The 5 Best Rear Drive Ellipticals, According to Our Experts

The conversation around ellipticals often revolves around three primary drive systems: front-drive ellipticals, center-drive ellipticals, and rear-drive ellipticals. Among these, the rear-drive elliptical emerges as a standout choice for fitness equipment. Recognized for their smooth, fluid motion and ergonomic design, rear-drive ellipticals set themselves apart by situating the flywheel at the back of the machine, resulting in a longer stride reminiscent of natural walking or running. Selecting the best rear-drive elliptical hinges on finding the best types of ellipticals for home use.

Whether you’re a beginner seeking a machine with adjustable resistance levels or inclines or someone concerned about adjustable stride length and pedal suitability to user weight capacity, there’s much to consider. Factors like compactness, warranty coverage, and additional features such as LCD consoles, HD touchscreen quality, tablet holders, Bluetooth connectivity, and workout programs like iFIT all play significant roles in the decision-making process. To streamline your search, we’ve rigorously tested a range of the best ellipticals, from high-end exercise equipment to versatile cross trainers with integrated recumbent bikes, from industry-leading brands like NordicTrack. Following a comprehensive evaluation, we’ve collaborated with our in-house experts to find the best rear-drive ellipticals for your home gym.  

5 Best Rear Drive Ellipticals of 2024 

Best Rear-Drive Elliptical Overall: Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical Cross Trainer

Best Compact Rear-Drive Elliptical: Niceday Elliptical Machine

Best Foldable Rear Drive Elliptical: YOUNGFIT Elliptical Machine

Best Hybrid Rear-Drive Elliptical: ProForm Hybrid Trainer 

Best Rear-Drive Elliptical Under $1,000: PooBoo Elliptical Machine

About Our Expert 

This article has been reviewed by Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, CSNC, a certified personal trainer, CrossFit Level 1 instructor, and BarBend editorial team member. She reviewed our content and the budget-friendly treadmills we listed to help ensure we’re providing helpful, accurate descriptions and recommendations.

How We Tested and Chose the Best Rear Drive Elliptical 

Amanda Capritto, a certified personal trainer and our expert reviewer highlights the significant benefits of using ellipticals. “Ellipticals provide an excellent solution for individuals aiming to boost their cardiovascular fitness without subjecting their joints to high-impact stress,” Capritto says. Inspired by this valuable insight, we rigorously tested 19 elliptical machines, focusing on top rear-drive models from reputable brands like ProForm and NordicTrack. Our evaluation considered various factors, including pricing, advanced features like LCD monitors and Bluetooth connectivity, and customizable options such as resistance levels and incline settings, providing a thorough and insightful analysis for our readers.


When considering which rear-drive elliptical to choose, pricing takes the front seat in importance. With many models flooding the market, it’s important to understand that a lower price doesn’t always equate to better value. Conversely, a higher-priced elliptical may not necessarily justify its cost.

That said, it’s crucial to factor in the price and quality of the machine. Prices typically range from around $400 to over $2,000, with some excellent options for under $1,000. Ideally, striking a balance between affordability and quality is key, to ensure that the elliptical you choose meets your fitness needs without breaking the bank.

Special Features 

Even if your budget influences your search, you can still find a top-notch rear-drive elliptical stacked with features. These fitness machines boast amenities like LCD touchscreen displays, access to streaming services, and Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, you can leverage these screens to access cutting-edge workout programs (additional charges may apply), catering to everything from gentle, low-impact exercises to high-intensity variations.

However, if special features aren’t your main priority, you’re still in luck. We’ve compiled a selection of models that offer straightforward workouts without all the extra features. Whether you’re a dedicated athlete or prefer a more leisurely pace, there’s an option for everyone on our list.

Customizable Functions

Rear-drive elliptical machines incorporate various functions to provide a customizable and immersive workout experience. These fitness machines typically feature adjustable resistance levels, allowing users to tailor the intensity of their workouts to match their fitness levels and goals. Additionally, they often come equipped with programmed workouts to target specific fitness objectives such as weight loss, endurance improvement, or interval training. 

Many rear-drive ellipticals also offer incline capabilities, enabling users to simulate uphill or downhill terrain, further enhancing the challenge and variety of their workouts. Furthermore, these fitness machines often include built-in monitoring features, such as heart rate sensors and workout tracking, to help users stay informed about their progress and performance. 

Related: The Best Incline Ellipticals

Best Rear Drive Elliptical Overall: Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical Cross Trainer 

Sunny Health & Fitness SF E3912

Sunny Health & Fitness SF E3912

The elliptical from Sunny Health & Fitness provides 16 levels of programmable magnetic resistance, a 15.5-inch stride length, wide and textured foot plates, and heart rate pulse sensors on the fixed set of handlebars.

Shop Sunny Health & Fitness


Price: $480

Resistance Levels: 16

Stride Length: 15.5”

Weight Capacity: 330lbs

Product Dimensions: 55”x 23” x 64.5”

Display: Performance monitor 


The full-motion handlebars engage multiple muscle groups, including pecs, biceps, triceps, glutes, hamstrings, and thighs.

The floor stabilizer ensures stability during workouts.

The textured non-slip foot pedals provide comfort and support while accommodating various foot sizes.


Some users reported the machine becoming squeaky after a few uses.

Other users experienced issues with the monitor regarding connectivity and accuracy during workouts.

The Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Elliptical, priced at under $500, stands out as the best rear-drive elliptical overall. Kate Meier, BarBend editorial member, and a NASM-certified personal trainer, thoroughly tested this elliptical during multiple workout sessions and delivered a clear verdict: it’s outstanding.

Describing it as a “no-frills” elliptical, Meier gives it a perfect 5 out of 5 for durability. She praises its simplicity and smooth performance, regardless of forward or backward motion or resistance adjustments. According to her, there’s no shaking during exercise.

With 24 pre-programmed workouts and 16 resistance levels, it’s well-suited for interval training and resistance-based exercises, catering to various fitness levels. Though lacking incline capability, it offers a range of resistance options and features both fixed and moving handles for a comprehensive workout.

However, Meier points out that the stride length is relatively short at just 15.5 inches, which might not be comfortable for taller individuals. Additionally, while it includes conveniences like a media shelf and a water bottle holder, advanced features such as Bluetooth connectivity and touchscreen interfaces are absent. Instead, it features a basic LCD screen for tracking workout metrics.

Constructed from alloy steel and weighing around 104 pounds, the Sunny Magnetic is relatively easy to move with its front transport wheel. Meier rates the assembly process at 3.8 out of 5, noting that it took her about 1.5 hours to assemble alone. Meier suggests that the instructions could be clearer, as they combine multiple steps into one and the diagrams are overly complex. Attaching the pedals requires finesse, and using a Phillips head screwdriver proved easier than the provided tools.

Despite lacking some advanced features, the Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Elliptical shines with its exceptional durability, smooth operation, and versatile workout options, making it the best rear-drive elliptical overall.

Best Compact Rear-Drive Elliptical: NiceDay Elliptical Machine 

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Niceday Elliptical Machine

Niceday Elliptical Machine

This quiet elliptical from Niceday has a 16-pound flywheel, 16 resistance levels, and comes 90 percent assembled. Plus, it doesn’t require external power, so you don’t have to worry about where to plug it in. 

Shop Amazon


Price: $800

Resistance Levels: 16

Stride Length: 15.5”

Weight Capacity: 400 lbs

Product Dimensions: 48” x 25”x 62”

Display: Basic (time, calories, speed, distance, pulse) 


At 48″, this elliptical can easily slide into smaller spaces, and thanks to its battery-powered operations, this machine is portable and can go from point A to point B.

The machine comes mostly pre-built, making for easy set-up.

It features 16 manually adjustable resistance levels.


It does not offer a water bottle holder.

The 15.5” stride length is not suitable for users over six feet.

Introducing the NiceDay elliptical, a marvel in compact workout solutions. Priced around $600, it shines as a top choice for those seeking a compact yet powerful elliptical experience with a rating of 3.5 out of five stars. 

Operating with near silence, thanks to its 16-pound flywheel, the NiceDay elliptical promises a tranquil workout session. What makes this machine unique is its streamlined design — it operates on batteries, freeing you from the requirement of an electrical outlet. This feature provides the freedom to effortlessly maneuver its 106-pound frame around your home, allowing you to pursue your fitness regimen wherever. Furthermore, at 48 inches, its design is notably smaller and more compact than other models on the market, which usually span anywhere from 50 to 84 inches.

Moreover, if a durable rear-drive elliptical is what you are looking for, your search ends here. This model boasts an impressive weight capacity of up to 400 pounds, an increase from the typical 125-pound limit. While minor handlebar wobbliness may occur during use, rest assured it doesn’t compromise the machine’s stability. Crafted with a sturdy steel base, it’s engineered to withstand rigorous workouts while minimizing reliance on plastic components.

Kate Meier, BarBend editorial member and NASM-certified personal trainer, led the charge in putting this elliptical to the test. One standout feature she lauded? The 16 different resistance levels are offered by the NiceDay elliptical. “Even on the highest setting, I felt a significant burn in my legs,” Meier says. Her endorsement holds weight, given her background as a competitive weightlifter. However, as with any product, there are nuances to consider.

“The stride length on this elliptical is only 15.5 inches. If you’re over six feet tall, you might find yourself feeling more like you’re on a stepper than an elliptical,” Meier says from her firsthand testing experience. (Let’s also mention her height at five feet four inches for context.) Consequently, the shorter stride length could restrict the range of motion, potentially leading to a less comfortable workout, especially for taller individuals.

Yet, despite this limitation, the NiceDay elliptical’s compact design remains its key strength, making it an ideal choice for those with space constraints.

Best Foldable Rear Drive Elliptical: YOUNGFIT Elliptical Machine

YOUNG FIT Elliptical Machine

YOUNG FIT Elliptical Machine

The YOUNGFIT elliptical trainer is hands down the best foldable rear-drive elliptical on the market. It sets up easily ands best of all can be folded into corners easily. 

Shop Amazon


Price: $469

Resistance Levels: 22

Stride Length: 15”

Weight Capacity: 330 lbs 

Product Dimensions: 44” x 20” x 63”

Display: Large LCD monitor 


The machine can easily fold up and be hidden when not in use. 

The cushioned and spacious footboard enables a comfortable workout.

The customizable balance adjustment ensures stability even on uneven surfaces.


Several reviewers reported difficulties with the tension adjustment, noting issues with switching between different resistance levels.

Some users experienced malfunctions with the heart rate monitor, indicating potential reliability issues with this feature.

The YOUNGFIT elliptical trainer stands out as the premier choice among foldable rear-drive ellipticals on the market. With a remarkable 4.7 out of 5-star rating from Amazon reviewers, it has earned widespread acclaim for its innovative design tailored specifically for space-conscious users. 

One verified Amazon reviewer, in search of simplicity without sacrificing quality, found exactly that in this machine. Arriving 90% pre-assembled and requiring just 30 minutes to complete setup, its standout feature, a foldable design, has been a hit among users seeking convenience.

“I needed a cost-effective solution to enhance my home workout routine without sacrificing space. I’m incredibly pleased with this product and use it almost every night,” remarks another verified Amazon reviewer, highlighting the machine’s ability to fold up for convenient storage as a major selling point. But the machine’s impressive features extend beyond its foldability. 

Equipped with a hyper-quiet magnetic drive system, it delivers a smooth and nearly silent workout experience, featuring 22 adjustable resistance levels. Additionally, its attached LCD monitor enables users to track their progress seamlessly throughout their exercise sessions and beyond.

While the machine targets 90% of the body’s muscle groups, focusing on the legs, core, and arms while effectively burning calories, one reviewer appreciates its versatility. 

“As much as I value it for exercise, it’s probably equally valuable for staying loose throughout the day. Working from home has reduced my usual micro-trips of 100-400 steps a day, which I used to have in the office,” says an Amazon reviewer. Whether utilized in the bedroom for regular workouts or tucked away in a corner for occasional use, this compact elliptical lives up to its reputation.

Best Hybrid Rear-Drive Elliptical: ProForm Hybrid Trainer 

ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT

ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT

Sometimes, you need to have a seat while you perform your cardio. Other times, you may prefer to stand. With this hybrid machine, you can do both. Seamlessly transition from standing elliptical to recumbent while you stride against 16 levels of digital resistance — all at a bargain price.

Shop Amazon


Price: $560

Resistance Levels: 16

Stride Length: 18”

Weight Capacity: 250 lbs 

Product Dimensions: ‎49” x 25”.2 x 17.3”

Display: Large LCD monitor 


It’s equipped with a complete 30-day full-access membership to iFIT

This machine is both an elliptical and an exercise bike.

The seat adjusts to accommodate to match your leg length. 


Some reviewers have reported the machine began to make a creaking noise.

Some users have experienced issues with the Bluetooth functionality on the machine.

Looking for the ultimate hybrid rear-drive elliptical that offers the best of both worlds? Enter the ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT – a standout choice that redefines home fitness equipment. With a price tag of just $560, it’s an unbeatable investment considering its unparalleled versatility and performance.

Scoring an impressive 4.2 out of 5, the ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT shines for its ability to seamlessly blend the benefits of a recumbent bike and an elliptical into one compact unit. While it may not boast a flashy touchscreen display, its compatibility with iFIT memberships receives glowing reviews from fitness experts like Kate Meier. 

Meier, BarBend editorial member and NASM-certified personal trainer with over 20 years in the field, particularly praises its adjustable screen feature, which enhances user engagement. Additionally, Bluetooth connectivity allows for seamless integration with heart rate monitors or headphones, elevating your workout experience to new heights.

What truly sets the ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT apart is its adaptability. Whether you prefer a seated bike or standing elliptical workout, this machine offers customizable seat settings and effortless transitions between elliptical and bike modes. The cushioned foot pedals ensure optimal comfort, catering to users of all sizes and preferences.

However, like any hybrid machine, there are some trade-offs to consider. The stride length of 15 inches may feel limiting for taller individuals or those accustomed to longer strides. Furthermore, the five-year frame warranty falls short of industry standards, raising concerns about long-term durability. And with a weight capacity of 250 pounds, it may not accommodate all users.

Nevertheless, despite these minor drawbacks, the ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT remains unmatched in its category. 

Best Rear-Drive Elliptical Under $1,000: PooBoo Elliptical Machine

PooBoo Elliptical Machine

PooBoo Elliptical Machine

The PooBoo elliptical machine has 16 adjustable levels of resistance and a weight capacity of up to 400 pounds. 

Shop PooBoo Elliptical Machine


Price: $570

Resistance Levels: 16

Stride Length: 15.5”

Weight Capacity: 400 lbs 

Product Dimensions: 49.2 x 29.92 x 62.2”

Display: Large monitor and rotatable tablet holder 


The fixed low position allows you to comfortably sit back during use and activate your hips during the workout.

The non-slip cushioned wheels reduce the impact on your joints. 

 At $570, it’s one of the best rear-drive ellipticals under $1,000 offering more functions than other rear-drive ellipticals at this price range. 


One reviewer encountered conflicting information regarding the weight limit, as it varied between the owner’s manual and other sources, causing concern about whether they would fit on the machine. 

Elliptical machines usually fall within the price range of $1,000 to $1,500, and rear-drive models often fit into this bracket. However, the PooBoo elliptical caught our attention with its price tag of only $570. This makes it one of the most attractive rear-drive options for home workouts under $1,000. Its combination of affordability and user-friendly features has earned it praise from numerous Amazon reviewers.

Adrian Montero, a verified Amazon reviewer, commends the PooBoo elliptical, saying, “The PooBoo elliptical impresses with its quality, performance, and durability, all at a price that won’t break the bank.” Montero accentuates a notable feature: “What sets it apart is that it arrives 80% pre-assembled, drastically reducing setup time to under an hour, a stark contrast to the 4 to 5 hours needed for competing models.” Montero concludes by endorsing PooBoo as a brand worth considering for future purchases.

Featuring a 16-level magnetic resistance knob, users can tailor their workout intensity to their goals, whether aiming for relaxation or fat burning. The elliptical offers three-hand grip positions to accommodate various exercise preferences and body types. Additionally, the digital monitor tracks essential workout metrics, while the rotatable tablet holder accommodates devices up to 11.8 inches, enhancing entertainment and motivation during workouts. The built-in Bluetooth sensor records, views, and shares training data on social media platforms.

The elliptical’s sturdy thickened steel pipe frame ensures stability and durability, with a 15.5-inch stride length mirroring the natural movement path of the human body. Many users have also praised the D-shape handrail structure for its quietness and foldable handles, aligning it with commercial-grade machines on the market and enhancing user experience.

While the elliptical boasts a weight capacity of 400 pounds, there are differing opinions regarding this limit. Todd, a verified Amazon customer and former college football player, raised concerns about the discrepancy between the posted weight limits on Amazon and those in the safety manual. While suitable for his wife’s use, he remains skeptical about its longevity for himself.

It’s important to note that this concern represents a minority opinion, with the majority of reviewers agreeing that this elliptical is a great choice for anyone seeking a quality option under $1,000.

Benefits of A Rear Drive Elliptical 

Rear-drive ellipticals offer several benefits that make them stand out in the market. First and foremost, they typically provide a smoother and quieter workout experience compared to other ellipticals. This is due to their design, which often incorporates a heavier flywheel and a more advanced resistance system, resulting in a more fluid motion. Additionally, rear-drive ellipticals have a longer stride length, providing a more natural and comfortable workout, especially for taller individuals. Fortunately, these ellipticals tend to be more durable and stable (due to their well-made frame). Overall, rear-drive ellipticals offer users a high-quality, effective, enjoyable workout experience.

Different Types of Ellipticals

Elliptical trainers come in various types, each tailored to different fitness preferences and needs. Standard ellipticals feature foot pedals and handles for a full-body workout. Front-drive ellipticals position the drive mechanism at the front, offering a compact design and forward-leaning workout position. Rear-drive ellipticals place the drive mechanism at the back, ensuring a smoother and quieter ride. Center-drive ellipticals have the drive mechanism centered, promoting a natural stride and reducing the machine’s footprint. Compact or folding ellipticals are designed for smaller spaces, easily folding up for storage. Each type offers unique benefits, catering to diverse fitness goals and living situations.

Front-Drive Ellipticals

Front-drive ellipticals differ from rear-drive ellipticals in several aspects. With front-drive ellipticals, the flywheel is positioned at the front of the machine, while roller tracks are located at the back. This design allows the pedals to move along these tracks, offering a slightly more vertical range of motion compared to rear-drive ellipticals, which offer a more horizontal range of motion. Depending on the incline of the elliptical, this type can mimic the workout of a stair climber. Front-drive ellipticals are usually closer to the ground and maybe a preferred choice for users with limited mobility, as they don’t require stepping over the machine to access them.

Center-Drive Ellipticals 

Center-drive ellipticals position the drive mechanism, including the flywheel and other key components at the center, contrasting with front-drive and rear-drive models. This design fosters a more natural stride, as pedals move linearly, enhancing comfort during workouts. These machines often boast a smaller footprint, ideal for home use, and offer enhanced stability for intense sessions. The Horizon Fitness Evolve 5 exemplifies center-drive ellipticals, featuring variable resistance levels, preset workouts, and Bluetooth connectivity for fitness tracking. The compact design and smooth operation provide an effective and enjoyable workout experience. 

Rear Drive Ellipticals

While the rear-drive elliptical is among the oldest designs for elliptical trainers, it remains highly effective and widely used today. Patented by Precor in 1995, this design features a flywheel positioned at the machine’s back, contributing to its smooth and stable motion. Because of this placement, rear-drive ellipticals offer a center of balance closer to the machine’s midpoint, facilitating longer, more natural strides. Consequently, they better mimic the user’s walking or running motion, resulting in a more comfortable and authentic workout experience.

How Much Does a Rear Drive Elliptical Cost? 

What to Consider Before Buying a Rear Drive Elliptical?

Finding the best rear-drive elliptical might not always be as straightforward as you’d like, but some factors can make the search easier. Here’s what to consider before investing. 

Research the Price 

Understanding that cardio machines, especially rear-drive ellipticals, can be expensive is crucial. Before indulging in a stylish machine, it’s important to establish a budget to prevent financial stress.

Thankfully, brands like ProForm provide appealing financing choices through banks, often with zero interest for eligible individuals. 

Alternatively, you can explore popular options on platforms like Amazon, which offer comparable performance. Additionally, watch out for holiday sales like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, where numerous companies provide substantial discounts to clear stock. Seizing these opportunities can lead to even more significant savings for you. 

Assess Your Space

According to Amanda Capritto, a certified personal trainer, you should also consider how much space you have for your new elliptical. “This is a good place to start because you’ll be frustrated if you buy an elliptical that doesn’t fit in your intended space or if you need to be flexible with your space, isn’t easy to move,” Capritto says.  As a result, you want to measure how much room you have for a new rear-drive elliptical. I recommend measuring your space beforehand to avoid any unwelcome surprises where the machine doesn’t fit.

Consider Stride Length

When assessing rear-drive ellipticals, it’s crucial to consider the stride length for maximum comfort and effectiveness. Aim for a stride length of 15” to 15.5”, which suits most users’ natural range of motion. However, individuals over six feet may require a longer stride length, closer to 18” or 20”. Choosing an elliptical with the right stride length ensures a smoother, more comfortable workout, particularly for taller users.

Final Word 

When considering rear-drive ellipticals, prioritize your budget, as prices vary widely. Ensure the machine fits your available space, especially if you have limited room for equipment. Additionally, opt for a model with a sufficient stride length of at least 15 inches to accommodate comfortable and effective workouts.


What is the best rear-drive elliptical?

For the best rear-drive elliptical experience, look no further than the Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical Cross Trainer, our overall top pick. Its seamless, natural motion ensures a satisfying workout, thanks to its sturdy build and stable foundation. With 24 pre-programmed workouts suitable for beginners and experts, plus 16 resistance levels for customizable intensity, it offers unmatched versatility at an incredibly affordable price point.

What’s the difference between a rear-drive elliptical and a front-drive elliptical?

The main difference between rear-drive and front-drive ellipticals lies in the positioning of the flywheel, which impacts the elliptical motion and user experience. Rear-drive ellipticals have the flywheel behind the pedals and handles, offering a longer, more horizontal stride and a smoother, more natural motion. Front-drive ellipticals, with the flywheel positioned closer to the user, create a more vertical and slightly shorter stride. While both types offer effective low-impact workouts with adjustable resistance levels, the choice often boils down to preference regarding stride feel and motion.

Are rear-drive ellipticals tough on joints?

Rear-drive ellipticals typically offer a smoother, more natural motion compared to front-drive models, potentially gentler on the joints due to their fluid walking or running simulation. However, the impact on your joints can vary depending on biomechanics, fitness level, and existing joint issues, so starting slowly, using proper form, and monitoring your body’s response is crucial. If joint pain is a concern, consulting with a fitness professional or physical therapist for personalized guidance is recommended. Choosing a rear-drive elliptical with a longer stride can further reduce the overall impact on joints.


The post The 5 Best Rear Drive Ellipticals, According to Our Experts appeared first on BarBend.


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