7 Best Affordable Elliptical Machines: Reviewed & Compared

It's no wonder why elliptical machines have become one of the most popular cardio options, both for home gyms and commercial fitness facilities.

Spending 30 minutes on an elliptical is a great way to improve heart health, lose weight, and increase endurance. Similar to exercise bikes, ellipticals are a great choice if you're looking for a low-impact workout that has the potential to burn a high amount of calories. 

Before writing this review, I assumed that adding an elliptical to my home gym would cost at least $1000, even $2000. I quickly discovered that it's possible to find an elliptical for under $200 from respected fitness brands. Not only was I shocked to discover this, but I was even more surprised to find that these machines are just as capable of delivering a great cardio workout. 

In this comprehensive guide, I’ve selected and reviewed the best affordable elliptical machines on the market. So if you're ready to add an affordable elliptical to your home gym, let's do it!

Best Affordable Elliptical Machines

Expectations When Buying Budget Ellipticals

If you’re on a budget with your elliptical purchase, it’s important to have realistic expectations for what your machine can do and how it will perform compared to more expensive models. While some cheaper ellipticals offer a lot of value, they’re certainly not all created equal in terms of construction, design, and features.  

Generally, budget ellipticals have frames made with lower-quality steel or aluminum, so they’re not only lighter in machine weight, but they have lower user weight limits than pricier models. While some more expensive machines can hold up to 400 pounds, cheaper ellipticals usually have weight limitations ranging from 200 to 300 pounds.  

Another big difference has to do with tech integration. Expensive machines often offer Bluetooth, built-in speakers, cooling fans, and large displays. Cheaper ellipticals, on the other hand, typically forego these bells and whistles for more basic tech features, and many of them only come with a small LCD for tracking workouts.  

Lastly, cheaper models are generally more basic in their workout capabilities, with fewer resistance levels and fewer built-in workout programs. Compared to expensive machines, many budget ellipticals don't offer the ability to adjust the incline, and if they do, it's typically through manual adjustment rather than a motorized incline system.  


What to Look for Before Purchasing a Cheap Elliptical

There are several factors you should consider before buying a cheaper-than-average elliptical machine. I've outlined the main considerations in the buying guide below:

Handles For Upper Body Workout  

Most ellipticals, even cheaper models, come with two sets of handlebars: one fixed set for maintaining stability and one moving set for getting in an upper body workout. If you’re interested in working both the lower and upper body muscles with your machine, make sure to choose an elliptical with a solid set of moving handles.  

Some moving handlebars even come equipped with buttons for adjusting resistance, meaning you don’t have to release the bars to make changes to your workout. While this isn’t a standard feature for cheaper models, it’s definitely something to consider before purchasing.  

Flywheel  

An elliptical flywheel is an important component that determines how smoothly and quietly the machine will run. It’s a revolving wheel that spins within the machine’s frame to increase momentum and stability for the user. Sometimes the flywheel is located at the back of the frame, and sometimes it’s located at the front.  

While both rear-drive and front-drive ellipticals come with pros and cons, most people prefer rear-driven systems since they create less strain on the knees and back. In addition to the location of the flywheel, also pay attention to its weight; a heavier flywheel means a quieter, smoother ride.  

Workout Programs 

Many elliptical machines have consoles that contain built-in workout programs to cater to a wide range of fitness needs. These presets usually include manual, heart rate control, weight loss, and interval programs, but depending on the model, there may be more or fewer workouts to choose from within the console. 

One important thing to note about cheap ellipticals is that they don’t often come with the same tech features as expensive models, particularly when it comes to preset workouts. However, even the cheapest ellipticals usually come with a media tray for holding a tablet or smartphone, so you should be able to stream the workouts of your choice from a mobile device. 

Extra Features  

In addition to extra features like a media tray or phone holder, you’ll also want to look for an elliptical with a conveniently-located water bottle holder. Unfortunately, you probably won’t have access to cool features like Bluetooth or built-in speakers if you’re on a budget, so if those things are important to you, you’ll need to be willing to spend more.  

Maximum weight support

You obviously shouldn't get an elliptical that supports a maximum of 200 pounds if you're pushing 220 pounds, right? Elliptical manufacturers provide a maximum weight limit for a reason, so don't take this as a suggestion; it's actually the max amount of weight the machine can handle. 

For that reason, one of the first things you should check is the maximum weight support. From my experience browsing around the many elliptical machines available, I know that every manufacturer states this information, so you should have no trouble finding it.

Noise level

Most ellipticals are designed to operate quietly, but some are noisier than others. If you are sensitive to sound or have nearby neighbors you don't want to disturb, noise level is definitely a factor worth considering.

Portability & Dimensions

Ellipticals are considered fairly bulky, so space is an issue for some. If you're working with a small gym square footage, definitely try to find an elliptical with a small footprint - and pay close attention to the height! Since you'll be standing while riding your elliptical, always check to make sure you have enough ceiling space. 

If you plan to move the machine around the house or apartment, make sure you pick a model with front transport wheels. Even though cheaper models tend to weigh less than the $1000 ellipticals, transport wheels will increase the machine's portability tremendously. 

Stability & Stride Length

The stability and sturdiness of your elliptical have a lot to do with the machine’s frame construction, so before you buy, confirm that the machine you’re considering is built with quality materials, like alloy steel or high-grade aluminum. You’ll also want to pay attention to the elliptical footprint; while large dimensions aren’t necessarily ideal for small spaces, a larger frame generally means more stability in the long run. 

The stride length of an elliptical is the measure of each pedal’s stride in inches, and it has a lot to do with how comfortable the machine will feel. Most elliptical strides range from 16 to 22”, and cheaper options are generally on the shorter end of that spectrum. If you have a longer-than-average stride, you might have to pay more for a machine that can cater to that.  

Resistance & Incline

All the best ellipticals allow users to increase the tension level to make the workout more challenging, and that includes cheap machines. The resistance is typically changed by pressing an up or down arrow on the console or twisting a knob, and these machines have anywhere from 8 to 16 levels of tension. 

While a lot of ellipticals offer the ability to change the incline, that's not the norm for cheaper models. If incline adjustment is important to you, you might want to consider spending a bit more. 

Console Features

A cheap elliptical console usually consists of a basic LCD monitor to track fitness stats like time, distance, speed, and calories burned. Some will even monitor heart rate. 

Just keep in mind that the console of a cheap elliptical will be much more basic than the console of a pricier model. Luckily, this isn't a big problem - at least not for me - because there are so many advanced fitness apps you can use on your phone or tablet nowadays. 

Value For Money

If you're reading this, you're obviously not wanting to break the bank on your elliptical purchase. But that doesn't mean you can't get a machine that provides awesome value for money. 

To confirm that a cheap machine is actually worth it, always check the features - so things like resistance, console, portability, and stability - to determine if the value for money is there. 


7 Best Affordable Elliptical Machines Reviewed

Now that we are familiar with the benefits and what to look for before purchasing the machine, let’s dive into our list of the best affordable ellipticals.

Keep reading on or check out our YouTube video below that reviews the top 3 budget models!

1. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3862

Product Specifications

Dimensions 

63”L x 21”W x 66”H

Flywheel Type

Front-Drive

Preset Workouts

24

Resistance Levels

16

Max User Weight 

265 lbs

Machine Weight

125.7 lbs

I don’t think that the Sunny Health & Fitness brand needs a special introduction. They have been on the market for over a decade now, and they're well-known for their treadmills, bikes, and most importantly, elliptical trainers. 

The elliptical SF-E3862 is one of the best that you can find in terms of quality to price ratio. It's not the cheapest model I'll cover here, but it’s definitely a good value for your money option. The first reason I say that is while many other ellipticals at this price point have only 8 tension levels, this one uses electro-magnetic resistance with 16 tension levels. 

I personally love the elliptical's console. It holds a large backlit display that tracks your progress, and it even tells you your target heart rate based on the workout intensity. It also includes 7 different workout modes, 24 exercise presets, and a BMI calculator. 

In terms of other features, this elliptical comes with transportation wheels, a device (tablet, cellphone) holder, and bottle holder. It can support up to 265 pounds, which is slightly above average for budget ellipticals. Because the machine is 63" x 21" x 66", it's definitely not the most compact, so I suggest confirming that you have enough space before you buy. 

Our rating: 4.7 Star Rating 4.7 / 5

Pros

  • Sturdy and heavy construction
  • Quiet operation
  • 16 tension levels
  • 24 preset workouts
  • Displays target heart rate
  • Manual mode - so no electricity required

Cons

  • Not easy to put together
  • Takes a lot of space – not easily storable

2. Doufit EM-01

Product Specifications

Dimensions 

50”L x 20.5”W x 62”H 

Flywheel Type 

Rear-Drive 

Preset Workouts 

None 

Resistance Levels 

8 

Max User Weight 

250 lbs 

Machine Weight 

94.4 lbs 

The elliptical machine manufactured by Doufit deserves a spot on this list mainly because of the combination of functionality and affordability. The machine comes in an attractive modern design with white and black coloring, and the frame is made of heavy-duty steel, thus making it stable and sturdy.

The pedals (pads) are large enough to accommodate any feet, and I really like that they are textured with anti-slip material. The elliptical arms are a bit odd if you ask me; they point straight up into the air and don't have the usual curved design of other elliptical arms. However, this doesn't affect the machine's arm movement, so it's not necessarily a bad thing. 

As with most ellipticals on this list, the Doufit uses magnetic resistance with 8 different tension levels. It comes with a simple LCD monitor and is equipped with transportation wheels for convenient portability. There are pulse sensors located on the stationary handles for tracking heart rate, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's very accurate (this isn't always the norm for cheaper machines). 

The dimensions are 50 x 20.5 x 62 inches and the maximum supported weight is 250 pounds. If you struggle with stability, you've got the option to get the same elliptical with a seat attachment - an excellent choice for seniors on a budget. 

My main complaint is that the monitor tracks distance in kilometers, not miles, and there's no way to change it. Also, if you're a tall individual, let's say over 6'3", the stride might be too short for you. I personally didn't find it short at all, but I'm average when it comes to height.

Our rating: 4.6 Star Rating 4.6 / 5

Pros

  • Very quiet operation
  • Sturdy handles
  • Easy to use LCD
  • Affordable
  • Easy to assemble
  • Unique white and black design
  • Option for seat attachment

Cons

  • Distance is set in kilometers and cannot be changed to miles
  • It’s a compact machine, so stride is quite short (not recommended for 6’3”+)

3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3607

Product Specifications

Dimensions 

39”L x 23.5”W x 63”H 

Flywheel Type 

Rear-Drive 

Preset Workouts 

None 

Resistance Levels 

8 

Max User Weight 

220 lbs 

Machine Weight 

71.5 lbs 

Third on the list of best affordable ellipticals (and second from the Sunny Health & Fitness brand) is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3607. This model has a lot of similarities to the SF-3862 previously reviewed, but it’s the cheaper option, and therefore a better choice for anyone on a budget.  

Even with its affordable price tag, the SF-E3607 elliptical has a lot to offer, like smooth magnetic resistance and a rear-driven flywheel system that’s easy on the knees and ankles. The best feature, though, is the fact that this model costs less than $300, so there’s no need to break the bank.  

In addition to magnetic resistance, this Sunny Health elliptical is designed with 8 adjustable tension levels to cater to different fitness levels. The LCD is basic, but it displays all you need to know for each workout, including time, distance, calories, odometer, and pulse - that’s right, the E3607 allows for heart rate monitoring. 

I have just two complaints about this elliptical. The first is the short stride length of just 12 inches; this isn’t ideal for tall individuals or anyone with a naturally long stride, so keep that in mind before purchasing. On the flip side, the short stride allows for a compact footprint, and at only 39 inches long, this is one of the smallest ellipticals on this list. 

Secondly, the weight limit is rather low at just 220 pounds, so in addition to not being ideal for tall people, it’s also not ideal for large users. If you’re short and lightweight, though, the E3607 is a great choice for sticking to a budget. 

Our rating: 4.5 Star Rating 4.5 / 5

Pros

  • Smooth magnetic resistance
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compact footprint
  • Quite easy to assemble
  • Quiet, even at the highest resistance setting

Cons

  • The water bottle holder seems cheap
  • Basic LCD screen

4. Body Champ 3-in-1 Trio

Product Specifications

Dimensions 

60”L x 28”W x 64”H 

Flywheel Type 

Rear-Drive 

Preset Workouts 

21 

Resistance Levels 

8 

Max User Weight 

250 lbs 

Machine Weight 

110 lbs 

The list of the best affordable elliptical machines continues with a trainer manufactured by Body Champ. This machine is different from all the rest thanks to its 3-in-1 design. That means it can be used as an elliptical trainer, recumbent bike, and upright bike. The great thing about this fella is that the transition is smooth without requiring you to dismount or readjust anything. 

There are 3 handle bars to choose from: U-shaped with a heart rate monitor, dual action (for elliptical training), and wraparound for riding in the recumbent style. Even though it's not the cheapest elliptical out there, the Body Champ 3-in-1 comes with a bigger-than-average LCD display and 21 programs preset into the console, so the value for money is definitely there. 

It is a magnetic-resistance machine with good adjustability and a quality motor drive. The maximum support weight is 250 pounds, which is about average. My only critique is that the many users have reported having to retighten the knobs every now and then, but I'd imagine this depends on how often you're using the machine. 

Our rating: 4.4 Star Rating 4.4 / 5

Pros

  • Usable as elliptical, recumbent bike and upright bike
  • Quiet operation
  • Large display
  • Clear assembly instructions
  • Great customer support by Body Champ
  • 21 preset programs

Cons

  • You might have to tighten the knobs from time to time
  • Comes in one color combination (red and black)

5. Schwinn 411

Product Specifications

Dimensions 

53.8”L x 24”W x 62.5”H 

Flywheel Type 

Front-Drive 

Preset Workouts 

13 

Resistance Levels 

16 

Max User Weight 

300 lbs 

Machine Weight 

100 lbs 

Schwinn is another fitness brand that requires no introduction, and the Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine is a top choice if you want a compact trainer that doesn’t break the bank. Like all Schwinn ellipticals, the 411 model is designed with the user in mind, so not only is it comfortable, but it’s also fun to use.  

A big reason for that is the elliptical’s ability to pair with Schwinn’s Explore the World app, which is an online platform for streaming global routes and workouts from around the world. Because the elliptical itself only has a small LCD, you will need your own tablet or smartphone to access the app, and you’ll have to pay for the monthly subscription after a free trial period.  

Aside from Explore the World, the 411 offers a few more features that give it a rightful place on this list, such as 16 levels of variable resistance. While most budget ellipticals only offer 8 levels of tension, this one has double that, so you’ll have more chances to challenge yourself if you opt for this machine.  

Like most budget options, the console is basic, but you’ll be able to track everything you need to monitor your progress, like distance, speed, calories, time, and heart rate. The best feature is probably the fact that the 411 can hold up to 400 pounds of user weight, making it the ultimate choice for larger individuals who require higher weight limitations. 

Our rating: 4.4 Star Rating 4.4 / 5

Pros

  • 13 preset programs available
  • Strong, sturdy frame
  • High weight support of 300 lbs
  • Ergonomic handles with hand pulse monitors
  • Quiet flywheel

Cons

  • Not very portable
  • More expensive than other machines on this list

6. Fitness Reality E5500XL

Product Specifications

Dimensions 

57.5”L x 24”W x 66”H 

Flywheel Type 

Rear-Drive 

Preset Workouts 

21

Resistance Levels 

24

Max User Weight 

270 lbs 

Machine Weight 

93 lbs 

The 6th budget elliptical that deserves a shout-out is the Fitness Reality E5500XL. Even though it has a price tag that’s less than $400, this trainer offers a lot to at-home cardio junkies who don’t want to spend a fortune on their equipment. Compared to others in its price range, the E5500XL has significantly more levels for resistance adjustment - 24 to be exact.  

With 24 levels of tension to choose from, you have the ability to go from a gentle workout to a challenging one at the drop of a hat. What’s even better is that the machine’s console contains 21 different programs, each with its own unique workout goal. Or, you can manually set your own goals in terms of distance, time, or calories burned.  

The E5500XL has a user weight capacity of 270 pounds, which is slightly above average compared to other budget-friendly machines. The pedal system has an 18” stride length, which is definitely better than the 15 or 16” strides of most ellipticals at this price point.  

Another unique feature of this machine is its double transmission system, which helps to increase momentum while also keeping each stride smooth and quiet. From my experience, this machine is a lot smoother than most single flywheel ellipticals (and best of all, it’s a lot cheaper).  

Unfortunately, the LCD is quite basic, but that’s expected considering the low cost; you can’t expect to get much in terms of tech features unless you’re willing to pay.  

Our rating: 4.3 stars 4.3 / 5

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • Heavy-duty steel frame
  • Supports up to 270 pounds
  • RPM counter
  • Double transmission system

Cons

  • Difficult to assemble by yourself
  • Basic LCD screen 

7. Efitment E006

Product Specifications

Dimensions 

50”L x 23.5”W x 62”H 

Flywheel Type 

Rear-Drive 

Preset Workouts 

None 

Resistance Levels 

8 

Max User Weight 

220 lbs 

Machine Weight 

80.5 lbs 

The last elliptical trainer on the list of best affordable elliptical machines is manufactured by Efitment. Just like the majority, this is another machine that uses a magnetic tension system with 8 resistance levels.

The best feature of the Efitment E006 is its compact design. It's just 50" x 23.5" x 62" and it weighs only 63 pounds, so it's a great space-saving option for small home gyms. Because it's more compact than others, the stride length is also slightly shorter (11 inches), so keep that in mind if you're above-average height. 

The LCD monitor is basic, but it does include a heart rate monitor with pulse sensors, so extra points there. In addition to pulse, you'll be able to view distance, time, calories, speed, and odometer readings - that's about it. 

An important thing to note is the lower-than-average weight limit of 220 pounds. If you're below that, no worries, but if not, you'll have to consider an elliptical with a higher capacity (like any of the others covered here). 

Our rating: 4 Star Rating 4.0 / 5

Pros

  • Quite sturdy
  • Easy assembly
  • Great price
  • Easily transportable
  • Very compact - great if you're short on space!

Cons

  • Small stride might be problematic for people with long legs
  • Only 220 lbs support

Benefits Of Elliptical Machines: Why Buy One?

As I’ve already mentioned, elliptical machines improve your overall condition via cardio. But that's not all. The motion on these machines is very similar to cross-country skiing, which engages minor and major muscle groups for a total body workout.

Besides cardio, ellipticals can help to improve your stability, leg strength, and core muscles. You can expect to strengthen your quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings, and thanks to the moving arms, you can also increase upper body strength and improve your range of motion. 

In summary, these machines are an integral part of developing a reliable fitness routine.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are the main differences between cheap vs expensive ellipticals?

While you don't need to spend a fortune on your elliptical machine, there are definitely some differences worth noting when comparing cheap vs expensive ellipticals. 

A more expensive machine typically comes with added features, like Bluetooth, a bigger display, and a higher weight capacity. Some even come with built-in speakers and a fan to keep you cool during cardio. 

However, it's still possible to get in a great workout with a cheaper model. So if you're on a budget and don't mind foregoing all the bells and whistles, then an inexpensive elliptical will do the trick. 

Is 30 minutes on the elliptical enough?

The recommended time frame for daily cardio is between 30 to 45 minutes per day. So yes, 30 minutes on the elliptical is plenty. However, if you're trying to shed some extra pounds, consider aiming for a higher goal. 

According to the physical activity guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services, "you should get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week to see substantial changes." So use this as your baseline. 

Do ellipticals help lose belly fat?

Absolutely! Calorie-burning cardio is the best way to shed extra pounds, and that includes reducing belly fat. Depending on how motivated you are with your new elliptical and your eating habits, you could start seeing results in as little as a week. 

Where is the best place to buy the best affordable elliptical machine?

You might be tempted to purchase your cheap elliptical directly from a well-known manufacturer, but consider buying on Amazon instead. Many fitness brands even have their own Amazon storefront, and with Amazon, shipping is usually fast and free. 


Conclusion - Is A Cheap Elliptical Worth Buying?

There goes our list on the best affordable elliptical trainers for home use. I can't speak for all cheap elliptical machines, but I can say that the 7 affordable models I've reviewed here are definitely worth buying. 

When choosing the winner, make sure to go through the ‘Buying Guide’ first. This way, you can pinpoint the most important features (and the ones to avoid) before making your purchase. 

If you're still not sure which cheap elliptical is the one for you, I'm a big fan of the SF-E3862 from Sunny Health & Fitness. It's not the cheapest elliptical on the list, but it certainly offers excellent value for money and all the features you could ask for from an affordable cardio machine. 

Still not sure? Check out our guide to under the desk ellipticals.