Front Drive vs. Rear Drive Elliptical – Does it matter

Front Drive vs. Rear Drive Elliptical – Does it matter

The location of the flywheel in an elliptical trainer is one of the main characteristics, on which, in turn, many other parameters already depend. Most ellipses are divided into front drive vs. rear drive elliptical. Which one is better to choose?

Elliptical trainers with rear-drive

Such models are conditionally considered classic because they appeared first. The flywheel is located behind the user.


  • It’s worth highlighting the cost right away: rear-wheel drive models are usually more affordable, and you can buy them even with a small budget.
  • Definitely compactness. Due to its design, the rear-wheel drive trainer requires little installation space.
  • Low wear of parts and low noise level during operation due to the reduced number of moving parts and connections.

You can see the pros and cons

  • Due to the short stride length, they are uncomfortable for tall people and are also not very suitable for intensive exercises.
  • The circular trajectory of foot movement: almost a third of the movement is due to pushing the pedal with your own weight, and not with muscle effort. Also, a large step height is not the best option for measured workouts. The knee is raised high, as in a sprint.
  • Large Q-Factor: The distance between the pedals is about 20 cm and puts more strain on the knees and ankles.

Front Drive Elliptical Trainers

Accordingly, the flywheel of the front-wheel drive ellipsoids is located directly in front of the trainee.


  • Suitable for people of any height, due to the longer stride length (on average, it is 500-510 mm). But a particularly good choice will be for high users.
  • Suitable for training at a medium and low pace due to the lower height of the trajectory (but there are models with a high height).
  • Some models are equipped with a folding system, which is important for storage in small city apartments.
  • Small to Medium Q-Factor: Small pedal spacing saves your joints while you move.


  • They have significantly larger dimensions than rear-wheel drive models.
  • Somewhat noisier due to the friction of the rollers on the guides.
  • Price: The cost of front-wheel drive models is usually significantly higher than rear-wheel drive ones.

In general, it is worth recognizing that the front flywheel elliptical trainer is much better (almost all home ellipses in the high-price category are like that). But, if you have any doubts, then visit our showroom and test both options for yourself!

Is there a difference?

There are, but not many. You will see the differences very quickly and realize that everything is mainly determined by preferences.

  • Pitch: The front-wheel drive Ellipse has a steeper pitch. Since you’re struggling with four-wheel drive, you’ll feel more drag when you’re driving, which is good. Helps build slightly more muscle than a rear-wheel drive elliptical. Because you’re moving against the forces of front-wheel drive, you’ll experience a whole different shift in balance and movement with the rear-wheel drive elliptical.
  • Smooth: The rear-wheel drive Ellipse actually runs smoother than the front-wheel drive Ellipse. It may not seem like much, but if you move one at a time you can feel the difference. It doesn’t have much resistance, but you can still sweat. It’s a win-win depending on how strong your joints are!
  • Price: Right. The rear-wheel drive oval is actually more expensive than the front-wheel drive. The reason is not clear, but it could be due to manufacturing differences and cost, or the public perception that the rear-wheel drive elliptical trainer performs better than the front-wheel drive. If you don’t care, a four-wheel drive will cost you less.

How about mid-drive elliptical sneakers?

The mid-drive elliptical trainer almost eliminates the difference between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. That awkward sensation of moving momentum under your feet doesn’t feel strong on the mid-drive elliptical.

It’s like riding a bike and feeling the center of the frame as the center of gravity.

But you don’t have to look for it specifically. It feels like a cross between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive, but the difference isn’t so obvious that it steers decisions one way rather than the other.

Manage your aerobic results the way you want

So is it important? It is important in terms of price and noise. The incline differs from the front-wheel drive Ellipse, offering more resistance, while the rear-wheel drive Ellipse offers a smoother glide (like sliding through butter) and feels more natural.

But is it important enough? no way. It’s not a problem as any machine can perform a great workout and elliptical machines affect your balance in an unnatural way anyway.

It all depends on you and your preferences. So if you ever get the chance, see if there’s a local gym with a one-day pass program where you can try each type of equipment for yourself before you buy it.

If you need to read about how long on elliptical to see results, please read our article.

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