The Spirit XE700 Elliptical Review — Overpriced and under featured

One method fitness manufacturers use to confuse consumers is by classifying a machine as “light commercial” or “commercial,” making buyers think they are getting a heavier duty machine because of this classifications or “grade.” To tell the truth there is no actual difference between a home unit and a commercial unit.

Now, I don’t mean that most commercial units are more expensive or build with heavier materials, what I mean is the classification itself doesn’t automatically make a unit “light commercial” (for example). All the classification really means is that a manufacturer is willing to warranty a particular unit in a particular setting. Home units are generally warrantied for a few users in a home setting for 10-15 hours a week, where a light commercial unit would be warrantied for use in a non-commercial gym and 20-30 hours. What some manufacturers of home fitness equipment do is upgrade a unit’s rating from home to light commercial knowing full well the majority of their customers will be placing equipment in their homes where that light commercial warranty is meaningless anyway. It is a great little bit of bait-and-switch that is hard to pin down because there are no industry standards for what can be called “light commercial” or “commercial” grade equipment.

One “light commercial” machine is the Spirit XE700 Elliptical. The XE700 is the 2007/2008 version of the Spirit XE850 and, thankfully, is still built on the same frame instead of the shorter, more stunted feeling compact frame of the rest of the Spirit XE Elliptical line. From our time on the unit at the recent Health & Fitness Expo in Denver, the XE700 seems to be the same downgraded elliptical the XE850 was last year.

Let’s start with the positives. The longer frame on the Spirit XE700 is the same sturdy frame from last year with a metal guide rail shroud on the back for additional support and protection. It also features articulating foot pedals with Spirit’s very nice 2% inward slant that give a very natural feel to the unit’s elliptical motion and long 20″ stride. Finally, it’s also got the great new “Safety-Lok” software to help give parents with small children peace of mind for security.

Unfortunately, the downsides balance out those positives. While the pedals are well-positioned, Spirit has decided to remove the cushioned foot pads their lower end ellipticals feature and there is a major difference in comfort in the Spirit XE700 without that padding. The XE700 also lacks the adjustable pedals found in all of the lower end units, a very surprising oversight and one that keeps an owner from being able to further adjust the comfort of his workout. There is nothing worse than getting on an elliptical and having your feet fall asleep because the pedals are at the wrong angle for your body. Finally, the XE700 even lacks the wireless telemetry belt included on the rest of the Spirit ellipticals. A strange cost-saving measure on an already stripped-down elliptical, at least in my opinion.

Overall, the Spirit XE700 is a sturdy unit but is over-priced for the limited features and lower specs it possesses at a just under $2000 price. I’d consider this a worthwhile buy at $1399 or so but it is a definite pass at $1999. For being an average unit, the Treadmill Sensei gives the Spirit XE700 Elliptical the same average rating its predecessor received with 3 out of 5 Golden Buddahs.

Still lacking bang for the buck.

An overpriced, under performing elliptical from Spirit Fitness.

Spirit XE700 Elliptical Specifications
Stride: 20″
Flywheel: 30lbs
Display: LED
Readouts: Time, distance, calories / weight / speed / rpm, level, laps, heart rate / age
Programs: 6
Resistance: 40 levels
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Heart Rate Control: Yes
Max User Weight: 400lbs
Unit Weight: 200lbs
Price: Under $2000