length
No one would fancy the idea of falling off an elliptical machine when in use. The aftermath of such a fall could be dangerous and injury-causing. This is why many elliptical manufacturers take care to include extra stability features in the machines. The stability feature on ellipticals ensures the machine can be used on any floor type, irrespective of its slope or uneven layout.
On the other hand, stride length focuses on the distance between the pedals when they are apart. Stride length mimics the natural walking or running distance of the user. Some ellipticals come with adjustable stride lengths but are usually more expensive than those with fixed stride lengths.
On average, the best stride length on an elliptical is 20”. There are ellipticals with less and more of this stride length. Taller users would be more comfortable using ellipticals with stride lengths of 20” and above. Therefore, when buying the cheapest elliptical, it’s best to factor in the average height of its users.
Max Weight Support
Most elliptical designs carry the entire weight of the user. Unless for those portable under-desk ellipticals, users are expected to stand or sit on the machine. For this reason, each elliptical machine has a max weight support recommendation. Even under desk ellipticals also come with a maximum weight limit.
List Of The Top 3 Best Affordable Elliptical
- Material: Steel
- Belt drive magnetic resistance
- 8 Levels of resistance
- Hand pulse monitor
- Transportation wheels
- Multifunctional digital monitor
- Textured non-slip foot pedals
- Floor Stabilizer
- Item Dimensions: 28 x 17 x 57 inches
- Item Weight: 60.8 Pounds
- Material: Steel
- Explore the world integrated with 50 global route
- Space saving design
- Streamlined multipurpose console displays
- 13 workout programs
- 16 levels of variable resistance
- Moving and fixed padded handlebars
- 18” stride length
- Item Dimensions: 53.8 x 24 x 62.5 inches
- Item Weight: 100 Pounds
- Two-in-one fitness machine
- Material: Metal
- Vertically and horizontally adjustable seat
- Adjustable resistance
- Electronic console screen
- Built-in transport wheels
- High-speed fan blades
- Item Dimensions: 48 x 28.5 x 59.5 inches
- Item Weight: 66 Pounds
10 Best Affordable Ellipticals Review
- 8-level adjustable resistance
- Digital monitor
- Transportation wheels
- Pulse sensor
- Non-slip fixed and movable handlebars
- Floor stabilizers
The Sunny SF-E905 is a budget-friendly, low-impact elliptical that offers users a smooth upper and lower body workout. Even as an affordable elliptical machine, it comes with the basic features of an elliptical trainer.
It has a small digital monitor that helps track calories, speed, odometer, pulse, and other workout information. However, it doesn’t deliver much on the stride length side as it features an 11″ stride length and 8 magnetic resistance levels.
Sunny SF E905 Elliptical Summary
The Sunny SF-E905 is a compact, lightweight budget elliptical. It comes packed with the basic features of elliptical trainers. With dimensions of 28x17x57 inches (LxWxH) it can fit well into any apartment space. It has a total weight of 60.8 pounds and a maximum user weight capacity of 220 pounds.
- Its small digital monitor enables users to track workout readings and performance
- The non-slip sets of handlebars ensure top body workout to complete its lower body workout
- The 8 levels of magnetic resistance provide users with resistance options on the go
- It's a simple elliptical with easy setup and assembly
- Onboard stabilizers ensure adequate balance on any floor type
- It has a low maximum weight limit
- The stride length is not ideal for tall fitness enthusiasts
- Explore the World app
- 18" stride length
- Beautifully designed streamlined console
- 16 magnetic resistance levels
- 5.5" High Contrast LCD
- Fixed and movable handlebars
Schwinn delivers the 411 model as an excellent compact, space-saving alternative to cumbersome elliptical machines. It comes with a streamlined console that features a 5.5″ High Contrast LCD screen. Moreover, it comes with features that compete favorably with other affordable elliptical machines.
The Schwinn 411 comes with 13 pre-installed workout programs and is contact and telemetry enabled to monitor the user’s heart rate and pulse. It comes with a 10-year frame warranty, 2 years warranty on parts, and a 90-days labor warranty.
Schwinn 411 Elliptical Summary
The Schwinn 411 has a wireless heart rate monitor and an aesthetically appealing console. Its Explore the World app gives users a front role experience to journey across the world from the comfort of their homes. This compact fitness elliptical comes with a total weight of 100 pounds and a maximum weight recommendation of 300 pounds.
- With the Explore the World app, users can travel the globe, track their workout, and map out individual workout routines
- It is Bluetooth enabled to allow for easy connection to devices
- Users can monitor heart rate and workout information on the 5.5" LCD screen
- 18" stride length is great for average height users
- There are 13 preset workout programs available to users
- It doesn't have an incline adjustment option
- The screen is not backlit. This reduces readability under low light conditions
- 24 workout programs
- 15.5" stride length
- Digital monitor to track workout readings
- 16 magnetic levels of resistance
- Floor stabilizers
- Two sets of handlebars
The Sunny Health Fitness SF-E3912 delivers a heavy-duty, low-impact cardio workout performance. This compact-sized fitness machine has a 15.5″ stride length and 16 magnetic resistance levels. That’s a good amount of resistance on the resistance scale.
Its custom user profiles come installed with 24 unique workout modes for users to set workout routines. It comes in dimensions of 51x25x12 inches (LxWxH) and wouldn’t take up much floor space in an average-sized apartment.
Sunny SF-E3912 Elliptical Summary
The Sunny SF-E3912 is a good affordable elliptical with its packed-in features. It may not be ideal for a tall trainer or one looking for higher workout intensity. However, it offers amazing features and comes with a weight of 104.8 pounds. It has a maximum weight recommendation of 330 pounds.
- 24 targeted workout programs for users to follow and create routines
- Its magnetic resistance mechanism has 16 adjustable levels
- It comes with a 15.5 inch stride length
- It has a device holder to help place gadgets when on the machine
- A digital monitor enables easy monitoring of body vitals and workout performance
- A short stride length of 15.5" is not ideal for tall fitness trainers
- It has a structural frame warranty of 3 years and a corresponding 180-days warranty for other parts.
- 2-in-1 workout machine — an elliptical and exercise bike
- Sturdy construction design
- LCD monitor screen
- Two sets of handlebars
- Oversized foot pedals
The Plasma Fit cross trainer is a 2-in-1 workout machine. It doubles both as an elliptical and an exercise bike. This provides users with a full-body workout experience in the upper and lower body region. In addition, the hybrid design comes in a compact size with dimensions of 38x26x9 inches (LxWxH). This makes it an easy fit in any corner of your home gym.
This rear drive-powered trainer comes with a comfortable seat for users to work on it as a workout bike. It also features two sets of non-slip handlebars to ensure upper body workouts. The elliptical is made from durable metal construction material.
Plasma Fit Elliptical Summary
The Plasma Fit Elliptical is an excellent elliptical cross trainer that offers users a 2-in-1 workout experience. It comes partially assembled with an included manual and tools to aid easy assembly. It weighs 64 pounds, making it an easy, lightweight elliptical for easy movement and storage. Its compact size has dimensions of 38x26x9 inches (LxWxH).
However, it has a maximum weight recommendation of just 220 pounds and is not ideal for heavier fitness trainers. Users may also struggle to read the information on the screen under poor light conditions.
- It has a sturdy construction design that guarantees stability during workouts
- The LCD screen tracts and monitors workout progress and performance
- The 2-in-1 operation allows users to transition between elliptical and bike workouts
- An upper body workout is guaranteed with its movable handlebars
- The compact size makes it a good fit for home use
- It has a small maximum weight capacity
- The LCD monitor is not backlit
- Patented 3-in-1 Trio-Trainer
- Leisa Hart's 28-day meal plan
- Heavy-duty flywheel system
- Console monitor display
- Transport wheels
Generally known as a Trio-Trainer because it incorporates three workout machines into one. The BRT5088 model by Body Power is one of the best elliptical bike combos that combines the operations of an elliptical machine, an upright bike, and a recumbent bike. As a result, it gives off a full-body workout vibe as users can transition smoothly between its workout operations.
It features a weighted flywheel for fluid and quiet operation. It also has an easy-to-use console that displays workout parameters and performance.
Body Power BRT5088 Elliptical Summary
Body Power BRT5088 offers a Trio-Trainer experience to trainers. It boasts a heavy-duty flywheel that operates with fluid motion. Its drive system allows for a hassle-free transition between the workout modes. As a compact elliptical, it comes with dimensions of 43.7×62.2×29.13 inches (LxWxH).
It, however, is made from plastic which is a less durable material for ellipticals. It also only offers a single-year warranty for its structural frame.
- Easy transition from one workout mode to another
- Transport wheels to relocate and store the machine
- Console display to track workout parameters
- Heavy-duty flywheel system that operates in a fluid motion
- Compact, space-saving design to fit into apartment floor space
- It comes with a poor frame warranty of one year
- Construction material is not durable and susceptible to breaks and cracks
- Easy resistance adjustment
- Built-in transportation wheels
- Smart LCD screen
- Fixed and movable handlebars
- Compact build and design
The Body Rider BR1830 takes affordable elliptical machines to a whole new level. Its compact size can fit into any apartment space. It also operates without electricity, saving money on electricity bills. The drive system operates quietly and can come with easily adjustable resistance. Levels of resistance can be adjusted with an easy knob feature.
Although it doesn’t come with pre-installed workout programs, the product comes with an instructional video workout for amateur fitness trainers. In addition, its dual-action handlebars ensure users have the best upper body workout experience.
Body Rider BR1830 Elliptical Summary
The compact-sized Body Rider BR1830 is easy to move around the house with a total weight of 58 pounds and solid transport wheels. It has dimensions of 38.58 x 9.06 x 24.8 inches (LxWxH). The product comes with a 1-year warranty and is powered by a chain drive system. Generally, it is a great choice if users are looking for a lightweight, compact elliptical.
- It has an easy to reach knob for adjusting resistance levels
- It has a multi-function smart LCD monitor that displays workout data
- Enjoy upper body workout with its motion handlebars
- It comes with onboard transportation wheels for easy relocation and storage
- Its design makes it a great space-saver for homes
- The chain drive system becomes noisy, eventually
- Stride length may not be ideal for tall fitness trainers
- Exactly Data technology
- Easy assembly
- Pulse sensor
- 16 levels of resistance
- 15.5" stride length
Niceday is a new entrant into the world of ellipticals. The product offers some interesting features that make it a good cheap elliptical. It comes with a wide range of tension at 16 resistance levels. It has an HD LCD screen with Exactly Data.
It has a 16-pound flywheel weight producing a quiet, smooth drive system. For stability, it has a steel loading base and an additional ergonomic motion handlebar.
Niceday Elliptical Summary
The Niceday Elliptical Machine comes 90% assembled. For users who find elliptical machine assembly tedious, this takes the weight off it. It weights 106 pounds and can support a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds.
Apart from its interesting features, it comes with additional features like a device holder. The elliptical has a flywheel weight of 16 pounds allowing it to produce a relatively quiet operation.
- With its incorporated Exactly Data technology, users can track workout data with speed
- It comes 90% assembled, making assembly extremely easy
- It offers users 16 levels of resistance to choose from
- A strong steel base guarantees stability during workout
- Its transport wheels allow users to relocate the machine
- It doesn't come with any workout programs
- Stride length may not be ideal for taller trainers
- Oversized pedals
- Control knob
- LCD screen monitor
- 8 resistance levels
- Transport wheels
The Marcy NS-40501E cardio machine comes in a compact design that makes it fit into small apartment spaces. Its onboard transportation wheels make it easy for users to relocate and reposition between workouts.
It has ergonomic fixed and movable handlebars for users to target and focus on upper body exercises and total body workouts. In addition, it has a battery-powered display panel where users can track and monitor workout data. It also has a tension control knob that assists in resistance level adjustment.
Marcy NS-40501E Elliptical Summary
Marcy NS-40501E is a uniquely compact design elliptical ideal for small apartment use. It comes with dimensions of 51 x 20.5 x 64 inches (LxWxH). The product weighs 77 pounds. The machine can easily be moved around and stored with its transport wheels. It has a maximum recommended weight capacity of 300 pounds.
- Its transport wheels are durable, making the machine portable and easy to transport
- Vinyl-protected handlebars deliver an excellent upper body and lower body workout experience
- Tension control knob to navigate and adjust between 8 levels of resistance
- Oversized pedals to protect the ankles and feet during workouts
- LCD screen to monitor workout performance and data
- Resistance levels are not ideal for users looking for low-impact, high-intensity workout
- Plastic construction material makes it less durable
- Double transmission drive system
- 24 resistance levels
- 18" stride length
- 21 pre-installed workout programs
- Backlit LCD screen
The Fitness Reality E5500XL is a heavy-duty trainer for users looking for a high-intensity workout experience. It features a remarkable 24 levels of resistance. To help fitness trainers set and plan individual routines, it comes with 21 preset workout programs.
To keep fitness enthusiasts motivated, it also has 3 computer goal settings that calculate time, distance, and the number of calories burned. It comes with a backlit LCD screen that allows users to read the information even under poor lighting conditions. A dual transmission system powers the machine.
Fitness Reality E5500XL Elliptical Summary
The dual transmission drive system of the Fitness Reality E5500XL makes it a good option for a low-impact, intense workout. Together with its powerful drive system, it comes with 24 levels of resistance options. It compares favorably with other ellipticals within the price range by offering 21 workout programs to users. Unfortunately, with all of its features, it fails to have an incline option and a low warranty period.
- Its heavy-duty system is powered by two transmission drive
- 18" stride length can accommodate average and tall fitness trainers
- A backlit LCD screen creates a comfortable exercise experience in low light conditions
- Users have 21 workout programs to plan and tailor their workout routines
- With 24 levels of resistance, the elliptical offers an intense low-impact workout to users
- For a powerful elliptical, it doesn't come with incline options
- It has a general 1-year warranty unless purchased directly from the company's website
- Large non-slip pedals
- 22 pounds flywheel
- 16 levels of resistance
- Bluetooth function with iConsole app
- 12 motion program
- Pulse monitor
The SNODE E20I is a recent elliptical model by SNODE. It offers a great cardio workout experience to users. It comes with 16 resistance levels and 12 motion programs. The drive system provides a smooth and quiet running operation. This is made possible with its 22 pounds flywheel.
It is Bluetooth enabled and connects seamlessly with the iConsole app. It works well on its digital LCD. It has oversized pedals to protect and provide comfort to the feet.
SNODE E20I Elliptical Summary
SNODE E20I may be a newer brand, but this model offers good features for an affordable elliptical trainer. It also has a total weight of 88.2 pounds with dimensions of 47 x 24 x 61 inches (LxWxH).
- Its 22 pounds flywheel ensures fluid operation
- Pulse monitor tracks and records workout performance and body vitals
- Non-slip pedals offer a comfortable exercise experience
- The free iConsole app allows for easy connection to other devices to help users track and record workout data
- Lifetime free replacement of parts
- It offers a single year product life protection
- It has a low maximum weight capacity
What Are The Main Differences Between Cheap Vs Expensive Ellipticals?
It’s human nature to want to save up money when purchasing items. Workout equipment like ellipticals is not any different. However, when choosing between a cheap option and an expensive one, most people are not willing to compromise on quality and performance.
With ellipticals, the feeling remains the same. To help make an informed decision, here are some notable feature differences between cheap ellipticals and their expensive alternative.
The Weight Of The Flywheel
Ellipticals are a fun and great way to burn calories and perform low-impact workout exercises. When used at home, a primary feature many users look for is the smoothness and quietness of operation.
A major determining factor is the weight of the flywheel. Heavier flywheels deliver whisper-quiet operations, while lightweight flywheels operate with minimal to high noise.
The weight of the flywheel directly affects the overall price of the elliptical. Ellipticals with heavier flywheels are often more expensive. However, the best elliptical under $400 would not have the heaviest flywheel weight used on an expensive elliptical. This is because manufacturers, in ensuring that cheap ellipticals stay profitable, would need to install cheaper and less heavy flywheels.
Size Of The Console Display
A vital feature of ellipticals is that it allows users to track and monitor workout progress and vitals. It’s a cool feature that enables fitness enthusiasts to understand and set targeted workout routines. There’s hardly any elliptical in the market that does not feature a display screen. The most distinguishing feature of the screens seems to be their size.
It’s no rocket science that larger display screens cost way more than small screens. The more expensive elliptical models feature large screen sizes that can simultaneously display workout information at the same time. Some offer two DualTrack screens to add aesthetics and functionality.
Budget elliptical machines like an under desk have a small console display that can only show one piece of information at a time. Although the workout tracking feature exists in mostly all ellipticals, the screen size plays a crucial role in the overall cost of the elliptical.
Cushioned Or Non-Cushioned Pedals
In the end, features like cushioned foot plates can add to the cost of ellipticals, and for good reasons. Ellipticals promise low-impact exercise that eliminates stress to the knee, ankles, and back.
A good way to further reduce stress on the leg is to have the pedals well cushioned to soften the feet’ pressure on the pedals. However, including an extra cushion layer will increase the price of ellipticals. This is why some of the best low-cost elliptical machines do not come with cushioned pedals or, at most, have a light cushion material.
Stride Length And Resistance Levels
Most ellipticals come with predetermined stride lengths ranging from 10 to as high as 32. Since stride length is the measured distance between the farthest point of each pedal, users have to settle for a stride length that’s all-encompassing. More expensive elliptical machines have an adjustable stride length feature that allows users to adjust to whatever length is appropriate.
Resistance levels are adjustable on almost all ellipticals. They range from as low as 8 to 22. Cheaper ellipticals do not offer higher resistance levels than their expensive counterparts. It’s important to figure out what resistance level is needed before making a purchase.
Weight Carrying Capacity
One of the required safety features on ellipticals is knowing and understanding the maximum user weight capacity of the machine. This is important because humans have a wide range of weight differences.
Larger ellipticals with higher recommended maximum weight capacity tend to fall under the expensive price category. They often have weight capacities starting at 400 pounds. Many of these affordable elliptical trainers have 350 pounds and below weight-carrying capacity.
Length Of The Warranty
Elliptical manufacturers offer different types of warranties. They offer different warranty times for frames, parts, and labor. Like many other equipment, warranties tend to be longer for more expensive products.
It is common to see a cheap elliptical trainer having a 1-year warranty on its frame. As the price of the elliptical increases, the frame warranty can be extended to 10 years. It’s also not unusual to see an elliptical trainer with a lifetime warranty. However, its price would be peculiar because it would be considered expensive for someone looking to buy an inexpensive elliptical machine.
Modern elliptical trainers put user comfort at the forefront of their build and designs. The best way to achieve this is by incorporating as much technology into the machine as possible. These could be in the form of workout programs, Bluetooth connectivity to remotely connect to other devices, fitness apps, sensors, and automatic controls.
The more technology that is installed on the elliptical, the higher the cost of the product. Add that to a technology that digitally controls the required resistance level of the user without manual adjustments. Fitness fanatics looking to have it all in one machine can easily tap into an array of options but at a high price.
Cheaper elliptical machines lack one or most of these technological add-ons. Users can get total or partial body workouts but with fewer technology options.
These features are not necessary for the operation of the elliptical trainer, but they add comfort and ease to users. For instance, a bottle holder serves no purpose in burning calories or toning muscles, but it provides the option of having a refreshing drink within reach.
While some of the best low-cost elliptical trainers may feature a bottle holder, they may not have a device holder. The more additional features an elliptical trainer has, the higher the cost of the machine.
There are many options when buying affordable elliptical machines. What’s most important is that users do not compromise on the functionality and effectiveness of the machine. Different manufacturers offer different features based on the cost and price of the elliptical trainer.
The more expensive elliptical machines tend to have more features than when compared to the best inexpensive elliptical machines. The article stands as a guide highlighting factors to consider when choosing the best elliptical on a budget and also some of the good cheap ellipticals in the market today.