Horizon elliptical trainers are inexpensive machines designed for the budget-minded. They compete heavily in the $500-$1,000 price range with brands like ProForm and Nordic Track. Before I proceed with this review, I must state that I am never comfortable recommending elliptical trainers for less than $1,000. They generally are equipped with cheap components, and are not well engineered. Spending $1,000 or less is not going to buy you a precision machine. That is evident when you test the Horizon elliptical trainers.
Most of my fitness equipment testing is at stores like Dick’s Sporting or Sports Authority. Testing equipment in these mass retail environments can be very revealing. That is due to the fact these machines are abused. You get a real sense of the durability of a particular model.
My experience is that the Horizon elliptical trainers do not hold up well under strenuous use. At least half the machines I tested had loose handlebars. Of course, all you have to do is tighten them, but few other machines had that problem. Some of the Horizon ellipticals developed squeaks, while others seemed less than stable. I
Small Stride Lengths
My biggest complaint about the Horizon elliptical trainers is the stride. Although this is not true with all their machines, I find many have a very small stride. I am average height, and when I get on the lower cost Horizon ellipticals, the stride seems short and restricting. It is less of an elliptical motion, and more circular. You tend to bounce. This is particularly true with the ellipticals that have the 14″ stride. They are designed for little people. The 18″ stride machines are preferable.
If you are shopping for a Horizon elliptical trainer, you will notice they have numerous models. They sell in two series, the Elite and the Horizon. On their web site, I counted 13 models. On Dick’s Sporting Goods site, I counted several more models that are not listed on the Horizon site.
If you were considering purchasing a Horizon, I would recommend staying away from the low-end models. Consider the CSE 4.6 or the EX44. Both are available at Dick’s, and have 18″ strides, with a nice range of resistance levels. Call first to see if the store in your area carries these models. You may also want to consider an extended warranty, particularly if you plan to use the machine extensively.
So should you purchase a Horizon elliptical trainer? It depends! If your budget is limited and you cannot spend more than $1,000, the Horizon is definitely a contender, and one of the better values. However, if you plan to workout regularly, and want quality and durability, you need to move up to the $1,500+ price range.