An elliptical bike is exactly what it sounds like...it's a regular outdoor bike but instead of the usual pedals, you propel it just like you would an elliptical machine....standing up. As such, you can bring your indoor training outdoors, combining two great cardio workouts in one.
These machines have become hugely popular over the last few years, and sales have skyrocketed, especially for top brands such as ElliptiGo and StreetStrider. They tend to be as expensive if not more so than traditional ellipticals, but for enthusiasts they are worth every penny.
The elliptical bike functions much like a regular bike does, with brakes, gears and steering capability nearly identical. The major difference is that there is no seat, and in the place of regular bike pedals are wider, longer elliptical pedals.
Perhaps the biggest draw of these bikes is the fact that you can take your indoor training outdoors, which makes it much more appealing for users, especially during the warmer months. But, you can also use them indoors if you'd like with stationary trainers, so you can enjoy them year round regardless of the weather.
There are many other benefits of the outdoor elliptical bike as well. They are very low impact, making it easier on your knees and joints. You also don't get the typical back and rear end pain that you get when you ride your bicycle for extended periods of time.
The standing up position gives you increased visibility as well, and you are engaging more muscles, especially the core, than you would be if you were sitting. You also tend to burn more calories working out on an elliptical bike than you would on a traditional one.
When it comes to outdoor elliptical bikes, there aren't too many players out there. The current leader in the industry is ElliptiGo, the company that pretty much invented the elliptical bike.
They have a variety of different models depending on your needs. The base model is the Arc 3 at around $999, and it works its way up to the 11R at around $3499.
The more expensive models have longer strides, which is more like a running motion, and you can use them to go up very steep hills. The cheaper models have shorter strides and are more suited to flat terrain.
It's very similar to how traditional ellipticals work. The less expensive models always have shorter stride lengths and less capability than their more expensive counterparts.
Another good option, as we mentioned, is StreetStrider, which currently offers just two models: the 3i and the 7i, the latter being the more advanced model.
What's the difference between ElliptiGo and StreetStrider? The most obvious is two wheels vs. three wheels. So StreetStrider is more like an elliptical tricycle than an elliptical bicycle. That makes it a little easier to use, and perhaps the better choice for beginners.
Which would we choose? We would opt for the ElliptiGo simply because we feel it gives you a much more complete workout and more capabilities. We like adventure and the ElliptiGos, especially the longer stride ones, are much more fun to use in our opinion.
There is a completely different type of elliptical exercise bike that is for indoor use only that is worth mentioning to avoid any confusion. We have been discussing the outdoor elliptical above, but there are companies that make indoor elliptical trainer/recumbent bikes as well.
These are completely different animals, and typically cost a fraction of their outdoor counterparts. Here you have a recumbent bike, but instead of the regular pedals you have elliptical pedals. So essentially you have a 2 in 1 machine, and you can choose whether you want to sit or stand and incorporate an upper body workout as well.
One of the most popular elliptical bike combo machines is the ProForm Hybrid Trainer, which comes in a base and a Pro model. You get the best of both worlds, with all of the features you'd expect to find: multiple resistance levels, built in workouts, adjustable seat, transport wheels, LCD display and more.
There are other companies that make versions of the elliptical exercise bike, but the Hybrid Trainer is probably the best example on the market currently.
If you are looking for a new way to ride your bike, or want to take your elliptical training outdoors, definitely consider an elliptical bike as it just may be what you are looking for to take your training to the next level.
If you're looking for an indoor elliptical combined with a recumbent bike, consider the Hybrid Trainer or one of the other 2 in 1 machines available today.
UPDATE: Spring Elliptical Sales have started!
Here is your chance to rant or rave about the elliptical you use at home or at the fitness center.