The NordicTrack Elite 16.9 Elliptical is the top model in a collection that also includes the 12.9 and entry level 10.7 machines.
In this review we’ll be comparing the Elite 16.9 with other ellipticals in the collection, as well as their center drive machines, and a number of other models from Yowza Fitness and Precor.
After taking an in-depth look at everything from the design features to the iFit workout programs, we’ll let you know which model represents the best value for money.
Despite being a couple of upgrades ahead of the Elite 12.9, we were surprised to see how similar many of the core design features were. This includes the incline range, stride path, flywheel weight, and number of resistance levels.
The power ramp incline has a maximum angle of 20 degrees, which is perfect for switching the focus between different lower body muscle groups.
At the steeper inclines most of the focus is going to be on your glutes and hamstrings, while at shallower angles you’re going to be targetting more of your quads and calves.
This is emphasised on NordicTrack’s FS9i FreeStride Trainer because of the decline angles, but unfortunately this isn’t a feature on any of their front drive ellipticals.
So how does the 20 degree incline compare to other ellipticals in the industry?
NordicTrack Elite 16.9 vs. Yowza Fitness Miami
Although they’re rear drive machines, the CardioCore range from Yowza Fitness comes out on top for the steepest incline.
The Miami elliptical is the top model in the CardioCore collection, and has an adjustable incline range of 0-60%. As you increase the incline you have the added benefit of an increase in stride length, with a stride range of 19″-32″.
This falls slightly short of NordicTrack’s FreeStride Trainers, but completely surpasses the 20″-21″ adjustable stride of the Elite 16.9 elliptical.
Weight capacity is a touch higher at 400 lbs (375 lbs for the Elite 16.9), and the warranties are pretty well matched too.
Where the NordicTrack model pulls ahead is in the number of resistance levels (26 compared to 16 on the Yowza Miami), and the variety provided by the workout programs. NordicTrack has 35 onboard workout apps before you even start to look at iFit, whereas the Yowza Miami is limited to a total of 30.
So the Miami elliptical wins on stride path and incline range, but falls behind the NordicTrack model when comparing the workout options.
Resistance system and pedal design
Back to the Elite 16.9, and the heavy weight of the 32 lb flywheel combines with NordicTrack’s Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) to create smoother transitions between resistance levels, and a quieter stride motion.
The oversized cushioned pedals can also be adjusted through three different toe-to-heel angles. This helps reduce any unnecessary strain on the ankles and recreate your natural running motion. This is one of the features that was missing from their FreeStride collection.
Having the cushioned surface is perfect for improving traction and stability during high intensity workouts.
If you want to combine lower body workouts with some upper body training, you can take advantage of the multi-position upper body grips to involve your biceps, shoulders, and back in the stride motion.
By switching to the moveable handles you might also find it easier making changes to the incline and resistance levels. That’s because NordicTrack has integrated controls directly into the handles.
One final feature that’s missed from a lot of product reviews is the water bottle holder. It’s not something that’s included on all elliptical trainers, but it means you can stay hydrated, which results in improved endurance and performance.
NordicTrack Elite 16.9 – Features Summary
- 32 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel
- 7″ Web-enabled color touch screen
- 15″ Integrated HDTV
- Adjustable ramp incline from 0 to 20 degrees
- Integrated handle controls
- 26 Digital Resistance Levels
- 35 Workout Apps
- Adjustable stride length from 20″ to 21″
- Wireless Chest Strap Included
- iFit Enabled
- NordicTrack® SNAP Assembly
Console and entertainment features
The console and entertainment features are really what set the Elite 16.9 elliptical apart from earlier models in the series.
Not only do you have a 7″ web-enabled, full colour touch screen to display your workout information, you also have a 15″ HDTV screen for catching up on your favourite sports, TV shows, and movies.
This takes the place of the tablet holder that featured on the Elite 12.9 elliptical, with a viewing angle that’s closer to eye level.
It’s the same style of screen as on NordicTrack’s Commercial treadmills, so you can also connect up a DVD or Blu-Ray player via an HDMI cable if you prefer watching movies while you workout.
If you’re only looking for a short workout, you might prefer to take advantage of the iPod and MP3 compatibility, which allows you to listen to your favourite motivational music instead.
The volume can be adjusted directly via the console, using buttons positioned close to the fan speed controls.
Being fitted with a cooling fan is a major advantage over some treadmills, but for NordicTrack it tends to be a fairly standard feature, which is certainly no bad thing.
But having to adjust the fan speed as well as the music volume, incline level, resistance level, and choice of fitness program can take a lot of the focus off the actual workout.
That’s why you have the option to completely ignore the fan speed buttons on the console and switch it to ‘auto’ mode. This is a feature we first saw when reviewing their treadmills, and means that the fan speed adjusts based on your running pace.
Having a web-enabled screen also means you can view a lot more than just workout feedback.
Watch your favorite films and check social media profiles while you workout
The built-in web browser lets you do everything from checking social media profiles through to reading your emails, while the touch screen aspect lets you navigate a simple menu system for quicker selection of your desired workout program.
This could mean following one of the onboard profiles, or if you have an iFit subscription, then you could download a workout from iFit.
The NordicTrack Elite 16.9 is iFit enabled, meaning you don’t have to go out and buy a separate console like you do with iFit compatible machines.
Some of the iFit workouts even show your progress around a virtual route using a combination of Google Maps and StreetView.
While the touch screen saves you time choosing a workout program, the OneTouch™ controls along either side of the console save time when it comes to incline and resistance level selection.
One final feature we haven’t mentioned yet is the heart rate monitoring, for which the Elite 16.9 gives you two options: touch, and telemetry (chest strap).
CardioGrip™ touch sensors are built into the stationary set of handles which will transmit your pulse to the console when held.
However, if you’re constantly making adjustments to the incline or music volume, you’ll get a more consistent reading by using the iFit® wireless chest strap (included).
This uses Bluetooth to transmit the signal to a receiver in the console, regardless of your grip position.
Workout program selection
If you already read our review of NordicTrack’s Elite 12.9 elliptical, you can probably skip this part, as the onboard workouts are exactly the same.
If not, then we’ll provide you with a quick guide of what to expect from the iFit and onboard workouts, as well as the manual and ‘Set-A-Goal’ programs.
Consistent workout variation is one of the most important factors in planning to achieve a long term fitness goal.
Whether it’s to lose a certain amount of weight, improve muscle definition, or build on your cardiovascular endurance, the NordicTrack Elite 16.9 has a workout to help you reach these targets.
- Onboard workouts
The console provides you with easy access to 35 onboard fitness apps across four different categories, each of which has been designed by a certified personal trainer.
These categories are: Calorie, Intensity, Ramp, and Perform, with each program split into a number of segments.
Each segment already has incline and resistance levels associated with it, which it will change automatically as the workout progresses.
- iFit workouts
The elliptical itself is iFit enabled, but you still need to sign up for a subscription and connect to a wireless network if you want to experience the full benefits of iFit.
If you do get both of these things setup, buttons on the console and a touch screen menu system make it quick and easy to find a new workout.
Some programs follow a virtual route, which can often be displayed on the screen with images from Google Maps and StreetView. This helps create a more immersive walking, jogging, or running experience.
- ‘Set-A-Goal’ workouts
Unfortunately you’re unable to set a target heart rate range, by but the ‘Set-A-Goal’ workouts do let you set a target for the number of calories burned, distance, or workout duration.
Some of their treadmills also give you the option to set a ‘pace’ target as well, but this isn’t something that’s available on their ellipticals.
- Manual mode
This isn’t exactly a program, as it doesn’t follow a set profile like the onboard and iFit workouts do.
Instead you’re left in complete control over when the resistance and incline settings change, making it a great starter program for anyone that’s new to full body workouts on an elliptical.
Ease of assembly / maintenance required
Due to the size of the NordicTrack Elite 16.9 you might expect a lengthy and complicated assembly process, with lots of heavy lifting and threading of cables to the console.
Fortunately this is one the ellipticals that uses a system called ‘SNAP assembly’, meaning it actually takes half the time of traditional ellipticals.
Although we’re used to seeing a large amount of pre-assembly with NordicTrack’s equipment, the Elite 16.9 arrives almost complete as a single unit.
This includes the flywheel and resistance system, base frame, foot pedals, and even the upright that supports the console.
To protect the console prior to delivery it actually folds down between the pedals. This way, when you get everything out of the packaging, you just need to lift it into the upright position and use a couple of bolts to hold it in place.
There’s really not much else involved, and once you’ve attached the base stabilizers and moveable arms, you’re pretty much ready to go.
Connecting the HDTV and in-home assembly services
If you’re planning on using the HDTV there will be a few extra steps to getting the aerial or DVD / Blu-Ray player connected, and you might want to set aside some time to sign into iFit.
There’s minimal assembly required and the instructions in the user manual are very clear, using written explanations and diagrams to show how everything fits together.
NordicTrack offer a curb side delivery as standard, but an in-home professional assembly service is available on some machines in certain regions.
To find out if the Elite 16.9 elliptical qualifies in your area, it’s worth visiting their website.
Due to the weight and size of the machine, NordicTrack recommend two people to move it.
You do have a space to lift up from the rear stabilizer and roll it to a new location using the front-mounted transport wheels, but it’s best to find a permanent space before you start the assembly.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts: 6 years
- Labor: 3 years