The ProForm Carbon EL - Great Budget Elliptical

The ProForm Carbon EL is the base model in the new Carbon Series, an upgraded version of the previous Endurance Series with more advanced features and capabilities.

These ellipticals are very popular due to the fact that they have a lot to offer at a very competitive price. They're also relatively compact so they're ideal for smaller workout areas.

Let's jump into our review to see what this one is all about.

What You Get

The Carbon EL is all black with silver and red accents. You have stationary as well as moving handlebars for an upper body workout, a basic display, a water bottle holder and a tablet holder as well.

Let's take a look at the most important specs...

ProForm Carbon EL Elliptical with Bluetooth iFit Workouts
  • SMR™ silent magnetic resistance
  • 18 digital resistance levels
  • 15 lb. inertia enhanced flywheel
  • 19" power adjustable stride
  • 5" high contrast display
  • iFit® Bluetooth enabled
  • 0-20 degrees adjustable incline
  • Adjustable, oversized pedals
  • Dual 2" speakers
  • 10 year frame, 1 year parts & labor warranty
  • 68.5" L x 25" W x 67.75 H

The Word On the Street

So far the Carbon Series has been very popular for ProForm, a welcome upgrade from the previous Endurance Series ellipticals, especially since the prices have not increased.

The Carbon EL is the base model in the series, which includes the mid-range Carbon EX and the top of the line Carbon E7.

All three have plenty of capability, and offer a lot more than most similarly priced elliptical trainers.

The Carbon EL has a 19" power adjustable stride, which is good for most users. You get 18 levels of resistance to choose from, which allows you to vary the intensity of your workouts. You also get 20 degrees of adjustable incline, which ramps up the cardio for you and also allows you to target additional leg muscles.

What about workouts? That's where ProForm and its sister company NordicTrack really excel and what separates them from the pack.

All ProForm ellipticals come with iFit, which is an interactive workout program that gives you access to tons of on-demand and live workouts in and out of the studio setting. You can train on and off the elliptical as well with a library of yoga, stretching, HIIT, cross training and other well-rounded workouts.

iFit is a membership based program so it does require a monthly/yearly fee, however it's well worth it for the sheer volume of workouts you can choose from, in addition to Google maps, tracking, sharing, nutrition recommendation and automatic resistance changes that match your chosen workout.

Note that you do need your own tablet to access the iFit workouts via Bluetooth. This is the case on the mid-level Carbon EX as well, but the Carbon E7 has a built in touch screen...so you can access iFit right on the elliptical.

On top of the adjustable stride, incline, resistance levels and great workouts, the Carbon EL also has grip heart rate measurement in the handles, a capable 15 lb. flywheel, oversized pedals, soft touch grips, speakers and front mounted wheels for easy transport if you need to move the elliptical post workout.

So the Carbon Series is really a great choice for the home gym, with plenty of features and capabilities.

How Does the Carbon EL Compare to the Other ProForm Ellipticals?

ProForm Carbon E7 Console With iFit Workouts

As we mentioned above, the Carbon EL is the base model in the Carbon Series, which is one of the more affordable lines that the company offers.

Let's take a look at the entire ProForm elliptical lineup to see how it compares to the others...

The cheapest offering are the Hybrid Trainers, which as the name suggests are two machines in one, in this case an elliptical combined with a recumbent exercise bike.

These are very basic machines built for light use, but due to their attractive price and the fact that you can do two exercises on the same machine they have become popular.

It looks like currently there is only one model, the Hybrid Trainer XT, although there's a base model and a Pro that comes up for sale from time to time.

Moving up you have the Carbon Series, traditional ellipticals as opposed to the hybrid trainers.

Here's a brief overview of the three so you can see the differences...

ProForm Carbon EL- You get a 19" stride, 20 degrees of incline, 18 resistance levels, 15 lb. flywheel, a 5" LCD display and a 300 lb. max user weight.

ProForm Carbon EX - You get a 19" stride, 20 degrees of incline, 20 resistance levels, 20 lb. flywheel, a 6" LCD display and a 325 lb. max user weight.

ProForm Carbon E7 - You get a 19" stride, 20 degrees of incline, 24 resistance levels, 25 lb. flywheel, a 7" Smart HD display and the same 325 lb. max user weight as the Carbon EX.

So you can see that as you move up in the Carbon Series you get more of everything...user weight capacity, flywheel weight, screen size and number of resistance levels to choose from.

Moving up from the Carbon ellipticals you get to the popular Pro Series, including the Pro 9.9, 12.9 and 16.9 ellipticals. These are built for heavier usage and are a good choice for those who want a bit more or will be using the machine a bit more regularly. 

The Pro ellipticals have heavier flywheels, more resistance levels, more incline and even more advanced displays. They also have higher weight limits. So overall these are going to be your more durable machines, although they do come at a higher price tag.

Along with the Pro Series there is a HIIT Trainer Series, which is like an elliptical and a step machine combined, kind of like the Bowflex Max Trainer.

There's a base Carbon HIIT H7 and a more advanced Pro HIIT H14, with 10" vertical elliptical strides, touch screen displays, workout fans and heavy 30 lb. flywheels.

Like the Hybrid Trainers, these are not traditional ellipticals, but some people prefer them due to the additional workout options they offer.

So to sum up, starting from the bottom you have the basic Hybrid Trainers, followed by the Carbon Series, then the Pro Series, then the HIIT Trainers.

The Carbon Series and Pro Series are currently the only traditional ellipticals, so if that's what you're looking for take a closer look at those options.

If you want something different, consider the Hybrid Trainers and HIIT Trainers.

Which ProForm Elliptical Should You Choose?

ProForm offers something for everyone, so it basically boils down to what type of machine you're looking for and what your budget is.

If your budget is limited and you're OK with an elliptical and recumbent bike in one machine, then opt for one of the Hybrid Trainers.

If you're more into a traditional elliptical like you find at the health club, then definitely consider one of the Carbon Series ellipticals. They're compact and full of great features, so they work quite well in the home gym.

In the Carbon Series we like the Carbon 7 best, as the touch screen display is really enjoyable, and you don't have to use your own tablet for the iFit workouts. You also get more resistance levels and a workout fan that the others are missing.

If you want something a bit more advanced for more regular usage, then the Pro Series is probably a better option for you. For about $400-$600 more than the Carbon Series ellipticals, you get a lot more in terms of stride, resistance levels, flywheel weight and overall feel.

In the Pro Series we like the Pro 12.9 the best, as you get the touch screen display here too, it's just smaller than the one on the Pro 16.9. Otherwise this mid-level model is nearly identical to the pricier one.

If you like the step machine and think you might be interested in something similar to the Bowflex Max Trainer, then look at the HIIT Trainers. There we like the Pro HIIT H14, again because of the advanced touch screen technology.

As of the writing of this review the Hybrid Trainer is around $599, the Carbon Series is $799 to $1400, the Pro Series is $1299 to $1999 and the HIIT Trainers are $1499 to $1699.

So we recommend you start with your desired budget and then find a series that most appeals to you.

Final Thoughts on the ProForm Carbon EL

If you're in the market for a traditional, compact elliptical that won't break the bank, the Carbon EL is certainly a very good choice.

You get tons of workout options, incline capability, multiple resistance levels and heart rate monitoring, as well as additional comforts that similarly priced ellipticals don't offer.

If your budget is a bit more open, consider the top end Carbon E7 with its touch screen technology. Also if you want something more advanced consider the Pro Series, which is built stronger for heavier usage or for use by multiple family members.

Whichever ProForm elliptical you choose you'll be happy with your choice as it will help you get into shape with endless workout options for any fitness level.

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