What’s Better, The Flywheel On The Front Or The Back Of An Elliptical Trainer?
If you’ve ever used an elliptical machine at your local gym, it likely had a rear flywheel. Many home based elliptical have front end flywheels. You may be asking – what’s better…the flywheel on the front or back?
In case you’re wondering, the flywheel is the key component of the elliptical. It allows the pedals and hand grips to move.
A heavy duty flywheel is important because the heavier the flywheel, the more fluid the performance. A heavier flywheel also translates into a longer life for your elliptical.
Most fitness professionals I know, will suggest that the rear drive flywheel is preferable than a front end flywheel. Firstly, a rear end flywheel does not have articulating pedals, which are pedals that angle with your stride. In addition, the rear end flywheel helps provide a true elliptical movement with a heal toe ellipse pattern.
I remember the first time I stepped onto a front end flywheel elliptical at a friend’s house. I felt rather awkward and determined it was because the machine didn’t have articulating pedals so that meant that my gait felt strange compared to the elliptical I was used to using at my local gym.
Since that first go around, I’ve been able to try out the Schwinn model, which does have a front flywheel with articulating pedals. The feel was much more comfortable and felt like the rear machines I’m used to.
However, I did find that it was more difficult to get a strenuous workout on the front end flywheel compared with the rear end flywheel.
So, while I prefer the rear wheel flywheel, it does come with a price. Several major manufacturers like Precor, Life Fitness and Smooth have patented designs that work on different principals for the rear drives; these patented designs make it difficult for new manufacturers to enter the market.
In addition, it is generally more expensive to manufacture a rear end flywheel therefore, they tend to be cost prohibitive for many home gyms.
Front end flywheels do have some benefits. For instance, the front flywheel design gives you maximum stride and extra smooth operation without taking up a lot of space. Some front flywheel designs are also able to fold up to become slightly smaller.
Be sure to try out any elliptical before you buy because some front flywheel models for the home market put considerable force on the knee, as the footplates can rise quite high in front of you.
In addition, I have noticed on some fitness blogs that people are complaining that the front flywheel design on some home machines get noisy over time and the flywheel tends to wear out rather quickly.
Remember, if your budget is limited and a front flywheel design is the fiscally responsible thing for you to do, then be sure to only look at front end flywheels with articulating pedals.
If you purchase one without, likely from a mass merchandiser, then you’ll end up with a less comfortable piece of equipment more likely to breakdown. I don’t know about you, but if a piece of exercise equipment isn’t comfortable – then I’m not likely to use it.
Try out the different machines to determine which design you like the best. Purchase a machine that feels comfortable, has a heavy flywheel and will provide you with a strenuous workout as your fitness levels advance.
An investment in an elliptical trainer is an investment in your health!
All the best,
Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.
Blake is the founder of Building-Muscle101.com, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.