The Kettler Vito XL Elliptical Review – A well-crafted let-down

In the fitness industry we all spend a lot of time talking about manufacturing in Taiwan versus China versus the US. What we tend to forget is there is still some very fine manufacturing being done over in Europe. So, to broaden all of our horizons the Treadmill Sensei wants to answer an email from the Reader Mailbag about the quality of a long standing German company called Kettler. Let’s see how Kettler measures up to its Asian cousins out in the marketplace. Take it away, Don!


I like many other of your readers (fans) have found your reviews the best I have found, I have read that you have a Sports Art 803 at home and I am leaning that way myself. I’m 6’3″ 340lbs and the wife is 5’2″ 130lbs so an adjustable stride and heavy duty machine is what I need.

So here finally is my question, what do you know about Kettler machines, it says made in Germany and I am seeing 45 lbs flywheels and all ball bearing and I’m thinking?? so I ask the pro- the guy what fixes them not the guy what sells them are they as good or better as the Sports Art for the money or should I stay with the 803.

Thank You. -Don


Thanks for your note and I’m glad you are enjoying the website! It’s true, I did have a SportsArt 803 at home but I recently gave it to my Sensei partner, Mat, who was in search of a solid elliptical to workout on. He’s about your size but a tad bit shorter at 6’1″ and he’s loving the machine. He works on it every morning before he comes in to the DOJO to work out even more during the day! The 803 elliptical holds up very well to his more super-sized workouts.

In regards to Kettler, they do make some very high quality product. A quick history of Kettler for those of you who aren’t familiar with the brand. As a manufacturer of sports and fitness equipment, the German-based Kettler has been around since the late 1940s and has been known for producing some very high quality equipment ever since. Their “made in Germany” slogan is one filled with pride, and rightly so because German manufacturing is still some of the best in the world. Now, although Kettler has been in the US since the 1980s, it is still lesser known brand to most buyers in spite of their higher quality production.

I wasn’t sure which Kettler unit Don was interested in, so I put my feelers out and brought in a couple of units after I returned from the Fitness Trade show at the beginning of August. The first one I was able to get my grubby little hands on was the Ketter Vito XL elliptical, which can be picked up for just under $1200.

The very first thing I want to talk about is the misconception of the “45 pound flywheel” that Don mentioned. What Kettler actually does is give you the weight of the entire rear drive assembly and not just the flywheel (much like Spirit does when quoting 30 pounds for their lightweight plastic flywheels). I didn’t have the time to disassemble the entire drive assembly, but by eyeballing it I’d estimate the metal flywheel to be in the 25-30 pound range. Still a very large and smooth running flywheel if not quite the 45+pounds they like to brag about.

The second thing is how freaking well the Kettler Vito XL elliptical was made. It has the single most solid frame I’ve seen on a home elliptical under the $1200 range. In addition to the incredibly sturdy frame, the unit also uses sealed bearings instead of cheap bushings in all of its pivot points. What that means is a much smoother motion and a quieter ride. It also means the Ketter Vito XL elliptical will last for a very long time without much additional maintenance.

Now, for being such an incredibly well-made machine a lot of you will be surprised at the rating I give the Vito XL elliptical from the fine folks at Kettler. The reason for that is because of the lack of features on the unit: it has a very small 16″ stride length (very short for a $1000+ elliptical), no programs, only 10 levels of resistance control (if it were priced under $600 that would be acceptable) and the old-style non-articulating, non-adjustable foot pedals. The bummer is that while the elliptical motion of the Kettler Vito XL is great, the stride is much to short and the static pedals will be uncomfortable for any workout of 20 minutes or longer.

Speaking of the pedals, they seemed a bit too far apart for my taste as well. A taller user might like that more than someone of my 5’7″-ish height, but then that user would be turned off by the shorter stride.

If you’re looking for an incredibly well made elliptical and are under 5’8″ or so then I would recommend checking out the Vito XL Elliptical from Ketter, otherwise I’d suggest looking elsewhere. For being an incredibly well-made disappointment, the Treadmill Sensei gives the Kettler Vito XL Elliptical 3.5 out of 5 golden buddahs.

3.5 gold buddahs out of 5 isn’t all that bad…it isn’t all that good either.

< >Kettler Vito XL Elliptical Specifications
Stride: 16″
Flywheel: approximately 26lbs
Display: LCD
Readouts: Time, distance, Kilojoules burned, RPM, pulse
Programs: 0
Resistance: 10 levels
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Heart Rate Control: No
Max User Weight: 280lbs
Unit Weight: approximately 145lbs
Price: Under $1200