If you think that ellipticals have to be expensive to be good, think again. We were surprised to find excellent yet cheap ellipticals for under $200.
In this guide, we’ll list the best ellipticals ranging from around $100 and up to about $500. At such an affordable price there is no reason not go grab one and still make year 2020 count.
The newer, more simplistic design of ellipticals makes them easier to manufacture, thus, more affordable. Treadmills, on the other hand, are more expensive to manufacture because they are bigger and have motors.
Bottom line, if you don’t have much to spend, check some of the excellent low budget ellipticals we picked here. If you have a larger budget, it is only then that we recommend you other cardio equipment like treadmills and exercise bikes.
- Best Low-Budget Ellipticals (Reviews)
- Most Important Features Of Ellipticals
- Benefits Of Elliptical Trainers Over Other Equipment
- Low Impact Way To Burn Calories
BEST 7 LOW-BUDGET ELLIPTICALS
The market has changed. Ellipticals that you once had to pay for double the price are now available for half the price. Granted, you can’t expect budget ellipticals to outperform mid-range to high-end home ellipticals, but they don’t need to.
If you don’t mind to forget about the bells and whistles that the more expensive models offer, and make some small compromises, you’ll get good bang for your buck and your body would be thankful too.
As far as burning fat and losing weight, you can burn just as many calories on a cheap elliptical machine than on a more expensive one.
- Best Selling Low Budget Elliptical
- Smallest Non-Folding Elliptical
- Lowest Pedal Height Good for Low Ceiling
- Excellent Value
- Folds to 60% Of its Size
- Long Stride
- Very Comfortable to Use
- Tons of Features
- Adj. Resistance from Low to Very High
- Long Stride
- High Max. User Weight of 300 pounds
- App Tracking via Bluetooth
- Smooth & Quiet
- Most Compact Mini Elliptical
- Super Portable
- Moving Handlebars Work Upper Body
- Long Stride
- Easy to Setup
- Easy to Adjust Resistance Level
- Oversized Pedals
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Cross Trainer
The Sunny SF-E905 Cross Trainer is one of the most popular ellipticals out there. To give you an idea, last time we checked it on Amazon it had over 3,000 ratings.
It has a rear-drive mechanism with an 11-inch stride length. This one also comes with a set of upper-body handles with a long full range of motion for working out your upper body too. There is also a set of fixed handlebars for when you need to rest your arms. You decide if you want to engage your upper body for a full-body workout or not.
The Sunny SF-E905’s adjustable resistance comes from a tension cable, which is stronger than a belt.
It also uses magnetic tension for more precise resistance. This means there are tiny magnets in the wheel housing that increase the magnetic pressure on the flywheel when you need more resistance.
This cross trainer also comes with transportation wheels and balance stabilizers underneath its feet. On top, you’ll find pulse sensors and a digital monitor with the batteries included.
The floor footprint of the Sunny is 28 by 17 inches, and the machine is 57 inches tall. The pedals have a step-up height of three inches and a maximum height of 14 inches. To know if this elliptical machine will fit under your ceiling, simply add 14 inches to your height.
This trainer weighs 61 pounds and has a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds.
There are eight levels of resistance controlled by a micro-controller knob under the monitor.
Putting the machine together can be a bit complicated, but keep in mind you only need to do it once, so take your time. If you’re not comfortable with getting hands-on with the challenging tension hook and the clockwise and counter-clockwise bolts, you may need to consider a different machine, or just get a handyman to help you.
The miles distance counter is wildly inaccurate. It may log more miles than you actually you go. That’s something that we see in many low-cost ellipticals.
The Sunny SF-E905 isn’t noisy at all, but it may get louder with time. You can fix this by readjusting the bolts or applying WD-40.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Sunny makes great affordable home exercise equipment, including ellipticals, treadmills and this cross trainer is no different. The fact that it has so many positive reviews on Amazon means this trainer stood the test of time. Sometimes you can only know the reliability of a machine after using it for several years. So the thousands of ratings of the Sunny makes us feel even more comfortable recommending it.
This Sunny elliptical is also by far the smallest non-folding machine on our list.
If you don’t have much space but don’t want to sacrifice stability for a folding model, this is your best option.
At only 14 inches tall, this model has a low maximum pedal height, which you’ll appreciate if you work out in a low basement or under a ceiling fan.
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Air Walk Trainer
Sunny’s SF-E902 is a self-powered, foldable elliptical. It has no flywheel, which means the movement uses only your body weight with no adjustable resistance. When you pull the locking pin, it folds up to 60% of its unfolded volume.
At only 35 pounds, it’s the lightest machine on our list. Its 30-inch stride is also the longest on our list by leaps and bounds. This makes the Sunny Air Walk very comfortable to use for both short and tall people.
This one has an adjustable stomach pad that gives you extra stability, a digital monitor and 11-inch long non-slip pedals. The full-motion handles let you switch between upper- and lower-body workouts or both at the same time.
Unfolded, the SF-E905 measures 25 inches long, 19 inches wide and 57 inches high. It folds up to 15 by 19 by 61 inches.
The step-up height is about six inches. The pedal swing length extends about two feet beyond the machine.
The Sunny Air Walk Trainer can take a user weight of up to 220 pounds even though it only weighs 35 pounds.
With no resistance, this one’s only adjustability option is the stomach pad, which moves up and down to suit your height.
The SF-E902 Air Wal is for light exercise only. If you want to increase the resistance in order to get a more intense workout, you’ll have to get a different model.
It can get pretty squeaky, but that you can fix this with plenty of grease.
The stomach pad may limit the range of motion and push your center of gravity backward. If you constantly feel like you’re about to fall backward when using the machine, you can remove this pad.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Besides being the best foldable elliptical we’ve seen, this is also the lightest, cheapest elliptical on our list. It also has the longest stride which can accommodate tall and short people. To summarize, there really is not much not to like about the Sunny Air Walk when you consider its ultralow price.
The Schwinn 411 is a luxury elliptical with a lot of bells and a few whistles. It’s a front-drive machine with an 18-inch stride, the longest of any resistance-based model on our list.
The upper-body workout handles and the stationary grips are loaded with contours. This allows you to change up hand positions regularly when your wrists get tired. There are transportation wheels and balance stabilizers on the bottom and pulse sensors and a high-contrast LCD on top.
Schwinn’s Explore the World and Run Social apps connect your phone to this machine via Bluetooth. They let you explore scenic routes displayed on your phone screen as you stride. They also let you track and compare your workouts with other users.
The Schwinn 411 model, is similar to Schwinn’s A40. The A40 is a bigger and heavier machine which has a slightly shorter stride (17.5″ compared to the 411 model 18″ stride). The A40 also has half as many resistance levels.
The 411 is 54 inches long, 24 inches wide and 62 inches tall. The pedal height is a maximum of 17 inches.
It weighs 100 pounds and can take users weighing up to 300 pounds.
This trainer has 16 levels of resistance, twice as many as the other adjustable machines on our list.
The Scwinn 411 elliptical is the heaviest, most expensive machine on our list. Luxury comes at a price.
WHY WE LIKE IT
We like the comfort and precision of the Schwinn 411. The large pedals, multiple hand grips and large stride make workouts as smooth and painless as possible. The extra levels of resistance let you find the exact amount to fit your level of fitness.
It’s true that Schwinn 411 isn’t cheap, at least not compared to the other options here, but Schwinn are well known for making excellent ellipticals and exercise bikes.
Exerpeutic Heavy-Duty Elliptical with Bluetooth App Tracking
The Exerpeutic is a heavy-duty elliptical which has the highest maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs or 136 kg. It uses a rear-drive flywheel which encourages an upright posture.
It’s more expensive than the previous ellipticals that we reviewed here, but it comes with a lot of fun extra features, including Bluetooth capability and its own exercise app.
It also comes with movable arms for an upper-body workout and stationary handles with heart rate sensors. The phone holder right under the LCD monitor is another nice detail. It lets you keep your mind distracted as you exercise your body.
The pedals are spacious with a ribbed surface for extra safety. This Exerpeutic elliptical is pretty heavy and doesn’t fold, but it has transportation wheels that make it easier to move around.
The resistance of the Exerpeutic can be adjusted to make the exercise feel from very easy to quite hard. You can adjust the resistance and make the exercise even harder if you pay attention to the nut that holds the tension cable during assembly. If you want a lot of resistance, tighten that nut hard, or keep it a bit looser for less resistance.
This elliptical is 63 inches tall and measures 54 by 23 inches on the ground. It has a 13-inch stride.
The pedals are each 13 inches long, and the maximum pedal height is 21 inches.
It weighs 75 pounds and has a maximum user weight of 300 pounds.
The Exerpeutic Elliptical has 8 levels of magnetic tension resistance adjusted via a conveniently-placed knob.
Weighing at 75 pounds, this is one of the heaviest ellipticals on our list. Not a problem if stationary or moving on the same floor. However, you may need help to get it up and down the stairs.
The pedals have a slight downward angle during the motion. If you wear tight shoes, it may push your toes against the front of your shoe and cause a bit of discomfort over long periods of use.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The high weight capacity of 300 lbs makes this machine ideal for heavy people. Other cross trainers with similar maximum user weights tend to be heavier and more expensive.
We also approve of the precisely-balanced flywheel that works together with the V-belt drive to give you a delightfully smooth and quiet exercise experience.
Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer
The Stamina is not really an elliptical in the sense that it doesn’t have handles to hold on to. The Stamina is essentially only the lower part of the elliptical, but if you’re looking for a workout machine that’s light, compact and portable, then this model is perfect.
Weighing about 25 pounds and with a footprint that’s considerably less than two square feet, this machine is readily transportable.
That’s good news because it means that it’s easy to pull the In-Motion trainer in front of the television for workouts, and then just as simple to put it away in a closet or under the bed.
The In-Motion is also a good choice because it’s a snap to put together. You don’t have to be mechanically inclined to have the whole thing set up in about five minutes.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to get used to with the In-Motion trainer is the relatively short stride. That’s an inherent feature because of the small footprint, and it’s a necessary evil if you don’t have much space.
Nonetheless, the In-Motion has several nice features. It can be used while seated, standing or in reverse to engage different muscle groups. The digital fitness monitor tracks useful data such as strides per minute, total workout time, calories burned and total strides performed. It turns on automatically when you start pedaling and has a pause feature if you take a water break.
You can adjust the strenuousness of your workout by using the tension knob. Regardless of how high you turn it up, this trainer is quiet enough to use while reading, watching television or in the office.
The pedals are heavily textured to ensure that your feet won’t slip. Also, they are fairly large, so people with bigger feet should be able to use this elliptical machine.
However, it’s important to realize that the manufacturer stipulates that the machine is only for use by people who weigh less than 250 pounds.
Further, unlike more expensive models, this trainer doesn’t have handles. But that’s not just a disadvantage, it can play for your favor. As a reward, you’ll get an incredible workout for your core muscles whenever you use the trainer while standing. On the other hand, if you have balance issues, then this may not be the choice for you.
The lack of handles may just mean that you can use some hand weights while exercising on the machine. This is an excellent way to dial up the intensity of your workouts.
The In-Motion could be a good choice for someone who is recovering from a surgery or an injury because it can also be used in a seated position. Seated use will not give you a core workout, but it’s still a fantastic lower body exercise.
For its durability, versatility and good design, the Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer deserves a place in your home. However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s weight guidelines.
- Light and portable
- Can be used sitting, standing or in reverse
- Extremely small
- Easy to assemble
- Quiet operation
- Convenient speed controls on the handles
- Extremely quiet motor – minimal noise
- Quick setup in 15-30 minutes
- No handles, which may be an issue for people with balance issues
- Cannot be used by anyone weighing over 250 pounds (113.5 kg)
Gazelle Freestyle Elliptical Step Machine
The Gazelle is one of the best elliptical in this round-up of low budget ellipticals. There is just one caveat, you cannot control the intensity of the Gazelle. This means you cannot make the workout more difficult.
If you aren’t trying to break records the Gazelle is just fine. If you are looking for a more intense workout checkout the Sunny Elliptical reviewed later in this article.
If you have a bit more space, then the Gazelle Freestyle Step Machine may appeal to you. It has a larger stride length than the Stamina In-Motion, so it will take up considerably more room while in use. However, it folds for storage, which makes it less than 10 inches deep.
The Gazelle weighs about 45 pounds, which means that it isn’t too hard to move. Nonetheless, it’s a sturdy machine that’s capable of standing up to regular use. Because it has handles, it’s possible to get a satisfying upper and lower body workout all at the same time.
Even if you’re not particularly good with tools, the Gazelle is easy to put together. Much of it is already assembled out of the box. With only a few tools, you can have your Gazelle set up in under an hour.
I recommend that people who buy the Gazelle take the time to watch the included DVD. It has some really interesting exercise ideas that give you the opportunity to make the most of this elliptical machine.
The handlebars are padded with high-density foam, so it’s easy on your hands. The non-skid foot platforms are extra wide, so you won’t have to worry about stability. Quiet, smooth operation ensures that you can talk on the phone or watch T.V. with ease while getting a wonderful workout.
The computer is easy to use. It’s capable of tracking calories burned, time, distance and speed. The computer is one of the components that users have to install, and some people have chosen to do without it. I find the data that is reported by these computers is especially valuable because it increases my motivation, so you might consider that before deciding whether or not to use the computer.
Perhaps the Gazelle’s biggest drawback is its lack of resistance. Unlike other affordable elliptical machines, it is not possible to dial up the tension. For users who are already in great shape, this may mean that they could get a more intense workout on another machine that has adjustable tension. However, the easy-to-use Gazelle might be perfect if you’re just starting on the road to fitness.
The manufacturer notes that the Gazelle is not for use by people who weigh more than 250 pounds.
- Easy to assemble
- Includes instructional DVD
- Padded handles
- Quiet operation
- No adjustable resistance
- Limited to people weighting up to 250 pounds (113.5 kg)
- May not be suitable for use by taller people
Exerpeutic Aero Air Elliptical
This compact model mimics the motion of the elliptical trainers at the gym. Unlike the Gazelle, this Exerpeutic machine has adjustable resistance through a strap system. It’s easy to adjust the resistance up or down with a turn of the convenient dial.
Like the other models I reviewed, this one has oversized pedals with plenty of ridges for traction. This makes it a safe workout even if you feel like you’re less than sure-footed.
The LCD computer display is a particularly nice touch, especially on an elliptical machine at this price point. It’s easy to operate with a large button that lets you select between viewing distance, speed, time and approximate calories burned. There’s also a scan function that I really like, which causes the computer to run through all of the data it’s collecting so you can stay up to date.
With dual action arms, it’s really easy to get a full body workout. Plus, the arms are adjustable, so even people who are over six feet tall can use this model. The design is compact, which means that it can fit in smaller rooms without being particularly inconvenient. It does not fold up. However, you can tip it on end to use wheels to move it to a less conspicuous position in between workouts.
Compared to the first two models on this review, the Exerpeutic has many parts that you have to assemble before you can use it. If you feel like you’re not particularly good at following written instructions or are not comfortable using tools, then you may need to get the help of a handy friend.
Once you’ve got it together, it pays to frequently check the screws and bolts to make certain that they remain tight. A little routine maintenance once a week or so will go a long way toward keeping this elliptical in good working order. Ignore the maintenance, and the machine is much more likely to break. The instruction manual has useful hints about maintenance and lubrication. If you follow those instructions, this is a great little machine.
Before you buy the Exerpeutic, keep in mind the manufacturer rates it for users up to 260 pounds. If you weigh more than that, you’ll probably do better with a sturdier machine that will likely cost a bit more.
- LCD computer display for easy viewing of stats
- Successfully mimics the motion of gym-quality ellipticals
- Maintains a compact footprint
- Adjustable arms
- Quiet operation
- Not foldable, but the wheels are a nice touch
- May be somewhat difficult to assemble
MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF ELLIPTICALS
Even if you’ve never stepped onto an elliptical machine before, you’ll be able to use one with ease. You place your feet on the platforms, which are often called pedals, and then start to move with a back and forth gliding movement.
Why It’s Important: If you want to be able to vary your intensity or work at high intensity, adjustable tension is a must-have feature.
We love elliptical trainers because they are genuinely easy to use. Most ellipticals have adjustable tension. There’s usually a knob that allows you to control the intensity, how easy or hard the exercise will be.
If you’re feeling a little sore one day, maybe you turn down the resistance a bit. On those days when you’re feeling powerful, you’ll dial it up.
HANDLES FOR UPPER BODY WORKOUT
Why It’s Important: If you want to also want to work your upper body, especially your arms and back.
Having movable handles allows you to get a full body workout, hitting your upper body by moving the handles.
If you’re worried about your balance, look for a machine with stationary handles. Many machines like the XX have both stationary and moving arms.
Most elliptical trainers have handles that help you maintain balance. Usually, these handles move in rhythm with your feet, which gives you a great upper body workout.
If the elliptical is your only exercise machine you’re going to buy, we recommend you consider buying an elliptical with movable uppe body handles. That’s just a simple and easy way to engage more muscles during your cardio workout.
HOW MUCH FLOOR SPACE YOU HAVE
Why It’s Important: You’ll want to buy an elliptical that is small enough to fit your home without getting in your way.
If your space is limited, make sure to check the elliptical’s floor footprint. This includes the pedal swing length if it extends longer than the machine. The pedal height at its lowest and highest is important if you have step-up issues or a low ceiling.
Luckily’ you are reading this, so we gathered all the specs for you, so you can easily find the best elliptical trainer for your home.
Why It’s Important: The longer the stride the longer the range of motion and the more natural the feel of running.
Keep an eye out for the stride length. The longer your legs are, the longer stride your elliptical should have. This is especially important for taller people. Strides of about 17-18 inches are considered standard, strides longer than that are great for taller people.
CALORIES, DISTANCE & HEART RATE TRACKING
Why It’s Important: To be able to track your progress and keep you motivated. Seeing the number of calories burned accumulating over time can keep you engaged.
Even base-level elliptical trainers include simple computers that track useful data like how long you’ve been exercising, how fast you’re going and how many strides you’ve taken.
Cheap ellipticals such as those under $200, usually contain simple workout panels that can only track the current training session. They don’t have built-in memory for keeping all your training sessions.
If you don’t want to invest in a more expensive elliptical, just write down your workout stats manually. You can also input them into one of the many workout apps out there, even the most basic apps have such a feature.
Elliptical such as the XXX or the YYY that are little more expensive, can connect via Bluetooth to automatically track your progress.
Most ellipticals we reviewed here have built-in heart rate tracking by holding the handles.
Why It’s Important: The location of the flywheel often determines the dimensions and the posture during exercise. The flywheel is a bit technical so feel free to skip that feature and head directly to our top low-budget elliptical picks.
Ellipticals generally use one of three basic flywheel designs:
rear drive, front drive, and center drive.
REAR-DRIVE FLYWHEEL – Rear drive puts the wheel housing behind the pedals. Ellipticals with rear-drive are usually a bit longer than the others.
The great thing about rear drive is that it encourages a more upright posture. Since the flywheel is behind you, you have to pull it to make it turn. Your posterior muscles do most of the work, which keeps your feet flat and your back straight. This feels more natural and puts less strain on your lower back.
FRONT DRIVE FLYWHEEL – Front drive has the wheel housing ahead of the pedals. Ellipticals with front drive are generally cheaper and can be a bit noisier.
A Front drive cross trainer encourages a pushing motion. This uses more anterior muscles (front muscles), which makes you lean forward, putting you on the balls of your feet and hunching your back. Ellipticals using a front drive flywheel are perfectly ok, just make sure to consciously adopt a correct posture.
CENTER DRIVE FLYWHEEL – Center-drive ellipticals are designed like a treadmill with pedals instead of a track. They’re usually compact and smaller than the others. If you are looking for a compact elliptical for a small apartment, that’s usually a good option.
BENEFITS OF ELLIPTICAL TRAINERS OVER OTHER EQUIPMENT
Elliptical machines are a terrific choice for people who are dealing with any number of physical issues.
Whether you have arthritis, experience general joint pain, are coming back from an injury, or just haven’t exercised in a really long time, you can gain tremendous benefits from using an elliptical trainer three times a week for 20 minutes to half an hour each day.
For one thing, this cardiovascular activity increases your aerobic capacity. In other words, you’ll develop your ability to complete everyday physical tasks, like going up the stairs without getting out of breath.
Another benefit of elliptical trainers is that they offer an opportunity for low impact exercise. You won’t put any undue strain on your knees or ankles. If your doctor recommended a safe, low impact exercise routine for you, chances are good that this activity was high on his list.
Ellipticals are also great when it comes to correcting muscle imbalances. Most people have stronger hamstrings than quadriceps, and this can cause problems like back pain. Regular workouts on an elliptical machine can build up your quads. You’ll be taking the stairs in no time.
Most ellipticals have smaller footprints compared to other home cardio equipment, like treadmills. If you haven’t got a lot of space, you’ll love the ellipticals that we reviewed here.
Plus, some of these trainers are incredibly easy to store in a closet or under a bed when they’re not in use. They are either very small, fold up for easy storage, or can be wheeled out of the way. If you’re not going to have a permanent spot in your home for an elliptical, then it’s vital to look for a machine that has these qualities.
SIMPLE TO USE
Another advantage that each of low-budget ellipticals share is their simplicity. They don’t have motors like treadmills do, so there are fewer opportunities for having mechanical issues. That means you’ll spend more time exercising than you do repairing the machine. When you keep things simple, there’s a lot less that can go wrong.
LOW IMPACT WAY TO BURN CALORIES
There’s a good reason why ellipticals (a.k.a. cross-trainer) are some of the most popular cardio machines. The elliptical’s low-impact smooth motion lets you lose weight without any jarring impacts on your joints and spine.
By taking all the bumps and irregularities out of the running motion, you can go harder, faster, and longer without more pain, all of which equals burning more calories.
If you’ve suffered from any lower-body injuries or even just discomfort in your knees, hips, or back an elliptical cross trainer can help you keep up your fitness lifestyle while being easy on your joints.
Today’s ellipticals come with enough different styles and features to confuse even the savviest shopper. In this buyer’s guide, we’ve tried to boil down all the hype and hoopla into just the relevant info that you can apply to your body type and goals.
Getting good cardio equipment doesn’t have to be expensive. Ellipticals cheaper than treadmills and getting any of the low-budget elliptical trainers we reviewed will burn calories and get you in shape just as good as any other more expensive equipment can. But don’t forget you don’t just have to buy them, you also have to use them!