Bowflex Elliptical Reviews: (BXE116, BXE216 & More)

If you haven't heard of BowFlex, where have you been? BowFlex has been manufacturing high-quality, professional-grade fitness equipment right here in the USA since 1986.

Conceived by an engineering student, BowFlex machinery is expertly designed and manufactured to an extraordinarily high standard, making it one of the must-have brands for at-home ellipticals.

Unique Features of BowFlex Elliptical Trainers

Build Quality
  • Switch Select™ Cushioning System
    BowFlex features a unique low-impact cushioning system to help increase muscle activation. This technology enables you to push yourself to the limits each and every workout while limiting the risk of accidents or injury. The pedals in BowFlex models are also adjustable to increase comfort and isolate those calves.
  • Effective Flywheel System
    The flywheel is the heart of the machine. By using a highly efficient and effective flywheel, BowFlex guarantees a smooth and comfortable workout. BowFlex uses heavy, industrial-grade materials in their flywheel construction to add extra weight, keeping the wheel spinning smoothly and quietly.
  • Switch Select™ Pedal Suspension Technology
    This technology helps to adjust the angle and resistance of the pedals. You can switch up the suspension technology to isolate a specific muscle group or simply dial it back for a low-intensity session between each workout. With a ten degree range of motion, you can adjust the pedals to suit your own style.
  • Remote Incline & Resistance Controls 
    BowFlex ellipticals have their incline and resistance controls built into the handlebars, reducing downtime between workouts. If you're looking to dial up the intensity, you can do so without leaving your seat. These remote resistance controls also make BowFlex models perfect for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), where switching between inclines and resistance mid-workout enhances the effectiveness.
  • High User Weight Capacity 
    Given their quality construction and use of premium materials, BowFlex machines are built to last. Because of this, their ellipticals can support users up to 300 pounds.
Tech Features
  • Multiple Workout Programs
    BowFlex ellipticals come with a range of exercise options pre-programmed into their machines. These programs, built to cover a range of fitness levels, take much of the guesswork out of the typical exercise routine. If you're looking to sneak in a 20-minute session before heading off to work, simply select the required program, and off you go.
  • Burn Rate Console
    The burn rate shows the number of calories burned in a particular minute at the level you're currently working at. This information is displayed directly on the BowFlex console, enabling you to take complete control over your routine.
  • Bluetooth® 4.0 Compatible
    The Bowflex Results Series App is a convenient way to track your workouts and keep you motivated. BowFlex ellipticals connect to the app via Bluetooth to sync your activities with your smart device and record your progress. The net "Level Up' function rewards you for every minute of exercise or calorie burned, offering encouragement every step of the way. The Bowflex Results Series App can be downloaded from the App Store on both iOS and Android devices.
  • FREE Entertainment & Connectivity 
    As well as the Results Series App, BowFlex connects with the Explore the World app, an app that helps explore exotic locations from the comfort of your own home. If you're bored of watching movies or listening to music, the app lets you explore real-life places around the world while you work out. BowFlex ellipticals also connect with all major fitness devices, including Under Armour Record, MyFitnessPal, Google Fit, and the Apple Health App.
  • Real-Time Custom Workout Creation
    With the BowFlex JRNY app, you can participate in on-demand workouts, which are tailor-made to smash your goals. The app helps to create a personalized workout routine and adapts to your activity levels to keep you progressing on your fitness journey. Although the JRNY app is part of a subscription package, we think it is well worth it for the amount of value you get.
  • Calorie-Centric Programming Packages
    If you're looking at losing weight, you know the key to doing so is to make sure you're in a calorie deficit. Bowflex makes keeping track of calories burned super easy and lets you tailor your workout program towards burning a particular number of calories. Overindulged today? Plugin the number of calories you need to shed and get stepping!
  • USB Charging
    If you are using your phone or tablet while working out, you can conveniently keep them powered up using the built-in USB ports in the elliptical.
  • Chest Strap and Remote Heart Rate Monitor
    Bowflex ellipticals can connect to chest straps and heart rate monitors to keep an eye on your vitals while working out, helping you stay in the fat-burning zone. Better still, many of these ellipticals include these straps in the box.

7 Best Bowflex Ellipticals Reviewed

1. BowFlex BXE116

Bowflex BXE116 Elliptical
  • 9 Pre-Programmed Workouts
  • 25 Resistance Levels
  • High speed, high inertia drive system with a...
  • Dimensions: 77" L x 31" W x 70" H || Weight:...

Specs

Dimensions (LxWxH)

77" x 31" x 70"

Stride Length

18 - 20 inches

Weight of Unit

263 lbs

Weight Capacity

375 lbs

Flywheel Weight

30 lbs

Display Size

7.5 inches Color LCD

Training Programs

9

First up is one of the best-selling models from Bowflex, the almighty BXE116.

The BXE116 comes complete with 9-pre programmed workouts for ultimate convenience, with an impressive 25 resistance levels for full customization. The BXE116 also comes with the Switch Select Cushioning system that makes the brand famous, as well as adjustable pedals to increase comfort.

The heavy-weight flywheel ensures that the BXE116 runs as smooth as butter, no matter how intense your workout is. You can completely track your routines using the in-built Bluetooth capability and your fitness tracker.

One of the great things about the BXE116 is that it comes with a chest-strap included in the box, helping you to keep an eye on your vitals as you make your way through each exercise.

One thing to watch out for on this machine is that it is on the heavier side, so if you're likely to need to move the machine regularly, you may prefer a more lightweight model. It's also let down by the fact that the stride length is fixed instead of adjustable.

Although the machine caters to average measurements, taller or shorter users may find it a little uncomfortable to use. For the most part, the BXE116 ticks all of our boxes and is a fantastic entry-level elliptical for your home. The BXE116 comes with a 2-year warranty for added peace of mind.

One customer on the Bowflex website writes,

"Everything feels so smooth and is very quiet. I went from jogging to elliptical and the workout is more than I expected.....an awesome workout!"


2. Bowflex BXE216

Bowflex BXE216 Elliptical
  • 11 Pre-Programmed Workouts
  • 25 Resistance Levels
  • High speed, high inertia drive system with a...
  • Dimensions: 77" L x 31" W x 70" H || Weight:...

Specs

Dimensions (LxWxH)

77" x 31" x 70"

Stride Length

22 inches

Weight of Unit

263 lbs

Weight Capacity

400 lbs

Flywheel Weight

35 lbs

Display Size

9 inches Full-Color

Training Programs

11

If you're after that little bit extra from your home elliptical and have a little extra cash to spend, you may want to set your sights on the Bowflex BXE216.

Compared to the BXE116, the BXE216 boasts 11 pre-programmed workouts, offering more versatility than its budget-friendly counterpart. In most other aspects, it also outshines its little brother, featuring a heavier flywheel for added stability, an enhanced weight capacity of 400 pounds, and a larger full-color screen.

For the price you are paying, you are effectively getting a gym-quality piece of equipment for your own home. It goes without saying that this comes at an extra cost, so if you're looking for something more affordable, stick to the BXE116.

As well as all the typical BowFlex features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, Switch Select™ technology, and remote resistance controls, the BXE216 offers an upgraded set of handlebars.

These cushioned handlebars allow the user to place their hands in four different positions, helping them to achieve an upper body workout at the same time. As with its less-expensive brother, the BXE216 comes with a chest strap for heart monitoring and a 2-year warranty to cover any defects.

Customers on the Bowflex website praise the BXE216 for its ease of assembly, stating that the machine is:

"Surprisingly easy to assemble. The video they send you after delivery was very helpful .”


3. BowFlex M3 Max Trainer

Bowflex M3 Max Trainer, Black
  • Combines the easy low-impact motion of an...
  • Max can deliver the cardio benefits of...
  • Max’s unique burn rate display shows how...
  • Target zone and burn rate indicators motivate...

Specs

Dimensions (LxWxH)

49" x 26" x 64.7"

Stride Length

-

Weight of Unit

143 lbs

Weight Capacity

300 lbs

Flywheel Weight

-

Display Size

-

Training Programs

2

The Bowflex M3 Max Trainer is part of Bowflex's more affordable range, perfect for gym beginners or those not ready to splash out on expensive equipment.

Make no mistake, despite being incredibly affordable, this cross trainer boats a ton of really great features that could make it a real winner, depending on what it is you're looking for.

Although the display console is relatively basic, Bowflex has included a convenient media shelf, which can help display your phone or tablet when working out.

One of the main selling points of this model, aside from the price, is its size. The BXE116 and BXE216 are both bulky machines that require a lot of space in your home - space that perhaps you don't have. If you're in this situation, the M3 is a perfect alternative as it occupies a much smaller footprint without sacrificing any of the 'must-have' features you would want in an elliptical.

Now, at such an affordable price point, you will have to make some sacrifices. For one, the M3 only comes with two built-in workout programs, but this can easily be overcome by creating your own. It also only offers 8 resistance levels (compared to the BXE216 model). For that reason, the M3 really is an entry-level machine, ideal for those at the start of their fitness journey. The device is also only offered with a 1-year warranty.


4. BowFlex M5 Max Trainer

Bowflex Max Trainer M5, Black, Large
  • Interactive backlit display features 8...
  • Set, monitor and track personal fitness goals...
  • Combining the easy low-impact motion of an...
  • Max’s unique burn rate display shows how...

Specs

Dimensions (LxWxH)

49" x 26.5" x 63.5"

Stride Length

-

Weight of Unit

143 lbs

Weight Capacity

300 lbs

Flywheel Weight

-

Display Size

-

Training Programs

8

A step up from the M3, the M5 offers a few extra features that position this device in a nice 'mid-range' spot in terms of Bowflex ellipticals.

Compared to the M3, the M5 offers double the number of resistance levels (16), making it ideal for fast-paced, high-intensity workouts. Unlike the M3, whose console doesn't come backlit, the M5 has a built-in light, making it readable in low or bright light situations.

The M5 also comes with 8 different pre-programmed workouts (Max Interval, Smart Max Interval, Calorie Burn, Fat Burn, Calorie Goal, Stairs, Steady State, Fitness Test + manual mode). It can store 2 profiles in the device's memory to keep track of two different users.

As with other ellipticals from BowFlex, the M5 comes with a chest strap to monitor heart-rate, but another thing the M5 has over the M3 is that the handlebars have built-in contact strips, helping to give a more accurate reading. One of the biggest reasons we would advise you to choose the M5 over the M3 is that it comes with a 2-year warranty, which we think is worth it for the small increase in cost.

In a recent review, one customer even writes that they

"look forward to coming home from work and exercising."


5. BowFlex M6 Max Trainer

BowFlex M6 Max Trainer
Specs

Dimensions (LxWxH)

46" x 26." x 64.2"

Stride Length

-

Weight of Unit

148 lbs

Weight Capacity

300 lbs

Flywheel Weight

-

Display Size

-

Training Programs

29

As you may have guessed by now, each version of the Bowflex M series improves on the last. While the jump from M3 to M5 was quite noticeable, the M5 to M6 is not so much.

First of all, the M6 comes with precisely the same number of resistance levels (16) and workout programs (8) as the M5 machine. However, what the M6 has over the M5 really comes down to aesthetics, as it is arguably a much nicer looking device.

The M6 boasts an upgraded color scheme that increases its appeal and adds features such as USB charging capabilities and a magnetic tablet/device shelf. The M6 also boasts a larger and repositioned console that makes it much more readable than some of the others in the max trainer series.

Aesthetics aside, technology buffs will love the M6 as it works nicely with the BowFlex apps. Unlike the M3 and M5 models, the M6 works with the JRNY app, which provides customized, on-demand workout programs. For that reason, we would recommend the M6 to anyone looking to make use of fitness devices to track their workouts.

One customer over at Dick's says,

"The options available on programs provides a very flexible full body workout. The onboard coach and music makes the workout pass by quickly."


6. BowFlex M7 Max Trainer

Bowflex Max Trainer M7
  • 11 workout programs and 20 levels of computer...
  • Syncs with Free Max Trainer app to set,...
  • M7 performance targeted programming learns...
  • Oversized, high contrast, dual backlit...

Specs

Dimensions (LxWxH)

49" x 30.5" x 65.5"

Stride Length

-

Weight of Unit

148 lbs

Weight Capacity

300 lbs

Flywheel Weight

-

Display Size

-

Training Programs

11

As we move through the M series models, we start seeing more and more 'nice to have' features, and the M7 is no different.

The M7 is undoubtedly a step up from the M6 and looks much more professional than some cheaper models. Not only that, but it boasts 11 exercise programs and 20 levels of computer-controlled resistance.

However, one of the most impressive features is the performance targeted programming feature, which learns from a user's exercise patterns and adapts to deliver a highly personalized workout. The M7 is also ideal for a larger household. It can store up to 4 individual profiles, making it a good investment for a family or even a small office.

To increase durability, the center console and handlebars have all been upgraded to a 'gym-standard' while stainless steel racing pedals have replaced the plastic pedals to complete the aesthetic.

In line with the model's progressional grade appeal, it comes with an extended warranty of three years and integrated transport rollers for ease of movement.


7. BowFlex M8 Max Trainer

On Sale Today
Bowflex M8 Max Trainer , Black, Large
  • Introducing Bowflex JRNY , the personalized...
  • Whether you've got 4 minutes to burn or 30,...
  • Max combines the full-body, low-impact motion...
  • At a fraction of the size of most ellipticals...

Specs

Dimensions (LxWxH)

47.9" x 30.8" x 65.2"

Stride Length

-

Weight of Unit

148 lbs

Weight Capacity

300 lbs

Flywheel Weight

-

Display Size

-

Training Programs

7

Last but by no means least is the M8 model. As you have come to expect by now, the M8 comes in at a higher price point than prior models, with the inclusion of a few more features that look to justify the jump in cost.

One thing to note is that the M8 only comes with 7 pre-programmed routines, which may seem strange given the M5 - M7 range all come with more. The reason for this, however, is that it is entirely compatible with the JRNY and Explore the World Apps, which is Bowflex's way of pushing you into a subscription model (which is entirely optional).

Now, do we feel these features justify the cost? Probably not. The M8 is definitely a model for those who like to have the latest and up-to-date models. Still, to us, there is not enough difference between perfectly adequate models such as the M7 to warrant purchasing this instead.

Nevertheless, you can be confident that even if you decide to go ahead with the M8, you'll be getting a fantastic quality machine. The three-year warranty will guarantee that. If you compare the cost of the M8 against expensive gym fees, it represents excellent value for money.

However, as one customer rightly suggests over at BowFlex,

""I wish I would (have) purchased (the M8) instead of the past 6 annual gym membership fees. It would have easily paid for itself in no time."

Pros & Cons of Bowflex Ellipticals

What We Like

  • Stylish, professional-grade machines
  • Well known and reliable brand
  • Manufactured in the USA
  • Enhanced warranty (up to three years on some models)
  • A suite of fitness apps to support your workout

What We Didn't Like

  • Can be expensive
  • Fixed stride length on some models can make use uncomfortable for some

Comparing BowFlex with Other Elliptical Brands

  • Bowflex vs. Schwinn
    Schwinn and BowFlex are part of the same company, Nautilus Inc., so effectively, both brands benefit from the same strong R&D and manufacturing quality. Schwinn is generally considered as the more budget-friendly brand under the Nautilus umbrella, so why you shouldn't expect all the bells and whistles that come with BowFlex devices, you can expect a much more affordable price point.
  • Bowflex vs. Horizon
    Horizon is much less well known than BowFlex, so if you want a recognizable brand and everything that goes with it, your best bet is to stick with Bowflex. That being said, Horizon does offer some very well priced models that certainly look the part. Although we can't speak to their quality, they may be a good option if you're working with a tighter budget.
  • Bowflex vs. Sole
    Sole is probably the closest contender to Bowflex, as both brands are well known for their excellent build quality and durability. One advantage Bowflex has over Sole is its suite of apps, which can help create a tailor-made workout program specific to your needs.
  • Bowflex vs. NordicTrack
    NordicTrack offers some of the most eye-catching and aesthetic ellipticals on the market. Their top of the range models features an unbeatable range of motion, as well as smart HD touchscreens to help deliver an efficient workout from the comfort of your own home. All of these added features put NordicTrack at one of the highest price points, so it is worth considering if price is not a consideration.

How to Assemble & Use Bowflex Ellipticals

Assembly instructions will differ depending on which model you buy.

The good news is that the assembly shouldn't be an issue as long as you can follow instructions. However, we would always advise having someone to give you a helping hand when moving heavy parts. All being well, you should have your brand new elliptical ready to go in just a few hours.

  • Before you begin, check everything is included in the box and you have the necessary tools for assembly.
  • Clear enough space to work comfortably.
  • Ask for help! Some parts can be heavy.
  • Leave yourself enough time. Adding time pressure can lead to mistakes or incorrect assembly.

The great news is if you're not au fait with DIY, Amazon offers a service where they will assemble your new elliptical for you.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the difference between the BowFlex Max Trainer vs. elliptical?

It all comes down to the range of motion of each machine. An elliptical mimics your typical running motion, whereas a max trainer imitates a climbing motion, much like climbing up a staircase.

How should I clean and maintain a BowFlex elliptical trainer?

After each use, spend a little time wiping down your machine to ensure it is in good condition to use next time. Avoid non-abrasive cleaners, but household cleaners typically work fine.

How would I return defective BowFlex ellipticals?

We would always recommend contacting your point of purchase first. One of the most significant benefits of purchasing from Amazon is its excellent levels of customer service.

Alternatively, you can contact Bowflex (Nautilus) directly at 1-800-605-3369 or via email at customerservice@BowFlex.com within 6 weeks from delivery for a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number to return the product.

What is a good workout routine for using a BowFlex elliptical if I want to lose weight?

There's no better way to learn than to watch someone else. Luckily BowFlex have you covered over on their YouTube channel. This video is specifically for those using their ellipticals to lose weight.

Are expensive Bowflex ellipticals worth investing in?

Without a doubt, BowFlex is an excellent brand with a stellar reputation. Whether they are worth investing in is an entirely subjective decision and will depend on whether they offer the features you are looking for at a price you can afford.

While we would never recommend investing in a brand based on their name alone, we think Bowflex is an excellent choice.

Where is the best place to buy this brand of elliptical online?

The full range of Bowflex ellipticals is available on Amazon, or of course, direct from the Bowflex website.


Conclusion

If you're in the market for an elliptical and are looking for a trustworthy brand to invest in, we cannot recommend Bowflex highly enough.

Their BXBXE116 is without doubt our top pick, balancing functionality and comfort at an affordable price point.