The treadmill is the most popular style of cardio machine, but it has a number of shortcomings. Most importantly, running on a treadmill isn’t easy on the joints, which matters for older people or those who are recovering from injuries. Besides, treadmills are noisy and can be a huge annoyance for your neighbors.
If these points bother you a lot, then perhaps an elliptical trainer would be a viable alternative for you. With that said, elliptical trainers can be very expensive, and not everybody can afford them.
Well, today, I’m going to give you a few suggestions to help you choose the best elliptical under 200!
To be fair, if you are really serious about cardio, I, as a certified personal trainer, would recommend that you go for something more expensive. Budget ellipticals compromise a lot to lower the price. But it’s understandable that some people don’t want to buy or can’t afford a higher-end machine.
1. Sunny Health SF-E905 – Best Elliptical Under 200 For Short Users
- H and pulse monitoring system allows you to...
- Meter function-Scan, Time, Speed, Distance,...
- Large anti-slip platforms . With a simple twist,...
- Weight Capacity-220 LB
- Item weight 61 pounds
The SF-E905 elliptical trainer offers a more traditional elliptical experience than SF-E902. This machine has a quiet magnetic resistance system with 8 resistance levels. Aside from that, SF-E905 is a way better choice for short users.
Now, why that? Well, the stride here is 11 inches long, which is the shortest on the list. This is fine for short people, but if you are tall, then you should probably go for something with a longer stride.
I’d say that people shorter than 5’4” to 5’5” will most likely do fine on this thing. With that said, taller people may not have any issues with it either.
Aside from this, what’s also nice about the SF-E905 elliptical trainer is the pulse sensors on the handlebars. They aren’t super-accurate, but they are fine if you want to have some sort of guidance for training intensity. But for more accuracy, get yourself a chest strap monitor.
The integrated transportation wheels make this quite bulky machine easy to move around too. I also like the levelers at the base – they let you compensate for uneven floors.
With that, I think that the SF-E905 elliptical is the best option for short users, though it might work for others as well.
2. Sunny Health SF-E902 – Best Elliptical For Ultra-Low Budgets
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Air Walk Trainer...
- Air walk Trainer: The non-slip pedals will help...
- Total BODY workout: The air Walker exercise...
- Space saving: when not in Use, easily fold the...
- Lcd monitor: informative LCD monitor displays...
If your budget is really limited, then the Sunny Health SF-E902 elliptical is an excellent pick. This is the cheapest elliptical on this list, and although you have to sacrifice plenty of features to get such a low price, it’s fine if your pockets aren’t too deep.
What I particularly like about SF-E902 is its long stride – 30 inches. This is long enough for pretty much anyone out there, and it seems comfortable enough for both short and long users.
SF-E902 is ultra-simple and very space-efficient too, so it’s also a nice pick if you don’t have much free space in your home. This elliptical folds down as well, so it doesn’t require much storage space.
This elliptical also has an abdominal pad for support. This pad can be slightly adjusted in height for more comfort. However, this pad can be annoying because if you aren’t of the perfect height, it may get in your way. You can remove it fortunately.
One thing to note with SF-E902 is that it doesn’t have resistance adjustment. This is because it doesn’t have a flywheel like ellipticals typically do. With that, I don’t think that this elliptical is the right choice for those who are really serious about cardio training.
In conclusion, the Sunny Health SF-E902 elliptical trainer is a great pick for very limited budgets. It lacks resistance adjustment and isn’t too durable, but I like its long stride length and the space efficiency.
3. Body Rider BRD2000 – Best Comfort In A Budget Elliptical
- 2-IN-1 TRAINER: Unlike ordinary exercise bikes,...
- HASSLE-FREE TRANSITIONS: Easily stand, sit and...
- ADJUSTABLE HOME WORKOUT EQUIPMENT: The seat...
- SAFETY FEATURES: Includes an adjustable cushion, 4...
- SMART WORKOUT TRACKER: Our simple, smart, easy to...
The Body Rider BRD2000 elliptical delivers the best comfort in a budget elliptical.
The highlight of the BRD2000 elliptical is its seat. Not only does the seat allow you to work out sitting, but it also is adjustable in height and depth to accommodate users of various height. The handles adjust in height as well, which is really nice.
You may work out standing as well if you want it. So essentially, this is an elliptical & exercise bike two-in-one, though its pedal motion isn’t like in standard exercise bikes.
BRD2000 also has a fan to generate resistance during cardio. As you pedal, the fan produces resistance to make the cardio more challenging.
However, the resistance system here isn’t like in high-end fan ellipticals. BRD2000 incorporates not only a fan but also a friction belt. The latter may be adjusted to increase or decrease resistance.
Typically, fan ellipticals only have a fan and nothing more. Probably, BRD2000’s fan is not too powerful and needs a friction belt for adequate resistance. So this machine isn’t quite equivalent to true fan ellipticals.
The stride in this elliptical is 12 inches long as well, which is a bit short but could work for many people.
All in all, Body Rider BRD2000 is the most comfortable and convenient elliptical on this list. Obviously, it’s not as comfortable as pricey ellipticals, but at the price point, it’s really nice.
4. Gazelle Edge – Best Low-Profile Elliptical Trainer
- HOME WORKOUT: Tighten and tone every major muscle...
- RANGE OF MOTION: Patented, dual-action split...
- TRACK WORKOUTS: Easy-to-use, 5-function workout...
- SAFE & COMFORTABLE: The extra-wide and non-skid...
- PRODUCT INFO: The glider has a maximum weight...
The Gazelle Edge elliptical is the best low-profile elliptical trainer on this list, in my opinion. It’s perhaps not as compact as the Sunny Health SF-E902 elliptical I reviewed at the very beginning, but it has better quality and is a much better piece of equipment overall.
What instantly catches the eye in the Gazelle Edge elliptical is its wide base. This elliptical trainer is pretty sturdy and will be much more stable than the SF-E902 elliptical. The 250-pound weight limit is also great.
The casters in the rear make transporting this thing much easier too, while the foldable frame makes it very space-efficient.
Like the SF-E902 elliptical, this trainer has a very long stride. Gazelle doesn’t specify how long it is, but it seems to be at least 2.5 feet long.
But though Gazelle Edge is all in all a way better elliptical than SF-E902, it again doesn’t have resistance adjustment. It’s considerably more expensive as well.
All in all, if you liked the concept of SF-E902 but want something with better quality, Gazelle Edge is an excellent choice.
5. Body Rider Body Flex – Best Budget Fan Elliptical Trainer
- DUAL-ACTION HANDLEBARS: The alternating handlebars...
- VIDEO WORKOUT INCLUDED: Nervous about getting...
- FITS IN ANY SPACE: If you thought you had to have...
- SMART WORKOUT TRACKER: Our computer tracks...
- ANYONE CAN USE IT: This is an excellent workout...
The Body Rider Body Flex is the best budget fan elliptical trainer, in my opinion. This thing is cheap and functional, and it also has a fan resistance system. Like in Body Rider BRD2000, this is not a true fan elliptical, but it works fine as an introduction to fan machines.
Body Flex also has a stride of 12 inches, so it’s a particularly nice pick for short people. The height-adjustable handles accommodate people of different statures, while the transportation wheels make moving this thing around easy too.
One thing I don’t like in this elliptical is the console – it’s mounted really low on the machine. The display is small too, which makes the problem a bit worse.
Well, that’s what you have to deal with in budget ellipticals. But nonetheless, Body Flex is an excellent pick if you are shopping for a fan elliptical under 200.
6. Fast88 Desk Elliptical Trainer – Best Desk Elliptical Trainer
- The LED Built-in Display Monitor which keeps track...
- Depending on your needs and abilities, there are...
- Improve body flexibility and muscle strength, as...
- It's portable and easy to move from somewhere of...
- Designed specifically to be whisper quiet, You can...
If you want a super-compact elliptical, then consider this machine from Fast88.
As a desk elliptical (also sometimes called a strider), this elliptical is nice if you have no space for a full-sized machine. Aside from that, it allows you to work your legs sitting.
Obviously, the cardio intensity in this machine can’t compare with what you are getting with full-size machines. However, buyers seem to be very interested in this kind of elliptical trainers, so I decided to include it on the list.
In terms of functionality, this elliptical is pretty nice – it has 5 resistance levels, lets the pedals rotate forward or backward, and may be used with or without plugging (though you won’t be able to use some of its features when unplugged).
All in all, this is a great pick if you have little space and don’t need a full-size elliptical.
7. Stamina InMotion E1000 – Best Budget Desk Elliptical
- PORTABLE, QUIET AND EFFICIENT CARDIO: This mini...
- ADJUSTABLE TENSION WITH MONITOR: Vary the...
- MULTIPLE MOVEMENT OPTIONS: Depending on your needs...
- THREE COLOR CHOICES: Customize your exercise...
- GREAT FOR GAMERS: Get an effective workout while...
Lastly, we have the InMotion E1000 desk elliptical, which is a nice alternative to the Fast88 machine if you want something not too expensive.
At the basics, this thing has the same benefits as the Fast88 elliptical – it’s compact, can be used sitting, and is great if you don’t have room for a standard elliptical. E1000 also supports forward or reverse pedaling and has adjustable tension. The display and console are really small though, unfortunately.
But unlike the Fast88 elliptical, this thing doesn’t need to be plugged in, so you can use it anywhere.
The 250-pound weight limit is great too, so pretty much anyone should be able to use E1000.
In conclusion, if you want a cheap and compact elliptical, Stamina InMotion E1000 is an excellent buy.
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The Only Buying Guide You’ll Ever Need For Budget Elliptical Trainers
Don’t quite understand how to choose the best elliptical trainer under $200? Don’t you worry – in this section, I’ll talk about the most important specs & features to consider in ellipticals.
Before moving forward, I should say that shopping for a budget elliptical trainer can be very different from shopping for a mid- or high-end machine. All in all, I think that you need to be very picky and have a good look at each machine before investing money.
Under $200, a $20 gap between two elliptical trainers could mean a huge difference in quality, functionality, or something else. When you are shopping on a budget, each additional dollar of investment can have huge returns.
As for higher-end machines, the higher you go up the price ladder, the worse the returns on your investment are going to get.
With that, if you can, shop as close to $200 as you can. Even if you find a wonderful machine costing $220, consider saving more money for it. The small price uplift could bring dramatic improvements in quality, comfort, or functionality.
With that out of the way, let’s now talk about a few important features & specs to consider in a budget elliptical trainer.
Desk vs full-size ellipticals
When people talk about ellipticals, they typically mean standard, full-size elliptical trainers. But there also are desk ellipticals or striders – like the Fast88 and Stamina E1000 ellipticals – that are intended for those who have no room for a full-size machine.
The functionality of desk ellipticals is limited, while their resistance can’t compare with that of standard ellipticals. But if you do want something compact and aren’t that serious about cardio, desk ellipticals are very nice.
The stride length is one of the most important things to consider in an elliptical trainer.
The stride length is essentially the horizontal distance that the pedals travel as you work out on the trainer. Generally, a stride length of about 15-16 inches works fine for most people.
As a rule of thumb, if you are between 5’1” and 5’7”, choose a machine with an 18-20-inch stride. People shorter than that should opt for a 16-18-inch stride length, while taller people should choose 20 to 22 inches.
If your machine’s stride is too short, then you may feel restricted on the trainer. And if it’s too long, then you will need to overextend your legs, which could lead to an injury.
With that said, note that inexpensive ellipticals sometimes have really short strides – as short as 11 inches. The motion in these machines becomes more similar to walking, and although taller people should generally go for longer strides, these ellipticals could work fine for you no matter your height.
Then, have a look at the resistance system of the elliptical trainer. There are two types of systems used in cheap elliptical trainers:
- Mechanical or direct-contact. In this system, resistance is achieved via rubber braking pads placed along the flywheel. As you pedal, the flywheel contacts the rubber pads, which creates resistance and makes the workout more challenging.
The main disadvantage of this resistance mechanism is that the rubber pads wear out from friction and can also be noisy. But elliptical trainers with mechanical resistance are also cheap.
- Magnetic. Magnetic resistance systems rely on a bunch of magnets around the flywheel. Rather than produce resistance via friction, these magnets resist the revolution of the wheel via magnetism.
Since there is no contact between the wheel and the magnets, this system is very quiet and also doesn’t wear down.
- Fan-based resistance systems. In these ellipticals, as you pedal, you rotate a fan in the front of the machine. Due to air drag, the faster you move the pedals, the more difficult pedaling becomes. This is how fan ellipticals create resistance.
Fan ellipticals are very quiet, though they can be noisier than magnetic machines.
- No resistance. Some budget ellipticals also have no resistance systems. This makes them very cheap, noiseless, and maintenance-free, but if you want to improve endurance, these ellipticals are not for you.
All in all, I think that the optimal option for you would be to find a machine with a magnetic system. Under $200, this isn’t that difficult – magnetic ellipticals are fairly cheap these days.
If your budget is really limited, then a mechanical or resistance-less elliptical trainer is also fine, but it will require more maintenance down the line.
Aside from the resistance type, also consider how many resistance settings the machine has. The more, the better since you get more flexibility in intensity adjustment.
Aside from the number of settings, pay attention to how the settings are adjusted. With magnetic systems, the resistance is typically adjusted with a push of a button on the console, whereas mechanical systems are usually adjusted via a knob somewhere on the side of the machine.
Keep in mind that fan ellipticals typically don’t have resistance adjustment knobs – for more resistance, you just need to move the pedals faster.
Comfort & ergonomics
Since an elliptical trainer is more restrictive than a treadmill, you should pay careful attention to comfort and ergonomics too.
A few points to keep in mind here:
- The pedals should be close together. For most people, ultra-wide spacing between the pedals is not necessary.
- The pedals should move smoothly and quietly. Needless to say, cheap ellipticals won’t be the smoothest out there, but it would still be nice to get a machine that won’t annoy you.
- The handles should ideally be adjustable in height.
- Some people may want to have a seat as well. Preferably, the seat should be adjustable both in height and depth.
In terms of comfort, I think that the best elliptical on the list is Body Rider BRD2000. This thing has height-adjustable handles and an adjustable seat, which makes it a good pick for a lot of people.
Console & functionality
In expensive elliptical trainers, you can find a whole bunch of fancy features, such as a large console, Bluetooth connectivity, or whatnot. You probably won’t find things like these in budget bikes.
However, you should still be careful when choosing an elliptical trainer. At this price point, I’d say that a backlit display is one of the most useful features to have. A backlit display is visible in a wide range of lighting conditions and just makes viewing the screen easier.
Things like bottle and tablet holders are nice to have too. These are standard features for any cardio machine, but they may be absent in super-cheap ellipticals.
Higher-end elliptical trainers may also have built-in programs to make the cardio more convenient. These include HIIT programs, perhaps programs aimed at recovery, and more. Cheap elliptical trainers typically don’t have things like these, but you may get lucky.
Next, adjustable incline would also be nice, but you probably won’t find a cheap elliptical with this feature.
Some elliptical trainers have heart rate sensors as well. Integrated heart rate sensors aren’t the most accurate, but they are fine for starters. If you want better accuracy, then look for a chest strap heart rate monitor.
Safety features are important in elliptical trainers. Again, a budget elliptical trainer may lack some things, but you should still be on the lookout for safety features. Among things that you may want to have are:
- Stationary handrails to provide balance.
- Locks for the pedals to prevent them from moving when not in use.
- Console lock so that the workout settings don’t get changed accidentally.
Max user weight
Sub-$200 elliptical machines are typically flimsy, so you should pay careful attention to the desired trainer’s maximum user weight.
Generally, it’s recommended to pick a cardio machine that can support your weight + an extra 20%. With budget elliptical machines, this is also a good rule of thumb, but I think that the more headroom you have, the better.
In terms of max user weight, the best on my list were the Gazelle Edge elliptical and the Stamina InMotion E1000 strider – both with 250 pounds of max weight. Other ellipticals either were limited to 220 pounds or had no max weight specified.
Also pay attention to the dimensions of the elliptical trainer. If your budget is tight, then you probably don’t have much space to dedicate to a cardio machine.
Have a look at the size of the machine and also take into account the movement of the handles and pedals. Moving parts may go past the frame of the elliptical, so they are important to consider as well.
If you want a full-size elliptical, then consider either Sunny Health SF-E902 or Gazelle Edge – these are foldable and very space-saving. If a desk elliptical is fine for you too, then choose between the Fast88 Desk Elliptical Trainer or Stamina InMotion E1000.
Finally, I think that you should consider the warranty.
With higher-end cardio machines, a great warranty and post-sale customer support are standard things. However, cheap elliptical trainers often have very short warranties or poor warranty coverage.
With that, give preference to longer warranties. Besides, read the warranty policy of the manufacturer – some policies are more comprehensive than others.
Warranty-wise, the best ellipticals on the list were:
These have a 1-year warranty on the frame and 90 days on the rest, whereas other ellipticals on the list either had no warranties listed or have no warranties at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, let’s have a look at a few FAQs. These should help you better understand elliptical trainers and set your expectations right.
Can you lose belly fat on the elliptical?
Yes, you may lose belly fat on the elliptical. However, keep in mind that you will be losing fat on the entire body, not just your belly. Spot fat reduction seems to be ineffective, so if you want to lose body fat in a specific area, you need to do full-body cardio.
Why are ellipticals so expensive?
The steep price of elliptical trainers is most likely due to their more complex construction than other cardio machines. Elliptical trainers have more moving parts because they have not only pedals but also handles.
With that said, you can still find inexpensive elliptical trainers with good quality, but these obviously are no match to middle- and high-end machines.
Should I buy an elliptical or a treadmill?
Elliptical trainers have two notable advantages over treadmills:
They are easier on the joints. Your feet are always planted on the pedals, so training on an elliptical involves much less impact than on a treadmill.
They work the entire body. Elliptical trainers have moving handles, which allows you to work not only your legs but also the upper body.
As for treadmills, they perhaps are more demanding on muscle strength and cardio endurance. So if you want to maximize weight loss and endurance, a treadmill is probably a better choice.
Treadmills tend to be cheaper as well and are nice if your budget is limited.
Is it worth buying an elliptical?
An elliptical trainer is a great choice if you think that an exercise bike or a treadmill is going to be inadequate for your needs.
Here’s how elliptical trainers compare to exercise bikes and treadmills:
Unlike most exercise bikes, elliptical trainers let you work both your lower and upper body.
In contrast to treadmills, elliptical cardio machines have very low impact on the joints, and they also allow you to train your upper body.
This is a rather shallow comparison between elliptical trainers, treadmills, and exercise bikes, but it should give you a general idea of what to expect from each machine.
Can I do the elliptical every day?
Yes, you may use your elliptical trainer every day. Ellipticals are easy on the joints, so they are great for everyday cardio for even those who are recovering from injuries or have joint issues.
Does the elliptical tone buttocks?
Yes, elliptical trainers do tone buttocks. I wouldn’t say that the elliptical is the best form of workout for buttocks, but it’s nice if you want to keep the joint impact low and do cardio.
Elliptical trainers are wonderful machines, but to get the most out of them, you should choose your trainer carefully. Follow my tips from above, and you should be able to effortlessly find the best elliptical machine under 200 for your needs!
As usual, share your experiences below if you have used any of the reviewed elliptical trainers. Besides, feel free to leave a comment if you have questions, thoughts, or complaints.