Nordic Track Elliptical Trainer – Full Featured Ellipticals

The Nordic Track elliptical trainer is a low to moderate priced elliptical brand from the company made famous for their quality cross country skiing machines back in the 1980s.

Since that time, Nordic Track have gone out of business and the name was taken over by Icon Health & Fitness.

The company have now expanded their line of home fitness equipment into creating Nordic Track branded treadmills, low-impact elliptical trainers and other fitness machines.

Great Features

As parent company Icon specialises in creating innovative fitness equipment while keeping costs low, the Nordic Track ellipticals are generally high on features. Each model comes with plenty of resistance levels and programs.

i-Fit Compatible

Some of the Nordic Track ellipticals (such as the Nordic Track CX 990 CX 1055 and CX 925) are compatible with i-Fit. This means that for $15 a month (first month free) you can get a whole range of downloadable programs for your Nordic Track elliptical. While this is an nice feature if you tend to get easily bored with your workouts, it is still an add on cost.

Reflex Step technology

Recent models such as the Nordic Track CXT950 E950 Elliptical have something makers Icon call “Reflex Step technology”. This eliminates dead spots in the elliptical cycle and provides a smoother motion.

Cooling Fan

Many models have a cooling fan which is powered by the energy that you generate from your workout – a great idea (although you might need a bigger stand-alone fan to get a strong enough cooling effect).

Models

There is a good folding elliptical trainer option in the Nordic Track range if you really need to save floor space. The Nordictrack Spacesaver elliptical folds to reduce the space needed to 40″ L x 27″ W x 67″ H as opposed to 64″ L x 27″ W x 67″ H when the machine is being used. Just two feet less but it may be important where space is tight. This elliptical is priced around $799.

The Nordictrack CX 938 elliptical (at $799) continues to be a popular model along with the CX 985 (recommended price $949). Both machines have a great range of electronic features and the Silent Magnetic Resistance which is a smooth resistance system (not quite so good as the Eddy current brake system however in more expensive models).

The NordicTrack CX 1055 is one of the top of the range models from NordicTrack. For a suggested retail price of just less than $1000 it packs in a whole lot of features including a heart rate monitor, built in fan, i-Fit compatibility, 19 pre-programmed workouts and progress tracking with the training zone meter. This model features the Nordic Track “Stride Thru” design, which aims to simulate a more natural walking or running motion to give you a smoother, more comfortable workout and better elliptical endurance. The CX 1055 also allows you to automatically change the incline of the ramp as well as the resistance – normally found only on more expensive ellipticals.

Introduced in 2007, the AudioStrider 990 has all the regular features of a Nordic Track elliptical but it also interfaces with your MP3 player or ipod. You simply plug it in to get music to accompany your workout through the Intermix Accoustic sound system.

Mixed Nordic Track Reviews

Because of all the features and the fact that the machines have a sturdy feel to them, Nordictrack reviews are often quite positive.

Unfortunately Icon are known for not using the best quality components in producing their exercise equipment and this has resulted in some less favorable elliptical ratings alongside the positive feedback.

Some consumer reviews say that the Nordic Track ellipticals, in particular the cheaper ones, tend to shake and wobble at high intensity levels, others that parts were missing or did not fit well together on assembly.

If you choose to buy a Nordic Track elliptical make sure that you exchange it if there are problems in fitting components together on assembly as this might affect the sturdiness and noise level of the machine later on.

However be aware, that if things go wrong you may have a battle with Nordictrack customer service as you’ll see in this review:

One Buyer’s Experience

When you buy an expensive elliptical machine, you don’t expect it to be faulty. But if it is, you’d think that at least for the warranty period any problems would be well taken care of. Unfortunately customer service often leaves something to be desired as buyer Brad Juhasz found out when he purchased a Nordic Track 990 AudioStrider…

This is his story in his own words…

“For all those who might be considering some home exercise equipment I thought I might share my experience. If it helps even one person avoid buying a bad product (a NordicTrack eliptical) from a bad company (ICON Fitness), it will be worth the time for me to write this all down. So here’s the story:

Last fall, my wife & I decided that we were going to invest in some exercise equipment for the house. We weren’t making it to the gym enough to justify our memberships and the thought was that if we had some equipment at home, we would use it. So we looked around at the brands we knew from the gym (Precor and another premium brand) and found out that those products were really expensive. Now we knew we didn’t want one of the ultra cheap ones because neither of us believed that they would last, so instead we decided that we would go for a nice high end model from our local sporting goods store. Ultimately, we tried out a few and opted for the NordicTrack 990 AudioStrider. It had the functionality that we wanted, had a variety of programs, and was in our price range of $1,000 – $1,250. We thought we were thinking ahead when we even spent the extra $125 on a 3 year extended warranty.

So we got home with the machine and I set it up in our exercise room, and needless to say we were pretty excited and started to use it immediately. Over the next few weeks, both my wife and I worked up to using it at least 5 day a week for about 30 minutes a session. Over the course of those first weeks we started to hear a few clacks, squeaks and mild scraping noises which we didn’t pay too much attention to – they didn’t seem to affect the operation. However, about the same time we started to notice that the front ramp wasn’t working like it was supposed to. While the ramp would go up and down as commanded, when ever it was in the ‘up’ position, the ramp would slowly lower of its own accord over the course of the next 2-3 minutes until it was in the lowest possible position. We could reset it back to its top position with the controls, but it would always slowly slip back down to the lowest incline. This was a nuisance that we put up with because we were both busy during the days with work and didn’t have the time to be at home to meet a repairman.

Round about 3 months in, the vibrations started to get really bad and so I broke down and called NordicTrack customer support. During that first conversation I told the (very nice) woman about the issue with the excessive vibrations and the incline ramp and she said, “Oh that sounds like a bearing problem.” I didn’t know anything about the engineering of the machine so I assumed that this was the problem. The customer service representative then said that she would send out the appropriate parts and when they arrived that I should contact their local customer support partner to schedule a repair. I should have seen the alarms going off at this point: NordicTrack had asked me to diagnose the problem with my own machine even though I knew nothing about it except how to use it!

When the parts arrived – 2 weeks later (!!!) – all that I received was a small plastic bag with axle grease, so I called customer service back and they said that the bearing was back-ordered and would be shipped within a few days. When I asked the customer service rep “What if that’s not really the problem? My machine has already been out of commission for 3 weeks?” she responded that the parts were on the way and that we would be back up and running soon.

Another week later the parts arrived and another week later the service man finally came to fix the machine. What he found within 5 minutes was that the bearing was not the problem at all – it was the wheels that run up and down in the incline ramp which were completely disintegrated. Literally the little plastic wheels had come off of their plastic hub. Of course, the repairman didn’t have these parts with him, so he had to go back and order them and schedule a new time to repair the unit. This he did and another 2 weeks later we finally had the machine repaired. All told, we had now owned the machine for about 4.5 months and fully 1/3 of that time it had been collecting dust and acting as a 200 lbs coat hanger.

About a month later, there were more clacking noises so thinking that I would get ahead of the game and call while the machine was still actually working I called to complain about the noise and reiterate that the incline ramp was still not working. Two weeks later some more parts arrived and I called out the service man to fix the machine. This time, the service man took apart the incline ramp and discovered that the bottom frame of the machine (1/8″ think steel) had a giant crack in it and was unrepairable. Needless to say we were very angry because now we had something that we couldn’t use at all.

I waited a few days before calling customer support to allow the service tech to file all his paperwork. When I called they immediately started to give me the run around. I finally told them that I just wanted a refund and I’d be done with the whole experience. I was told that they only provided replacements and not refunds on used equipment. When I pushed them on this, talking to various groups from customer support, billing, returns, management, etc, I got the same old answer: “we’ll send you a new one.” Of course, they didn’t tell me that they were currently out of stock and wouldn’t ship for a few weeks – I had to find that out when I called them back for the 3rd time to ask about removal of the broken machine and installation of the replacement.

When I asked about this last topic, they told me that I could “throw away the broken machine” but that I was going to have to “assemble the new one on my own because I didn’t pay for the original one to be assembled.” When I asked them where I was supposed to dispose of a 200 lb machine that is 6 feet long and not particularly mobile, their answer was: “Just put it out by the curb with a ‘Free’ sign on it.” At this point I just about went ballistic but managed to maintain my cool.

And one more funny note to all this: I asked about the warranty on the new machine and they said that the warranty of the new machine is effective from the date of purchase of the original (broken) machine. Since the broken machine was bought nearly 8 months ago now, the new machine (whenever it eventually arrives) will only have maybe 3 months of warranty left on it! And this was after the first machine was out of commission for nearly 4 of the 8 months of which we have owned it.

So that brings us up to today. I am now waiting for my new machine to be delivered and while I wait I have a 200 lb coat hanger in my exercise room. I will soon have a machine which the manufacturer will not even warranty and which I know will break down about every 2 months.

If I can say one thing about this whole experience it is this: please learn from my mistake and don’t do business with NordicTrack or ICON fitness. Their products are garbage, they don’t support their customers and their customer service representatives and processes are purposefully designed to frustrate their customers and get them to the date when their product warranties expire.”

Warranty

The standard warranty offered by Nordic Trac is one year parts and labor. While this is longer than the 90 days offered by some makes, it is a pity that Nordic Track do not give frames a longer warranty as these should stand up to much longer use.

Unfortunately with fitness equipment you tend to get what you pay for so if your machine will get heavy use (say more than 30 minutes three times a week at moderate intensity) or you are worried about build quality and endurance make sure you take out extended warranty cover or choose a different elliptical.

Our Summary

 

A Nordic Track elliptical trainer range is fine for light use and you get a lot of features for your money but if you want a machine you can subject to prolonged or strenuous workouts you need to look for a more robust (and probably more expensive) machine.

 

Where to Buy Nordic track Elliptical machines

You can buy NordicTrack exercise equipment in retail stores and on the Web via NordicTrack.com and other approved sites such as Workout Warehouse.