Ohiyo!

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since the first annual best buy awards for ellipticals. Time sure flies when you’re having fun! This year there are a lot of really cool new entrants in to the awards, along with some returning favorites from last year.

This year, like last year, ellipticals under $1500 are dominating the industry and it is easy to see why. This year we finally see a lot more quality in that price range as well as a lot of equipment actually worth buying as manufacturers refine their designs and pump up their quality without pumping up their prices.

As with the best buy awards last year, the ellipticals are picked with no real scientific technique. All reviews and ratings are based on our group’s 20+ years of experience as sales people and service/repair techs for fitness equipment. Our opinions and thoughts come from having worked on most of the machines out there and on our actually getting on the machines we review. When an elliptical comes in to the shop for either installation or repair, we run pretty extensive tests on the machines to make sure they are up to snuff (generally 5-10 hours per unit). This includes running fairly hardcore routines on the machines, going through all of their programs and so on. After our testing any machine that is going out to be installed for a customer, or which has had repairs done, has been run through the ringer to make sure everything is working.

Reviews are not made with manufacturer input. We don’t get free equipment from manufacturers. We aren’t bought off by bribes and we don’t sell advertising to manufacturers.

More detailed reviews of all of the Ichi-Ban winners will be posted throughout the upcoming week.

Now, on with the show!!

Best Buy Ellipticals Under $500
Kettler CT2000: For stability and durability the German-made Kettler CT2000 simply cannot be beat in the under $500 budget price range. Click here to check out the full review.

Runner Up: At these prices, you have to be very careful or you’ll wind up spending money for something that will turn in to an expensive clothes hanger. Stay away from Image, Proform or any of the Icon Health & Fitness machines or you’ll just be throwing your money away. Merit is still a strong contender for great units for budget-conscious buyers and Ironman continues to produce quality at a low cost.

2. Merit 710E
3. Ironman 250e
4. Merit 720E

Best Buy Ellipticals from $501-$1000
Sole E25: For the second year in a row, the Sole E25 takes the top spot for best elliptical under $1000. The Sole E25 continues to be one of the best value ellipticals available. For the full review click HERE.

Runner Up: The Schwinn 438 makes its second appearance as a runner up Best Buy elliptical. Along with the new Horizon Incline Trainer EX76, Multisports makes its first appearance in the under $1000 market with its very sturdy Elliptix 3000 elliptical. As with last year, there is a lot of very solid competition in this price range and a lot of great ellipticals.

2. Horizon EX76
3. MultiSports ECT 3000
4. Schwinn 438

Best Buy Ellipticals from $1001-$1500
Sole E35: Another returning Best Buy from last year, the Sole E35 continues to be one of the best buy ellipticals around, especially with Sole’s upgrades this year. Click here to find the full review of the award-winning Sole E35 elliptical.

Runner Up: The $1001-$1500 price range continues to be the dominant area for the serious elliptical buyer. This is where the quality jumps up a notch and that serious buyer can find a great elliptical for his money. This range looks almost exactly the same as last year with the Smooth CE2.1 and Sole E55 still holding strong. Surprisingly, SportsArt has pulled a great unit out of its hat with the SportsArt E80, a truly fantastic machine at a great price.

2. Smooth CE2.1
3. SportsArt E80
4. Sole E55

Best Buy Ellipticals from $1501-$2000
Smooth CE7.4:
With the SportsArt 803 elliptical being discontinued, it left the top spot open for the number 1 Smooth elliptical, the CE7.4. Heavy duty, a great feel and long stride, the Smooth CE7.4 is the best buy elliptical choice under $2000. Click here to read the full review.

Runner Up: Returning again from last year, the Sole E95 is joined by two great new units. The awesome SportsArt E81 and the unbelievable front drive Tunturi CF35 round out the under $2000 price range with some incredibly solid new ellipticals.

2. Tunturi CF35
3. SportsArt E81
4. Sole E95

Best Buy Ellipticals from $2001-$2500
Bodyguard E230X:
Coming out of nowhere, Bodyguard has taken their skill at designing top rate treadmills and brought it to ellipticals. The E230X is one of the best feeling ellipticals at any price. Click here to read the review and find out why.

Runner Up:
A big change over last year, 2008 brings a whole gaggle of great ellipticals for $2001-$2005. New units from Smooth and Tunturi join the still great-performing Quantum Q210H. This price range is where home ellipticals begin to feel like those you’d find in a gym.

2. Smooth CE Plus
3. Quantum Q210H
4. Tunturi C65

Best Buy Ellipticals from $2501-$3000
SportsArt E83:
This year SportsArt has hit a grandslam home run with the E83 Elliptical. With its manual adjustable stride, heavy duty frame and perfect design, the SportsArt E83 gets my pick for best elliptical of the year. Find out why by clicking Here for the full review.

Runner Up: The only unit making a return to the best buys this year is the Precor EFX 5.19, still a solid machine. However, Bodyguard and Vision both come in with some great machines as well to fill out the line-up.

2. Bodyguard E250x
3. Vision Fitness X6700HRT
4. Precor EFX 5.19

Best Buy Ellipticals from $3001-$4000
Smooth Agile DMT: The heir-apparent to the Cybex Arc-Trainer, the Smooth Agile DMT takes it one step further and brings the Arc-trainer’s design in to the 21st century and beyond. It’s big, it’s bad and it’s worth every penny. Read the full review by clicking here.

Runner Up: This is where the big boys play. Serious atheletes or those looking for the best of the best check out this price range. While Smooth took the best buy, the new front drive offering from Tunturi is a close second in quality, features and value.

2. Tunturi C85
3. Quantum Q210C
4. Life Fitness X7 Basic

Best Buy Ellipticals Over $4000
Matrix I5X:
The new incline trainer from Matrix Fitness is one of the slickest elliptical units around. They’ve taken the award-winning Matrix E5X and added an amazing new incline feature that blows the competition away. Click here to be blown away by this new elliptical masterpiece.

Runner Up: With the Matrix I5X taking the top spot this year, the runner ups look like a carbon copy of last year’s winners. I take my hat off to Matrix, Star Trac and Precor for keeping their near-perfect equipment around again this year.

2. Matrix E5Xc
3. Star Trac Pro
4. Precor 546

The Ichi-Ban Best of the Best Award for Elliptical Excellence: The SportsArt E83 Elliptical

The SportsArt E83 Elliptical is such a fantastic machine that I went out and bought one after putting our review together. This machine is absolutely fabulous and is perfect for families with members of varying heights. This is a machine that looks great and performs even better. If you’ve got the money for the Lexus of the elliptical world, then check out the full review.

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