If you’re looking for a low impact way to get your cardio on, adding an elliptical to your home gym can be a great move.
And luckily, you don’t have to completely break the bank to get a decent one – there are plenty of great models that cost less than $1000.
You just have to know what to look for when comparing these budget friendly ellipticals to make sure you aren’t wasting your money.
For example, the best budget ellipticals should come with large stride lengths, heavy flywheels, and good warranties.
They should also come with some more advanced features like power incline and wireless heart rate monitoring.
And yes, we’re still talking about ellipticals that cost under $1000.
If you’re looking for a great elliptical that won’t cost an arm and a leg, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, I’ll go over everything you should look for when searching for an affordable elliptical.
I’ll also present my top picks for affordable ellipticals currently on the market based on the criteria we discuss.
After reading, you’ll be ready to find the right elliptical for your home gym.
Well, let’s get to it already.
|#1 Horizon 7.0 AE||20"||23 lb||Lifetime frame|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|#2 Nautilus E618||22"||17 lb||15 year frame|
5 year parts
2 year labor
|29 workout programs
Chest strap included
|#3 Nautilus E616||20"||17 lb||10 year frame|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|#4 ProForm Carbon EL||19"||15 lb||10 year frame|
1 year parts
1 year labor
|#5 Schwinn 430||20"||17 lb||10 year frame|
2 year parts
90 day labor
|22 workout programs
2 user profiles
How To Choose A Budget Elliptical
The price range for home ellipticals is pretty huge. You can find tiny ellipticals that start off at around $100. You can also find plenty of commercial grade machines that cost $8000.
And there’s a whole lot of stuff in between.
Believe it or not, in the world of ellipticals, anything that costs under $1000 is considered budget.
And I realize this price range is huge in itself. There’s a world of different between a $300 elliptical and a $999 elliptical (or at least there should be).
But considering how expensive home fitness equipment can be, I think we’re actually pretty lucky there are so many awesome models available in this budget category.
I’d even go as far to guess that most of us could get the workout experience we’re looking for from a budget elliptical. But it’s important that we choose the right one.
In order to find the right ones, you have to know what to look for and what to compare.
Personally, I think it’s more important to have a machine that provides a smooth, comfortable ride and is durable enough to withstand years of use than to have one that has a fancy screen.
But to each their own.
If you’re like me and you want an elliptical that will actually work, you should concentrate on the following when comparing models:
I think the stride length is the first spec you should examine when researching an elliptical.
To ensure we’re all on the same page here, the stride length is how far the pedals move front to back during use (measured in inches).
This measurement is crucial to your comfort- if the stride length is too small, you’re going to feel like you’re marching in place. And that isn’t the feel most people are going for with an elliptical.
The gold standard for quality home ellipticals is a stride length of around 20 inches.
At this length, most people can comfortably use the machine.
But it’s true that your height and leg length play an important part in this.
Shorter users can comfortably use ellipticals with smaller stride lengths, but if you’re over 5’6″, you’ll probably benefit from a 20″ stride length.
An easy way to spot a sub-par elliptical is to look at the stride length. Poor quality ellipticals usually have very small stride lengths – anything smaller than 18″ is questionable.
The flywheel is the part of the elliptical that spins as you pedal. Just like on spin bikes, the flywheel is what creates the resistance and the “feel” of the elliptical.
When it comes to the weight of the flywheel, heavier is usually preferred.
This is because a heavier flywheel creates more momentum as it spins, which in turn provides a more even pedal stroke and smoother feel.
How heavy is heavy enough?
This isn’t an exact science because smoothness also depends on the build quality and gear ratios, but most people will tell you that high-quality ellipticals should come with a flywheel that weighs at least 20 lb.
At 20 lb or heavier, these flywheels should be capable of providing a seamless feel.
Another easy way to spot a sub-par elliptical is to examine the flywheel weight. Low quality machines usually come with light flywheels, in the 10-14 lb range (it’s also a bad sign if the flywheel weight isn’t mentioned).
Warranty is a crucial spec to consider regardless of what type of exercise equipment you’re buying.
After all, this is your insurance policy for your new product and if you’re gonna shell out a thousand bucks on an elliptical, you want to know it’s going to last.
When it comes to warranties, longer is obviously better. But how long should we expect on budget ellipticals? High quality models will offer:
- Lifetime guarantees on the frame
- 2-3 years on parts
- 1 year on labor
The above guarantees are impressive on a machine that costs under $1000. They’re amazing when you look at other ellipticals in the same price range that are offering 10 years on the frame and 90 days on labor.
Short (or non-existent) warranties are a tell-tale sign of low quality ellipticals.
I think you should prioritize stride length, flywheel weight, and warranty the most when comparing budget models, but you’ll probably want to make sure your elliptical has a few extra features on it too.
You know, this thing should be fun to use as well.
Luckily, you can actually get quite a lot in this price range. You may be pleasantly surprised when you see some of the features you can get on the nicer budget models:
- Loads of workout programs- some of the ellipticals come with 30-40 workouts built-in
- Power incline- a great feature to add intensity and variety to your workouts
- Bluetooth speakers- to listen to music wirelessly through the console
- Heart rate monitoring- many are compatible with chest strap monitors
- Apps- many have their own workout apps or are compatible with the popular ones
Again, I don’t think you should base your decision solely on the features that are included, but having this stuff can make your workouts more enjoyable.
And the more enjoyable your workouts are, the more likely you are to keep doing them.
Ok, now you know how to find awesome, budget friendly ellipticals, so let’s take a look at some of the best options this year has to offer.
P.S. – sometimes prices change after I write these guides, so I apologize if any of these ellipticals are no longer under $1000 by the time you read this.
The 5 Best Ellipticals For Under $1000
#1 Horizon 7.0 AE
Now that Sole’s E25 is no longer under $1k, it was a pretty easy decision to give the top spot here to Horizon and their 7.0 AE.
Sole and Horizon are actually very similar in that they both offer heavy-duty equipment and great warranties.
Anyway, Horizon offers several elliptical models to choose from and the 7.0 AE is their most affordable model to date.
It’s also one of the newest additions to their lineup and it comes with all the best features of their more expensive models, minus the cost.
It’s also the only Horizon elliptical that comes with power incline.
First of all, the 7.0 AE comes with a 20″ stride length, which is in no way a given in this price range.
But it also comes with a 23 lb flywheel, giving this elliptical enough muscle to provide a smooth pedaling motion.
To help you control that heavy flywheel, Horizon gives you 20 resistance levels and 20 levels of power incline.
When it comes to the frame, this elliptical comes with an assembled weight of 194 lb and a weight capacity of 325 lb, both of which are impressive for such an affordable elliptical.
And when it comes to features, I’m happy to say that this elliptical has built-in bluetooth speakers (I’m not sure why this makes me so happy, but it does).
It also comes with a USB charging port, tablet rack, and one-touch speed/incline buttons.
And what really sets Horizon apart from most is the warranty they offer – lifetime frame, 3 year parts, 1 year labor.
Overall, Horizon’s 7.0 AE is a dependable, easy-to-use elliptical with some great performance specs.
The only downside is the limited workout options, but with that many resistance and incline levels, you can easily make your own workouts. See full review.
#2 Nautilus E618
Nautilus is a brand that’s been around for a long time, but I think they sometimes get overlooked these days – which is a shame, because they still offer some great stuff.
Like their E618.
As I’m writing this, the E618 is priced at $999, so it just barely squeaks in for being under $1k (and I’m not sure how long this price will last, hopefully for awhile).
Anyway, this is a great elliptical for such an affordable price.
In terms of performance, the E618 comes with a 22″ stride length and a 17 lb flywheel, both of which are impressive for this price range.
But it also comes with a heavy-duty frame (assembled weight 210 lb) that can safely hold users weighing up to 350 lb.
It also comes with a power incline up to 10° for added workout variety and difficulty.
When it comes to features, the console on the E618 isn’t fancy or anything, but it does come with 29 built-in workout programs, bluetooth compatibility, and an included chest strap heart rate monitor.
And Nautilus doesn’t mess around when it comes to the warranty either – 15 year frame, 5 year parts, 2 year labor.
Overall, the E618 is a beast on an elliptical that sometimes flies under the radar, but if you’re looking for an affordable elliptical that can perform, this is a very smart choice. See full review.
#3 Nautilus E616
If you like the E618, but are working with a slightly smaller budget, their E616 is worth checking out.
The E616 is basically just a lighter-duty version of the E618, coming with a few subtle downgrades that might not be immediately noticeable.
The first big difference is that the E616 comes with a smaller, 20″ stride length – which is still longer than many in this price range and still large enough to fit most users comfortably.
The E616 comes with the same 17 lb flywheel and 25 resistance levels found on the E618, so no differences there.
And it also comes with a power incline up to 10°.
This elliptical isn’t quite as heavy-duty as the E618 either – this elliptical weighs in at around 173 lb and comes with a weight capacity of 300 lb.
The warranty on this model isn’t quite as generous either, but still solid given the price – 10 year frame, 3 year parts, 1 year labor.
Otherwise, when it comes to the console and features, the E616 is pretty identical to the more expensive E618.
Other features include 29 workouts programs, USB charging, bluetooth, a 3 speed fan, and 4 user profiles.
Overall, the E616 is a great budget-friendly elliptical in its own right, coming with a good combination of performance and console features. See full review.
#4 ProForm Carbon EL
Here’s a brand we’re probably all familiar with and when it comes to budget friendlier gear, they’re still one of the top brands around.
ProForm’s Carbon EL isn’t quite as heavy-duty as the E618 mentioned above, but to be fair, few are.
That said, the Carbon EL still has a lot going on for it.
Unlike pretty much all other ProForm machines, the EL doesn’t come with a large, touchscreen console, but it’s still compatible with iFit and all the streaming features that come with it (through the use of your phone or tablet).
Under the hood, this elliptical is packing a 15 lb flywheel, which is still pretty impressive for the price range, and ProForm pairs that with 18 magnetic resistance levels.
This model comes with a 19″ stride length too, which is a little shorter than those found on the top ellipticals above, but still pretty generous for this price range.
Other features include a 5″ console, built-in speakers, and the ability to automatically adjust its resistance to match your streaming workouts (available through iFit).
The weight capacity on this one is only 275 lb and there is no power adjustable incline, but if you’re looking for an affordable elliptical that’s streaming friendly, the Carbon EL could still be a good option. See full review.
#5 Schwinn 430
Rounding out our list is the Schwinn 430.
Although Schwinn is most well known for their bicycles and exercise bikes (and rightly so), a lot of their other cardio equipment is legit in their own right.
The 430 is their mid-range model, but it still comes with a nice combination of features and performance specs – especially for a $900 elliptical.
This elliptical comes with a 20″ stride length, so folks of most heights should be able to use it comfortably.
Schwinn doesn’t offer much info regarding the flywheel weight on this one, but I reached out to their reps and they told me that it weighs 17.3 lb.
Which is quite solid for such an affordable elliptical.
The 430 also comes with 20 resistance levels and a manually adjustable incline of 6 levels for added difficulty.
Other notable features include 22 built-in workout programs, 2 user profiles, USB charging, and a cooling fan.
And with a 300 lb weight limit, folks of most sizes will be able to safely use this elliptical.
Schwinn’s warranty isn’t as generous as some of the others mentioned above, but it’s still pretty good considering the price range: 10 year frame, 2 year parts, 90 day labor.
Overall, if you’re looking for an affordable elliptical with respectable specs and features, the Schwinn 430 is a nice choice. See full review.
So there ya go.
If nothing else, I hope this list shows you that you should expect a lot from affordable ellipticals.
A $1000 budget can (and should) get you a lot in terms of specs and features.
More specifically, you should look for an elliptical with a long stride length and a heavy flywheel because if you’re elliptical isn’t comfortable to use – you won’t be using it for long.
The 5 ellipticals on this list are evidence that this is possible in this price range.
Take a close look at the warranty too.
The best budget ellipticals will usually offer longer warranties than the rest and I think this is always an important factor to consider.
After that, just consider what features are most important to ya and go from there.
I’m a sucker for bluetooth speakers, but you should also consider workout programs, incline settings, and bluetooth compatibility.
The ellipticals that made this list were picked based on these specs, but if if you have any recommendations that should’ve made this list but didn’t, please let me know.
Well, that about does it.
I hope you found this guide helpful and if you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I’ll get back to ya shortly.
The Sole E25 is priced at $999 as of Feb 2023 so I’m wondering why you didn’t include it in your writeup? It has pretty bad reviews on Amazon at 2.5 stars. Might that be the reason?
Ah, you’re right, Sole is having a Valentine’s Day Sale and it looks like they cut $100 off the price (Valentine’s Day Sale? not sure cardio equipment is the message I’d want to send at Valentine’s Day, but hey, whatever works). Anyway, I think the E25 is a great elliptical for the price, the only reason I didn’t include it on this list is that it was priced at around $1100 at the time I was updating it – and I was trying to abide strictly to my $1k price limit. Back in the day, the regular price for the E25 was $999 and at that time I had it at the top of this list.
The Sole E25 price has been $999 for quite some time now as I’ve been investigating ellipticals for several weeks, so it’s not a Valentine’s Day sale.
Regardless, reviews from actual users after buying it are low because of the apparent cheap construction and poor customer service. What base-level machine do you recommend for a 70 year old female who would use it as a replacement for walking outside rather than rigorous training? No bells or whistles needed and no one else would be using the machine. Budget is open and reliability and durability are key.
It’s hard to find reviews from real users based on actual experience rather than promoters who merely compare feature of various machines ignoring real-life testimonies. Wonder why?
Yeah, I hear what you’re sayin’. For the price, I still think Sole is a pretty safe bet. They’ve had their issues with customer service, but most other brands do too. I like Sole because they’re heavier-duty than pretty much any other option in their respective price ranges and their warranties are better than most as well. And depending on where you live, you might be able to go try one out – I know Dick’s Sporting Goods carries them and they let you take ’em for a test drive. Spirit Fitness is also worth looking into – they’re owned by the same company that owns Sole and are very similar, but the warranties on some of their ellipticals are even better (10 years on parts). So, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced elliptical with nothing crazy, I’d suggest checking out Sole’s E35 or Spirit’s XE195. If budget is open, Life Fitness is a great, higher-end brand. Their E1 Elliptical would be worth looking at. Hope that helps.
Thanks, Will! If the Sole 25 is so great why does it have only a 2.5 rating on Amazon? Have you read those reviews? Scary!! Unfortunately Dick’s has hardly any elliptical models in the store to test-run like they did before the economy started collapsing. Thanks for the alternative suggestions.