Elliptical Trainer Design – What Does It Mean For You?

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3 Different Types of Elliptical Trainer Designs


If you’re new to the world of elliptical trainers, you’ll notice that you keep running across terms like “front-drive”, “rear-drive”, and “dual-flywheel”. You’ll also notice that not all elliptical designs look the same.

So what’s going on?

And which design is best for you? This article will lay out the 3 different crosstrainer styles or designs – with the pros and cons of each:


#1 Front Drive Elliptical

Front drive ellipticals have their flywheel in front of the pedals like this:


nordictrack commercial 14.9 elliptical review
Nordictrack Front-Drive Elliptical


Because of this placement, a front-drive elliptical tends to give you more of an uphill or climbing feel to it.

Many higher-end ellipticals tend to use a front-flywheel design, probably because the flywheel acts like more of an “anchor” to the machine, giving it a more stable feel.



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#2 Rear Drive Elliptical

These ellipticals have their flywheels placed at the back of the machine – behind or towards the rear of the pedals. It looks something like this:


best folding nordictrack elliptical
Rear-Drive Elliptical


This design layout tends to give you more of a flat-plane feel (instead of an inclined feel like a front drive). It feels more like running than climbing (as you get with the front-drive).

Many starter ellipticals tend to be rear-drive designs – and you can also find rear-drive models that fold up to save you space.



#3 Dual Flywheel or Center-Drive Design

This design uses 2 smaller flywheels (as opposed to 1 large flywheel used on the 2 designs above). They are placed on either side of the pedals like this:


Nordictrack Center-Drive Freestrider


This gives you more of a flat-plane running feel. There are several advantages to this design including the fact that you stand more upright on the machine and your feet are usually placed closer together (which feels more natural).

The downside is that there aren’t a lot of center-drive designes on the market anymore. The most popular are the Freestride trainer series – which also gives you completely adaptable strides.

So those are the main elliptical trainer designs – and the differences between them. Is there a clear winner? Not really. It basically depends on your preferences, pocketbook and other factors like if you want incline or not.

Want to learn more? Check out the link below to see all current elliptical trainers, prices and designs:


Click to Compare All Nordictrack Ellipticals


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