Are Orbitrek Ellipticals Really Worth Considering?

orbitrek elliptical - X17 modelIf you’re like most people, when you hear Orbitrek you probably think of the budget friendly, low end under desk models available through Amazon. I have to admit, I was the same, so I was surprised to hear that Orbitrek had come out with a more standard elliptical, the X17, that offers a few more bells and whistles.

Of course, this is still a company that has always been on the more basic end of the elliptical market, so naturally that makes you wonder if it’s really worth considering what they have to offer.

My expectations weren’t very high going in so that should make it pretty hard to be disappointed, right? Well…yes and no. They’re obviously not going to stand up against higher end models and even fall short of some of the similar mid and lower level models from brands like Nautilus and Schwinn, but that doesn’t mean that Orbitrek doesn’t have some allure. Anything would be an upgrade from the under desk models, which are pretty basic and target only the lower body. On that note, the Orbitrek X17 already has a leg up, so to speak, in that, like most standard ellipticals it can also give you an upper body workout.

That’s about as far as the comparison to other brands gets as Orbitrek products are definitely not going to stand toe-to-toe with some of the more established brands, whose offerings are more interactive, with built-in workout programs.

Orbitrek products are sold by Thane Direct, one of the leading direct response and retail marketers in the world. That’s right, they are basically the exercise equipment equivalent of those “As Seen on TV” products.

That doesn’t mean they are a complete bust, but you do need to temper your expectations a little when opting for the X17 or any of the other Orbitrek models. If you’re a serious minded fitness freak, this probably won’t be the brand for you but for the average home gym, it’s a valid option.

What elliptical models does Orbitrek offer?

Currently, Orbitrek offers the standard and “deluxe” X17, as well as the Elite and the MX and MN under desk models, all ranging between $200 and $850.

With that in mind, I was excited to see what the Orbitrek X17 had to offer so I checked out the standard model. Not surprisingly, the first thing I noticed was the look of the machine, which is surprisingly sleek and attractive. It has a very compact footprint at just 33” x 21”, which means it can easily fit into even the smallest workout space. The black and red coloring is eye catching and the overall slim design makes it a lot less of an eyesore than most pieces of exercise equipment, which I also liked.

From that jumping off point, let’s take a closer look and lay out the pros and cons of the Orbitrek X17

Orbitrek X17 Review – The Pros

Aside from its compact footprint and attractive design, perhaps the biggest positive for the X17 is its unique designation as a multi-path trainer. The X17 is sold as the only machine that can work your muscles through 17 different burn paths, which does make for a more challenging workout. The X17 features a one-of-a-kind “dual crank” that combines the single paths of 5 different machines: elliptical, cycle, stepper, treadmill and stair climber. That provides a lot more bang for your buck than you might expect from a low end machine. I could definitely feel the burn when I finished my workout!

I also appreciated the easy to adjust finger touch resistance. With just a simple turn of the knob, you can move from one resistance level to another without breaking stride.
The ergonomic handles and wide adjustable foot plates were comfortable enough, although I did find the foot plates a bit narrower than others I’ve used. The on-board electronics are pretty basic, but they do let you track your time, calories burned, speed, distance, resistance and workload.

I tried the standard Orbitrek X17, but the “Deluxe” option comes with several extras that supposedly up the workout experience even more, including the upgraded digital console and media rack that can hold any phone or tablet. If you order either the standard or “Deluxe” X17 through the Orbitrek site you can also get instant 24/7 online access to the Orbitrek Trainer Library, which allows you to stream professional workouts for all fitness levels.

The Deluxe digital console also comes with a Customized Training Management System, as well as a Fit Test function that allows you to automatically calibrate the intensity level to match your fitness level and can store fitness data for up to four users. It also has a Training Zone Track with five zones to indicate training intensity per program sector, a Work Load indicator showing the intensity of your workout, a Program Selector with program intensity profile viewer and all of the same performance indicators that the basic console offers.

I was pleased to see that the various programs include warm-up, workout and cool down options and you can vary the length from 3-22 minutes, which can make it easier on beginners and those who are more fitness challenged. That’s important because even on a basic machine like this an elliptical workout can be intense so you need that flexibility.

Orbitrek X17 Review – The Cons

Most of the cons with the Orbitrek X17 are pretty obvious. As I stated earlier, this is a pretty basic model. While you can get a decent enough workout, it lacks the bells and whistles of more high end machines. This is definitely not going to give you a gym level workout so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re better off looking someplace else.

The interactive features of the X17 are pretty limited, though the media rack does allow you to make use of your phone or tablet so you can access your favorite exercise app or the Orbitrek Trainer Library. It doesn’t stand up to Peloton or other high end exercise apps but at least it gives you some options.

Unlike similarly priced models from Nautilus and Schwinn, the X17 doesn’t have an incline feature for that extra workout challenge that many people expect. Another drawback worth noting is the less than earth shattering warranty. All Orbitrek models come with a 1 year parts and labor warranty, which is far short of the 5-10 year warranties most other brands offer.

So What’s The Bottom Line on Orbitrek ellipticals?

In the interest of fairness, I did also try out one of the under desk models, the Orbitrek MX, which is the motorized version with convenient remote control. While it did provide a decent low impact workout that is ideal for those with limited mobility, both the MX and the non-motorized MN are pretty much bottom of the barrel as far as ellipticals are concerned.

The standard and “Deluxe” Orbitrek X17 take that up a few notches with their multi-path design that allows you to get the effects of 5 different workout machines in one unit. This is supposed to challenge you by working out various muscles through the changing paths. It’s a great idea but the overall quality and limited warranty make this pretty much what you would expect from a direct marketing company rather than a brand focused on producing quality exercise machines.

Simply put, we wouldn’t be running out to buy this one, especially when you can get a lot more for your money with other models that only cost about $100 or so more.