The Fuel FE 46 Elliptical Review – A high quality elliptical at a budget price under $900

Every day the Treadmill Sensei gets in reader email asking about a treadmill or elliptical we haven’t covered yet on the site – most of the time it is about low quality Proform or Nordic Track ellipticals. However, from time to time a reader sends in a note asking about an intriguing piece of equipment and it spurs me to send out my feelers for a model to test out.

In this case, about a month and a half ago, a number of readers wrote in asking about the new line of Fuel ellipticals found at Dick’s Sporting Goods stores and online. At first I was a bit surprised because I hadn’t heard anything specific about the units. Everyone in the industry was aware that Dick’s had been pursuing its own line of budget ellipticals and treadmills for quite sometime, but it was still a bit of a shock to see it actually launched. Luckily, Dick’s has a lot of experience in what works for an elliptical — and how to keep customer service issues from popping up with them — and that shows in these new ellipticals.

First off, when our Fuel FE46 Elliptical arrived at the shop and we unpacked it, we all immediately suspected that it was an elliptical produced by the same manufacturing plant as the Sole, Spirit and Red Zone equipment, Dyaco out of Taiwan, or one of their sister plants. A lot of the parts looked interchangeable with the higher priced Sole, Esprit, Spirit and much-higher priced Red Zone ellipticals. The flywheel (sometimes rated as 21 pounds, sometimes as 25 pounds and sometimes as 30 pounds, depending upon what a manufacturer is trying to sell you on) on the Fuel FE46 elliptical seems to be very similar or just about identical to what you see on the Spirit XE100/XE200/XE300 or Sole E25/E35/E55 ellipticals.

Moving on to the assembley, as with any elliptical, the assembly is a bit trickier than that of a treadmill. Figuring on it taking you about 45 minutes to get together if you can have someone help you hold pieces while you attach them to the unit. If you’re doing it alone, count on 90 minutes and a lot of swearing. This is pretty standard for all ellipticals.

In regards to the Fuel FE46 elliptical itself, the unit is very comparable to the Sole E25 ($995) and Spirit XE100 ($1099) ellipticals – which are all almost identical units except for strangely varying prices. If I was forced to guess, I’d have to say the Fuel FE46 is just a repainted version of the 2006 Sole E25 Elliptical. That’s not a bad place to start, especially when you consider the Fuel FE 46 elliptical is priced $100 lower than the current Sole E25 and $200 lower than the nearly identical Spirit XE100. The only real differences you’ll find are in the number of rails — the FE46 is a single rail elliptical versus the dual rails on the Sole E25 — and in the lesser warranty on the Fuel FE46. If Dick’s had raised the warranty to 3 years on parts, this would have been a home run unit for them.

The Fuel FE46 elliptical is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a more budget version of the Sole E25/E35 or the Spirit XE100/XE200/XE300 ellipticals and don’t mind the lesser warranty. For about $899 you’re getting the awesome feeling adjustable foot pedals that Sole/Spirit are known for, a solid flywheel, one of the most comfortable elliptical workout feels available for under $1300 and a well built, solid and sturdy elliptical in the Fuel FE46 Elliptical. Fuel has put together a unit that could very well be a best buy elliptical award contender for next year’s Ichi-Ban Best Buy Elliptical Awards for under $1000. However, if the warranty is more important than saving money, I’d check out the Sole E25 elliptical for a slightly beefier $100 upgrade.

For being an excellent, very sturdy and comfortable elliptical with a so-so warranty, the Treadmill Sensei gives the Fuel FE46 Elliptical 4 out of 5 Golden Buddahs.

The Fuel FE46 Elliptical gets a very respectible 4 gold buddahs out of 5 for being well built and well designed.

Fuel FE46 Elliptical Specifications
Flywheel: 21 lbs.
Display: LCD
Programs: 15
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Heart Rate Control: Yes
Resistance: 15 Levels
Max User Weight: 325 lbs.
Elliptical Weight: 190 lbs.
Articulating Pedals: Yes
Price: $899