Elliptical Flywheel – Front Or Back?

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Which is Best?


A lot of people wonder if they should get an elliptical with the flywheel in the front – or the back.

Front-placed flywheel crosstrainers are called “front-drive ellipticals” whereas those with the flywheel in the back are called “rear-drive ellipticals”.

So which is best?

Actually I don’t think that one is better than another – but there are benefits to each.

So it really depends on who you are and what you’re looking for. Here’s what you need to know about each.


Rear Drive

A rear drive elliptical like the Nordictrack Spacesaver SE9i below has a lot of advantages. For example, this type of design gives you more of a flat elliptical pathway to run.  So it mimics more of a running motion.



Contrast this with a Front Drive design which gives you more of a climbing elliptical pathway. Many people prefer a running motion over a climbing motion – so they prefer a rear-drive machine.

Another benefit to a rear drive layout is that you a more flexible design. So you can find a rear-drive machine that also folds up (you can’t do this with a front-drive.


Nordictrack SE9i Folding Elliptical


This makes it a great choice if you have a smaller workout area. Or if you have a workout area that also doubles as something else – like an office or a living room.

Rear drive ellipticals that fold up include the Nordictrack SE7i and SE9i


Click to Compare Nordictrack Rear Drive Ellipticals



Front Drive

As stated above, a front drive elliptical gives a more “climbing” elliptical pathway – so if that’s what you prefer, this may be the best choice for you.


nordictrack commercial 14.9 elliptical review
Nordictrack Elliptical


Also, many higher end models use a front drive design, mainly because the placement of the flywheel in front acts as more of an anchor to the machine. So many people feel it gives a more stable elliptical overall (which is very important for heavy use.)

This is why you often see commercial grade elliptical trainers in the gym with a front-drive design.

Front drive trainers can also generally have heavier flywheels. A heavier flywheel gives you a smoother feeling transition – especially during resistance changes.

Nordictrack makes several front-drive ellipticals from starter to higher-end premium trainers.


Click Here to Compare Front Drive Ellipticals
Nordictrack 9.9 Elliptical


So those are some things you need to know about whether you want an elliptical with the flywheel in front or back. Each has it’s benefits – so it’s really up to you and what you want.

Regardless of which you decide, remember to take your time, do your research and look at everything that makes a good elliptical like stride, incline, console features and more.


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