The NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS5i is one of the newest models in the lineup, joining the mid-level FS7i and the top-of-the-line FS9i models.
These machines are essentially hybrids, giving you an elliptical, a stepper and a treadmill experience all in one.
As such, they have become extremely popular and big sellers for the company, with long 32" stride lengths, tons of built in workout programs and high max user weight capacities.
Let's get into our review to see what these unique ellipticals are all about...
The FreeStride trainers are specially designed to make you feel like you are floating on air while you work out...a pretty cool feeling unlike you experience on most traditional ellipticals.
You get a 7" backlit display that shows your calories, time, distance, pulse and speed, as well as quarter mile track that shows you your progress.
Here are the important specs on the FS5i...
The NordicTrack FS5i has been very well received thus far, offering an affordable version of the popular FreeStride series without sacrificing the main features that make it an attractive option.
However, we believe that of the three FreeStride models, the mid-level FS7i is definitely the best choice.
The FS7i has a 38" adjustable stride, a few more workout apps, power incline capability, a web-enabled touchscreen and a higher weight capacity.
Still, reviews of the FS5i have been mostly positive and users are appreciating the fact that you are essentially getting three machines in one.
If you set the stride at its shortest lengths, it's like you are on a stepper/climber machine. At the middle ranges, it's like the typical elliptical experience.
At the highest levels, it's as if you are on a treadmill as you can completely extend your stride.
In that regard, it's a great choice for changing up your workouts. You also get iFit Coach (with a subscription required) which allows you to access even more workouts plus Google map locations to watch your workout unfold right in front of you on your phone or tablet.
Any complaints? It would be nice if this one came with a wireless chest strap for heart rate monitoring and perhaps a nicer display, something their other mid-drive series, the A.C.T. Commercial ellipticals, do have.
On its own the FS5i is fantastic...compared to the other models not so much. We explore this further in the next section.
UPDATE: As of early 2020 it looks like there is a new FS10i FreeStride Trainer. It may have replaced the FS9i by the time you are reading this review.
As we mentioned above, when you compare the FreeStride Trainer FS5i to the FS7i and FS9i, it does come up a little short.
By itself it is a great machine, with more flexibility and freedom of movement than the other NordicTrack ellipticals, making it a very good choice for your home gym, especially if your space is limited.
However, we believe that the FS7i and FS9i are much better buys for several reasons.
For starters, the FS5i does not have incline capability, as many of the other NordicTrack ellipticals do, including the FS7i and the FS9i.
The FS9i actually has decline capability as well, which makes it unique.
Also, although the 32" stride on the FS5i is very impressive, the FS7i and FS9i give you a 38" stride, which means that even the tallest of individuals can stretch out as much as they want.
Those models definitely give you more of the treadmill/running capability than the FS5i.
Another difference when you compare the FS5i to the other two FreeStride trainers is the console. It has a very basic 7" backlit display with no internet capability.
Both the FS7i and FS9i have touch screen displays with internet, which is a nice feature that makes your workouts that much more enjoyable.
There is a price difference between the three FreeStride Trainer models as would be expected, but the jump from the FS5i to the FS7i is not so great considering how many additional features you are getting.
The NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i is definitely our favorite model in the series as the only real difference between it and the top of the line FS9i model is decline capability. The FS7i can only incline, but that should be sufficient for most user.
The FS9i also has a larger touch screen display, but the 7" touch screen on the FS7i is big enough in our opinion.
So to summarize, when it comes to the FS5i vs the FS7i vs the FS9i, your best bet is going to be the FS7i.
If budget is an issue and you can do without incline and a touch screen, go with the FS5i.
If you just want the top model and/or like the idea of a larger touch screen and decline capability, go with the FS9i.
The NordicTrack FS5i is definitely a more affordable option than the other two models in the series, at around $1599-$1799 or so on sale.
You get an elliptical as well as as stepper and a treadmill and you do feel like you are training in mid air which is something you don't typically experience.
It gives you more freedom of movement than any other NordicTrack elliptical, as the stride extends to an impressive 32". It also has iFit capability, 32 built in workouts and 22 resistance levels.
However, as we mentioned, we would opt for the FS7i if it's within your budget, as it gives you a lot more for your money.
Also check out the FS9i just to see if the larger touch screen and decline capability appeals to you.