The NordicTrack SE7i SpaceSaver Elliptical is the most affordable model in the collection, with a price that puts it between the E 8.9 and E 11.9 from their ‘E’ series.
However, the SE7i differs from their ‘E’ series and Elite elliptical trainers in the sense that it uses a rear drive stride system, creating a shallower range of motion with a shorter stride length.
So how does this rear drive design measure up to NordicTrack’s front drive and center drive (A.C.T. and FreeStride) ellipticals, and how easy is it to fold away at the end of a workout?
In this review we’ll be taking a look at the design and entertainment features, and making comparisons with similarly priced ellipticals from NordicTrack and Sole Fitness to help you decide on the best option for your own home workouts.
Ergonomic design and safety features
One of the most unique features of the NordicTrack SE7i is its Vertical SpaceSaver® design, which uses similar technology to the SNAP assembly system on some of their Elite elliptical trainers.
When you finish your workout, all you need to do is fold the arms and console upright down until they rest against the base frame. You can then use the carry handle attached to the front base stabilizer to lift the machine onto the flat base created at the back of the flywheel casing. This reduces the footprint down to just 32″ x 28″, which is the most compact we’ve seen on any home elliptical.
Because the SE7i features a rear drive design, you’re going to be getting a shorter stride path. This is something that’s common across the industry, and one of the main differences between front and rear drive designs.
At 18″ the stride length is a long way off the 38″ offered by their center drive FreeStride Trainers, but is still capable of providing an effective and challenging workout for a wide range of user heights.
This flatter elliptical path closely resembles natural stride ergonomics, and reduces the impact on your knee joints even more so than the incline of front drive machines. Combining this with oversized pedals for more feet placement options and a smaller ‘Q factor’ helps you maintain a natural and stable posture, even at higher resistance levels.
The heel-to-toe angle of the foot pedals can even be adjusted to one of three different settings, optimizing muscle toning and create the same natural ankle flexion that you experience when running outdoors.
The SE7i gives you 22 digital resistance levels to choose from, which is the same as their mid-range GX 4.4 Pro and GX 4.2 Pro upright bikes. This also uses the same Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) system as their Elite collection of front drive ellipticals, for a smoother, quieter workout experience.
This is aided by having an 18 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel, which has been engineered to deliver a smoother rotation throughout your stride, without taking anything away from the resistance applied via the console.
You also have NordicTrack’s soft touch grips coating the upper body workout arms, which are easier to hold and activate your back, biceps, shoulders, and forearms. This is at the same time as your walking, jogging, or running motion is working your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, which helps to provide a full body workout that burns more calories in a shorter space of time.
As with most NordicTrack fitness equipment, you also have a water bottle holder within easy reach for keeping you hydrated and improving your performance.
NordicTrack SE7i – Features Summary
- 18″ Stride Length
- Vertical SpaceSaver® Design
- 22 Digital Resistance Levels
- 24 Onboard workouts
- iFit compatible
- Power Adjustable Incline
- 18 lb. Effective Inertia Enhanced Flywheel
- Soft Touch Upper Body Grips
- 5″ backlit display screen
Having an elliptical at home makes it easier to schedule workouts in around your daily activities, but you still need the motivation to actually step on the machine and get started.
A lot of this has to do with your own mental attitude towards your fitness routine, but having a range of entertainment features can certainly make the experience more enjoyable.
Unfortunately the NordicTrack SE7i doesn’t have the same full color, web-enabled touch screen as the upgraded SE9i model, or the 15″ HDTV screen that accompanies their top-of-the-line front drive ellipticals.
However, you do still have a 5-inch backlit screen for displaying a number of important workout stats. This includes:
- Stride count
- Number of calories burned
- Resistance level
- Intensity level
- My Trail
My Trail is something we’ve seen before on other NordicTrack fitness equipment that uses a backlit screen, and allows you to monitor your progress around a virtual quarter-mile running track.
A socket on the front of the console means the SE7i is iPod and MP3 compatible, meaning you can listen to your favorite motivational workout music via the integrated speakers.
The actual button layout and range of functions available is identical to the NordicTrack E 8.7 front drive elliptical. By combining clear icons with short, concise captions, the result is an intuitive display that’s easy for all ages and experience levels.
Switching resistance levels and monitoring your heart rate
Manual controls are available for adjusting the power incline and resistance, but you can also use the conveniently placed 1-Step buttons for faster, more precise transitions between the different levels.
This is ideal for more advanced training methods, such as interval training, as well as for if you want to minimize the time spent at the console, and focus more on the quality of your workout.
Heart rate monitoring is also an option thanks to the CardioGrip™ touch sensors that have been integrated into both the moveable, and stationary handles. This is perfect for if you need to stay within a certain heart rate range, either to achieve a specific fitness goal or on recommendations from a medical professional.
One final console feature worth mentioning is the cooling fan. Positioned close to your upper body, the fan speed can be adjusted either by the manual controls, or set to ‘auto’ mode to automatically adjust based on your running pace.
Workout program selection
Being able to choose from a collection of workouts that’s both varied and challenging is an important part of improving your physical fitness, but it can also boost your motivation to exercise.
With some low cost entry level ellipticals, you’re often limited to a handful of preset workouts that don’t allow any form of customization. But what NordicTrack have done is create a console and online workout library (iFit) that offers a wide range of preset programs as standard, as well as the ability to download new, personalized routines.
For the NordicTrack SE7i this means 24 onboard workouts split across two categories: Calorie, and Speed (performance).
Although this is slightly down on the 30 onboard workouts offered by the upgraded SE9i elliptical, there’s still enough variation to support a variety of muscle toning, calorie burning, and weight loss goals.
- Onboard workouts (24)
Each of these programs has been designed by a certified personal trainer, and follows a preset profile of resistance settings that automatically adjust as the workout progresses.
Each of the 24 programs features a different profile that will work upper and lower body muscle groups to varying degrees. This makes them a great choice for all levels of personal fitness, with quick select buttons on the console to speed up the selection process.
- iFit workouts
Much of the NordicTrack and ProForm equipment is now either iFit compatible or iFit enabled. Compatible usually means you’ll need to purchase the module (usually around $99), while enabled means you can access iFit workouts as soon as you have a wireless network connection and a subscription.
The console includes a number of controls for quickly accessing the various types of iFit workout, similar to the ones used for the onboard programs.
Unfortunately the NordicTrack SE7i is classed as ‘iFit compatible’, meaning you’ll need to purchase the iFit module before you can experience the full benefits. The upgraded SE9i comes with iFit enabled, which is something worth taking into account when you’re comparing prices.
With access to their online workout library you can choose from a much wider range of personalized workout options.
- ‘Set-A-Goal’ workouts
If you’ve used a piece of NordicTrack fitness equipment in the past, there’s a good chance you’ve already come across these programs.
They’re similar to the manual program, but display a goal on the screen so that you can monitor your progress. For the SpaceSaver SE7i you have the option to set a goal for the distance, duration, or number of calories burned.
- Manual program
This isn’t exactly a workout program in the same sense as the onboard workouts, as it doesn’t follow any preset profile or prompt you to maintain a specific rpm.
Instead you’re free to make changes to the resistance level during the workout based on your energy and endurance levels. This can also be a great way to fine tune your level of energy expenditure to keep you within a specific heart rate range.
Ease of assembly / maintenance required
In recent years NordicTrack have become specialists in delivering large items of fitness equipment with very few assembly steps.
On of the systems leading this trend is SNAP assembly, which is something we also noticed on their Elite front drive ellipticals, as well as their center drive FreeStride Trainers.
But their SpaceSaver ellipticals are probably the most efficient of all, requiring only that you attach the base stabilizers, then lift and lock the console upright into place.
It’s not unusual for elliptical trainers to take in excess of 60 minutes to get fully assembled, due to the number of steps involved and the complexity of threading and connecting the console cables.
Of course, if you want to get setup with iFit then you’ll need to set aside slightly more time (for connecting to a wireless network and your iFit profile), but the basic assembly shouldn’t take much more than 10 minutes.
We counted six instructions in total within the user manual, and one of these was visiting NordicTrack’s website and registering the machine.
The steps that involve putting parts together are clearly explained through a series of diagrams and written instructions. You’re not going to find a simpler assembly than this.
Folding and transport options
The most unique selling point of the NordicTrack SE7i is of course its Vertical SpaceSaver® Design, for easy folding and storage.
Because this elliptical arrives almost completely assembled and in its folded position, it doesn’t take long to get used to the process.
All that’s required is to fold the console upright and arms down against the glide rails, then use the carry handle at the front to lift the machine up onto the support attached to the flywheel casing.
There’s even a set of rear-mounted transport wheels if you then need to move the SE7i to another location between workouts.
The upright storage method is undoubtedly the most efficient, as we saw when we reviewed the WaterRower rowing machine, and NordicTrack seem to have the weight distribution just right. In the upright, folded position the unit still has good stability, and has a footprint of just 32″ (W) x 28″ (L).
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts: 2 years
- Labor: 1 year