NordicTrack Ellipticals- Which Model To Choose

It’s no secret that NordicTrack make high spec technologically advanced ellipticals and treadmills. These machines are as close to gym quality as you can get for your home gym.

If you’ve been wondering which machine to go for before spending the hefty price tag, we’ll list the best NordicTrack ellipticals. You’ll also find a break down of all the different types of ellipticals Nordic produce.

If you love iFit or struggle with motivation, you can take one of 16,000 personal trainer workouts right inside your home. Join a virtual studio class that suits you without paying exorbitant PT rates. That’s where these elliptical trainers excel.

If you can live without iFit you’ll learn if these machines are worth paying the extra money for or if you should purchase a no frills model.

3 Types of Elliptical Trainers

If you are new to the elliptical scene, or just want some more information, there are 3 types of machines.

Front Drive Ellipticals

They have the smallest footprint (dimensions) as they aren’t as long length wise as rear drive machines which has the drive system at the back. A front drive elliptical looks similar to an exercise bike. The front section is upright, and the handlebars attach straight down onto rails. At the back of the rails there are the pedals for your feet.

Being on a front drive elliptical can be compared to a stair climber workout – you operate it in a climbing fashion in a slightly pitched forwards stance. The good thing about modern ellipticals is that they don’t produce the abrupt forward and reverse jerks which stair climbers were prone to.

Front Drive Machines are the most popular. They sell the best and are consequently usually more affordable as they have the simplest deign structure.

On a front drive machine you will tend to balance over the front of the machine. You have the feeling of moving forwards. Front drive machines are more compact than rear drive machines. They also don’t have incline function.

Rear Drive Ellipticals

Rear drive ellipticals allow users to have a longer, and some say more natural stride length. Your movement will be on a flatter plane, akin to jogging. Rear drive machines can have a power incline as the flywheel is at the back. You can have a more challenging workout with an incline, especially when you also add resistance.

Having an incline also makes iFit more exciting and realistic.

Centre Drive Ellipticals

happy campers on nordictrack ellipticals

Center drive ellipticals are the most compact elliptical design. They are half the size of a standard elliptical and have a lower working height.  The foot pedals are also closer together as they don’t have to avoid any of the machines parts.

This can also make your workout more comfortable and avoid any unnecessary stress to your joints with awkward foot positions.

Having the drive in the center increases the ellipticals stability, just like a mid-engine car it is perfectly balanced with a 50-50 weight distribution. You stand more upright on one of these, which if you have hip issues will be better for you than being on a rear or front drive machine.

They don’t have incline features, but with 20+ levels of resistance you may not need it. Some people burn more calories on a center machine anyway as they are bolt upright and have to exert a more complete muscle contraction range to power the machine.

BUT, NordicTrack have phased out all their center drive ellipticals. There is an alternative machine they have developed called a FreeStride trainer which you can read about towards the end of this article.

Which NordicTrack Elliptical Is The Best?

We have broke our results down via machine type, listing the best front, rear and center drive machine as anyone who has used an elliptical before will have a preference usually.

If you are short on space, or want to store your machine away after use a space saving rear drive ellipticals is the way to go. They fold down and save 50% of their upright dimensions. You can then store it vertically if you have a spare cupboard, or just want to place it in the corner of  a room.

no 1 winning elliptical

SE9i No 1 Best Rear Drive Elliptical Trainer

Our pick of the bunch in the rear drive section is the SE9i. It has an impressive range of features that will make your workouts challenging and fresh enough to keep you motivated. Priced at $1249 currently at NordicTrack it has a 325 lb weight capacity which will suit the majority of elliptical users.

Even if you are heavier you can always use an elliptical and take it slower. The pounds will soon drop off if you use the Se9i at a walking pace. There are 30 workout apps and 24 levels of silent digital magnetic resistance to keep you amused and iFit is built into the blue tooth enabled smart 7 inch touchscreen and with this model you get a 12 month subscription as a nice bonus.

se9i dimension diagram

SE9i More Than 40% Space Saving

When the machine stands upright it is 66 inches tall and once you fold it when you are finished it drops down to 29 inches. It becomes half its upright size, although the overall length is still the same (78 inches). You can push it around easily enough as it has transport wheels underneath which take away the heavy lifting. It is though a bit of a beast if you want to lift it up vertically to store, and will take 2 people to do it safely as it is 190 lbs.

The trade off with this is that is extremely sturdy when you are on it. The Se9i offers a slight bit of space saving and sturdy machine once you are using it at a fast pace. It comes with a fan to cool you down and speakers which can play any device you plug into the mp3/auxiliary port. The speakers are only 2 inches which initially doesn’t look too appealing but they give out a nice clean kick.

There is a 10 degree ramp incline scope which works a treat with iFit as it auto adjusts when you use a preset Google maps integrated route. Inclines relieve the boredom, work great with the visuals and allow you to increase the workout intensity. The hardcore among you will also up the resistance levels with a flick of a finger and go for the ultimate burn out.

With the easy-out-of-the-box assembly the machine comes in 3 parts. The main elliptical body and the iPad holder. You will be up and running in 15 minutes!

There are pulse grip EKG monitor handles but for more accuracy a bluetooth chest strap is included. If you are OCD about the finer details this is ideal, especially if you want accurate stat logs.

If you want a good rear drive elliptical bargain the Se7i is almost $500 cheaper at $777 currently on NordicTrack. You will lose the 7 inch web browsing color touchscreen and get a smaller 5 inch dual color blue backlit monitor. Bang also goes the iFit subscription. You can live with the workouts being reduced from 30 to 24, plus there are 22 digital resistance levels (not silent magnetic like the 24 levels on the se9i- but still not really “noisy” and won’t strain your joints).

The SE7i has the same speakers and auto breeze fan and has an 8 degree power incline and also has a 325 pound max user weight. The engineering is the same with the 18 pound flywheel and space saving dimensions are almost identical. The warranty is not as long naturally. You won’t get the same visuals and extra comforts but you get the same engineering, which basically is all your body needs. You can see a full comparison between these models here.

SE7i vs SE9i

SE7i Elliptical SE9i Elliptical
Tablet HolderTablet Holder
Lifetime Frame WarrantyLifetime Frame Warranty
Folding Vertical SpaceSaverFolding Vertical SpaceSaver
EKG Pulse Grip MonitorsEKG Pulse Grip Monitors & BlueTooth Wireless Heart Strap
AutoBreeze FanAutoBreeze Fan
325lb user weight325lb user weight
325Lb Max User Weight325Lb Max User Weight
24 Workout Apps30 Workout Apps
22 Digital Resistance Levels30 Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) Levels
18 in Flywheel18 in Flywheel
8 Degree Power Incline10 Degree Power Incline
5 in Backlit 2 color display7 in Full Color Monitor with integrated iFit web browser and + 12 month subscription
2 Year Parts Warranty5 Year Parts Warranty
1 Year Labor Warranty2 Year Labor Warranty
2 in Speakers + Aux Port2 in Speakers + Aux Port

In summary the warranty is longer on the SE9i, you get 6 more workouts, 8 more resistance levels (using better silent technology) and a bigger full color web browsing touchscreen and 12 months iFit subscription.

C12.9 No 1 Best Front Drive Elliptical From NordicTrack

The C12.9 is the third most expensive front drive machine that is currently being manufactured by N.T. It is our top choice because it ticks all the boxes in what an elliptical should do, and at a price point that is of great value in their range of products.

Front drive machines are NordicTracks best selling machines. The most popular models are the C9.5 and C12.9. Currently they sell for $999 and $1249 when buying directly from NordicTrack.

TheC12.9 has exactly what the $250 cheaper model (C9.5) has but it makes these improvements. It has increased the flywheel (powers the machine) from 25 to 30 pounds in weight. Heavier flywheels deliver smoother movement, longer lasting parts, and generally makes the machine able to handle higher body weights. With this machine it’s increased from a massive 350 bodyweight to 375 lbs.

You get a couple of extra resistance levels (26) and Multi-position adjusting upper body handles – great if your partner of family will be using the machine.

When you buy something over $1000 you want it to last. The C12.9 certainly will with daily use as it can handle more force, will cope better with wear and tear, and you won’t have to dip into your pockets to pay for repairs or replace your machine.

One of the main benefits of choosing this machine over the cheaper C9.5 is the warranty is longer, moving from 3 to 5 years on parts, plus you get an extra year on labor charges (2 years). So thats repairs for 24 months and free parts for 5 years. To top that off you get these features as standard:

  • 35 Console Workouts – that don’t need iFit
  • 20 inch Adjustable Power Stride
  • 7” Smart HD Touchscreen
  • SRM – Silent Magnetic Resistance levels
  • OneTouch® Controls
  • 0–20° Incline
  • 12 month iFit subscription
  • Built-In tablet Shelf & Water Bottle Holder
  • Multi Angle Oversized Cushion Pedals
  • AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan
  • Music Input Port + Digitally Enhanced Speakers
  • BPM monitoring with EKG Grip Pulse and for more accuracy a Bluetooth enabled chest strap
  • Easy Out-of-the-Box Assembly (stress reducing simplified build-up!)
  • Heavy Duty 375 Lb User Weight Capacity
  • Long warranty – 24 months on labor costs + 60 months replacement parts
  • Buy it with 0% APR over 36 months direct from Nordictrack
  • Free delivery ($250 saving) when bought direct from NordicTrack

Here is a side by side comparison of these 2 trainers.

CE9.5 vs CE12.9

c9.5 c12.9
7 inch Smart HD Touchscreen7 inch Smart HD Touchscreen
24 Resistance Levels (Digital)26 Resistance Levels (Silent Magnetic)
25 Pound Flywheel30 Pound Flywheel
Tablet/Media Shelf Tray
+ Water Bottle Holder
Tablet/Media Shelf Tray
+ Water Bottle Holder
Aux Music Input Port + 2 in Digitally Enhanced SpeakersAux Music Input Port + 2 in Digitally Enhanced Speakers
Fixed grip handlesMulti position grip handles
12 month iFit Subscription12 month iFit Subscription
32 Built In Workouts35 Built In Workouts
350 Lb Max User Weight375 Lb Max User Weight
19 inch adjustable Stride20 inch adjustable Stride
Steel FrameCommercial Grade Steel Frame
Dual CardioGrip™ Heart Rate MonitorEKG Grip Pulse + Bluetooth chest strap
Lifetime Warranty on Frame,
3 Year Warranty for Parts,
1 Year Labor Charge Warranty
Lifetime Warranty on Frame,
5 Year Warranty for Parts,
2 Year Labor Charge Warranty

What About Center Drive Machines?

Center drive machines are not for the purists or are they? They have the longest stride lengths which is good if you have a strong stride or previously found it difficult on an elliptical before as you had to unnaturally reduce your stride length.

They are also good if you will have multiple family members of all height/leg length ranges using the machine. They are also the most stable. This should not be much of an issue with most front and rear powered machines unless you are well above 300 pounds.

Mid drive machines are the kindest to your joints as you stand straight up. But NordicTrack have stopped making their pure center drive elliptical machines and replaced these with a hybrid model called a FreeStride Trainer.

Pure ellipticals lovers may be more at ease on a front or rear dive machine, if they just want the gliding motion.

If you have mobility issues, front drive ellipticals are easier to get onto as the design is simpler than rear drive machines. There are no long rail bars at the rear to step over. Just step onto the foot pedals and grab the handles and you are locked in. A reason to forgo a front drive machine in favor of a centre drive or rear drive model is to avoid the forward leaning motion on front drive ellipticals.

Centre drive machines are pricey at NordicTrack, with the Fs9i weighing in at $2499. The cheapest model is the Fs5i at $1499. They are known to be the machine that more closely produces the zero impact that Nordic tout for their entire elliptical range.

This trainer achieves this due to the floating suspension and the close proximity of the cushioned foot pedals, which closely matches the placement of your hips.

A FreeStrider has incline and decline mechanism which can be operated on the fly. Good for instantaneous workout changes to beat the boredom, or if you fancy changing your workout on a whim. These machines also auto adjusts up to 32 inches to suit your stride length during your workout. Computing doing what it does best.

You can effectively run, step or stride (or glide as i like to call it like on skies) on a FreeStride trainer. Personally we think these machines are too new on the market to recommend any particular model. There is not enough data or customer feedback to analyze how these machines will fare over a 5 year period.

We also prefer front drive and rear drive machines to center drive models. They are also too expensive when compared to rear and front powered machines and actually contain much of the same technology. For now the juries out and we’d recommend sticking to the Se9i or C12.9.

Are These Ellipticals A Good Choice If I Don’t Need iFit?

If you take iFit out of the question. Say you have no notion of buying an iFit membership. You just want the machine, and perhaps you will browse the internet just on a smart screen enhanced model. Is it worth paying the premium for?

iFit offers workout tracking, meal plans, nutrition advice, sleep and activity tracking daily. When combined with Google maps it offers stunning workouts with top fitness coaches across beautiful landscapes, urban locales and mountain vistas (anywhere in the globe really) to spur you ahead with your fitness goals.

Take a tour of somewhere you want to go to, or someplace you have and miss.

Personally NordicTrack ellipticals are worth buying without iFit. iFit is just a bonus, the playground of a serious training partner. The smooth silent resistance and floating suspension engineering you get with this brand is legendary. No awkward jumps or jitters when you change up or down a gear.

The frames and foot pedals are of particular note for their quality. They are robust and designed to last. The mechanics of their machines are top notch. If you let your subscription to iFit lapse ($12 per individual- $33 per family) for a while you still will enjoy your workouts. Even if you have it, you also won’t want to use it during every training session.

Known for their quietness and fluidity, paying that bit extra ensures your joints don’t take a battering with regular use. Elliptical workouts can become extremely addictive, especially as your muscles and joints don’t ache as much as compared to treadmill or road running routines.

The Elliptical Machine Revolution at NordicTrack

NordicTrack ellipticals are highly customizable, you can adjust stride length of various models to suit your leg size and gait. Nothing like being stuck on something that doesn’t fit. Especially after spending a fortune on it.

NordicTrack are constantly expanding their equipment roster. They are always upgrading their elliptical range and pushing the boundaries of the exercise experience. They aren’t doing this as their are some fly-by-night company looking to make a fast buck with the latest attention grabbing gimmicks.

They have been doing this for 25 years and have incorporated the innovation and user-friendly functionality already produced by the lead software engineers at Google and iFit.


A company that doesn’t keep moving forward in todays age dies. NordicTrack have embraced technology and software and incorporated that into their cardio playing field. Software and hardware makes for a beautiful combination when done right in this health conscious interactive world.

They started out with the Classic Pro Skier, and from there developed, elliptical trainers, treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines and incline trainers.

BTW – fancy a killer workout, jump on an incline trainer and push it to a 40% incline. Yeah- and when you pay for that pleasure you get a 22 in Smart HD Touchscreen workout instructor to spur you on. Innovative design, style and technology, have driven Nordic to be a market leader.

Some of their machines push the boundaries of all machines into one. The FreeStride FS5i and FS7i and FS9i range fuse the technology of a treadmill, a stair stepper and an elliptical so you can get the benefits of all types of exercise with just one piece of equipment .

These are center drive machines. The ramp restriction has also been defeated on this machine. They also have a stride length that works on auto and goes up to a massive 32 inches.

NordicTrack Center Drive Elliptical

FS5i FreeStride With Floating Suspension


Interactive Fitness Acceptance

Research has always been keep with the lab boffins at Nordic. That’s how they got into bed with iFit and Google maps. Understanding that interactivity can liven up cardio sessions for those needing the extra edge in motivation.

The luxury health spa, commercial gym and home markets also embraced this interactivity head on just like the mass public embraced the first i-Phone.

If you have the money would you prefer a hard edged workout on a really good machine, with amazing cushioning, responsive controls, power inclines, 16,000 iFit and video workouts, plus web browsing courtesy of 10-20 inch SMART HD touchscreens?

Or do you want a basic model that whirs away, makes no fuss, it still gets the job done, but it’s the base model. You need to bring your own motivation, your smart phone, a separate TV console, or sound system.

Each of us have different needs. NordicTrack caters to those whose needs are more.

A.C.T. Line Discontinued

These were the most affordable elliptical trainers NordicTrack had on their books. They have now been discontinued. They were center drive machines, which are the smallest type of machine, with an average width of a measly 81 cm and height of 162 cm. Great for small homes, garages, or if you already have other machines in your home.

With a simple stride adjustment dial, the stride could be set between 18-22 inches. The pedal angle would also adjust to suit your style. The Act had a massive weight capacity of 350LBS. Many people miss this range and hope NT will bring it back one day.

Where To Buy A NordicTrack Elliptical Including 0% APR Payments

Amazon has a range of NordicTracks elliptical trainers. They are not as up to date as what you will find by going direct to the NordicTrack website. You can also purchase with 36 months interest free payments direct from the company.

Who Should Buy One Of These Ellipticals?

If you have a budget of $1000-$1249 and are under 375 pounds you will certainly appreciate the robust quality and smooth quiet operation of these gym quality ellipticals. You’ll have invested in something you will have for years to come.

When compared to low priced standard ellipticals, your movement will be smoother and your joints will revel using the magnetic stress free resistance levels and power inclines, leaving your muscles and tendons injury free and less sore the next day.

You can push yourself to the limits without damaging your bones and tendons, which is often the case with budget machines.

If you do fancy the extra motivation of iFit, and don’t mind paying the $12-33 p month subscription, NordicTrack ellipticals with their vibrant touchscreens excel in this environment. If you need a visually stunning workout, you’l have found your new best training partner- one who won’t skip a training session because it’s parts aren’t built to last.

If your budget is lower and you don’t need amazing graphics and PT studio classes a budget or space saving elliptical will be more your thing.