The elliptical machine used to be cost prohibitive for the average home user. In the last few years, however, the cost has come down to make it affordable for the majority of people. At the same time, the quality has improved, making the elliptical a popular home cardio option. The problem of space has also been addressed. There are many compact ellipticals on the market that allow you to get a great workout in.
In this article we bring you in depth reviews of the 5 best compact ellipticals on the current market.
- 1 Top Pick: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical
- 2 Second Pick: Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical
- 3 Third Pick: Bowflex Max Trainer M3
- 4 Fourth Pick: Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer
- 5 Fifth Pick: Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer
Top Pick: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical features a rear drive machine, putting the flywheel and the critical drive system components at the rear of the unit. This classic design allows for easy adjustment to increase or decrease the intensity of the workout. It provides you with 24 digital resistance levels and 30 workout programs. A great bonus is that you also get a chest strap pulse rate monitor for the most accurate heart rate monitoring that you can get.
7 Inch High Def Touchscreen Display
The beautiful display on the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical allows you to train anywhere in the world with virtual landscapes pre-loaded into the monitor. It also provides you with a constant readout of your vital training data, including your distance, calories burned and intensity.
Vertical Space Saver Design
The innovative space saver storage solution offered by the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical delivers the most economical storage space of any elliptical on the market – just 32 x 38 inches. You can easily store it away in a closet when not in use.
With the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical, you get a lifetime frame warranty. You also get a 5 year parts and two year labor warranty.
Superior Pedal Design
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical features over-sized pedals so you can choose the ideal foot placement. This may not seem important, but other bikes with smaller pedals sometimes lock you into leg positions that are not comfortable over the long term. You are also able to adjust the heel toe angle of the pedals for greater customization. The core cushioning of the pedals adds a superior level of comfort.
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical works in conjunction with iFt Coach app to open a whole world of possibilities to your training. It provides custom meals and daily workouts to help you reach your fitness goals. You also get personalized workouts, daily fitness goals and even sleep tips.
24 Digital Resistance Levels
With the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical, you get 24 levels of resistance, allowing any member of the family and any fitness level to benefit from the machine. The one touch controls on the console make operation easy and the transition between resistance levels is smooth and natural.
Wireless Chest Strap
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical comes with a wireless chest strap to allow you to get the most precise heart rate monitoring available.
The 0-10 degrees auto adjustable power incline on the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical provides you with a means of ramping up the intensity level of your workout. The incline is smooth and jerk free.
Fan & Tablet Holder
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical comes with some high spec extras, including a tablet holder which secure your device above the screen. This ensures that you can still see your training diagnostics while enjoying your entertainment. You also get an auto-breeze workout fan which automatically adjusts to match your workout intensity.
Mass Market Customer Service
Nordicktrack is a huge company who sells millions of units each year. The downside of this is that their customer service is pretty perfunctory.
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical is a high quality elliptical that is compact, functional and stylish. We rate is as the best compact elliptical available today.
Second Pick: Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical
The Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer is a compact unit that features a 20 inch stride length, which is very good for a home use elliptical. The Horizon Six Star Folding frame provides strength, style and function all in a space saving design.
On many ellipticals the pedals are too far apart. The overlapping design of the Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer is far more anatomically friendly. This helps to eliminate stress on the hips and back while you are working out.
Straight Body Posture
The handles of the Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer have been ergonomically designed to allow for ideal body placement while working out. This allows you to maintain an upright position while you’re training, reducing strain on your spine.
Low Step On Height
The low pedal design makes the Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer a smart choice for the elderly and people who are in rehab training. It allows for an easy on-off access.
Natural Foot Path
The pedals on the Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer follow a flatter, more natural elliptical pattern than most competitors. This delivers more natural action which is better for your joints and muscles.
32 Workout Programs
The Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer provides you with an impressive 32 workout programs across all fitness levels and training goals. This makes it accessible to all fitness levels from beginner to advanced athlete.
20 Levels of Resistance
There are 20 levels of electronic resistance on the Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer, providing you with a full spectrum of intensity adjustment options.
300 Pound Weight Capacity
The Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer has a max weight capacity of 300 pounds. This is impressive for a home use elliptical.
No Chest Strap Monitor
Unlike the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i , the Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer does not come with a chest heart rate monitor. It does allow you to get a pulse reading from sensors in the handle bars, but these are nowhere near as accurate.
The Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer is an impressive compact unit. Its 20 inch stride length is a major bonus, along with the high weight capacity and large number of programs and resistance levels.
Third Pick: Bowflex Max Trainer M3
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 is the entry level model of Bowflex’s new Max Trainer series of home use ellipticals. This is a very powerful compact unit that is packed with features to enhance your home cardio experience.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 is completely zero impact. It includes features of a treadmill but without the jarring effect on your joints that you get when running on a track.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 provides you with 8 levels of graduated resistance. This is controlled from a centrally located knob and allows for a smooth natural increase in tension level.
Upper Body Workout
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 allowed for a far more involved upper body workout than you will find on almost my other elliptical. This makes for a fantastic whole body workout.
Wireless Heart Rate Monitoring
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 comes complete with a wireless heart rate monitor. This allows you to get an extremely accurate measure of your pulse rate at any time while you are working out.
Two User Profiles
On the Bowflex Max Trainer M3, you can save user profile settings and workout data for two users. In addition, there are two pre-set workouts.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 is a very compact elliptical trainer. It has a foot print of 46 inches by 25 inches. This makes it an ideal exercise solution for people who don’t have much room for their workout gear.
Compared to other home fitness cardio machines in its price point, the Bowflex Max Trainer M3 presents you with a rather pared down, simple console. There are only two workout programs and the diagnostics are quite simple.
It will take well over an hour to put the Bowflex Max Trainer M3 together. The instructions are provided, but are nor overly clear.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 is a high quality machine that delivers the high standards that you would expect from Bowflex. It’s main benefit is that it provides both an upper and a lower body workout. However, this is offset by the limited programs and rather simple console.
Fourth Pick: Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer
The Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer is our pick for the best affordable compact elliptical. It delivers a sturdy functional workout in a very space friendly design.
The Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer provides you with a quality elliptical workout at a budget price. Unlike other machines in its price point, this unit is robust, delivering a smooth natural exercise motion. If you want to see more of the best budget elliptical options, check out our best under $500 article.
The monitor on the Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer is small but it still provides you with an ongoing readout of all the training information you need, including time, speed, calories, distance and total calories. The scan function allows you to easily cycle through your stats.
The Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer allows for adjustable resistance, providing you with adjustable resistance levels.
Two Way Striding
With the Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer, you are able to stride both backwards and forwards. This is great for targeting all areas of the lower body, especially the glutes and hamstrings.
The Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer allows you to stride with the arms as you stride with your legs. This incorporates both an upper and a lower body aspect to your workout, allowing you to work your arms and shoulders.
The Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer has a sturdy frame design. It also balances well, though there is a bit of movement when you train at full capacity.
The compact and lightweight design is a major plus of this machine. It can be used in the most challenging of workout environments and then easily stored away in your closet or under the bed.
The limited stride length of the Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer may be restrictive for taller people.
Even though it is a very compact unit, the Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer does not fold for storage.
The Sunny Pink Magnetic Trainer is a good quality budget elliptical that is better suited to beginner or intermediate users. The limited stride length may be a challenge for taller users.
Fifth Pick: Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer
The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is the most compact elliptical in our review round up. That’s because it consists of just a chassis with a set of pedals attached. That makes it ideal for exercising while sitting at your desk. However, it also prevents you from working your upper body.
The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is amazingly compact. All you have is a small chassis unit with pedals attached. This provides the ultimate in convenience, as you can pretty much take it with you wherever you go.
The central part of the chassis of the Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer provides you with an electronic monitor. Though small, it provides you with the key diagnostics needed to monitor your training, including strides, exercise time and calories.
The most attractive feature of the Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is its price point. You can spend close to $2000 for a high end elliptical, whereas you can pick up this unit for less than a hundred bucks.
The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer gives you limited stride motion in comparison to a full standing elliptical. It will provide a good workout for beginners and those wanting to give themselves a light workout while watching TV, or working at their office desk. But, if you’re after a more challenging workout, go for a full standing elliptical machine
No Upper Body Workout
Because the Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer consists of just a chassis with a set of pedals their is no ability to work your upper body with this machine.
Limited Weight Capacity
The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is not suitable for larger body weights. The max use weight is 225 pounds.
The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is a beginner level under desk elliptical trainer which gives you a useful, unobtrusive training session at work or in front of the TV. However, it should not be used as a serious workout tool by more advanced trainers.