June 14, 2024
Rear Drive Vs Front Drive Elliptical

So, are you thinking about getting your first-ever workout machine at home or enriching your gym with more usable equipment? Then, ellipticals can offer you a great deal.

Now, don’t you have the question in your mind that, what an elliptical machine actually is??

“An elliptical machine is known as an elliptical trainer or cross-trainer, which is a fitness equipment usually found in different gyms and home workout spaces”.

These machines are usually found in two varieties based on where the flywheels are actually (rear drive vs front drive elliptical). Though there’s a 3rd type also but those are used rarely.

However, selecting the proper type of elliptical machine is difficult to ensure you get the most out of your gym experience. So, now are you confused between rear drive and front drive elliptical machines-which one you should buy? Because, both rear-drive and front-drive ellipticals have their unique features, advantages, and disadvantages.

So, here this blog outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each type, which help you to make a decision for purchasing your gym.

Importance of Choosing the Right Type of Elliptical

Basically, elliptical machines are designed to provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout that simulates the motion of running, walking, or climbing stairs.

Elliptical machines usually allow you a smooth and fluid motion, which decreases stress on the joints, establishing it a popular choice for individuals suffering from joint issues or those looking for a low-impact workout. Besides, the intensity of the workout can be adjusted by changing the resistance level also, allowing users to customize their exercise according to their fitness goals and preferences. Whenever it’s about home fitness equipment then comfort comes first.

However, different types of elliptical machines have several types of fitness goals, safety goals, durability, and budgets. So, you have to select your types according to your needs.

Most importantly, choosing the appropriate type of elliptical machine is essential to maximize your fitness goals and also to ensure a comfortable workout.

What is a Rear Drive Elliptical Machine?

FUNMILY Elliptical Trainer

So, a Rear Drive Elliptical Machine is a kind of elliptical trainer that features a rear-drive design for its own flywheel (the flywheels are the kind of wheels that are spun while in operation by the movement of the operator, giving resistance throughout the workout.) and drive system.

Moreover, the flywheel which is located at the back of the machine, behind the user’s body as they exercise, provides resistance and smooth motion. This design also closely mimics a natural elliptical motion that provides a good user experience.

This is actually similar to the spinning of a bike. However, here the difference is that it’s involved with both arms and legs.

Advantages of Rear Drive Ellipticals

  • Natural elliptical motion

So, the natural elliptical motion of the rear drive is basically a smooth and fluid movement that gives you the feeling of walking or running. While walking on a rear drive, your feet will go through an oval-shaped path exactly similar to the motion of walking or running.

This can make your workout feel more relaxing and ergonomic and also, reduce the risk of strain or discomfort during exercise.

As the flywheels situated at the back of the machine provide an elliptical a different feel. Most importantly this elliptical feels like a flat surface while using. This flatter movement gives the user a natural experience that is liked by many people.

  • Smoother and quieter operation

The rear-drive elliptical machine always provides a smoother and quieter operation because of its design. As I’ve already mentioned, its flywheel and drive system are located at the back of the machine which offers different benefits and also makes the user’s workout enjoyable. Such as:

  • The design helps to reduce vibration.
  • Provides a balanced center of gravity.
  • Give a quiet performance. &
  • Enhanced user experiences.

In this elliptical, the flywheels are placed at the back that’s why the weight distributions are more even. This leads you to a more suitable experience and disrupts you from disturbance.

Also, a rear-drive design helps to maintain a balanced center of gravity which improves the stability of the machine.

Along with these capabilities, the machine can contribute to a quiet operation. This is specifically beneficial for the people who use this at home.

Finally, these characteristics lead to providing a consumer with a far better user experience and give him/her a soothing workout experience.

  • Reduced impact on joints

The rear-drive elliptical machine is widely known for providing a reduced impact on joints which makes it popular for people’s choice. This particular type is usually picked by those people who are suffering from joint issues or those seeking a low-impact workout.

This elliptical basically has an ergonomic stride length. This means it is designed in such a way that you get the feeling of natural walking or running motion that reduces the stress on your joints.

Also, it facilitates a smoother and more fluid elliptical motion. This reduces any flicking movements which could impact your joints, rather it provides a gentle and comfortable workout experience.

If you compare it to a high-impactful exercise like running on a treadmill then you’ll find that the rear-drive elliptical places less pressure on your joints, especially on the knees, hips, and ankles. Moreover, its design reduces the risk of putting undue stress on specific joints.

Most importantly, it also has resistance levels, which allow you to control the intensity while working out. This actually indicates you can achieve a cardiovascular workout without subjecting your joints to high-impact forces.

  • Stability and Durability

When we want to buy anything the first question that comes to our mind is how many days it will last right? 

So, it indicates that stability and durability are always a big concern for consumers.

This rear-drive elliptical machine is always designed while keeping sustainability and durability in mind. It is designed in such a way that it has great sustainability along with a good user experience. Also, it has the least risk of wobbling or tipping during more intense workouts. Moreover, its design requires less maintenance over time.

Disadvantages of Rear-Drive Ellipticals

  • Typically, more expensive

Rear-drive ellipticals are usually more costly than the other kind of ellipticals (front drive or center drive). It is expensive because of its design and the technology used in it.

Moreover, some rear-drive machines are produced by well-known fitness equipment brands that have established a reputation for quality and performance. Such as Nordic track, Proform Ellipticals etc. These types of brands often fixed a premium price due to their brand value and customer trust. Meanwhile, the demands of this variant often create a cause for taking extra price.

  • Larger footprint

Here, the larger footprint of rear-drive elliptical machines indicates the amount of floor space they usually occupy. Unlike other elliptical varieties, rear-drive machines tend to have a longer profile, which can impact the overall space requirements for placement and usage. This machine is usually better suited for people who are taller and heavier.

So, if you have a space shortage in your home or gym then you shouldn’t go for this variant.

What is a Front Drive Elliptical Machine?

ProForm Endurance 920 E Elliptical

I know now you have a question in your mind: what is a front-drive elliptical machine & why is it different from rear-drive ellipticals?

Basically, a Front-drive elliptical is a kind of elliptical machine that gets its name from the position of the flywheel and drive system that is located at the front of the machine.

Usually, Front Drive Ellipticals provide soothing and natural elliptical motions, engaging various muscle groups, and offering adjustable resistance levels for personalized workouts. However, some models may feel slightly different and less natural.

This variant usually gives you the feeling that you’re walking uphill rather than walking on the ground. Here the stride is smooth enough however, there’s a little bit of incline and that’s why you feel your body tilt forward while working out.

Advantages of Front-Drive Ellipticals

  • Space-saving design

This front-drive elliptical has a great advantage in that it has a space-saving design. Unlike the rear-drive ellipticals, which have positioned their flywheel and drive system at the back, front-drive models have located these features at the front of the machine. This positioning makes it ideal for users with limited workout space at home or apartments with space shortage.

It also has better placement flexibility along with easier storage and efficient use of space.

  • Generally, more affordable

Usually, front-drive elliptical machines are more affordable compared to other elliptical machines.

This machine has a very minimalistic design with a flywheel and drive system positioned at the front. This manufacturing system reduces its cost. Also, it builds with more readily available and cost-effective materials which helps to keep its production costs down. Moreover, due to its space-saving advantage, it has a great demand among customers which is also a cause for its affordable price.

Disadvantages of Front-Drive Ellipticals

  • Potentially less natural stride motion

Usually, the front-drive elliptical machine doesn’t have natural stride motion like a rear-drive elliptical. This is designed in such a way that it may flatter the elliptical path, which might not mimic the natural feelings of running and walking.

So, if you find this front-drive elliptical less natural and uncomfortable for you then you may go for other elliptical machines or you can consult with your fitness guide.

  • Slightly higher impact on joints

Yes, according to some users, this front-drive elliptical machine has a slightly higher impact on joints than other elliptical machines. Basically, it has a flatter elliptical path, and also its flywheels are placed at the front which may lead to more stress on the knees and ankles while working out. Those who already have joint issues usually face the impact in a higher density.

On the other hand, a rear-drive elliptical can give you a natural workout experience. Also, adjusting the resistance and speed on the elliptical can also help customize the workout intensity to your comfort level which you don’t get in the front drive elliptical machine.

So, if you have a health issue or any pre-existing joint problem then I think you need to think twice before purchasing it.

Comparing Rear Drive and Front Drive Elliptical Machine

Design and Motion

  • Rear Drive: In a rear-drive elliptical, the drive mechanism is usually located at the back of the machine which gives it a smooth and comfortable feeling. It is designed in such a way that its pedals follow an elliptical path.
  • Front Drive: Whereas, front drive elliptical is slightly different from the rear drive in design and motion. Because it has its flywheels at the front of the machine which gives you a feel that you’re running on an oval-shaped surface. People often don’t find it comfortable.

Space and Footprint

  • Rear Drive: Usually, the rear drive elliptical has a larger footprint because of its flywheels which are situated at the back. Also, this variant is spacious because of its design.
  • Front Drive: Compared to the rear drive elliptical, the front drive elliptical has a smaller footprint because its flywheels are located at the front. Also, it takes less space because of its design.

Joint Impact

  • Rear Drive: The design of the rear drive elliptical usually offers a natural feeling of walking or running which often causes the reduction of joint pain.
  • Front Drive: On the other hand, the front drive elliptical is designed in such a way that while walking you won’t get a natural feeling rather you’ll feel like you’re walking on a surface that is oval shaped. This usually creates extra pressure on your joints.

Noise and Smoothness

  • Rear Drive: As I’ve already mentioned that rear drive has flywheels at the back and this gives a smooth and noiseless feeling to the users.
  • Front Drive: In this variant, the flywheels are at the front which can create noises while in operation. However, most of the front drive ellipticals don’t make noises.

Price Range

  • Rear Drive: It is usually seen that these variants are quite expensive than other variants because of their material and manufacturing.
  • Front Drive: Front Drive ellipticals are always cheaper than rear-drive ellipticals, which makes them popular among people.


  • Rear Drive: Usually rear drive ellipticals tend to be more stable because it is designed in such a way. Most people found this variant stable while using it.
  • Front Drive: Meanwhile, front drive ellipticals are also stable. However, for stability, you need to pick the right variant.

Customization and Features

  • Rear Drive: Most of the rear drive elliptical has the option for customization along with resistance level & workout programs. Which is a very helpful factor for individuals.
  • Front Drive: Unlike the rear drive elliptical, the front drive elliptical does not provide much variation. However, it also has more or less options.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Rear Drive and Front Drive Ellipticals

Available Space in Your Home or Gym

  • Rear Drive: If you have enough space at your home or gym then you can easily go for this one while considering other factors.
  • Front drive: However, if you have less space at your home and gym then you might need to pick a front-drive elliptical because it is less spacious.

Budget Considerations

  • Rear Drive: As I have already mentioned that rear-drive ellipticals are a bit more expensive than front-drive. So, if you have a high budget then you can go for this one.
  • Front drive: Before purchasing an elliptical if you need to think about your budget twice then you can get a front drive elliptical. because it is usually found in affordable varieties.

Personal Preference and Comfort

  • Rear Drive: Always remember, personal preference is a key factor for purchasing anything. So if you prefer a natural feeling of walking or running then you can go for this one.
  • Front Drive: However, if your preference is different and getting a natural feeling isn’t mandatory for you then you can purchase these variants.

Fitness Goals and Intended Use

  • Rear Drive: Every person has different fitness goals. If you have a joint problem & want to improve that then he or she can purchase it.
  • Front Drive: If your fitness goals are different and you don’t need it for joint problems or you don’t have any pre-existing joint pain then you can go for this one.

Long-term Durability and Warranty

  • Rear Drive: Most consumers are always concerned about durability. So, if you want to purchase an elliptical for the long term then you might need to go for this one.
  • Front Drive: Front drive ellipticals are also durable, however, sometimes they may not last for a long time. So, before purchasing this variant for long-term use you need to think twice.

Basically, apart from some of these considerations, most of the factors depend on your personal preferences. 

Wrap Up

So, to understand what your personal preference is, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Then, you can make an informed decision that best suits your fitness goals and home gym setup.

Whatever your ultimate pick is, you’ll find any kind of elliptical machine offers you a spectacular cardio experience that makes your gym great and you can use it to lose weight and get fit.