When it comes to value and performance at a very reasonable price, this model is certainly a standout in what can be a very crowded field. The Fitness Reality E5500XL Magnetic Elliptical Trainer delivers top-quality features at a fraction of the cost of its more expensive competitors.
At this price point you won’t find an integrated television or bluetooth connectivity, but many people simply don’t need the types of bells and whistles that can quickly drive up prices. It's surely one of the best ellipticals for less than $500 currently on the market.
Our Fitness Reality E5500XL review will dive into the product features that matter, including design and functionality, features, and style. We’ll also include comparisons to other models in the same price range to see how it stacks up to to some pricier options, and answer some frequently asked questions about this popular unit.
Fitness Reality E5500XL Design & Functionality (How Does It Work?)
Like most other ellipticals this model relies on a flywheel system (specifically two flywheels) to provide its running motion and magnets to control how hard it is for you to move the pedals (the resistance). The use of magnets to control the resistance is actually found in numerous types of exercise equipment, including high-end elliptical models.
The two flywheel setup, or dual transmission system, can provide some advantages over other ellipticals that use a single flywheel. Specifically, the dual transmission on the E5500XL:
- Provides faster momentum (more calories burned)
- Gives a smoother stride (less fatigue)
- Reduces the overall size of the machine (easier to store)
The use of two flywheels also shortens the distance between the left and right pedals of the elliptical. Because your legs aren’t spread far apart while maintaining your strides, you inner thighs will be put under less strain and you’ll be able to maintain a more traditional running posture.
Functionality, Features and Design
At its fairly low price point, this elliptical doesn’t have all the extra features of the priciest models on the market, but doesn’t skimp on the ones you need to have an effective and enjoyable workout.
Even at a very affordable price this model offers sturdy dual-action handlebars. This feature is often excluded in the lower price ranges and is a great way to simultaneously build upper body strength and endurance while reaping the aerobic benefits of an elliptical workout.
The stride length for this elliptical is 18 inches. Stride length is the distance between the pedals in their most forward and most backward positions. The stride length on the EX5500XL is suitable for most folks to execute a full range of motion, though the tallest users may want to look at something with a 20 inch or higher stride.
Electronics and Controls
Its 24 levels of adjustable resistance provide more than enough opportunity to fully customize your workout. With this much flexibility you can start off with an easy warm up, build to a challenging plateau or interval set, and then cool down gradually to reduce the risk of fatigue and soreness.
In fact, the digital control panel comes pre-programmed with 21 different routines. That means if you use the elliptical 3 times a week you could go almost two months without repeating a single one.
The controls offer a number of other features as well. You can monitor your pace and activity by:
- RPMs (Rotations Per Minute)
- Calories Burned
- Watts (Energy)
Also, the electronics supports goal setting for time, distance and calories burned.
Finally, sensors in the hand grips of the E5500XL accurately track your pulse as you work out. This feature helps you get into your target heart rate zone by letting you know exactly when you need to speed up your RPMs or crank up the resistance.
While this elliptical doesn’t have a built-in television like some models down at the gym, it does have a built-in shelf that will accommodate a tablet or cell phone. The mount is close enough to the user that a set of wired headphones will be just as usable as a bluetooth model.
There is also a water bottle mount on the model’s center post. While it’s billed as a drink holder, it’s perfectly suitable to hold your set of keys and even large enough to hold a small towel.
Portability and Storage
Compared to many other elliptical models the E5500XL is on the compact side and relatively easy to store and move. At roughly 2 feet wide and 5 feet long this elliptical can be stored in a walk-in closet and fits snugly in the corner of a room. Also, at roughly 90 lbs and sporting built-in wheels, this model is easy for a single person to easily move.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does this elliptical go forward and backward?
Yes, you can turn the pedals in either direction. It’s actually quite common to see people running backwards on an elliptical machine to target different muscle groups.
How much weight does it support?
The machine is rated for users up to 270 lbs.
Does the machine require batteries?
No. Every aspect of operation runs via a standard wall plug, including the electronics and LCD screen.
Is it hard to change the resistance?
No. The resistance is managed via the control panel and can be changed with the push of a button.
Comparisons To Other Ellipticals
Compared to other elliptical machines in its price range the E5500XL runs with the best of them, but what are some other options if you’d like to spend a little more or spend a little less? We’ve picked two other models, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Bike at the lower end, and the ProForm Pro 16.9 Elliptical Trainer on the more expensive side to give you a compare and contrast.
One of the biggest differentiators among the three models is the control set. The more expensive ProForm Pro 16.9 has the most advanced controls and screen of the group, featuring a large color touchscreen that you can use to adjust your resistance, incline, etc. and comes pre-programmed with 35 workouts. The E5500XL also has electronic controls, but forgoes the fancy touchscreen and instead uses simple push buttons.
Not surprisingly, the Sunny Health model has the least impressive controls out of the group. The SF-E905 doesn’t use electronics to control resistance, instead relying on a simple knob crank that the user must manually adjust.
While all three models do have some type of computer to track your workout, the Sunny Health SF-E905 is again extremely basic. Surprisingly though, this model does include handles that you grip to track your heart rate while you workout. The E5500-XL isn’t a radical step up, but you’ll find the extra buttons make it easier to operate and the larger screen is much easier to view while exercising.
The ProForm Pro 16.9 certainly takes the cake here - with more cost comes more features. Apart from the ten inch touchscreen, this model also includes the requisite grips for monitoring heart rate and also includes a wireless chest strap for tracking your pulse as well. You’ll love this feature if you don’t want to constantly keeps your hands on the grips or remember to do so intermittently.
Size and Capacity:
If wanting to keep an elliptical in a small space at home, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 wins out due to its super compact size of roughly 2 ½ long by 1 ½ feet wide. The Fitness Reality is almost twice as long while the ProForm adds about 25 additional inches on top of that.
Smaller sized ellipticals come with two main caveats:
- Weight Capacity
- Stride Length
The ultra small size of the Sunny model limits its weight capacity to only 220 lbs. and forces the very compact stride length of 11 inches. If you’re taller than five and a half feet there’s a good possibility you won’t achieve full range of motion on this elliptical machine.
With their larger size the Fitness Reality and ProForm models can support 270 lbs and 375 lbs respectively. While the E5500XL has a fixed stride length of 18 inches, the ProForm Pro 16.9 has the advantage on stride. It stands out as the only model of the three to feature an adjustable stride length.
The power adjustable stride length on the Pro 16.9 makes it easily adaptable for multiple heights so that each person in your home can get a workout customized for them.
What Others Are Saying About The Fitness Reality E5500XL:
This elliptical is easy to assemble. It takes most people just a couple hours to put it together, with minimal tools required.
Great value for the money - It doesn’t have all the high-end features of pricey models, but most don’t seem to mind.
Sturdy for its size - Not as stout as some models you might in your local gym, but also not nearly as bulky or heavy.
May “squeak” a bit - This is common for any machine with moving parts. Any noise issues can likely be solved with a quick spray of WD-40.
The Fitness Reality E5500XL is a great entry-level elliptical machine that delivers many features while avoiding a huge price tag. It doesn’t try to compete with the high-end machines you’ve likely seen at the gym, but instead provides real value for the money.
The machine is compact and light enough for most folks to move by themselves, comes with the core electronics and tracking features that most people need and provides 24 levels of resistance for fine-tuning your workout.
All in all, this elliptical is a solid choice for working out at home without breaking the bank.
Product Images Via Amazon.com