ProForm’s Carbon EL is an affordable home elliptical with some very respectable performance specs for its price range.
More specifically, this home elliptical comes with a 19″ stride length, a 15 lb flywheel, and 18 levels of resistance to work with. It also comes with a pretty heavy-duty frame and a decent warranty.
And since this is ProForm we’re talking about here, of course the Carbon EL is compatible with their streaming app, iFit.
All things considered, I think this is a really nice elliptical for the price, but is it really the best elliptical under $1k?
Spoiler alert – not quite.
No, personally I don’t think it’s the best option in this price range, but it’s certainly in the conversation.
And depending on what you’re looking for the Carbon EL could still be a great fit, but more on that below.
In this review, I’ll go over everything this elliptical does and doesn’t have going for it and I’ll also compare it to some of the other top ellipticals in this price range to see how it really stacks up.
After reading, you’ll be able to decide for yourself whether or not the Carbon EL is the best elliptical in its price range.
Let’s do this.
The ProForm Carbon EL Elliptical
ProForm’s a well-known home fitness brand that’s been around for awhile now.
I’m not sure they enjoy the same type of brand recognition as NordicTrack or Schwinn, but they’re probably not far behind.
Speaking of NordicTrack, ProForm is actually owned by the same company that owns that brand, which is why you’ll notice so many similarities between the 2.
It’s also why both brands are compatible with the streaming app iFit.
Generally speaking, ProForm tends to offer more affordable, slightly lighter-duty equipment than NordicTrack, but they’re still one of the top budget brands in the game.
ProForm’s lineup changes fairly regularly, but at the time of writing this, the Carbon EL is the highest-end traditional elliptical machine they offer.
And I say “traditional” because they still have their lineup of popular HIIT Trainers too (and the Pro HIIT H14 is definitely higher-end than the Carbon EL).
Anyway, as I’m writing this, the Carbon EL is selling for $799 through ProForm, putting it well under $1k.
- 19″ stride length
- 15 lb flywheel
- 18 levels of magnetic resistance
- Solid frame
- iFit compatible
- Interactive training feature (iFit)
- Quick-touch resistance buttons
- Fairly priced
- Decent warranty
- No power adjustable incline
- Weight limit only 275 lb
- Simple console
One of the first things you should look at when considering any elliptical is its stride length.
This simple spec tells you how far apart your legs will be stretching with each stride and it’s a crucial stat because it instantly gives you a good idea as to how comfortable your workouts are gonna be.
If the stride length is too small for ya, you’re going to feel like you’re marching in place – and I don’t know about you, but that isn’t a feel I’m going for.
I’m assuming most of us are looking for more or a jogging or running feel, you know, where you’re able to stretch out a little further with each stride.
There isn’t a magic, one-size-fits-all stride length because we’re all different sizes with different leg lengths and personal preferences vary.
That said, most quality home ellipticals come with a stride length of around 20″ because at this length, folks of most heights are comfortable using an elliptical.
With this in mind, the Carbon EL comes with a stride length of 19″.
This is a little short of the 20″ gold standard, but it’s pretty close – and still pretty good for an $800 elliptical.
That said, there are similarly priced ellipticals that do come with a 20″ stride length, like Horizon’s 7.0 AE and Nautilus’ E616.
Taller folks might appreciate the extra inch, although shorter folks probably won’t miss it.
Something else worth thinking about is how heavy/light-duty the frame is going to feel during workouts – and by this, I really mean whether or not it’s going to wiggle and wobble during use.
It can be hard to determine this without being able to get on the elliptical first, but looking at the assembled weight and weight capacity can still help.
And seeing higher numbers in both categories is a good sign that the elliptical will feel more secure while you’re up on it.
The Carbon EL comes with an in box weight of 202 lb, meaning this is how much it weighs as it arrives to your door, including all packaging.
The weight of the packaging doesn’t help us any, so we have to subtract the estimated weight of the box etc. to get an idea as to how much the elliptical itself weighs.
Subtracting 30 lb is a good conservative estimate and doing this leaves us with an assembled weight somewhere in the 170 lb range.
Which is pretty good for an elliptical in this price range.
Assuming our estimate is accurate, that puts the Carbon EL right around the same weight as Nautilus’ E616 and Schwinn’s 430.
Horizon’s 7.0 AE would be a bit heavier-duty, weighing in at 194 lb.
The Carbon EL also comes with a weight limit of 275 lb, which is a bit light compared to the other top comps mentioned so far (all fall in the 300 – 325 lb range).
Overall, I think the EL scores pretty highly in the stride length/frame department. It isn’t the heaviest-duty elliptical in this price range, but it’s not far off either.
Most home ellipticals, especially ones in this price range, operate a lot like exercise bikes in how they create their resistance.
Like most exercise bikes, they use a spinning flywheel and magnetic system to create a frictionless resistance.
And, like most exercise bikes, ellipticals can also benefit from having heavier flywheels – more weight means more momentum, which creates a smoother pedaling motion.
With this in mind, consider that the Carbon EL comes with a 15 lb flywheel.
As higher-end home ellipticals go, this is pretty light, but as ellipticals under $1k go, this is pretty good
For the sake of comparison, the E616 comes with a flywheel around 17 lb and Horizon’s 7.0 AE uses a 23 lb flywheel.
So, the EL’s flywheel is a little lighter than some of these other comps, but it’s in the expected ballpark for this price range.
And most users agree the pedaling motion on this elliptical is pretty smooth, so that flywheel must be heavy enough for solid performance.
ProForm pairs that flywheel with 18 resistance levels, giving you a fair amount of control over the intensity of your workouts.
This is also in the same range as most of the other top comps, but keep in mind that having more resistance levels doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have access to more resistance.
But it does mean you’ll be able to make smaller adjustments to that resistance between levels.
Which I think is a good thing in itself because it allows you to really fine tune each workout.
Overall, the Carbon EL doesn’t have the heaviest flywheel or the most resistance levels, but both are in line with what we should expect from a quality elliptical in this price range.
The ProForm Carbon EL Elliptical comes with the following features:
5″ console- the console on this elliptical is pretty basic (especially for ProForm… I thought they put an HD touchscreen on everything?), but it’s big enough and bright enough to see clearly during workouts. It’s really just a digital display that shows your stats.
iFit ready- but the Carbon EL is still bluetooth compatible with iFit, so if you’ve got a phone or tablet, you can sync your elliptical up to the app and follow the workouts on your device. iFit costs around $39/month I believe and with a membership, you get unlimited workouts, metric tracking, scenic routes, and all that good stuff. You don’t need iFit to use this elliptical, so that’s nice. Oh, and ProForm includes a free 30 day iFit trial with purchase, you so can try it out and see what you think.
Interactive training- through iFit, you can also take advantage of the interactive feature that allows the instructors to automatically adjust your resistance during workouts. It’s a cool feature that most like, but you can always make your own adjustments too.
Speakers- there are built-in speakers and an audio-port, so you can hook your mp3 player up to it and listen to your music through the console if you like.
Quick-touch buttons- you can rapidly jump between resistances using these convenient quick-touch buttons.
Tablet holder- there’s a built-in area to hold your tablet, making it easy to follow along with iFit or watch Netflix during workouts.
Water bottle- there’s even a place to hold your water bottle.
Putting this elliptical together shouldn’t be the most challenging task, but it is fairly involved, so make sure you’re prepared to spend some time getting it done.
You’ll be responsible for attaching the stabilizers, connecting the pedals, moving arms, console, stationary arms, and several covers.
You’ll have to grease multiple pivot points (grease included with parts), so make sure you’re comfortable with that.
The instruction manual is pretty easy to follow and I think ProForm does a pretty good job explaining the process.
Plus, you can always use the BILT app to help as well (there are also YouTube videos available).
Overall, I’d expect to spend 1-2 hours getting this elliptical assembled.
Oh, and it’s always a good idea to have a second person around to assist – especially when it comes to attaching the console.
ProForm backs their Carbon EL Elliptical with the following home warranty:
- 10 year frame
- 1 year parts
- 1 year labor
This isn’t a bad warranty for this price range.
Ten years on the frame is fair for an $800 elliptical; a year on parts is a little short compared to the 2-3 year parts warranties the other top comps are offering, but not embarrassing or anything.
And a year on labor is pretty standard stuff, so no complaints there.
Again, not a bad warranty, but it is a little shorter than what Horizon, Nautilus, and Schwinn offer on their similarly priced models.
There ya have it – the Carbon EL in a nutshell.
All things considered, I think this is a nice elliptical for the price range with a lot of solid specs and features to offer.
With a 19″ stride length and 15 lb flywheel, this elliptical is able to provide a comfortable pedaling motion and with a pretty heavy frame you shouldn’t have to worry about it feeling flimsy during use.
The console isn’t fancy or anything, but its ability to connect with iFit allows you to stream workouts and use the interactive feature if you so please.
The warranty isn’t spectacular, but it isn’t awful either.
Based on everything this elliptical has to offer, I think it’s a solid option in the under $1k price range, especially for folks looking to access streaming workouts.
But is it the best elliptical in this price range?
I don’t think so.
If you ask me, Horizon’s 7.0 AE is likely the best elliptical in this price range.
It comes with a 20″ stride length, a 23 lb flywheel, 20 levels of power incline, 20 resistance levels, a heavier-duty frame, and a longer warranty (lifetime frame, 3 year parts).
But it’s not designed for iFit, so the Carbon EL would make more sense if you want an iFit compatible machine.
Overall, I like the Carbon EL, but I do think there are better options in this price range.