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The 6 Best Recumbent Cross Trainers For Home Use – Your Comprehensive Guide

best recumbent cross trainers home use

Recumbent cross trainers have been popular in the rehab setting for a long time because they offer a safe, comfortable way to strengthen your legs and improve cardiovascular health.

This is often a challenging task right after surgery or for people with mobility issues, which is why these machines can be found in almost every rehab clinic around the country.

Well, turns out you no longer have to go to therapy to reap the rewards from recumbent trainers.

Nowadays, manufacturers are producing machines designed specifically for home use.

This is great news for the people out there that have a hard time exercising due to physical limitations.

Instead of having to go out to therapy or find someone to take you to the local gym, you can purchase a recumbent trainer and exercise safely in the comfort of your own home.

But, like any other fitness equipment, you need to know what to look for before making a purchase.

Doing your research is the best way to reduce your chances of buying a lemon. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

My guide is here to teach you everything you need to know about recumbent trainers, including what you should look for and how to compare different models.

I’ve also included my top picks for the trainers currently available for home use.

After reading, you’ll be ready to find the right option for your home gym.

Swivel seat?Weight LimitWarrantyPrice
#1 Teeter FreeStep LT1No300 lb1 year$
#2 NuStep T4rYes400 lb10 year frame
5 year parts
1 year labor
$$$
#3 Spirit CRS800SYes450 lbLifetime frame
10 year parts
2 year labor
$$$
#4 Inspire CS3No300 lbLifetime frame
5 year parts
1 year labor
$$
#5 Octane xR6xNo300 lbLifetime frame
5 year parts
1 year labor
$$$
#6 HCI PhysioStep LXTYes400 lbLifetime frame
3 year parts
1 year labor
$$$

The 6 Best Recumbent Cross Trainers For Home Use

#1 Teeter’s FreeStep LT1 – Most Budget Friendly

Image courtesy of Teeter

This cross trainer by Teeter is one of the most highly-rated trainers you can find online – and it’s also one the most affordable.

The first thing you might notice about the Teeter FreeStep is that it’s actually pretty compact.

This is great if your workout space is limited and every inch counts because a downside to a lot of these machines is that they do take up a good amount of floorspace.

The seat on this trainer is a little smaller than some of the more expensive models and there are no arm rests, but the recline setting of the backrest is adjustable to help keep you more comfortable during your workouts.

Unfortunately, the seat doesn’t swivel- and I’m not surprised, it would be pretty impossible for a trainer this affordable to include a high-end feature like that.

The Teeter FreeStep utilizes a liner step motion, similar to performing a step machine while sitting comfortably. This pattern should limit the stress through your hips and knees as much as possible.

The handles are large and do offer some grip variety that can allow you to emphasize certain upper body muscle groups during your workout.

When it comes to features, the FreeStep doesn’t offer a lot.

It has adjustable handle bars and a small LCD display that shows your workout stats. It also has a water bottle holder and a small shelf on the display where you can place a smart phone.

This recumbent trainer has a max weight capacity of 300 lb – this is on the lower side of our expected range, but still respectable.

Especially considering the price.

Considering the smaller footprint and lower weight capacity, the FreeStep may be better suited for smaller users- that said, 300 lb will still fit most users.

The warranty department is where the FreeStep really falls short in my book – Teeter only offers a 1 year warranty on this trainer.

There’s just no getting around it, this is a really short guarantee, but that comes with the territory when looking at budget fitness equipment.

Users all seem to agree the machine is well-built and feels sturdy during use though.

Overall, the Teeter FreeStep is a good choice if you are on a tighter budget.

It’s designed with a compact footprint and still offers most of the sought after qualities the more expensive machines offer.

In my opinion, the only place where this trainer is really lacking is in the warranty department. For the price though, there’s no better option. See full review.

 

#2 NuStep’s T4r Cross Trainer

NuStep invented the recumbent cross trainer, so it’s only fair that I included at least one of their home models on this list.

But fairness aside, NuStep is still the gold standard when it comes to these fitness machines.

As I mentioned earlier, NuSteps aren’t cheap and even though the T4r is their entry-level cross trainer, it’s still going to be more than a lot of folks are gonna wanna spend.

But you know what they say, you get what you pay – and if you want to replicate the therapy clinic experience in your own home, it’s going to cost more.

Anyway, the T4r is high-end from top to bottom.

This trainer is pretty compact for a NuStep, but it’s still heavy-duty everywhere you need it – the T4r weighs around 200 lb and can hold users weighing up to 400 lb.

The T4r uses a very low impact, linear pedaling motion and it comes with 10 different resistance levels to work with.

The handles are large and easy to adjust and the comfortable seat can easily be adjusted to find the right position.

Oh, and the seat on the T4r does swivel, so it should be easy for folks of all mobility levels to get in/out of.

The console is pretty simple, but it’s large enough to see easily during workouts and you can see all your stats at the same time (and it does calculate watt output and METs as well).

NuStep’s warranty on the T4r is pretty good too – 10 year frame, 5 year parts, 1 year labor.

I had a patient who was lucky enough to own the T4r and we put it to good use during our therapy treatments – she loved it and was able to get to the point where she could use it everyday on her own.

Overall, if you’ve got the budget for it, the NuStep T4r is a great recumbent cross trainer.

#3 Spirit’s CRS800S Recumbent Stepper

Spirit CRS800S Recumbent Stepper with Swivel Seat

If you’re working with a slightly higher budget and looking for a recumbent trainer that can stand toe to toe with most commercial  machines, Spirit’s CRS800S is a safe bet.

And what makes this model commercial grade?

For starters, the CRS800S is heavy-duty and easily accessible.

When it comes to the frame, this machine is tough enough to handle users weighing up to 450 lb, allowing it to hold smaller and larger folks alike.

This steppers weighs 262 lb itself, which is quite substantial for a home fitness machine.

One of the nicest features on it is the over-sized seat that comes with a reclinable back rest.

The seat also swivels, making it easy to get in/out of, regardless of any mobility issues you may have (and there are adjustable arm rests too).

It also has a low, walk-through frame that makes it easy to access from either side.

The CRS800S utilizes a very linear pedal motion, making for a comfortable exercise experience for all. The pedals are large and cushioned and the handles are multi-grip and adjustable.

The console is pretty simple, but it’s easy to use and does come with 10 or so built-in workout programs.

And if you’re a sucker for a great warranty like me, you’ll love this- the CRS800s comes with one one of the best warranties you’ll ever find:

  • Lifetime frame
  • 10 year parts
  • 2 year labor

Yeah, 10 years on parts…crazy.

Overall, if you’re looking for a commercial grade recumbent cross trainer that can hold it’s own with NuStep, Spirit’s CRS800S is worth considering. See full review.

#4 Inspire Fitness’ CS3 Cardio Strider 

The CS3 Cardio Strider is kind of priced in the mid-range between the Teeter and the higher-end trainers like NuStep.

With the extra money you get some pretty significant upgrades- more advanced console, nicer seat, and a more serious warranty.

This machine is priced well and has everything it needs to make it a great choice for a home trainer.

The seat on the CS3 is a little larger than the one on the Teeter, but it still doesn’t have arm rests or swivel, so something to consider.

It too is recline adjustable with 3 positions. The frame isn’t quite walk-through, but the step through height is pretty low, making it easy to access.

The handles are adjustable and offer multiple grips to customize your upper body workout.

You can also rotate them easily to match the position you need. This comes in handy when you are emphasizing your arms- after all, these machines do offer a full body workout.

The CS3 also utilizes a pretty linear pedal motion, good for reducing stress through your joints and this trainer actually has you sitting up a little more vertically than some.

Which some folks might prefer.

I mentioned the console is more sophisticated, but that might be an understatement – it’ much larger, it’s blue backlit and it comes with 10 preset workout programs.

It also offers 40 different resistance levels, enough to challenge you regardless of your fitness level.

And this trainer is also bluetooth compatible with heart rate monitors, so you can keep an accurate eye on your pulse if you like.

The max weight capacity on this trainer is 300 lb, same as the Teeter, which should be enough to fit most users comfortably, but if you require a higher weight capacity this isn’t the right machine for you.

The warranty offered by Inspire Fitness is pretty awesome. They offer the following warranty on the CS3 Cardio Strider:

  • Lifetime frame
  • 5 year parts
  • 1 year labor

This is actually one of the best warranties I came across while doing my research for this article.

Overall, if you’re looking for a durable trainer with more console features, the CS3 could a great fit.

#5 Octane Fitness’ XRide xR6x

octane xride xr6x
Image courtesy of Octane Fitness.

Octane Fitness is an elite fitness brand and their xR6xi is an advanced home unit.

This machine offers a level of luxury most others can’t compete with.

I like the xR6x because it looks like something you would see in your local gym.

The design is very inviting, but you know what they say, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover…luckily in this case, the content is just as impressive.

Starting with the seat, you’ll notice that’s it’s large.

You’ll also notice the large lever right below the seat- this makes adjusting the height easy and accessible.

You can also adjust the recline setting here, but unlike the other trainers that simply changes the backrest angle, this one actually tilts the entire seat/backrest combo.

The result is a more comfortable position to workout in.

The handlebars are large with plenty of grip options, which makes working out more comfortable and allows for specific muscle isolation.

The pedal motion on the xR6x is a little more circular than some of the other machines we’ve discussed. Not as circular as a traditional elliptical, but more so than a purely linear motion.

Octane Fitness claims this helps you activate your glutes more- I’m not sure about that, but users agree it feels smooth and comfortable to use.

This recumbent trainer also comes with several console features including:

  • 6 pre-programmed workouts
  • “Workout boosters” to help you isolate certain muscle groups and burn more calories during your workouts
  • Multicolor “smart light” gives you visual cues of your workout intensity and helps you stay within your zone
  • 20 levels of resistance

The xR6xi also has a 300 lb weight limit, which is high enough to accommodate most riders.

And Octane Fitness is doesn’t mess around when it comes to their warranties either:

  • Lifetime frame
  • 5 year parts
  • 1 year labor

Overall, I’m really impressed with the xR6x (and all of Octane Fitness’s other cardio equipment for that matter).

This is another high-end trainer with a robust frame and plenty of great features.

I also like that it actually looks like it’s fun to use and not like it should be found in a therapy clinic (no offense NuStep).

#6 HCI Fitness’ PhysioStep LXT

HCI is another company that offers an impressive recumbent trainer lineup – impressive enough to give NuStep a run for their money even.

The LXT looks a little more “rehaby” and doesn’t have all the cool console features like the xR6xi, but it does have all the components that make it a great trainer.

Starting with a swivel seat.

Yup, this trainer does come with a swivel seat and this is a game changer for folks who are transferring from a wheelchair or who have mobility issues that make it difficult to step over the frame to get in.

Turning the seat away from the pedals gives you a lot more room to get on and eliminates the need to step over the pedals to get in.

The LXT also has a linear pedal motion that provides a natural, gentle back and forth motion that is easy on your joints.

This is the most comfortable pattern for achy knees and hips and the large pedals actually have straps to help keep your feet in place.

This is another great feature because I see people all the time that have a hard time keeping their feet on the pedals (either due to weakness or mobility restrictions).

The console doesn’t look that high-tech, but it’s large and easy to read.

It also comes with 20 pre-programmed workouts and 32 resistance levels, giving you a lot of options when it comes to your workouts.

It also means this trainer can offer you a tough workout regardless of your fitness level.

The LXT is also compatible with wireless heart rate monitors, however one isn’t included.

Another thing this trainer has going for it is that it can hold users up to 400 lb, so folks of all sizes will be able to safely use it.

The LXT also has it going on in the warranty department – HCI is backing this machine up with a lifetime frame warranty, a 3 year parts warranty, and a 1 year labor warranty.

Very impressive – seeing a great warranty like this should give you a little more peace of mind.

As you can see, the LXT has a lot to offer. This is a perfect choice if you have mobility issues because the swivel seat makes getting in and out so much easier.

The warranty is also great, but if you’re looking for fitness tracking or bright lights, this isn’t the recumbent trainer for you.

PS- this trainer is several hundred bucks less than the xR6xi and NuStep

What’s A Recumbent Cross Trainer Anyway?

If you’ve accidentally stumbled across this article or aren’t exactly sure what counts as a recumbent trainer, let’s make sure we’re all talking about the same thing here.

A recumbent cross trainer, or “recumbent trainer”, or “recumbent elliptical trainer”, or “recumbent stepper” is a combination of a recumbent bike and an elliptical trainer.

The seat resembles the large, comfortable seat associated with recumbent bikes, but instead of pedaling like you do on a bike, you are pushing large pedals back and forth with your feet.

You also get to use handles for your arms, just like most ellipticals let you do.

This is great because you can effectively get a full body workout while sitting comfortably on a large seat with backrest.

If you’ve never heard of a recumbent trainer, you may have heard of the NuStep, the first (and most popular) recumbent trainer out there.

It came out in the late ’90s and was designed by a bio-medical engineer and an exercise science guy from Michigan State.

The goal was to create a safe cardio machine for people who had had cardiac surgery.

It was marketed to physical therapy clinics and rehab settings and the rest is history.

You can find a NuStep in pretty much every therapy clinic these days, and for good reason- they work very well.

NuSteps are awesome, but they are also very expensive.

They do have a few trainers designed for home use (as seen above), but their most affordable machine is still about $4000.

If you have the money, you can’t go wrong with a NuStep, but a lot of folks simply won’t have the budget for one.

When I think of home exercise equipment, I think of equipment that is usually a little more affordable.

I was actually inspired to write this article after a discussion I had with one of my patients. For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m a physical therapist in my day job.

I do home health- that’s where I travel to my patient’s houses and treat them in the comfort of their homes.

Anyway, my patient had recently had a total hip replacement and was talking about how much he loved using the NuStep at therapy before his surgery.

He wanted to purchase one for his home, but was disappointed when he saw how much they cost.

He asked me if I knew of any cheaper options…

I said I would look into it for him and the idea for this article was born.

Long-story-short, yes, there are more affordable options available. And yes, some of them have a lot to offer and are worth buying.

And yes, you guessed it- those elliptical trainers worth buying are the ones I’ve included in this guide.

teeter's lt3
Teeter’s FreeStep LT3 is a great example of an affordable home recumbent cross-trainer. Image courtesy of Teeter.

How To Choose A Recumbent Cross Trainer

When it comes to recumbent trainers, the options aren’t quiet as vast as they are with recumbent bikes or ellipticals. Searching online, you may only come up with a handful of options for home use.

This definitely makes the search a little easier – you may even be able to use price alone, depending on your budget.

Even so, it’s always a good idea to know what you should expect when comparing these machines.

Here are a few key characteristics I suggest you examine during your search.

Use this info as a guide and make sure to compare these features among the different recumbent trainers you are considering:

Seat

The seats on recumbent trainers are always a little larger and they always have a backrest.

Some seats will have an adjustable recline setting, which is a nice feature to have because it allows you to customize your position more.

Some seats may also offer arm rests- this can add comfort if you are exercising your legs only and not utilizing the arm handles.

The nicest seat feature found on some recumbent trainers is the ability to swivel.

On these machines, you can release a lever and the seat rotates 90 deg to the side.

This makes it a lot easier to get in and out of and is especially helpful if you have mobility issues or are transferring from a wheelchair.

All of the NuSteps offer this feature, some of the competitors do too. Just a heads up though, trainers with swiveling seats are more expensive.

Pedal Motion

The motion of the foot pedals is something else to consider.

The motion can be linear (like a stepper) or have a circular pattern that more closely mimics the motion of an elliptical machine.

It may not make much difference to you and you may not even really notice, but technically speaking a linear motion would provide the lowest impact workout.

If you have severe arthritis you may want to look for a machine with a linear pedaling motion to ensure as little impact as possible.

Features

You probably shouldn’t expect all the fancy bells and whistles you see on other types of fitness equipment – these machines are usually pretty simple.

The console usually just displays metrics like steps, time, distance, etc.

Some nicer machines might calculate METs (metabolic equivalents) or watts, but you shouldn’t expect a lot of bluetooth functions with fitness app tracking (although some machines do offer this).

Most trainers will offer workout programs, but the number and sophistication of them will vary.

Keep in mind these machines are designed for people who usually just want to hop on and ride.

Other important built-in features to look for include:

  • Walk-through frames- makes getting on/off easier
  • Adjustable handle bars- makes it easier to ensure the right fit for anyone
  • Adjustable resistance levels to accommodate users of any fitness level
  • Heart rate monitor compatibility

Weight Capacity

Like any type of fitness equipment, it’s always a good idea to consider the weight capacity of the trainer you are considering.

It needs to at least safely fit you or any family member that might be exercising on it.

If stuck between two options, always go with the machine with the higher weight capacity, it indicates superior strength and durability.

Luckily, recumbent trainers usually have weight capacities that are higher than other types of equipment.

Nice trainers will start at 300 lb capacities and go as high as 600 lb.

Warranty

Last, but not least, is the warranty.

Always consider the warranty when making a recumbent trainer purchase because this is your insurance plan in case something goes wrong.

More expensive models tend to have higher warranties, but that rule is not written in stone.

These machines typically have warranties that are divided into frame, parts, and labor.

Labor is always the shortest warranty, typically 1-2 years.

Parts warranties usually vary between 3-5 years depending on the model.

Frame should be the longest, because it’s the part that is least likely to fail. Good frame warranties can range between 5 years to lifetime.

Recumbent Cross Trainers vs Recumbent Bikes

Recumbent Cross TrainersRecumbent Bikes
Pedaling motionLinearCircular
Moving handlesYesNo
Joint-friendlinessVery low impactLow impact
CostGenerally higherGenerally lower
Recumbent cross trainers and bikes are similar, but cross trainers offer an even lower-impact mode of exercise.

Recumbent cross trainers (aka ‘recumbent ellipticals’ or ‘recumbent steppers’) and recumbent bikes both offer low impact cardio, but they’re technically different kinds of machines.

The biggest difference between these machines is that recumbent cross trainers tend to use a more linear pedaling motion and they also come with moving handles for your arms.

Recumbent bikes, on the other hand, utilize a classic circular pedaling motion and don’t usually have handles.

As mentioned, both kinds of machines offer really low impact workouts and both can be great for achy joints.

But that said, the linear pedaling motion on cross trainers tends to be even lower impact, making them the best option for folks dealing with sensitive or achy joints.

In terms of cost, both recumbent bikes and trainers come in a wide range of prices.

That said, in general, recumbent cross trainers tend to cost more.

In other words, there are more affordable recumbent bikes to choose from than recumbent cross trainers.

Final Thoughts

Recumbent cross trainers are great, especially for people suffering from arthritis or mobility issues, because they offer a safe, comfortable mode of exercise.

They work well for improving cardiovascular function, but can also help improve strength and flexibility.

When looking for the best recumbent cross trainers, it’s a good idea to know how to compare apples to apples.

Comparing traits like the seat, the console, weight capacity, and warranty gives you a guideline of how to see how these machines truly differ from each other.

It also helps you organize your thoughts and figure out which features are most important for ya.

All though there aren’t quite as many recumbent trainers on the market as there are bikes or treadmills, there are still plenty to choose from.

The options also fall into a pretty wide price range, with the most economical choices starting just under $1000 and ranging upwards of $5000.

The recumbent trainers I discussed here all made the list because they have the most to offer for the price and are the highest rated.

I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll get right back to you.

Author

Will's a licensed physical therapist (DPT) with over 15 years of experience treating patients from all backgrounds. He's been lifting weights and exercising in one form or another since middle school and has been working out in his own home gym for over a decade. When it comes to fitness equipment, there isn't much he hasn't tried. In his spare time, if he isn't writing or working out, he's likely playing basketball, watching movies, or hanging with his family.

80 thoughts on “The 6 Best Recumbent Cross Trainers For Home Use – Your Comprehensive Guide”

  1. Will
    Have you seen/tried the Spirit CRS800S recumbent stepper? I’ve found very few reviews and I’m actually surprised that it is not included in your review, given the specs I read online. This makes me wary of it.

    1. hey tamanika, no I’m not familiar with that model. I looked into it a little and you’re right, the specs look legit. I’ll put it on my to-do-list for a review. thanks!

        1. That’s a great question. Generally speaking, I don’t think they will. I know traditional Medicare doesn’t pay for home exercise equipment – they only pay for DME (durable medical equipment) like wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, etc. I think some Advantage plans will help cover gym memberships and exercise classes, but I’ve never heard of one helping to pay for equipment like exercise bikes or recumbent trainers. That said, it’s still worth reaching out to your Medicare Advantage plan directly to see what they will cover. Good luck!

  2. Will:
    You critiqued the Octane xRx6.
    Have you seen/reviewed the Octane xRX4?
    There’s a sale at $1799
    Thoughts?
    Thank you

    1. No, I haven’t reviewed the xRx4 yet, but at first glance it looks pretty nice- just a slightly less advanced version of the xR6xi. The sales price of $1799 looks pretty good too. Octane Fitness is a high-end brand. The warranty on this model is still good too. Overall, looks like a pretty safe bet.

        1. I haven’t done a formal review on this piece, but at first glance it looks great for the price. The warranty is awesome considering how affordable it is.

  3. Loved your article! Having a terrible time deciding between the teeter freestep LT3, the treadlife fitness strider, xterra fitness stepper, and the inspire fitness cardio strider. All because I cant afford a nustep or hci. I need one as close to the nustep as possible, but need need a swivel seat or fancy console. Help! Any info/opinion would be appreciated.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate it. I took a quick glance at the machines you mentioned and I see why you might have a tough time deciding- they all look pretty nice and are very similar in their specs and features. Teeter is a great brand and they specialize in recumbent cross trainers and similar products, so you can never go wrong with them. Their LT3 is really well priced too. The Treadlife looked ok, but I don’t see any reason to choose this model honestly. At its price point, I think it makes more sense to save a little cash and go with the Teeter or Xterra (which looks really good too, love that warranty) or pay more and go with the Inspire model.The Inspire model looks like the nicest of the bunch, but it’s almost 2x the price of the others. If your budget allows it, it’s probably the best choice. If not, I’d probably go with the Teeter. Hope that helps.

  4. Hi, Will – thanks for your article. We are between steppers: Spirit CRS800s, which you mentioned above but hadn’t, that point, reviewed. Also, the HCI Physio Pro, which is grade up from the LXT (which we are also thinking about) and the SCIFIT StepOne, which looks like it competes with the Physio Pro. How important would you rate the ability to lock the steps so that you can move both feet at once as an alternative movement with the Physio Pro and the SciFit? In all cases, the machine has to be a comfortable fit for a woman of 5’0″ tall. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

    1. All 3 cross trainers you’re considering look to be very high-end, so it really comes down to personal preference. With regards to the lock step feature- I wouldn’t say it’s a crucial feature for a good workout, but it is a nice touch- this would allow you to bump the resistance up a little and use it as a leg press machine. So, I like it as a feature, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most important thing to consider. I think all 3 of these machines should be very comfortable to use. Personally, I really like the warranty offered on the Spirit. Overall though, all of these are commercial grade models and should do the trick nicely. I know that’s about as clear as mud, but I hope it helps.

    1. Yeah, NuStep really is the gold standard when it comes to recumbent cross trainers. If you father likes the NuStep, I’d recommend going with one that has a similar, linear pedal motion, that will mimic the feel of the NuStep. You may want to consider the HCI PhysioStep LXT or the Inspire Fitness CS3, both of which have nice linear pedal motions. Depends on your budget too of course, but for the price, the Teeter is a great buy.

  5. Thank you so much for the only place on-line that gives this kind of information. A question – what is it about the Nustep TRS4000 that makes it better than any other recumbent dual exercise bike? My husband and I are in our 70’s, his knee is not happy, but we are basically in good shape. We could afford it – is it worth it?

    1. Hi, good question- NuStep pretty much invented the recumbent cross trainer, so for awhile they were the only name in the game. These machines became popular in rehab settings and assisted living facilities because they were comfortable and safe to use for older adults (and apparently NuStep even consulted with rehab specialists when designing their NuSteps). Because of this, NuStep has become well known. Over the last few years, other brands have also started offering recumbent trainers, but since NuStep was the first, they’re considered the gold standard. Well, NuStep’s are also time tested and have shown that they work great. These machines are designed with comfort and accessibility in mind, making them a great choice for folks with achy joints or other mobility issues. I guess this is my long-winded way of saying, yea, I think NuSteps are worth the money if they’re within your budget. The other recumbent trainers on this list are fine, but NuStep is still the marker that all other recumbent trainers are measured against. I hope that helps!

  6. I obsessed endlessly over your advice and eventually brought my husband to the bike store. He had used the NuStep at our PT’s office and liked it. He got on the NuStep at the store and thought it was nuts not to get it. The bike will be delivered tomorrow morning. Thank you so much for your advice.

  7. One more NuStep comment – IF one can afford the exorbitant price, the seat and back support are incredibly comfortable. So if one has back problems, this is indeed the bike to get.

  8. Great article! Not only did you define what a recumbent cross trainer is in basic understandable terms, you succinctly described the features to look for. Your in-depth review of five was extremely helpful.
    Thanks very much for your insight!
    Craig
    Question – when is the best time to purchase: now (December 9), or some other time of year for best price?

    1. Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated. Great question- I’ve haven’t really noticed any time of year where these machines are cheaper, but if a brand is going to have a sale or promotion it’s probably going to happen between November and December. I didn’t see any big changes in price for these cross trainers in particular this year, but other brands and products were. Sorry, I know that isn’t much help.

  9. Any thoughts on the HCI Fitness Physiotrainer CXT ? I like its looks; is it it comparable to other HCI machines? It is advertised at $1399 and free shipping on Amazon.It also looks relatively compact. I don’t have a lot of floor space.

    1. HCI is a pretty well-respected brand and generally speaking, their products are high-quality. When it comes to their Physiotrainer CXT, I like that it comes fully assembled and you’re right, it’s pretty compact (only taking up a floor space of 5′ x 2′), but I have a few concerns too. It’s a stretch considering this a recumbent cross trainer because to me it looks more like a very light weight recumbent bike with handles attached. You’ll notice the pedal action is completely circular, as if you’re riding a bike. The machine weight is very light too at only about 75 lb, which could make it feel a little flimsy during use. The warranty is really short too given the price. Speaking of price, I think $1399 is way too expensive for this product. Personally, I’d like this machine better at half that price. Overall, I like HCI, but I don’t think this is one of their better models…and it’s way overpriced if you ask me.

  10. Your article really fulfilled my query. Appreciated. Authors like you are really needed.

    I want to subscribe your newsletter so I can get informed by mail whenever you post. Can you please tell me how I can do this? ?

    Thanks

    1. For the price, it’s hard to beat the Teeter, but all of the models on this list are top notch. I recommend you consider your price range and then look at the different specs and features each has to offer and try to find the one that has the most to offer for the price. If there are any models in particular you have questions about, just let me know. Take care.

  11. Is Nustep the only one with both linear motion and armrests? I have chronic overuse conditions in my arms and would probably need armrests.

    1. NuStep comes to mind first, but I think Spirit has one too (Spirit CRS800S Recumbent Stepper). We tend to only see the armrests on the higher-end, more commercial grade machines.

  12. I am having a hard time finding the actual dimensions of some of these bikes: length x width x height. Teeter has my attention until you emphasized the importance of the warranty.
    What goes wrong with these bikes that the warranty is so important? What kind of repair person comes to your house to service or repair them?
    What do you know about Sunny Health and Fitness?

    1. Hi, great questions- I’ll try to take em one at a time. When trying to find the assembled dimensions, it’s usually best to go to the brand’s website and look at the product specs there. If you can’t find them on the website, you might have to try and find them in the product manual- many are available online, but sometimes they can be hard to find too. In the case of the Teeter LT1: 54.0 x 38.0 x 52.5 in (L x W x H). When looking at warranties, it seems like it’s usually the moving parts that tend to break down first- the resistance might stop working correctly, the display could stop functioning, unwanted noises could appear. If repair was necessary, you would contact customer service- they might send parts and walk you through the job yourself (depending on the difficulty of the job) or contact a local agency they have a contract with to come out and work on the machine for ya. Even on more affordable machines it’s pretty rare for the structural frame to break down. Sunny is a very respected budget brand and I think they have some of the best products for their price range- especially when it comes to spin bikes. Their warranties usually suck too, but for the price range it’s kinda expected. XTERRA is another great budget brand who tend to offer better warranties. Hope that helps!

  13. Hi Rosalind,
    Can you please share which NuStep model you purchased and if you love using it. thanks! We are so torn between a NuStep and a StarTrac recumbent bike. Donna

  14. Great article. Living up north makes it hard to find much on a budget. I ended up stumbling across a Body Charger. Couldn’t find much for reviews on it. Unit seems very solid and I could only find new models on the company’s website in Taiwan.
    Have you seen these trainers?
    Cheers from the Great White North.

    1. No, I’ve never heard of that brand before. I checked out their website and it does look pretty solid- I like that it comes with a 400 lb weight limit, that’s a good sign. But I didn’t see any info on price or warranty- definitely stuff you’d want to look into before deciding. If you do decide to go with Body Charger, I’d love to hear back from ya to see how you like it.

  15. Hi, this is a great review
    I am looking for an Octane but cannot find a dealer in the NY, Long Island area. Are you aware of one? Are they still selling that recumbent elliptical?
    Thanks

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I’m not familiar with the dealers, but I think you should still be able to purchase one online. They seem to be getting harder to find, but you might be able to get one through Johnson Fitness- here’s the link. Hope that helps.

  16. I am a 48-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with Avascular necrosis. I had a full knee replacement two months ago. I had an MRI on my left knee and it also needs to be totally replaced. My doctor is also concerned that I’m going to need both hips replaced. I wanted to know in your opinion what would be the best investment for hips and knees for surgery for rehabilitation? Thank you.

    1. Based on what I’m hearing, a recumbent cross trainer would be a smart choice for ya. These machines are low impact, but can also provide nice range of motion and strengthening exercise for your lower extremities (which will be key as you go through therapy and then maintain afterwards). Plus you can get your arms involved too, which is always nice. If you’ve got the budget for it, Spirit’s CR800S is a great buy- well priced for a commercial grade machine. If you’re working on a limited budget, Teeter’s FreeStep is about as good as it gets for the price. The other models on my list here are also all very nice. Overall, I think it makes sense to get a recumbent trainer based on what I’m hearing. The next best choice would be a recumbent bike. Hope that helps and let me know if you have any more questions.

  17. Thanks fir all the info! Can you comment on the resistance levels available in TVs Teeter? I’m a 60 year old, quite fit, runner but I’m trying to find a machine that will challenge me but also be suitable for my 84 year old mother in law who is living with us. She has mobility issues and a torn meniscus. I live that the teeter has has upper body work that can be done without legs, if needed. Thank you for any info you may have.

    1. Both the Teeter LT1 and LT3 use a magnetic resistance system utilizing a 15.4 lb (7 kg) flywheel. This isn’t particularly heavy for a cross trainer or a recumbent bike, but it’s pretty common for more budget friendly models. Both of these machines are designed to offer comfortable, low impact exercise which is more in the light-moderate range in terms of intensity. It’s hard to quantify the exact amount of resistance they can offer without a watt output max (which some brands offer, but Teeter doesn’t). If you’re a fit runner, you might find that these machines aren’t that challenging, but it sounds like your mother-in-law could benefit greatly from one.

  18. I’m 74 years old and have rotator cuff issues in both shoulders. I previously had a schwinn airdyne but could not adjust the handles so my shoulders would not hurt. Are the handles on the Teeter adjustable to a fairly low level? I’m 5′ 6″ tall

    1. The nice thing about the Teeters are that you can adjust them to have the handles facing inward or outward and you can choose between 4 different height positions- giving you a lot of variety in terms of handle position. You can also choose to grasp the handle with a neutral grip, so you really do have a lot of options with regards to the position your hands are in. Worse case, you shoulders will be at around 90 deg of flex (about shoulder height) during use, but you can definitely use so that your shoulders are flexing less. I think most people should be able to find a comfortable position. Hope that helps.

  19. Thank you for your reviews! They’re greatly appreciated, you helped make my decision very straightforward. I can’t imagine how long it would have taken to wade through every make and model and feature out there. Based on your recommendations I went with the Teeter LT3 which will be perfect for my disabled daughter.

    I really like how you combine an easygoing writing style with some solid information, it makes me feel like I’m having a conversation with a friend who is also a physical therapist. It’s also nice to see that you respond to readers who have additional questions and concerns. Thanks again for your work, I really appreciate it.

  20. Will, I enjoyed reading your article. Since you brought up who created the NuStep, it was me: Steve Sarns, I earned my MS in Exercise Physiology at the University of Michigan. I retired from NuStep in 2017 after surviving having a cancerous tumor in my ethnoid sinus cavity. This came about when our family sold NuStep Inc.. I am still on the board of NuStep LLC although I am not an active player. NuStep is based in Ann Arbor MI where all the products manufactured. Yep, Made in the USA. I am grateful to be alive! Stay strong and healthy! Steve

    1. Oh wow, Steve, I’m honored that you read my article! As a PT, I know first hand how your innovation has been key to helping so many people exercise and rehab their ways back into shape. Without NuStep, we wouldn’t have any recumbent cross trainers these days, so thank you for your hard work! I’m glad to hear you beat cancer and I wish you a happy and healthy future. Take care and again, thanks for reading!

    2. Hello. So glad you invented NuStep. I use it at the physical therapist’s office as do so many other grateful clients.
      It’s too pricey for me to buy for home use, but it’s because it’s such a solid, well built machine. Take care.

      1. Margaret, Hope this note finds you well. I am now over 5 year’s post Cancer and am grateful to be alive and am enjoying life with a new perspective on our precious life is. Thank you for your kind remarks on the invention of NuStep. Wishing you all the best!

  21. Will, thank you so much for your great article! It was so helpful and informative. Now I feel that I can make a good decision — just have to decide how much I’m going to spend! Really tempted to go all in with the NuStep! Thank you, thank you for giving us all this wonderful information.

  22. Very helpful reviews
    Considering purchase for in home gym for wife and I use. She’s Parkinson’s challenged(15yrs), knee replacement, recent stroke w/ foot drop and I relative healthy 72 year young caregiver. PD rave at rock steady boxing group is theracycle(too expensive, not realty) then Our PT using now says she loves and recommends the nustep TR4 because she’s so familiar with it in previous facilities. With review of your report/review there seems to be a lot more options available considering $ and functionality. How can I go wrong with the teeter LT3 recumbent cross trainer or even the inspire fitness CS3 cardio strider? What to do??

    1. Yeah, for the price, it’s hard to beat the LT3. NuStep is the gold standard when it comes to recumbent trainers and their T4r is obviously a nicer model than Teeter’s LT3, but as you mentioned, the LT3 doesn’t cost $4k. When choosing, I’d really consider your budget and what features are most important and try to go from there. Thanks for reading and good luck!

    1. I wouldn’t say it’s as cushioned as the NuSteps are, but it does feel cushioned to a certain degree. NuSteps are still the gold standard when it comes to these recumbent trainers, but I think the CRS800S is a great model. Hope that helps.

  23. Thank you for taking the time to do this. After reading your article I have decided to stick to my plan of getting the NuStep T5 to help keep my limbs moving. Some of the others have an attractive price point but with my level pain and mobility issues I think the NuStep will be a good investment.

  24. What a great site for information. I’m now over informed and have to shrink it down. I can afford the NuStep, but I got to the point of having enough money to do so by being prudent all o my lie. Therefore, if I can replicate the Nu Step in another machine at a lower cost, that’s the deal for me. I am so appreciative of the info you have given me to begin and end my research.

      1. Thanks for this great write-up and helpful info!
        You mentioned that the linear motion (similar to stepper) in most of these models technically has a lower impact on joints than a more circular motion (elliptical) that some have. Do you know if the linear motion also has less impact on shins for someone prone to shin splints? Or is a circular motion better in that situation? I’m looking for something recumbent/seated that will continue to keep my shin splints at bay, as well have low impact on my knees in particular.
        In the past an upright elliptical has been my equipment of choice for low impact on my shins (not very familiar with steppers), but that was before knee pain kicked in. And of course before needing to switch to seated exercise.
        I’m in my 30s and recently became chronically ill with new limitations quite suddenly, so I don’t have a lot of knowledge or experience navigating all of these considerations- all the insight you provided in what to look for and think through before purchasing in this article is much appreciated! Thanks again!

        1. I’m sorry to hear about your recent illness. And that’s an interesting question regarding shin splints and the differences between recumbent bikes and cross trainers. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect either type of machine to cause discomfort with shin splints since both are seated, non-weight bearing modes of exercise. If you have really achy knees, then the linear movement of some cross trainers might be a better bet, but that said most people with sore knees can often use a recumbent bike comfortably too. Overall, I don’t think there would be much difference with regards to the shin splints – I would think you’d be able to exercise on either type of machine pretty comfortably. I hope that helps and thanks for reading!

  25. I live in Canada and would love to try out NuStep models but the sole distributor here has no showroom. I was wondering if there are any gyms or other places in the Toronto area where one can try out a NuStep.

  26. Hi, this may be my most important purchase ever so thank you so much for the review.

    I’m 380lb, 5’9, big belly and leg weakness and atrohpia as I barely walked these last 3 years. Now I have problem walking, 44 yo.

    The best would be the Nustep trs4 but from the alternatives:

    Will the Teeter FreeStep be a problem as they only support 300ish lb?

    I also like the PhysioStep LTX, linear movement, but I see on every video that the ankle moves a lot more than the nustep and this worries me as I suffer from ankle pain. Is the movement too different, or harder on the ankle, for the LTX?

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Hey Steven- yeah, I wouldn’t suggest the Teeter Freestep because you’re right, it only has a 300 lb weight limit and that’s not something you want to gamble on. So going with a heavier-duty model is definitely a good idea. Looking at the movement pattern on the LTX, it does look like the ankle gets a little more involved. It doesn’t have a pivoting foot plate or anything, it looks like it comes more from the arc of the foot plate itself (if that makes any sense). Regardless, I think it would really come down to how severe your ankle pain is. Can you comfortably come up and down on your toes while sitting in a chair? If not, you might find the movement on the LTX too much for your ankles. If you can though, I would think it would be fine. Also, the gentle movement at your ankle might be a good thing for them (depending on what’s going on in there). I hope that helps some and thanks for reading.

  27. Best comparison of these recumbent steppers I have seen on the internet, Will. I am trying to choose between the HCI Fitness PhysioStep LXT and the Spirit CRS800S. One difference I have noticed is that HCI says the LXT uses “2:1 Contralateral Total Body Workout” while Spirit touts its “1:1 ratio linked upper/lower body linear pattern.” Yet when I watch videos of the two machines, I really don’t see a significant difference in the arm motions. Could you explain the significance of the difference in the ratios, and why a user might choose one ratio over another. Thanks!

    1. I appreciate the kind words and that’s a great question. I don’t think there’s really any difference between the arm/pedal motions between these machines, I just think the different brands are using different terminology to describe the same idea. The “contralateral workout” would refer to the fact that the arms and legs are moving opposite of each other -when one leg extends, that same side arm is flexing. “Contralateral” is just a medical term that means opposite. Spirit’s stepper operates the same way, they just decided to use a different ratio to describe it. Their “1:1” terminology makes more sense to me personally, because it helps me picture that the pedals and handles are moving together in sync (still opposite). So yeah, I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s any difference between these 2 ratios, just the terminology the 2 brands are using. When in doubt, you could try reaching out to HCI to see what they say…great question.

  28. Having used the NuSteps quite a lot, I, was shown the SciFit. The SciFit ran circles around the NuStep. In smoothness and much less noise. And much easier to gat on. I ride mine 40 min. Per day. This is split into 2 20 minute sessions.

  29. I am SO tired of thinking I’ve got the correct one in my sites from the reviews and then I read the consumer comments and think, there is no way I’d buy that thing.

    Problems ignored by reviewers, but commented on ad nauseum by consumers include:
    1- difficulty of assembly,
    2- incompetent pro assemblers,
    3- missing parts,
    4- faulty parts; some DOA,
    5- sketchy warranty coverage,
    6- unavailable coverage while still under warranty,
    7- premature failure and/or development of unnerving noises,
    8- inability to return it.

    I could go on, but my head hurts from reading all I have today.

    R/S
    Doc

    1. I understand your frustration, but you have to keep in mind that some of the stuff you mentioned is due to chance. Incompetent assemblers, missing parts, DOA… this stuff can happen for any machine, regardless of how prestigious the brand. And assembly is pretty subjective too – depending on skill level, what’s tough for one person could be pretty standard stuff for another. Now the warranty coverage and issues with breaking down are certainly things we should be addressing in reviews and I’ll try to make sure I’m doing a better job of addressing these concerns. But at the end of the day, when it comes to buying a piece of fitness equipment, all we can do is do our research and hope for the best because regardless of what machine or brand you go with, there’s always the chance of something going wrong. I really appreciate your feedback and good luck with your search.

  30. Thank you for this review. You mention the maximum weight that the machines can accommodate, but as someone with short arms and legs, I encounter machines that are too big for me — where my arms or legs are not long enough. This doesn’t happen as much today as in the bad old days when fitness equipment was all made for men (it appeared), but it would be nice for you to address the extent to which machines accommodate short (and tall) folks. Thanks.

    1. That’s a great point. Most fitness equipment is designed with folks who fall more in the average height range in mind and folks who are shorter or taller than that often get overlooked. I’ll try to make more of an effort to consider height ranges when writing reviews in the future. Thanks for reading!

  31. Great research and wonderfully clear and candid opinions on these machines. The Nu-Step looks great but is costly. But there are a few sites offering them as ysed or refurbished for thousands less. Are you at all familiar with the used/refurbished market? Than ks.

    1. That’s a great question. Buying a refurbished machine from a reputable seller is usually pretty safe because they repair and replace any worn components, bringing the machine back to near-new condition. Refurbished machines should also come with a warranty, although likely not as long as the original guarantee found on brand new products. The key here is making sure you’re buying from a “reputable” company. Used machines aren’t usually repaired as stringently as refurbished ones, but again, if you’re buying from a reputable supplier all the major components should be in working order. When comparing refurbished/used options, pay close attention to the warranties and/or money-back guarantees. Personally, I don’t have much firsthand experience with buying refurbished equipment, but if you decide to buy a refurbished cross trainer, I’d love to hear back regarding your experience. Thanks for reading.

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