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The Elliptigo tries to re-invent the wheel

16 Comments 05 August 2010

Next we'll put this on a treadmill on a truck on a treadmill on an airplane

Yesterday I bumped into a product that will not only change your life, but will surely end up into the informecial innuendo on 80% discount where you order one and get one for free for just shipping and handling! The Elliptigo (because it goes and is an ellipse) is a two-wheeled cross-trainer, simulating running outside. Seriously. What’s wrong with, um, well, running outside? I’ve been watching their marketing materials, since there are no reviews available, because the product isn’t actually out yet. Everything you see in the videos is done with their prototypes.

A few things in their marketing annoy me, first they say that “it’s just as efficient as a bicycle” – but they also say that the Elliptigo requires a shorter time for a workout. So, if they were as efficient – wouldn’t they take the same time? They say there will be no seat pain and less strain on your neck and back – which are problems for people who have wrong sized bikes and don’t bike enough to train their muscles.

They also say that it has, I quote: “The ability to climb hills.” My god, what did we do before this amazing invention to cross those annoying piles of very dense rock? And they say it’s a similarity to cycling. On their own page, in the SAME page they say that it’s “Built from industry standard cycling components”, but “Different size and shape reduce the number of off-the-shelf bicycle accessories that will accommodate the ElliptiGO”. Hey, super marketing tip here: Don’t contradict yourself on the same page.

Just by looking at it you see quite a few problems: No place for racks, panniers, mudguards, braze-ons for water bottle cages, let alone lights (especially in the rear) and changing the tyre on that thing doesn’t look too easy either. Even though they say it’s just as easy to dismount on it, I have to say the video didn’t quite convince me of its safety in a panic stop.

So you have a thing, which you can use to not run outside by simulating running outside on a bike where you have a cross-trainer to run outside because you don’t want to run outside.. eh. The Elliptigo is heavier than bikes, it’s less aerodynamic than bikes, not as efficient, doesn’t take your stuff on it, has exotic materials and is more expensive to repair and can you guess what is the best thing?

IT COSTS OVER TWO THOUSAND US DOLLARS. ($2.199 to be exact)

Seriously, over two grand for a product that is supposed to give benefit over running outside – without actually running outside. More fun from their site, they have a page where they compare the Elliptigo to running: It has three pros, six similarities and SIX cons against the Elliptigo. Also, I think the biggest point here is – which you probably noticed yourself if you watched the videos – It’s not actually anything like running. Unless you’re Michael Jackson moonwalking forward.

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Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

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  • http://www.varha.com Markus Varha

    They obviously didn’t go to the marketing school :)

  • http://twitter.com/Chambers Chambers

    “More fun from their site, they have a page where they compare the Elliptigo to running: It has three pros, six similarities and SIX cons against the Elliptigo.”

    That's pretty damn funny. Why would you even put that on your website when it's more cons than pros?

  • CalKidWilly

    Dude,
    I own one of these bikes and your speculative analysis is so wrong. See the website for several independent reviews of the bike by some major media under the ” news” tab. You certainly are entitled to your speculative opinion, but if you actually ride one, I'd guess your skeptical bias might be challenged.

  • Painrehab

    I could not disagree more with your comments. Did you even test ride an ElliptiGO before wrting this nonsence? I doubt it. Well…I have. In fact I own one. I have had mine for a few months now and I can tell you with absolute certainty this is a game changer in the world of outdoor low impact fitness equipment.

    The reason the ElliptiGO is much better for those with neck, back, and other musculoskeletal problems that is has no seat. As a spine specialist physician I can tell you your comments don't make anatomic or physiologic sense. The position of sitting is the worst in terms of intervertebral disc pressure. This pressure is what causes pain in those with disc disease be it degenerative or aquired. It would not make sense to say a “right sized bike” will fix these problem. NOT SITTING more long periods while exercising (i.e. riding a bike) will fix these problems. That is the solution proven for those able to exercise on a standard indoor elliptical trainer.

    You also say there is “No place for racks, panniers, mudguards, braze-ons for water bottle cages, let alone lights (especially in the rear) and changing the tire on that thing doesn’t look too easy either. ” yet you are contradicting yourself with the previous statement “Different size and shape reduce the number of off-the-shelf bicycle accessories that will accommodate the ElliptiGO” which you see as concerning. The whole point you are making is the same one on the website which is – There is no seat. That makes standard accessories difficult to use. There are still plenty to choose from on the market though. All you have to do is look at the accessories page on the web site.

    Also, I have ridden up to 40 miles at a time so far and have no problem keeping up with my cycling friends. It is a little counter intuitive but you actually gain ground going up hills and lose it going down. This is due to drag from standing. If you crouch you can get going quick though. I have gotten to 30 mph.

    From an exercise physiology standpoint this thing rock. Just like an indoor elliptical it burns calories more efficiently as you use larger muscles. At the same heart rate you burn more calories as you use more oxygen.

    Finally, I have changed the rear tire with little difficulty. The online support videos are awesome.

    So—- No offense please but I see several inconsistencies in your article. I challenge you to sign up for an actual test ride, research the health benefits of the indoor elliptical trainer which are proven, and then rewrite.

    - Best,

    Dr. L

    P.S. I do agree with one point you make. It is pricey.

  • http://www.varha.com Markus Varha

    Hello, people of ElliptiGo! It would be more effective if you actually used your real names (or at least names that sound like real names) and be a bit less obvious. Thanks!

    Spinal surgeon, tee hee hee, independent reviews, tee hee hee.

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  • Dennyjae

    I don’t agree with your article. I don’t own one but would like to. The important word is LOW IMPACT RUNNING less stress on knees. NO SEAT what a great idea I can’t even sit on a bike for one minute, due to medical reasons. This bike sounds wonderful. I do wish it was less expensive. Hopefully in time the price will drop.

  • Kayasoze

    Wow, so much hate, and such a closed mind. This machine is intended to deliver a good cardio workout without the problems associated with biking and running. It uses standard bicycle mechanical components, but is not compatible with many standard bicycle accessories, which require a seat or diamond frame. I hope the author develops a more positive psychology towards life; it’s key to health.

  • Kennethwayne

    Markus,
    Some of us are not Bike GEEKS.   That is your apparent bias.  I am a recovering heart patient.  I found that the stationary elliptical machine was the best workout for my cardio workout.  I got up to four miles a day five days a week but the boredom of being stationary drives me nuts. TV, mp3 players help but not much.   I have used a good gym quality spinning bike with a comfortable seat but do not enjoy the work out as much as the elliptical machine, nor is it as good as the statinary elliptical.  Now it may be true, I may not be doing it right, but since I’m not a bike geek, and just simply need to keep my heart and lungs up, I could care less about what the gizmo is, so long as it doesn’t bore me to death.  I have a good 30 miles of bike paths very close to my home where I can ride any manpowered conveyance I choose.  I took an ElliptiGo for a test rid today riding or pedalling in strong winds, and found I could adjust the resistance to an appropriate level where I could work the machine.  It was exhilarating.  I road about half an hour could have gone longer but it was cold.  This thing meets my needs very well.  No it’s not a bike you would see Lance on.  But, just like your article you miss the point.  I am not in any way an agent for this company and I do not own a machine yet but intend to purchase by the end of the week.  Wish it were cheaper, but after spending $80K to replumb my heart this past July and wanting to continue to stay active, it is within my means.
      Both the sales junk and your article confuse efficiency.   It’s obvious that the wind resistance will be much greater at speed on the ElliptiGo because you have more frontal area exposed hence your cd will be poor.  Since I don’t intend to try and win any speed races  why do I care?  Because, I can burn more calories with this than a bicycle in the same amount of time.  Since calorie burn is my goal, then my definition of efficiency is upside down from yours.

    Kenneth Ratcliff
    US ARMY Mechanical Engineer
    57 yrs old

  • Kennethwayne

    PS.
    I have read many “pro” articles and posts but hooked to yours since it was “con”.
    I need to know if I’m wasting my money.  However, your article was hardly objective.  Some of your points were not well made or were confusing.  My opinion is that your writtings are just about bikes and bikers interests.  Since I have a different need or concern your article does a disservice for those of us that are not in it just for the love of cycling.  Namely safe, low impact cardio work outs in the out of doors.  Why should you bike geeks have all the fun?
    Lastly, your writting could be taken more seriously if it weren’t so snarky.

    An Engineering Geek
    Kenneth

  • http://www.comingthru.com/ Markus Sandelin

    Dear Kenneth,

    As an engineer, you would surely agree with my logic of the mechanical design issues of the Elliptigo. If your goal is to exercise your heart, a bicycle will do just fine. More than that, it will be much cheaper, you can get a large selection of spare and extra parts for it and you will have options to traverse different terrains for example.

    If you want more resistance from a bike, put a larger gear on. But should you find yourself going uphill without energy, you can go to a smaller gear. A bicycle gives much more flexibility. I have an elliptical cross trainer at home and I use it regularly, but I still think the ElliptiGo is a waste of money.

    There’s a great little family-run bike shop in Warren, MI called Macomb bike & fitness ( http://www.macombbike.com/ or call them at 586.756.5400) – they offer free tuneups for your bike for life and I would strongly recommend you to pay a visit to them as well, tell them about your requirements and ask to take your for a bike ride.

    Have a great day,

    Markus

  • http://www.comingthru.com/ Markus Sandelin

    Buddhist monks say that I have good karma, which usually means that I think happy thoughts – I wanted to clarify, what are the problems associated with cycling cardio?

  • http://www.comingthru.com/ Markus Sandelin

    Hi Dennyjae,

    Might we ask what your reason is to not be able to sit on a bike? Not even on a recumbent bike? It’s basically exercising while lying down.

  • Opana

    dude regardless of whether or not they’re spinal surgeons, you’re obnoxious as fuck.

  • lawrence

    Markus  Negative and Hate. A true blue know it all. Love and kindness coming your way to heal your broken shattered heart. Poor soul. PEACE brother :)  XO

  • lawrence

    Markus  Negative and Hate. A true blue know it all. Love and kindness coming your way to heal your broken shattered heart. Poor soul. PEACE brother :)  XO

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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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