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Best Elliptical Trainers for well Under $1000 – Top 6 For Home Use

The elliptical is my favorite cardio machine. Here I review 6 of the best elliptical trainers you can get for under $1000. At least as far as ellipticals go, I don't think there's much point in spending more. For most folks, these are more than good enough.

You are reading this chances are you already made up your mind about getting an elliptical for your home. 

If you only want to solidify your decision or just unsure yet if an elliptical machine is the way to go, allow me to briefly list the main benefits of ellipticals over treadmills.

You can go to a specific review by using the links below or read chronologically

​REVIEWS

Price

Heart Rate
Monitor

Max. Weight
Capacity

Size

ProForm Hybrid Trainer

$

Grip

350 lbs

63" x 26" x 76"

Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine

$$

Grip

300 lbs

70" x 28" x 63"

Nautilus E614 Elliptical

$$

Grip

300 lbs

71.5" x 26.7" x 63"

Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical

$$$

Grip

275 lbs

68" x 25" x 64"

Nautilus E616 Elliptical

$$$

Grip + chest strap

300 lbs

70" x 28" x 71"

Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine

$$$$

Grip + chest strap

300 lbs

70" x 28" x 63"

Here are some of the benefits Mayo Clinic explains that elliptical machines offer over other types of cardio machines like treadmills.

LOW IMPACT - First and foremost this is probably The most important advantage that ellipticals have. They are very low impact.
If you have bad knees or hips, you know how important low impact cardio can be!

On a treadmill, the pounding you’d do with even a light jog may be enough to aggravate your sore spots, but the elliptical offers you a smooth ride that research suggests can even be used by patients with multiple sclerosis.

WORKS ALSO YOUR UPPER BODY - Ellipticals have moveable hand rails that can exercise your upper body while you simultaneously pedal to work your lower body and cardiovascular system.

MORE VARIETY FOR LOWER BODY MUSCLES - By pedaling backwards you activate a different muscle series in your lower body and allows for a greater variety of work out. The extra mix up in your exercise program gives your muscles a break and enables you to avoid getting too tired.

WORK YOUR ASS OFF (LITERRALY!) - A study published in Clinical Biomechanics, a scientific journal, notes that elliptical machines are great for activating your glutes and strengthening the muscles in that region which is never a bad thing.

There are many more advantages, but these four are the main ones when comparing elliptical trainers vs. treadmills.

What Are Ellipticals?


Ellipticals are training machines that take elements of the stationary bike and stair stepper and combine it with the treadmill.

The result is machine that allows users to stand upright and perform a pedal-like motion while holding either stationary or moving handrails.

To activate the elliptical, you begin pedalling as you would on a bike but being upright not seated as you would on a bike. You should feel very natural and smooth during the stride.

Console-wise, the elliptical allows for continuous or interval training, variable resistance and different speed levels for a variety of workout choices. Even basic ellipticals will let you up the resistance or do pre-programmed workouts. Don't feel your best today? Take it easy with low resistance. Feel energetic, amp up the resistance level to get a more gruelling fat burning workout.

Some ellipticals are equipped with on-board fans to cool you off, and most come with a programmable display that shows you things like how fast you’re going, the distance you’ve travelled, and how many calories you’ve burned.

Features to Look For in Ellipticals


Drive Placement

Ellipticals can be configured in three different ways by placing the drive or flywheel at the front of the machine, at its center or at its back.

Rear Drive - The first ellipticals to hit the market featured a rear drive design due in part to the more natural stride the design allowed for.

Front Drive - The benefits of the front drive include easier access to the pedals and less of a footprint. 

Center Drive - The center drive housing allows for a more compact machine although the pedals then stick out beyond the machine when it’s in use. 

In the past flywheel placement in ellipticals used to matter more. Today it doesn't really matter, smooth motion can be achieved regardless of the flywheel placement.

Brake and Resistance System

Ellipticals have programmable resistance levels to increase the intensity of your workout. 

The way that resistance is applied to the flywheel is one of the most important characteristics in an elliptical because it is a good clue as to the durability of the machine.

Manual Brakes - Low-budget ellipticals use manual brakes to create resistance. You can turn a knob that will make it easier or harder to stride. Sometimes, the resistance applied unevenly or may feel choppy, it can also be louder.

Motorized Brakes - With motorized brakes, you can essentially press a button for the same effect as the manual system gives you.

Eddy Current Magnetic Resistance - That's a fancy name, but all you need to know is that is the best system and makes smoother and more even. This method is sometimes called quiet drive or silent magnetic resistance.
All of the 6 ellipticals featured in this guide use this resistance system, so that's one less thing to worry about.

Size and Footprint

When you're shopping for an elliptical, you need to pay attention to measurements for length and width, so you can be sure your new machine will fit in its designated area.

Elliptical trainers can be very large, and you also have to take into consideration whether the pedals will go further than the length of the machine when in use.

If you're tall or plan to place your machine in a room with a low ceiling, take note of the elliptical height as well. You don't want to be hitting your head every time you pedal!

Stride Length

The stride length of an elliptical relates to your natural footpath. Taller people tend to prefer longer strides, and some machines allow you to adjust the length of your stride, which is useful if your home includes people of extremely different heights.

However, for most people, a machine without an adjustable stride length will do just fine, which is why all the ellipticals in this guide are non-adjustable.

Warranty

A warranty is important for several reasons. First, some parts can be damaged during shipping or assembly. Second, wear and tear are normal, but the longer the warranty, the more durable the machine in general.

Wheels

Unlike treadmills, most ellipticals do not fold up for easy storage. However, the ones in this buying guide all have transport wheels and integrated leveling to allow you to move them easier from room to room.

The Top 6 Ellipticals for less than $1,000


As with other cardio equipment, there are way too many options out there that can make you overwhelmed as to what Elliptical should you buy. That's why we nailed it down to the best six choices that vary in price from around $400 to $800. Prices may fluctuate, but these should still cost less than $1,000.

ProForm Hybrid Trainer





This machine is the only one featured in this product guide that you can use either upright as standard elliptical or seated as a recumbent bike. It's like having two machines in one, and I think that's a huge plus.

With the drive housed in the rear to accommodate the bike seat, the ProForm Hybrid Trainer is a sturdy option for the price although it does not come with a lot of frills. It's a great choice if you might tire standing up and want to switch to cycling. It’s also excellent for multi-user households with varying exercise preferences.

The ProForm Hybrid Trainer offers basic programming with 14 resistance levels and moving handrails that can be used with the elliptical option to work out your arms. It has a 350-pound weight limit and will bear your weight well if you are near that capacity, in part due to its silent magnetic resistance system.

Note that the stride length is only 15 inches, which is considerably short if you are average height. Another issue is that the heart rate monitor is located in the handgrip, making it difficult for those using the machine as a recumbent bike to check their heart rate.

The console adjusts to whether you’re using the elliptical or cycling option, and you can plug in your MP3 player or iPhone for music.

The warranty for this machine offers five-year coverage on the frame and 90-days for parts and labor. Some users have reported that ProForm’s customer service is not easy to work with if the machine arrives with missing or broken parts although they will cover those items.

Click Here To See Reviews & Pricing on Amazon >>>

Specs

Price: Click to check price
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes, in the hand grips
Size:  63 x 26 x 76 inches  (160 x 66 x 193 cm)
Warranty: Five-year frame and 90-day parts and labor
Stride Length: Set at 15 inches
Weight Capacity: 350 pounds (158 kg)
Drive Position: Rear

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Two different exercise options in one machine
  • Affordable price
  • Sturdy with a 350-pound weight capacity
  • Does not require electrical power

CONS

  • Stride is only 15 inches, which is shorter than average
  • This machine has fewer programming options than other ellipticals in this buying guide

Schwinn 430 Elliptical





The Schwinn 430 Elliptical is a great budget option if you’re looking for a reliable machine with good functionality. It requires access to a regular electrical outlet to operate.

The Schwinn 430 has a good reputation and offers an excellent warranty on the product, including 10-year coverage on the frame. Its sturdy construction makes for a heavy-duty machine weighing over 200 pounds.

You may spend some time assembling it once it arrives, its wheels allow you some flexibility so you can move it around once you’re ready to begin your workout.

If you like a machine with just enough programming to change up your workouts without getting too confusing, this one will be a good fit as it provides you with the ability to save data for two users and to access 22 different workout programs, 20 levels of resistance. It also includes 10 resistance quick keys, so you can make mid-workout adjustments quickly or toggle back and forth between levels.

The Schwinn 430 even offers a manual incline option although you have to set the incline before you begin your workout as it is not something you can adjust digitally. The LCD displays dual monitors, allowing you to keep up with 13 different tracking options. There is also a ledge for users to place their tablet or phone near the display.

The heart rate monitor is located on the static handlebars though multiple users report getting hit by the moving handles while trying to register their heart rate on the static ones. With the flywheel located in front, the Schwinn 430 has an onboard fan to help cool you off when you get hot.

Click Here To See Reviews & Pricing on Amazon >>>

Specs

Price: Click to check price
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes, in the handle bars
Size:  70.1 x 28.2 x 63.2 inches  (178 x 71.5 x 160.5 cm)
Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year mechanical, 1-year electrical and 90-day labor
Stride Length: Set at 20 inches
Weight Capacity: 300 pounds (136 kg)
Drive Position: Front

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Can be programmed for two different users
  • Good program selection
  • Reliable elliptical with smooth ride due to its 20 levels of eddy current resistance and weighted flywheel
  • Has an incline option

CONS

  • Non-adjustable stride feels short for some people
  • The on-board fan does not adjust well to users of different heights
  • Some users report getting hit by the moveable handrails when holding the static ones

Nautilus E614 Elliptical





The Nautilus E614 Elliptical is comparable to the Schwinn 430 in price, and features. Both of these companies have been around for ages, both machines are reliable.

The Nautilus is slightly longer than the Schwinn 430 but less wide. It boasts many of the same features, including 22 programming options, quick keys, and a dual LCD display.

The 3-speed fan is adjustable, so if someone in your home is shorter than you, it isn’t a problem. The front drive does seem to exaggerate some user’s complaints of leaning too far forward in the Nautilus E614, but that’s something you can test out when you shop to ensure it’s a good fit for you.

The dual screen readout allows you to place your phone or tablet on the media tray and still see some of your feedback options. The Nautilus does allow for performance tracking through their own workout tracking program, Nautilus Connect.

Console-wise, the Nautilus E614 has all the trappings of the Schwinn 430, including the ability to save data for two users, acoustic chambers for the sound system and a USB port. The two are similar in price depending on sale and even use the same resistance and braking system for as smooth a ride as possible.

Click Here To See Reviews & Pricing on Amazon >>>

Specs

Price: Click to check price
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes, in the grip of the stationary handle bars
Size:  71.5 x 26.7 x 63.2 inches  (182 x 68 x 160.5 cm)
Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year mechanical, 1-year electrical and 90-day labor
Stride Length: Fixed at 20 inches
Weight Capacity: 300 pounds (136 kg)
Drive Position: Front

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Great programming options
  • Adjustable fan
  • The 20-inch stride seems comfortable for most users
  • Manual incline with 6 levels

CONS

  • Some issues with pedal parts reported
  • A few users mention feeling like they lean too far forward on the pedals

Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical Trainer





The Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical is one of the smaller machines featured in this product guide.

It has a front drive system, which allows it to be compact, and it also boasts of a low step-on height of 10 inches. If you have trouble with the accessibility of bigger machines, then this could be the elliptical for you!

One of the EX 59-02’s best characteristics is its ergonomics design. It's designed for optimal spaces between handles, straight body posture so no leaning too far forward or backward and ideal pedal placement with a pedal motion that most resembles a natural footstep.

The EX 59-02 does have a 10-level eddy current resistance system and a weighted flywheel of 14.3 pounds, consistent with its smaller size. This lower weight, however, does affect some users’ experiences with the machines as several commented that they had noise or reliability issues with the drive.

Simplistic and without too many buttons. Horizon panel with resistance, stop and start buttons

This elliptical machine does not feature as many programming options as the Schwinn 430 or the Nautilus E614, but its 10 workout options and heart rate programming still let you get the workout variety you’re after.

You have to consider what you need. When you’re just starting out or looking for a machine that is going to be as low-impact and easily accessible as this one is, then you probably don’t need as many programming buttons to confuse you.

Consistent with its no-frills approach, the EX 59-02 does not have an on-board fan. It does feature a media tray and water bottle holder.

Click Here To See Reviews & Pricing on Amazon >>>

Specs

Price: Click to check price
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes, in the hand grips
Size:  68 x 25 x 64 inches  (173 x 63.5 x 162.5 cm)
Warranty: Lifetime coverage on the frame, two-year coverage on parts and one-year coverage on labor
Stride Length: Fixed at 18 inches
Weight Capacity: 275 pounds (125 kg)
Drive Position: Front

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Low step-on height
  • Smaller-than-average size
  • Most users report feeling comfortable with the 18-inch stride
  • Lifetime warranty on the frame
  • Ergonomic design for better posture and less stress on back and hips

CONS

  • No fan
  • No incline option
  • Water bottle holder is too low for some users
  • Weight limit is lower than average at 275 pounds

Nautilus E616 Elliptical





The Nautilus E616 Elliptical is a higher end machine with more features than most of the other ellipticals in this buying guide. If you’re looking for all the bells and whistles, the E616 is a great option.

Improving on the E614 model, this elliptical offers even more programming options with 29 different workouts.

It also features a backlit LCD display over the E614’s non-backlit display, so it's easier to look at your stats even when it's a bit darker.

Another improvement upon the earlier model, the E616 allows you to choose up to 25 different resistance levels just in case you feel maxed out with the 20 levels that the E614 gives you.

The stride length remains similar to the earlier Nautilus and Schwinn models at 20 inches, and the warranty also provides the same coverage.

Two major differences that set the Nautilus E616 and its Schwinn 470 counterpart apart from the other ellipticals in this product guide are the heart rate monitor and the incline adjustments.

Although the other machines do provide heart rate tracking through the hand grips, the Nautilus E616 and the Schwinn 470 can also read data from a chest-strap. Using a chest strap for heart rate tracking is much more accurate. Hand grip heart rate trackers tend to act up sometimes.

In addition, they allow you to adjust the incline electronically during your workout, which many users consider a huge plus.

The E616 is also Bluetooth enabled for you to upload data to the Nautilus Connect performance app or the MyFitnessPal app although many users reported connection issues with this feature.

Click Here To See Reviews & Pricing on Amazon >>>

Specs

Price: Click to check price
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes, in the handgrips and also for use with a chest strap
Size:  70 x 28 x 71 inches  (178 x 71 x 180.5 cm)
Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year mechanical, 1-year electrical and 90-day labor
Stride Length: Fixed at 20 inches
Weight Capacity: 300 pounds (136 kg)
Drive Position: Front

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Great variety of programming options
  • High resistance levels for the elite user
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Backlit LCD display
  • Chest strap option for more accurate heart rate tracking
  • Electronically-adjustable incline

CONS

  • Connectivity issues with the performance tracking apps
  • Distance tracking directly related to resistance levels, throwing off some users
  • Users report some issues with rocking due to the incline being mechanical

Schwinn 470 Elliptical





The Schwinn 470 Elliptical is the only machine in this product guide that is recommended by Consumer Reports as a “Best Value” elliptical. In CR’s buying guide, the 470 is listed as having “no discernible flaws in its performance.” You can’t get much better than that!

The Schwinn 470, like the Nautilus E616, improves upon its earlier 430 model. The 470 features more programming, more resistance and the added benefit of a mechanically-controlled incline. This means that you don’t have to adjust the incline by hand before you begin your workout.

Like the other Nautilus and Schwinn ellipticals, the 470 uses a quiet drive system with the flywheel housed in front and 25 levels of eddy current magnetic resistance.

Its pedaling is slightly heavy and can make starting and stopping a little harder than on other machines.

Click Here To See Reviews & Pricing on Amazon >>>

Specs

Price: Click to check price
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes, in the handgrips and also for use with a chest strap
Size:  70.1 x 28.2 x 63.2 inches  (178 x 71.5 x 160.5 cm)
Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year mechanical, 1-year electrical and 90-day labor
Stride Length: Fixed at 20 inches
Weight Capacity: 300 pounds (136 kg)
Drive Position: Front

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Saves data for up to four users
  • Chest strap option for more accurate heart rate tracking
  • Electronically-adjustable incline
  • Lots of programming and workout options with 29 programs and 25 resistance levels
  • 5 Quick keys dedicated to incline adjustment
  • Magazine/Tablet rack does not block the controls

CONS

  • Some customers reported issues with the flywheel breaking that took Schwinn customer service some time to resolve

Verdict


These elliptical trainers are a step up from entry level ellipticals. They offer more features and are more reliable than cheaper models. Priced roughly around $400-$800 they are just the sweet spot for most to get a great workout without spending too much.

Click on any of the links below to check the current prices on Amazon

​REVIEWS

Price

Heart Rate
Monitor

Max. Weight
Capacity

Size

ProForm Hybrid Trainer

$

Grip

350 lbs

63" x 26" x 76"

Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine

$$

Grip

300 lbs

70" x 28" x 63"

Nautilus E614 Elliptical

$$

Grip

300 lbs

71.5" x 26.7" x 63"

Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical

$$$

Grip

275 lbs

68" x 25" x 64"

Nautilus E616 Elliptical

$$$

Grip + chest strap

300 lbs

70" x 28" x 71"

Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine

$$$$

Grip + chest strap

300 lbs

70" x 28" x 63"

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