Ohiyo!

To quote Jed Clampett…Weeeeeeeeell, Doggy! We’ve got a reader in the midst of an elliptical quandary. Erik is torn between two higher end ellipticals and can’t figure out which to get. This time around it is the Sole E95 Elliptical versus the Bodyguard E230X in a duel to the death. Let’s see which one comes out on top. Take it away, Erik!

Hello Sensei!

I love your site! I really appreciate your professional and honest opinions.

As you’ve mentioned many times, searching for the right elliptical is really tough! I’ve been struggling with that for weeks and I’ve finally come down to the Sole E95 vs. the Bodyguard E230X.

You’ve given both of them great reviews and the same high rating. The Sole would be $1700 delivered, then I haul it upstairs and assemble it myself. The Bodyguard is $2260 with tax but they deliver AND assemble.

Bodyguard has the best warranty of any elliptical, 3 years, and I’d have service from the same place I bought it, but Sole is also good at two years.

The Bodyguard feels more natural and seems to have a better console and programs but the Sole just feels “smoother”.

I love the ride on the Bodyguard E230X but I don’t like the armbars. They’re too thin and too hard on my hands, not enough padding.

The rear shroud on the Sole E95 is very flimsy as you said in your review. It’s crazy to have a shroud that will break if you step on it and have it in a place where you’re always stepping.

I started out with a $1500 limit but I’m just not satisfied with anything in that range. The Bodyguard is way over my budget but I’d hate to go cheap on myself and end up unhappy. Those armbars on the E230X could be the dealbreaker. Should I spend all that money and then try to find some padding?

You’ll probably say I’d be fine with either one but I need some insight. I’m dying here trying to decide.

Please throw something at me that will help! – Erik

Erik:

Thanks for your note and your great questions. Interestingly enough you’ve picked two ellipticals that we’ll be re-evaluating here on treadmillsensei.com over the next few weeks. Both units performed well in our initial tests but both have had a few reader emails come in about problems (and, in regards to the Bodyguard E230X, quite a large number of reader complaint emails).

Let me go over what other readers have been saying. First, the Sole E95. Everyone who purchases the Sole E95 has absolutely loved it. They love the feel of the machine, they love its sturdiness, they love just about everything. The only problem that comes up every single time is the plastic guide rail shroud on the back of the machine. For some reason Sole decided get rid of the metal shroud the E95 elliptical had in previous years and replace it with the plastic shroud formerly found on the Sole E55. Unfortunately, while the old steel shrouds would hold up to someone accidentially stepping on them, the plastic shrouds tend to crack if too much weight is placed on them.

Aside from that one problem, the Sole E95 is a great unit with the excellent elliptical motion and smooth ride found in all of the Sole ellipticals.

As for the Bodyguard E230X, the comments and complaints are also almost universal in the emails we get. People first comment on the pedals and how they are cushioned to reduce impact. To which I always say, “Um…ellipticals are almost zero impact as it is and cushioned pedals, while nifty, don’t add anything to that.” That’s right, the ultra cushioning found the in the Bodyguard E230X (and all their ellipticals) is just a bit of a marketing ploy. They’re putting in a feature with a much higher perceived value than any real added benefit. They’re also charging you more for that feature which isn’t really doing anything for your workout. They do feel really nice, though.

The second thing people mention is almost exactly what you said: how god-awful the handlebars on the Boyguard E230x are. I’m not sure how much thought went in to their design, but they definitely aren’t the most comfortable handles out there.

A lot of readers also talk about how the E230X feels great when you’re just standing on it, but that it doesn’t have the smoothest or most natural feel over the course of a longer workout. A number of readers compare it to more of a stepper feel. I’m not sure that is the most fair comparison. Perhaps they’ just been on the units which ship out with 18.5″ strides instead of the full 20.5″ stride the E230x is capable of having.

My advice would lean more towards the Sole E95. I think you’re getting a slightly better value for your money. It might be worth snooping around to see if you can find a 2007 Sole E95 with a metal shroud or ask around and see if you can have them ship you just a metal shroud instead. The shroud ships in a second box and shouldn’t be too hard to replace. Plus, you can always drop the extra $150-200 for inside delivery and set up that most companies charge if you don’t want to do the set up yourself.

I’d also suggest checking out the slightly cheaper Sole E55 elliptical. It has most of the same features as the Sole E95 (including the same sized flywheel, even if the manufacturer doesn’t want you to know that) and comes without the annoying plastic shroud.

Another great option for the same price range is the SportsArt E81 which would give you the same higher quality components as the Bodyguard but with a much more comfortable workout feel. I’ll be posting a review of the SportsArt E81 later this week if you want to check back.

Thanks again for your note, Erik. I hope I haven’t rambled too much! Good luck with your fitness quest and feel free to write back and let us know how it turned out for you.

-The Treadmill Sensei
http://www.treadmillsensei.com