NordicTrack 990 AudioStrider - Learn from My Mistake

by Brad Juhasz
(United States)

MSRP $999.00

MSRP $999.00

One consumer's opinion about the NordicTrack 990 AudioStrider Elliptical.

For all those who might be considering some home exercise equipment I thought I might share my experience. If it helps even one person avoid buying a bad product (a NordicTrack elliptical) from a bad company (ICON Fitness), it will be worth the time for me to write this all down. So here's the story:

Last fall, my wife & I decided that we were going to invest in some exercise equipment for the house. We weren't making it to the gym enough to justify our memberships and the thought was that if we had some equipment at home, we would use it. So we looked around at the brands we knew from the gym (Precor and another premium brand) and found out that those products were really expensive. Now we knew we didn't want one of the ultra cheap ones because neither of us believed that they would last, so instead we decided that we would go for a nice high end model from our local sporting goods store. Ultimately, we tried out a few and opted for the NordicTrack 990 AudioStrider. It had the functionality that we wanted, had a variety of programs, and was in our price range of $1,000 - $1,250. We thought we were thinking ahead when we even spent the extra $125 on a 3 year extended warranty.

So we got home with the machine and I set it up in our exercise room, and needless to say we were pretty excited and started to use it immediately. Over the next few weeks, both my wife and I worked up to using it at least 5 day a week for about 30 minutes a session. Over the course of those first weeks we started to hear a few clacks, squeaks and mild scraping noises which we didn't pay too much attention to - they didn't seem to affect the operation. However, about the same time we started to notice that the front ramp wasn't working like it was supposed to. While the ramp would go up and down as commanded, when ever it was in the 'up' position, the ramp would slowly lower of its own accord over the course of the next 2-3 minutes until it was in the lowest possible position. We could reset it back to its top position with the controls, but it would always slowly slip back down to the lowest incline. This was a nuisance that we put up with because we were both busy dur
ing the days with work and didn't have the time to be at home to meet a repairman.

Round about 3 months in, the vibrations started to get really bad and so I broke down and called NordicTrack customer support. During that first conversation I told the (very nice) woman about the issue with the excessive vibrations and the incline ramp and she said, "Oh that sounds like a bearing problem." I didn't know anything about the engineering of the machine so I assumed that this was the problem. The customer service representative then said that she would send out the appropriate parts and when they arrived that I should contact their local customer support partner to schedule a repair. I should have seen the alarms going off at this point: NordicTrack had asked me to diagnose the problem with my own machine even though I knew nothing about it except how to use it!

When the parts arrived - 2 weeks later (!!!) - all that I received was a small plastic bag with axle grease, so I called customer service back and they said that the bearing was back-ordered and would be shipped within a few days. When I asked the customer service rep "What if that's not really the problem? My machine has already been out of commission for 3 weeks?" she responded that the parts were on the way and that we would be back up and running soon.

Another week later the parts arrived and another week later the service man finally came to fix the machine. What he found within 5 minutes was that the bearing was not the problem at all - it was the wheels that run up and down in the incline ramp which were completely disintegrated. Literally the little plastic wheels had come off of their plastic hub. Of course, the repairman didn't have these parts with him, so he had to go back and order them and schedule a new time to repair the unit. This he did and another 2 weeks later we finally had the machine repaired. All told, we had now owned the machine for about 4.5 months and fully 1/3 of that time it had been collecting dust and acting as a 200 lbs coat hanger.

About a month later, there were more clacking noises so thinking that I would get ahead of the game and call while the machine was still actually working I called to complain about the noise and reiterate that the incline ramp was still not working. Two weeks later some more parts arrived and I called out the service man to fix the machine. This time, the service man took apart the NordicTrack 990 AudioStrider's incline ramp and discovered that the bottom frame of the machine (1/8" think steel) had a giant crack in it and was unrepairable. Needless to say we were very angry because now we had something that we couldn't use at all.

I waited a few days before calling customer support to allow the service tech to file all his paperwork. When I called they immediately started to give me the run around. I finally told them that I just wanted a refund and I'd be done with the whole experience. I was told that they only provided replacements and not refunds on used equipment. When I pushed them on this, talking to various groups from customer support, billing, returns, management, etc, I got the same old answer: "we'll send you a new one." Of course, they didn't tell me that they were currently out of stock and wouldn't ship for a few weeks - I had to find that out when I called them back for the 3rd time to ask about removal of the broken machine and installation of the replacement.

When I asked about this last topic, they told me that I could "throw away the broken machine" but that I was going to have to "assemble the new one on my own because I didn't pay for the original one to be assembled." When I asked them where I was supposed to dispose of a 200 lb machine that is 6 feet long and not particularly mobile, their answer was: "Just put it out by the curb with a 'Free' sign on it." At this point I just about went ballistic but managed to maintain my cool.

And one more funny note to all this: I asked about the warranty on the new machine and they said that the warranty of the new machine is effective from the date of purchase of the original (broken) machine. Since the broken machine was bought nearly 8 months ago now, the new machine (whenever it eventually arrives) will only have maybe 3 months of warranty left on it! And this was after the first machine was out of commission for nearly 4 of the 8 months of which we have owned it.

So that brings us up to today. I am now waiting for my new machine to be delivered and while I wait I have a 200 lb coat hanger in my exercise room. I will soon have a machine which the manufacturer will not even warranty and which I know will break down about every 2 months.

If I can say one thing about this whole experience with the NordicTrack 990 AudioStrider it is this: please learn from my mistake and don't do business with NordicTrack or ICON fitness. Their products are garbage, they don't support their customers and their customer service representatives and processes are purposefully designed to frustrate their customers and get them to the date when their product warranties expire.

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NordicTrack Audiostrider 990 - Flywheel Problems After 2 Weeks

by Richard
(UK)

I purchased the NordicTrack Audiostrider 990 elliptical in early December 2008. At first all seemed ok, it was quiet and comfortable to use. After about 2 weeks and max. 6 hours use the flywheel became unbelievaby noisy (loud rumbling, grinding and clanking sounds), with vibration.

I contacted ICON Fitness and they sent an engineer. The screws holding the flywheel housing were put on so tight at the factory that he was unable to remove it (even though this is meant to be possible according to the User Manual). Having heard and felt the problem his report stated that the machine would have to be replaced.

A new NordicTrack Audiostrider 990 was delivered a couple of weeks later and the old one taken away (with much complaining by the delivery man, even though I tipped him £20 (approx. $40) for his trouble!). The third time I used the replacement machine, the problems that had occured on the original machine started to appear again.

Although I am still able to use the machine, it is not an enjoyable experience because of the loud noises and vibration. I have contacted ICON to ask for refund of money and removal of the machine from my home. They are happy to take the machine away, but are not prepared to give me my money back.

I - CON is an unfortunate, but very fitting name for this company. The NordicTrack Audiostrider 990 is a great concept and I really want to like it, but it's a dog in reality. Seems badly made and its certainly badly supported (in the UK, anyway).

There do seem to be a lot of rave reviews about this model, but I can't help but think that these are written by people who haven't actually used the machine for any length of time, if at all.

My advice is save your money, do your research and spend a bit more on a better quality product. Smooth elliptical trainers seem to get good comments and most of their machines are just about in my price bracket, so I think I will be taking my business to them, once I get my money back from ICON.

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NordicTrack AudioStrider 990

by Dave
(Ohio)

I bought the NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 looking at pretty good ratings in a leading consumer magazine and also thinking that at around $900 it was not too inexpensive that it should fall apart like some $200 or $300 machine I could have got from the local discount store but it wasn't $3000 to $4000 that would mean taking out a loan and making payments.

My big mistake was buying the unit a year and a half before I got serious about using it (the warranty is only good for 1 year). I should have looked at this site which shows that people have had issues with this model/brand not fitting together properly or lining up that well at assembly. I had some parts that didn't seem to fit together perfectly but thought that it would not be a problem as long as they went together.

I was about 220 lbs. when I started using the unit on a regular basis and within the first month one of the "upper body handles" broke at one of the weld points. I looked up the replacement cost of the part and it lists for $104.56 so rather than spend more than 10% of what I paid for the whole unit I looked at alternate solutions to the problem and I was fortunate enough to have access to a welder and a good friend that knows how to weld and he was able to get the piece welded back together and it has held ok ever since.

However, in the three months since then the joint or bushing near where that piece originally broke has worn and become loose to the point it looks like it will need some kind of attention before too long. Looking at the design of the unit with these problems in mind, it is understandable why the problems are occurring. The foot pads or pedals are not centrally mounted over the arms that they are attached to. The pedals are mounted so that approximately two thirds of the pedal is inside the arm that it it mounted to. This positioning of the pedals puts a constant twist strain on the arms they are mounted to and will eventually cause problems, especially the heavier you are. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS UNIT.

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Nordic Track Audiostrider - Worked Great for 3 Weeks

by David
(London, UK)

I must have done something terrible in a past life because I bought a NordicTrack X-trainer 18 months ago and in that time it has only been functional for about 9 months. It was great for about 3 weeks, then the grinding, the rubbing, the grating and the bumping started. I have had the engineers out and had various part failures. The parts can take months to be sent out. The service desk promises to call and simply doesn't bother. They take down the wrong part details, they send stuff to the wrong address. You'll end up looking for the hidden camera when you're dealing with them because you'll think it's a joke. Take my advice. Don't buy one of these. Just save yourself a bucketload of hassle. When the guarantee runs out I'm going to take it to the dump and buy a decent machine. I'll never touch anything by NordicTrack or Icon Fitness again. Learn from my mistake and save yourself a heap of hassle. Just don't do it.

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NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 - C Clip Fell Off

by Raymond Bain
(Rochester, N.Y.)

I purchased a NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 elliptical from Nordic Track online. During assembly I found a loose C clip and discovered it fell off the wheel in the track. I notified NordicTrack of the problem and their response was that I should purchase their extended warranty!

BEWARE!

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NordicTrack 990 Pro Elliptical

by Earl
(Southern Maryland, US)

After having used the NordicTrack 990 Pro elliptical for nearly a year I have found some flaws that make this a questionable buy even at about $1000.00. I have two complaints: One, both swing arms want to walk off the center shaft, the right side is really bad. Second, the electronics are poor, the system for tracking your pulse just doesn't work. During a workout the display fonts sometimes grow making them unreadable. I can't find anything in the assembly instructions that indicate I didn't put it together correctly.

On the plus side the ramp and resistance features work and the basic function is acceptable other than some creaking noises at times. I have lost 31 pounds in just over 3 months using this machine and walking daily. It basically works but the swing arms walking off the shaft are a huge design flaw, and the pulse monitor being worthless is unacceptble on a machine that costs about $1000.00. They can put heart rate monitors in watches, NordicTrack should be able to put one in an excercise machine.

Carrying the NordicTrack name sold me on this machine, I am disappointed. I wouldn't buy this machine again. I would spend 30-50% more to get a machine without the issues.

HOWEVER: If you can score one at a garage sale, or have a friend who just wants it out of their house, go for it and buy a heart rate monitor if you are doing target heart rate programs.

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