The SportsArt 803 Elliptical Review — Best Buy Award Winner under $2000


I can’t believe it’s been over 6 months since I posted the Ichi-Ban Best Buy Awards for 2006-2007…and I still haven’t finished doing my extended reviews for the winners of those awards. Doh! The Treadmill Sensei is a lazy bum. I promise to have the reviews done in advance of the best buy awards later on this year.

Today I want to talk about the 2006-2007 Ichi-Ban Elliptical Best Buy Award winner for $1501-$2000, the SportsArt 803 Elliptical. One of the reasons the Treadmill Sensei is excited about this review is because the SportsArt 803 is the elliptical which I work out on at home. That’s right, after I a unit came in to the shop last summer and I show how darn sleek it look and how smooth the stride was, I had Mrs. Sensei get me one for my last birthday. And, before you ask, no I won’t tell you how old I am.

UPDATE: This is a very old review. Read about the newest SportsArt ellipticals here.

Before I talk about one of the prides of my home workout room, I want to talk a bit about the company which produced such a fine piece of equipment, SportsArt Fitness. SportsArt Industrial has been around for over 20 years now and has had a reputation for excellence and quality for much of that time. In the past they’ve mainly supplied equipment to mid-range health clubs and corporate style gyms, as well as had a fairly strong presence overseas. They had a rough couple of years recently in regards to quality, but are now back on track with some of the best equipment around. If they had work their price point down a bit more on the consumer models, I think they’ll dominate the $1200-$2200 home market with their quality and customer service.

Plus, and this has nothing to do with the equipment, the sales staff they had at the 2007 IHRSA fitness show was made up of some of the friendliest and most courteous people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in quite some time. Both their sales staff and their customer service department knows the most important thing is keeping their customers happy, and they do a mighty fine job at it.

Let’s talk a bit about the SportsArt 803 Elliptical. I workout on my 803 every day of the week for a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour during the local LA morning news at 7am (I love Jillian but my wife forgives me for it) — on Thursday, if you stand outside my house, you can hear me complaining loudly at whatever American Idol reject is being interviewed. This is my time of piece and I picked the SportsArt 803 for a couple of reasons.

First, I wanted an elliptical that I knew wasn’t going to break down or have technical issues. I work on fitness equipment all day and absolutely did not want a flimsy, finicky or flawed elliptical in my house. Second, having bad knees, I wanted as smooth an elliptical ride as I could possibly get. The SportsArt 803 was the elliptical that answered both of those questions for me. Adding in the ability to adjust the stride was a huge benefit as well because my wife likes to work out at a shorter stride than I do — I like the feel of 20+ inches and she likes 18 inches. I prefer the manual stride adjustment controls on the 803 versus the electronic ones on some of the other SportsArt units. From what I’ve seen they are a lot more reliable and are longer lasting.

As you’ve all heard the Treadmill Sensei talk about before, the SportsArt 803 has a very solid frame and heavy unit weight which helps give you a sturdy, solid ride without the shakes a lot of lesser ellipticals have. If you want a smooth, solid workout then the SportsArt 803 elliptical is hard to beat.

There are a couple of weaknesses that I want to point out. The first is the MSRP on the unit which usually runs at about $1999. If you look around, you can find the 803 elliptical for a more reasonable $1699-$1799.

Next, I don’t mind the low number of programs it has (3 preset and then “manual” – if that can be considered a program), but a lot of people like more program options.

Finally, 10 levels of resistance just aren’t enough for fine tuning a workout, especially if you’re doing heart rate training. I really hope SportsArt gets smart and raises this to 16. If they can fix those minor problems they’ll have a perfect scoring elliptical on their hands.

For being just about perfect with only a couple of minor quibbles, the Treadmill Sensei gives the SportsArt 803 Elliptical 4.5 out of 5 golden buddahs.

The SportsArt 803 elliptical is the Treadmill Sensei’s personal choice for an elliptical in his home.

SportsArt 803 Elliptical Specifications
Stride: Adjustable 18″ – 26″ (6 presets)
Resistance Levels: 10
Max User Weight: 350 lbs.
Elliptical Weight: 172 lbs.
Heart Rate Monitor: Wireless optional
Display: LCD
Readouts: Time, distance, calories, level, steps per minute
Price: $1699