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Best Rear Drive Elliptical Machines

One of the noticeable components of an elliptical machine is the flywheel. The circular component is located on the machine’s back, front, or center. It serves as the powerhouse of the low-impact trainer and is important in determining the tension levels of the machine.

When the flywheel is located at the back of the machine, the elliptical is regarded as a rear-drive elliptical. The same applies when it is located on the front of the equipment and is called a front-drive elliptical. In more recent designs, center drive ellipticals have its flywheel located in the central area of the equipment.

Best Rear-Drive Elliptical

Many elliptical trainer manufacturers have models that come with rear-drive flywheels. This article examines the ten best rear-drive elliptical machines today and highlights their advantages.

Advantages Of Rear-Drive Elliptical

Rear-drive machines are fantastic, low-impact, full-body workout equipment that has become a favorite for many fitness trainers and enthusiasts. Since Precor first introduced them in 1995, ellipticals have undergone design changes and variations. 

However, if history is anything to go by, the first elliptical came with a rear-drive system. Since rear-drive machines are still being designed today, there’s no doubt it offers benefits to trainers.

Longer Stride Length

The flywheel at the rear of the machine allows for a slightly longer stride than when in front. Although the difference may not seem much to an average trainer, this is more than enough for taller trainers. But if you have a small body type, I recommend purchasing a small, compact elliptical machine with a shorter stride length.

Since stride length is the farthest attainable distance between foot pedals, with the flywheel at the back of the machine, more space options exist to increase this length.

Smooth And Quiet Operation

There is no doubt that front-drive ellipticals offer quiet motion, but they pale compared to rear-drive ellipticals. This is because rear-drive ellipticals have fewer parts and components than when its flywheel is positioned in front.

Also, with fewer working parts, there’s a lower tendency for the machine to rattle and make noise. All of these result in a more quiet and smoother working operation.

Less Maintenance

Similarly, with fewer parts and components on a rear-drive elliptical, the overall maintenance of the machine is lower. If you’ve ever had to deal with elliptical maintenance, it’s easy to understand that working with these small parts can be frustrating. Rear-drive ellipticals take away most of these parts, leaving you with just the fundamental components to deal with.

Natural Exercise Movement

Undoubtedly, elliptical machines bring outdoor exercises indoors, but none gives a better, natural feel like a rear-drive elliptical. With the location of the flywheel, the machine offers less incline than a front-drive system. While this may come off as a drawback for a trainer looking for more exercise intensity, a lower incline provides more leveling of the machine. 

This mimics the natural walking and running movement of a trainer when outdoors. Hence, a rear-drive elliptical trainer is an excellent choice for trainers seeking low-impact, low-intensity workouts.

If you still have the question, “Do I want a front-drive or rear-drive elliptical trainer? Check our guide on Front Drive Vs Rear Drive Elliptical to get a clear idea of how these ellipticals work for you.

How to choose Rear Drive Elliptical

Haven understood and appreciated the advantages of rear-drive ellipticals; it’s also important to know the features and factors to consider when buying them. Although personal preference may come into play, these fundamental factors must be acknowledged to make the best decision.

Stride And Incline

The stride and incline features of an elliptical play a vital role in the overall tension of the machine. The stride distance in rear-drive ellipticals is slightly longer than in front-drive ellipticals. The elliptical machines with a longer stride length typically are more suitable for tall and big persons.

Stride lengths are adjustable and can range from 11 inches to 22 inches. Its adjustable feature allows trainers to regulate the farthest distance between the foot pedals. 

On the other hand, the incline feature increases and decreases workout intensity. Think of the incline as adjusting the slope of the machine. As a trainer, running up a slope increases the tension and intensity of the run.

The opposite happens when running down a slope. It is the incline feature that helps trainers adjust and switch slope intensity. Incline options usually come in levels between 0 and 20 degrees.

Workout Programs

Workout programs are sometimes pre-installed in some elliptical machines to help guide trainers when on the machine. These workout programs make it easy for trainers to personalize workout routines and monitor heart rate and pulse.

The more workout program options available on an elliptical trainer, the more expensive it will be. These workout programs can be simple, as little as 2 or as many as 32. Ideally, it’s best to choose a rear-drive elliptical with preset workout programs.


In the end, the budget becomes the determining factor on what elliptical to settle for. One of the greatest things about these rear-drive ellipticals is that they come in different price ranges. Rear-drive elliptical trainers are known to be more expensive than their front-drive counterparts but are also available in whatever budget range you want.

Additional Features

Beyond delivering basic low-impact exercises, ellipticals have additional features for a wholesome fitness experience. A bottle holder allows trainers to keep water within reach to combat dehydration.

Hand grip sensors and chest straps enable trainers to monitor and track body vitals for better workout performance. Bluetooth connectivity easily connects to other devices for easy transfer of workout data.

List Of The Top 3 Rear Drive Ellipticals

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E322002
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E322002
  • Material: Steel
  • SunnyFit APP integrated.
  • Vertically and horizontally adjustable seat
  • Adjustable tension knob
  • Standalone digital workout monitor
  • Built-in transport wheels
  • 11-inch stride length
  • Item Dimensions: 34.25 x 19.75 x 13.62 inches
  • Item Weight: ‎‎60.8 Pounds
  • Maximum user weight: 220 pounds
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • 30-Day iFIT Membership
  • SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • 5-inch Backlit Display
  • AutoBreeze Workout Fan
  • 22 Digital Resistance Levels
  • Adjustable Ramp and stride
  • Vertical SpaceSaver Design
  • Item Dimensions: 80 x 32 x 67 inches
  • Item Weight: ‎‎215 Pounds
  • Maximum user weight: ‎325 pounds
ProForm Hybrid Elliptical
ProForm Hybrid Elliptical
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • 30-Day iFIT Membership
  • Hybrid design
  • SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • 16 Digital Resistance Levels
  • Adjustable Pedals and Seat
  • Grip Sensors
  • Integrated Sound System
  • Item Dimensions: ‎48.5 x 24.5 x 18 inches
  • Item Weight: ‎135 Pounds
  • Maximum user weight: ‎350 pounds

10 Best Rear Drive Ellipticals Reviews

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E322002 - Best Budget Rear Drive Elliptical
  • Smart Fitness with SunnyFit app
  • Digital monitor
  • 8 magnetic adjustable resistance levels
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Device and water bottle holder
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Sunny Health & Fitness is a name to be reckoned with in the world of fitness equipment, including ellipticals. The essential interactive series comes packed with features and has a compact design for home gym use. It is one of the best rear drive ellipticals today.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E322002 Elliptical

Sunny Health & Fitness Essentials Series come with a compact design that makes it a good apartment elliptical trainer. It comes with both basic features and smart features. Trainers can connect to the SunnyFit app while monitoring heart rate and workout performance.

  • Digital monitor to track workout data
  • 8 magnetic levels of resistance
  • Connects to SunnyFit app
  • Pulse sensor
  • Compact design with a smaller footprint
  • Light 11 lbs flywheel
  • 3 years structural frame warranty
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i - Best Rear Drive Elliptical
  • Folding SpaceSaver design
  • 5-inch backlit HD Smart Touchscreen display
  • 22 digital resistance levels
  • 18" auto-adjustable strides
  • 18 lbs Effective Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • 30-day iFit membership

NordicTrack is yet another top name in the world of fitness and ellipticals. The SpaceSaver SE7i is designed with an innovative folding design that makes it ideal for home use. It comes with a smart Bluetooth connectivity feature. Trainers are also able to enjoy the interactive studio classes with iFit trainers.

NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i Elliptical Summary

The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i delivers a low-impact, total body workout as it was designed to give. Its folding SpaceSaver design makes for easy storage. NordicTrack offers unlimited iFit workout options and elite trainers for users to tailor their workout routines. It is an above-average elliptical packed with amazing features.

  • Access unlimited workout options with iFit app
  • Vertical folding design 
  • 22 digital levels of resistance 
  • 18" auto-adjustable stride
  • Bluetooth audio capabilities
  • Subscription needed to continue iFit membership
  • SpaceSaver design but still bulky
ProForm - Best Hybrid Rear Drive Elliptical
  • SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • 15" stride distance
  • 14 digital resistance levels
  • EKG grip pulse sensor
  • Oversized adjustable pedals
  • Transport wheels

The ProForm Hybrid Trainer offers a 2-in-1 exercise experience for trainers. It doubles as a recumbent exercise bike and a rear-drive elliptical. ProForm offers this elliptical to fitness trainers with all its features for one price.

ProForm Hybrid Trainer Summary

The ProForm Hybrid Trainer stands out with its 2-in-1 cross-trainer. Fitness trainers can use its recumbent exercise bike feature and transition into its rear-wheel elliptical option. It may not be a heavy-duty elliptical, but it offers above-average elliptical features for the price.

  • Silent magnetic resistance for quiet workout motion
  • EKG grip pulse sensor for body readings
  • Transport wheels for easy relocation
  • 14 levels of resistance
  • 15" stride
  • Stride length too small for tall trainers
  • 5 years frame warranty
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 - Best Rear Wheel Elliptical For Home Use
  • 24 unique workout modes
  • Pulse sensor
  • Full motion handlebars
  • 15.5" strides
  • Non-slip foot pedals
  • Floor stabilizers

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 brings the comfort and efficiency of ellipticals into your home. With its unique 15.5″ stride length, trainers are guaranteed a good lower body workout experience. In addition, it has compatible wireless connectivity that allows users to use a heart rate strap to monitor heart rate pulse. It is one of the best rear drive ellipticals today.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 Elliptical Summary

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 is one of the brand’s compact elliptical machines for home use. It has all the functions of an ideal elliptical and a recommended maximum user weight of 330 lbs.

  • SunnyFit app compatible
  • 24 pre-programmed workout programs
  • 16 levels of resistance
  • Tablet holder
  • 15.5" stride s
  • 3 years frame warranty
  • 15.5" stride is short for tall fitness trainers
Teeter FreeStep LT1 - Rear Drive Recumbent Elliptical
  • 13 levels of resistance
  • Whisper-quiet operation
  • 3 recline seat settings
  • 15.5 lbs flywheel
  • 8-position adjustable handlebars
  • Console display

The Teeter FreeStep takes the low-impact cardio workout to a whole new level. It is a recumbent cross trainer that incorporates the exercise motions of a recumbent bike, stepper, and elliptical. It comes with Teeter’s patented technology that works wonders in protecting the knees, back, and hips as you burn calories.

Teeter FreeStep LT1 Cross Trainer Summary

The Teeter FreeStep LT1 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical come with a unique design that’s away from conventional ellipticals. The Teeter FreeStep LT1 is designed to deliver a zero-impact workout to trainers. As a cross trainer, it transitions smoothly between a recumbent bike, stepper, and elliptical.

  • Comfortable and adjustable seat settings
  • Whisper-quiet performance
  • Patented Stride Technology protects joints
  • Dual power motion burns more calories and fats
  • Connects easily with the TeeterMove app
  • 1-year warranty
  • No heart rate monitor
Niceday - Hyper-Quiet Rear Drive Elliptical Machine
  • 90% pre-built compact design
  • 16 levels of magnetic resistance
  • 15.5" stride length
  • Exactly technology data tracking
  • Pulse monitor
  • Transport wheels

Niceday may be a new entrant into the world of elliptical trainers, but this model can compete favorably with other alternatives. For starters, it has a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs. Its features make it an ideal rear-drive elliptical for trainers with heights from 4’9″ to 6’2″.

Niceday Elliptical Summary

The Niceday rear elliptical trainer is a beauty to behold. It tackles the stress of assembly by coming 90% pre-built. For a lightweight elliptical, it has a maximum user weight capacity of 400 lbs. Its compact design and footprint make it ideal for home gym use.

  • Exactly calculated data tracking technology
  • Easy assembly with 90% pre-built design
  • Transport wheels for easy relocation
  • 16 resistance levels
  • 400 lbs weight capacity
  • No preset workout programs
  • Short adjustable stride length for tall trainers
Fitness Reality E5500XL - Compact Rear Drive Elliptical
  • 24 magnetic resistance levels
  • Backlit LCD screen
  • 18" stride length
  • 21 preset workout programs
  • Dual power motion handlebars with hand pulse sensors

The Fitness Reality E5500XL is a rear-wheel elliptical offering basic cross-trainer features. It delivers well-above-average tension levels to give trainers maximum resistance options. The full-motion handlebars guarantee good upper and lower body workouts. It is an elliptical trainer designed for home gym use with its slim and compact design.

Fitness Reality E5500XL Elliptical Summary

For the price, the Fitness Reality E5500XL is a great home gym elliptical. Apart from its low warranty, it comes with the basic features of today’s elliptical.

  • Slim and compact design
  • 3 goal workout settings
  • 21 pre-installed workout programs
  • Backlit LCD screen
  • 24 adjustable levels of resistance
  • 1-year warranty
  • No incline options
XTERRA Fitness FS2.5 - Best Rear Wheel Elliptical Trainer
  • 5.59" blue and yellow backlit LCD screen
  • Hand pulse sensors
  • Compact design
  • 14" stride length
  • 24 workout programs
  • 24 levels of resistance

The dual-action performance of the XTERRA Fitness FS2.5 guarantees a full-body workout experience. The machine comes with a 22 lbs flywheel for fluid motion. It also offers calorie-burning options with its 24 resistance levels feature.

XTERRA Fitness FS2.5 Elliptical Summary

The XTERRA Fitness FS2.5 is a powerful piece of fitness equipment suitable for use at home. It has a 22 lbs flywheel that guarantees a powerful, fluid motion. It has a maximum user weight capacity of 300 lbs.

  • 22 pounds heavy-duty flywheel
  • Ergonomic 14" stride length
  • Hand grip sensors
  • Oversized pedals for comfort
  • 24 adjustable resistance levels
  • Short stride length
  • 5 years frame and 1-year parts warranty
NordicTrack Spacesaver SE9i - Best Rear Drive Elliptical For Commercial Purpose
  • 24 digital resistance levels
  • 7" Smart HD Touchscreen
  • 18 lbs inertia-enhanced flywheel
  • SpaceSaver compact design
  • Adjustable oversized foot pedals
  • Wireless iFit Bluetooth chest strap

It’s no surprise another model of NordicTrack gets a notable mention. These ellipticals are known for their ruggedness and workout performance. The Spacesaver SE9i also has a vertical space-saving feature making it easy to store and use in any space.

NordicTrack Spacesaver SE9i Elliptical Summary

Like all other models, the NordicTrack Spacesaver SE9i delivers exceptional features alongside its SpaceSaver design. It offers trainers 24 levels of resistance to choose from and tailor their workout routines. It has a maximum user limit of 325 lbs.

  • Adjustable 24 levels of resistance
  • Interactive 7" HD screen
  • Vertical SpaceSaver design
  • 18 lbs flywheel for fluid motion
  • 30 workout programs and iFit interactive personal training
  • Fair stride length
  • The warranty could have been lifelong
Life Fitness E1 - High-End Rear Drive Elliptical Machine
  • Telemetry heart rate monitoring
  • Up to 2 user profiles
  • 13 preset workout programs and 1 custom program
  • 20" strides
  • 20 resistance levels
  • Integrated accessory tray

The Life Fitness E1 provides trainers with a great low-impact, full-body workout option. Its features and design ensure durability and quiet workout operation. As a rear-drive elliptical, it comes with a 20″ stride, making it ideal for tall trainers. Trainers can also choose between its 20 resistance levels to increase and decrease workout intensity.

Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Summary

Life Fitness E1 is your everyday elliptical trainer offering a low-impact, cardio workout experience. The brand offers a lifetime warranty on its structural frame to prove its ruggedness.

  • Wide 20" stride length
  • Oversized non-slip foot pedals
  • 20 adjustable levels of resistance
  • 13 preset and 1 custom workout programs
  • Lifetime warranty on frame
  • Bulky with a large footprint
  • No incline options


1. Front-drive vs. rear-drive?

A major design difference is the location of the flywheel, with the front-drive having it at the front and the rear-drive having the flywheel at the back. Rear-drive ellipticals offer a slightly longer stride and natural feel since the machine is more level with less incline. However, with fewer parts, it offers less maintenance and a more quiet motion.

2. Is backward elliptical good?

Yes, it is. The rear-drive elliptical is a solid choice if you’re looking for an elliptical with less exercise intensity. With the flywheel positioned at the back, the machine has a better, natural, flat feel. Also, you get a quiet motion and less maintenance stress with less incline to worry about and fewer parts.


Ellipticals were created to bring outdoor exercises indoors while offering low-impact, full-body workouts. The rear-drive elliptical machine was the first patented design and has survived over the years because of its advantages. While it may all boil down to preference, it’s necessary to use a proven buyer’s guide to settle for the best rear-drive elliptical trainers.

Matthew Fletcher

Matthew Fletcher

Matthew is a fully qualified fitness trainer specializing in weight management and strength training. He is a certified trainer with more than 15 years of training experience. He uses his technical know-how's with his passion for fitness to provide thoughtful curation of objective exercise equipment reviews. His insightful reviews will help you find the best fitness product for the price.

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