Two companies are producing high-quality ellipticals in the under $1k price bracket; one is Schwinn; the other is NordicTrack theses guys are always fighting it out, trying to be the first to release the latest features and apps for their ellipticals.
Are Schwinn Better Than NorickTrack?
Some people are die-hard NordicTrack fans, and some are Schwinn. There’s not a lot of difference between the two companies apart from Schwinn has a much better customer service than NordicTrack.
I’ve reviewed a ton of cardio gear from both Schwinn and NordicTrack, and although both companies supply top quality cardio machines, I’m always reading complaints about NordicTracks’ awful customer service.
So if you want to buy the best elliptical under $1k, which not only boasts a top-quality build, all the latest features, and excellent customer service, you might be better off looking at a Schwinn elliptical.
3 Best Schwinn Elliptical Machines
There are three machines worthty of some seroius consideration, and all three machines are in their compact range.
Compact? Yes, that’s what Schwinn has named their top-selling ellipticals, and to a certain extent, they are compact in design, but don’t be fooled into thinking these are small budget machines.
All three are well built, solid machines, and are only compact thanks to the front-drive system of the elliptical.
Most front-drive ellipticals suffer from short stride length because of their compact design, but thankfully this isn’t true of the Schwinn ellipticals, and thats whats makes these machines so appealing, all three offer impressive stride lengths while taking up minimal space.
In this review, we’re going to be looking at the Schwinn 470 Elliptical, their flagship high end elliptical; we’re also be looking at the Schwinn 430 Elliptical and the surprisingly good and recently released entry-level Schwinn 411.
Best OverallSchwinn 470 Elliptical
- Stride Length – 20″
- Resistance Levels – 25
- Workout Programs – 29
- Incline – Power Adjust 0-10
- Stride Length – 20″
- Resistance Levels – 20
- Workout Programs – 25
- Incline – Manual Adjust 0-10°
- Stride Length – 18″
- Resistance Levels – 16
- Workout Programs – 13
1. Schwinn 470 Elliptical Trainer
The 470 is Schwinn’s flagship elliptical; it’s packed full of features such as power-adjustable incline and wireless heart rate monitoring and, most importantly, boasts a 20″ stride length.
Let’s not forget Schwinn builds this thing so you can expect a high-quality build and a decent warranty. What sets the Schwinn 470 apart from the others in this review is that it comes with a power-adjustable incline.
I’d always recommend looking for an elliptical with an incline feature. Why? Incline workouts will allow you to target different muscle groups.
I know my girlfriend loves using the incline on her elliptical as it especially strengthens and builds the muscles in the butt. However, it’s not just the butt that benefits from incline workouts sessions. Incline elliptical workouts are also excellent for targeting the calves and hamstrings.
And what’s most impressive about the Schwinn 470 incline is that it power adjusts, which means there’s no getting off the machine to adjust the incline manually; you can simply adjust it from the monitor while you are working out. Nice!
When it comes to resistance strength, the Schwinn has nearly all fitness levels covered, with an impressive 25 resistance settings to choose from. There’s enough strength in the resistance for light, medium, and intense calorie-burning workouts.
Okay, this thing isn’t commercial grade, so serious athletes may have to look elsewhere, but for most of us, the resistance strength will not be an issue. I’ve heard of no complaints concerning resistance strength with any of the Schwinn ellipticals.
Another standout feature of this elliptical is the stride length. The 20″ stride is a great stride length for any elliptical.
A 20″ stride length is the same length as machines used in your local gyms and health clubs, so if you are okay exercising on one of those, you should be okay with Schwinn 470.
Generally, I’d recommend min height of 5’2″ and a max height of 6’1″ for 20″ stride length.
Lastly, we have the Schwinn 470 monitor an advanced monitor for the price range benefiting from many features usually seen on machines costing a lot more than the Schwinn 470.
The control console/monitor includes wireless heart rate monitoring, a much more accurate way to train in target rate zones than using the pulse sensors on the handlebars. But you will need a heart rate chest strap to be able to access this feature (around $50 for a decent one)
The monitor also includes a whopping 29 workouts programs, which include challenges, fun walks, hill climbs, heart rate programs, and thanks to the free RunSocial App, you can also race against friends with an extra 27 routes to choose from.
There’s no doubt the Schwinn 470 has a lot to offer in this price range, with the power-adjustable incline, 20″ stride, and wireless heart rate monitoring being the 470’s most appealing features.
Overall an excellent elliptical packed full of useful features and built by a company with a ton of experience in this space. For around $1k there inst anything else out there better the Schwinn 470!
Solid, stable build
Power adjustable incline
High info monitor – Dual Track LCD displays
29 workout programs – Including free access to Schwinn Trainer App
25 levels of whisper-quiet magnetic resistance
Wireless heart rate capabilities
20″ stride length
Media shelf, in console speakers with MP3 input port, USB media charging and adjustable fan
Pedals don’t have adjustable angle, which would help make this front drive elliptical a bit more ergonomic
No wireless heart rate receiver
2. Schwinn 430 Elliptical Trainer
Costing a couple of hundred bucks less than the Schwinn 470 is Schwinns mid-range elliptical the 430. There’s no power-adjustable incline with this one, but at least there is an incline compared to many in this price range that lack one.
The build of the 430 is almost identical in both size and weight of the 470.
The reason it costs less is one because we lack the power-adjustable incline and two, the monitor is missing a few of the advanced features such as wireless heart rate monitoring, BlueTooth, and the option of access to the Run Social Fitness App.
However, we do have an impressive amount of workout programs and resistance levels, similar to the 470 we see enough resistance settings for most fitness levels and enough workout programs to keep away the boredom of long workout sessions.
And again, a 20″ stride length, which is excellent to see in this price bracket.
Over the years, the Schwinn 430 has proved to be a very popular choice, and yes, it is a solid elliptical that offers everything you need for a low impact cardio workout at home, the only disappointment for me is they haven’t updated the monitor in years.
Their 411 elliptical, which is much cheaper than the 430, includes wireless heart rate monitoring, plus includes the Run Social Fitness App. So you have to wonder why they didn’t update the 430 monitor too?
But with 20 magnetic resistance levels, a 20″ stride length, six levels of manual incline, and 22 workout programs, it’s still better than most in this price bracket despite its basic monitor.
Solid build, stable
Compact home-friendly size
22 workout programs
Two sets of handles one fixed one moving
Impressive 20″ stride
Easy to use backlit LCD
Transport wheels – tilt and roll for storage
Manual incline instead of automated incline
No wireless heart rate monitoring
Inaccurate calorie estimates according to customer reviews
3. Schwinn 411 Elliptical Trainer
The little brother of the Schwinn 470 and 430 the Schwinn 411 is Scwhinn’s enetry-level elliptical. Its our current favorite elliptical under $500 and there’s good reason why.
This thing packs a punch of a much higher priced elliptical boasting an 18″ stride length, wireless heart rate monitoring and BlueTooth, two features the 430 is missing!
And what makes this excellent entry-level machine even more appealing is its size, you can see in the photo above its a lot smaller than the 430 and 470 yet it still provides an 18″ stride length so it is suitable for users up to 6ft.
Yes, there are fewer resistance levels 16 compared to the Schwinn 430 which has 20, but remember this machine cost considerably less.
There’s no incline, and you wouldn’t expect there to be at this price, but for a solid compact machine, the 411 is hard to beat. For anyone, whos budget may be limited. I’d highly recommend checking out this excellent elliptical from Schwinn.
High quality build, stable
16 levels of smooth whisper quiet magnetic resistance
13 built in workout programs + Bluetooth to sync with trainer app
Fixed and moving handle bars
Excellent warranty 10 year frame, 2 year parts
Heart rate monitoring – pulse sensors + wireless heart rate capability
Wide stride length for a compact elliptical
Integrated transport wheels
Buying Tips – Ellipticals
If it’s your first time buying an elliptical for the home, it might worth checking out our handy buying tips, here you can read through all the main features of elliptical machines and find out what works best for your needs.
While there are numerous design varieties out there, ellipticals can generally be divided into three categories. These categories are defined by the placement of the flywheel or drive system. The drive system is the core component that facilitates the elliptical motion.
The placement of the flywheel is important as it can affect stride length, smoothness of elliptical motion, and the level of noise made by the machine when in action.
Front-drive ellipticals – Front-drive ellipticals are usually found in the budget to the mid-level range, they typically have a large wheel housing at the front of the machine.
If you own a front-drive elliptical, you will find yourself leaning slightly forward when exercising, similar to using a stairclimber. A basic but durable design, maybe a little noisier than the center drive machine but nothing too noticeable.
Centre drive ellipticals – Centre drive ellipticals have only been around for a few years, although a reasonably new design they are becoming increasingly popular. Designed to be similar to a treadmill, except the pedals are where the track would usually be. Centre drive designs allow for a gentle workout.
The flywheel center drive elliptical is typically a compact machine and is best suited for those who are exercising in small spaces. Be slightly careful with this compact design as the stride length can be very short.
Rear Drive Ellipticals – Most rear-drive ellipticals have a smaller wheel housing located behind the pedals making these the longest in design. Many manufacturers claim the rear-drive machines allow for a smoother, more circular pedal motion.
The pedals can also be on a track, which allows for an incline. Rear drives systems are usually reserved for high-end ellipticals. Some of the widest stride lengths can be found on rear-drive ellipticals.
Hybrid Ellipticals – Hybrid ellipticals boast multiple functions, as well as an elliptical they function as an exercise bike.
You can adjust the hybrid machine to move between bike and an elliptical simply by moving pedals and rearranging the seat. Hybrid ellipticals are mostly found in the budget range and are a popular space-saving choice for people wanting to reap the health benefits of both an exercise bike and an elliptical.
Other Key Components To Look Out For
Stride Length – This is the measurement in between the toe of the front pedal to the heel of the rear pedal while the pedals are at their widest stride. This measurement is vitally important as it determines how naturally you will be able to stride.
If your buying an elliptical for intense workouts, the first thing you will want to be able to do is run freely – if your elliptical has a too short stride length, this will not be possible and your machine will not be doing the job it should.
- If you plan on walking on running slowly, you can get away with a shorter stride length – Great news if your budget is tight.
- Taller users 6ft and over will need a machine with at least 20″ stride length for fast-paced running or walking.
Another important feature to consider when buying an elliptical is the resistance system. There are two types of resistance systems for ellipticals one is air the other magnetic. Which is better?
For home use, I would have to recommend magnetic resistance for the simple reason it is much quieter in use than air. Air uses a noisy fan to create resistance, whereas magnetic resistance is whisper quiet when in use.
A magnetic cardo machine is always the best choice, especially if you don’t want to disturb others or yourself with the sound of the machine when you exercise.
Another significant advantage of magnetic resistance is that it is a constant resistance, i.e., the strength of resistance stays the same unless you manually change via the resistance knob or monitor.
Constant resistance gives you a choice to pedal at a slow pace on a high resistance level, something that was impossible with air resistance, which only gets stronger when you run-walk faster (dynamic resistance).
Resistance Strength –
Budget ellipticals $400 and under typically provide eight levels of resistance. While this isn’t a ton of resistance levels, it will provide enough resistance for medium to light cardio workouts.
That’s not to say you won’t burn any calories on a cheaper machine; it all depends on your fitness levels. Still, in general, a machine with eight resistance levels is usually best suited for beginners, walkers, seniors, or anyone looking for lighter workouts.
When you spend a few more bucks $400+, we start to see 16-24 resistance levels here; you can expect reasonably strong resistance in the upper levels. the machines are, in general, of higher quality and will provide the user with much more of a challenge and will allow for years of growth.
$1k+ ellipticals will, of course, come with the most resistance levels and heavier flywheels – Great if you can afford one but sometimes overkill for a home gym
Your Workout Space
Ellipticals are not small these things take up a lot of room, so you need to be sure your home has the space to house one comfortably. Most ellipticals are between 4 and 7 feet long, and you’ll also need to remember to leave room for the pedals while they are in motion.
The pedals of some rear-drive ellipticals can extend a foot behind the mainframe. Also, allow for 20 inches each side of the machine.
Lastly, we need to consider the ceiling height, especially important if you’re hoping to use the machine in a basement. Check the elliptical max pedal height plus your hight-the combined height of both will be the maximum height of the chosen elliptical. The last thing you want is to be banging your head!
This is the fun part of your machine; bonus features can include water bottle holders, tablet holders, fun workout apps, wi-fi, pre-workout programs, and heart rate monitoring. While some are more useful than others, remember not to go too crazy here. The more features you choose, the more money you’ll need to spend.
While still not essential to your cardio fitness, work programs, and heart rate monitoring are two features I feel are worth spending a few extra bucks on.
Workouts programs are excellent for setting new challenges and keeping your interest, especially for long cardio workouts sessions. Heart rate monitoring is extremely useful for those of you who wish to exercise in your target heart rate zones.
Benefits of Ellipticals
1. Boost your stamina and cardio capacity – Aerobic exercise is a vital part of any balanced exercise routine. Aerobic exercise demands your heart and lungs to work harder; thus, in doing so, making them stronger.
Elliptical allows for an excellent aerobic workout ellipticals work both your upper and lower body, strengthening your muscles, heart and lungs continued use will help build your stamina and endurance
2. Low Impact – Elliptical reduce the stress and strain on your legs through an elliptical motion. Your feet never leave the pedals; it is like walking in mid-air. In comparison, when you walk or run on a treadmill, every step causes a jolt to your body.
3. Burn A Lot of Calories – Depending on how much you weigh. An elliptical can burn 230-350 calories in 30 minutes. Burning more calories than you consume can really help you to lose weight. If you want to give a significant boost to your calorie burn, try increasing the intensity of the workout on your elliptical.
4. Dual-action workout – One of the benefits you are going to like about elliptical machines is the combined upper and lower body workout. This is why elliptical are sometimes called cross-trainers! When we use the elliptical properly, the elliptical trainer can strengthen and tone the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, chest, back, triceps, and biceps.
5. Weight Bearing – Unlike an exercise bike, an elliptical provides a weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercises help slow down and prevent osteoporosis.
6. Improve Balance -We know weight-bearing exercising can help to strengthen our bones, but did you know they can also help you improve your balance. If you stand up straight on an elliptical and let go of the fixed set of handlebars, you not only target your core muscles, but you also improve your balance.
To Sum Up
Schwinns compact range of ellipticals are impressive machines for the price point, yes, they’re not up there with the commercial-grade machines you’ll find in the local gym but you’d be looking to at paying over $2k for a decent commercially rated elliptical. (overkill for a home gym)
For a home gym, the Schwinn ellipticals are an excellent choice all come with long warranties and all include enough resistance levels and workout programs to keep most fitness levels happy.
The Schwinn 470 is by a long way their most impressive elliptical, packed full of features including the power-adjustable incline, wide stride length and wireless heart rate monitoring.
Aimed toward the more advanced user the Schwinn 470 Elliptical should last years of heavy use and provides enough resistance levels to grow with you as your strength and cardio levels improve.
While the 430 is still a great machine for the price, we feel the monitor is lacking a few advanced features such as wireless heart rate monitoring and BlueTooth, not a deal killer but something Schwinn needs to think about updating if they want to compete with NordicTrack in the mid-level price ranges.
The Schwinn 411 is a surprisingly good compact elliptical in the under $500 price bracket, this thing boasts more monitor features than its bigger brother the 430. Plus what I found most impressive about the Schwinn 411 was its stride length.
Most ellipticals in the under $500 suffer from short stride lengths which makes them almost useless for intense cardio workouts that require a larger stride, but Schwinn somehow managed to design a compact (and this one really is compact) machine with a stride length of 18″ impressive stuff.
Ok, the 411 has no incline but for an entry-level elliptical, the Schwinn 411 Elliptical is better than anything else I’ve seen out there. An excellent choice for beginners or anyone who has limited space to work out in.