The NordicTrack SE9i SpaceSaver is the top-of-the-line rear drive elliptical in a collection that also features the entry level SE7i, with a number of impressive upgrades.
But with such an emphasis on creating an elliptical that folds to a compact footprint, have NordicTrack sacrificed any of the unique features that are beneficial to your workouts?
That’s something we’ll be taking a look at in this review, as well as making some important comparisons with other ellipticals from NordicTrack, Sole Fitness, and Pretor.
If you’re short on space but still want to invest in a high quality elliptical for achieving your fitness goals, the SpaceSaver® design of the SE9i is an obvious attraction.
NordicTrack have developed a system called SNAP assembly, which is something we’ve seen before on their Elite ellipticals, and allows you to assemble the machine in just a few minutes once it’s out of the packaging. With the SpaceSaver collection they’ve taken this a step further.
The flywheel casing doubles as a stable base for when you lift the machine into its vertical position, which is aided by the width of the rear base stabilizer.
In its folded, upright position, NordicTrack claim that their SpaceSaver design results in the smallest footprint of any home elliptical. Measuring just 32″ x 28″ we would have to agree, and we haven’t come across any folding elliptical that can be folded into such a compact space.
Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR™)
Taking a look at the actual workout experience, you’re going to want to choose an elliptical that can deliver a smooth stride motion that emulates your natural running style.
To recreate this with the SE9i, NordicTrack have combined their SMR™ braking system with an 18 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel and competitive 18″ stride length.
The design of the braking system is what creates the smoother transitions between 24 digital resistance levels, with a mid-weight flywheel providing enough resistance to deliver a smooth rotation and natural stride motion at the pedals.
If you’ve already started researching NordicTrack’s front or center drive ellipticals, then the 18″ stride length may seem like a downgrade compared to the 38″ provided by their FreeStride Trainers.
Rear drive ellipticals traditionally have a stride that’s 2″-3″ shorter than their front drive counterparts, and this isn’t something that’s unique to NordicTrack.
This is due to the flatter stride path created by having the flywheel at the back of the machine, which results in a lower impact workout that closely resembles your natural stride ergonomics.
The SE9i elliptical also offers a power adjustable incline to a maximum of 10 degrees, which isn’t as steep as their incline trainers, but still enough to change your stride path to shift the focus onto different muscle groups.
A steeper incline is best for working your hamstrings and glutes, while a flatter stride will focus more on your calves and quads. The moveable handles will also recruit a range of upper body muscle groups at all incline levels, including your back, biceps, shoulders, and abs, helping to burn more calories in a shorter space of time.
Ergonomically designed pedals
One final feature we wanted to mention was the oversized pedals, which offer a wider design to allow for a variety of foot placements.
You can also choose from one of three heel-to-toe angles. Although only minor adjustments, this helps to limit the strain placed on ankle joints and tendons, reducing the risk of injury and recreating the natural ankle flexion that you experience when running outdoors.
NordicTrack SE9i – Features Summary
- 30 Onboard workouts
- 0 – 10° Power Adjustable Incline
- 7″ Web-Enabled Color Touchscreen
- 18″ Stride Length
- 24 Digital Resistance Levels
- 18 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel
- Vertical SpaceSaver® Design
- Soft Touch Upper Body Grips
As with their Commercial treadmills and ‘E’ series of elliptical trainers, NordicTrack have made some significant upgrades to the console features in the transition between the entry level SE7i and the top-of-the-line SE9i.
The 5-inch backlit display has made way for a 7-inch web-enabled, full color touch screen, allowing you to stream your favourite movies, check social media, or read your emails using the built in Android™ web browser.
The combination of a full color screen and a console that’s iFit enabled also means you can enjoy a more immersive workout experience with Google Maps and Street View. With certain programs downloaded from iFit you can even view a video of your progress and replicate many of your regular outdoor running routes.
Workout feedback includes:
- Calories burned
- Resistance level
- Heart rate
- Current workout program
- Incline level
Heart rate monitoring
The NordicTrack SE9i also offers two forms of heart rate monitoring: touch, and telemetry (using a chest strap).
Having the CardioGrip touch sensors built into the stationary handles is an effective way to monitor your pulse for shorter periods of time, but if you want to ensure you stay within a certain heart rate range, it’s better to take advantage of the chest strap.
That’s because you’re always in contact with the sensors, ensuring a continuous signal is sent to the console. This includes when you’re making changes to the resistance level, choosing a different workout program, or simply turning up the volume on your music.
iPod and MP3 compatibility
If you prefer listening to your favourite motivational music rather than browsing the internet, the console also has a fully integrated sound system, complete with speakers and volume controls.
A port on the front allows you to connect your iPod or MP3 player, with dual speakers used to prevent the need for headphones.
The final feature we want to mention before taking a look at the exercise programs is the CoolAire fan, positioned close to your body to keep you cool during your workouts.
Controls for adjusting the fan speed are positioned next to the screen, which enables manual adjustments, or you can switch to ‘Auto’ mode where the speed adjusts based on your running pace.
Workout program selection
If you’re not sure which elliptical to buy, the number of workout programs a machine has will often factor into your comparison, along with stride length, weight capacity, and price.
NordicTrack have built a reputation for offering the largest collection of onboard workouts, with 30 preset programs available on the SE9i SpaceSaver.
In addition to the onboard workouts, you also have several programs based around goal setting, and access to an entire online library of workouts through iFit.
- Onboard workouts
A collection of 30 workout programs spilt into three main categories: Intensity (10), Calorie (10), and Performance (10).
Each program is split into segments, and follows a resistance setting profile that’s been designed by a certified personal trainer.
Whether you’re starting a new fitness routine or simply looking for a quick way to add variation to your training, these workouts provide a level of intensity that caters for all personal fitness levels.
- iFit workouts
The NordicTrack SE9i elliptical has an iFit enabled console, which is an upgrade over the iFit compatible SE7i model, and means you don’t have to pay extra for an iFit module.
However, you still need to sign up for a subscription to the service, and be able to connect to a wireless network if you want to experience the full benefits.
If you have the subscription and internet connection, then you can download from their online library of personalized workouts, some of which even include high-definition video streamed via the web-enabled screen.
- ‘Set-A-Goal’ workouts
If you enjoy the sense of achievement that comes from completing a goal, these workouts will be perfect for you.
Unlike the onboard programs you don’t follow any set profile of resistance settings. Instead you simply set a target for the workout duration, number of calories burned, or distance and watch the screen as you get closer to your target.
These workouts do have something called a ‘target cadence’, which is intended to motivate you to complete your goal through a series of on-screen prompts to adjust or maintain your revolutions per minute.
This is meant only as a guide, and isn’t a strict rule you need to follow. Likewise, for the calorie burning goal, the estimated workout duration will adjust based on changes you make to the resistance. For example, a lower resistance level means a slower rate of calorie burn and a longer workout.
- Manual program
By choosing this program you’ll be following no preset profile and working towards no predefined goal. You’re free to adjust the resistance level at any point, with no limit on the workout duration.
Ease of assembly / maintenance required
NordicTrack’s SNAP assembly system sets many of their elliptical trainers apart from others in the industry with its speed and simplicity.
Some machines arrive with a long list of assembly instructions and complex steps for connecting the console cables, calibrating the incline, and attaching the moveable arms.
But because the SE9i uses SNAP, all you need to do is attach the front and rear stabilizers, lift the console upright into place, and connect the upper body arms with a couple of screws.
The simplicity of this 3-step assembly process and the fact that most of the elliptical arrives pre-assembled means you can get started with your workouts within minutes of removing the packaging.
If you want to take advantage of iFit then you’ll also want to set aside some time to create and sign in to your profile, then connect to a wireless network.
Folding and transport options
Folding the console and upright arms down against the base frame makes it much easier to move the SE9i if you need to change locations.
The process for lowering and raising the upright does take a bit of getting used to, but when it’s folded you can use the lift handle at the front to tip the machine onto the rear-mounted transport wheels.
Due to the size and weight of the machine, NordicTrack recommend two people for the actual lifting and moving. There’s also a recommendation that you have to be able to safely lift 100 lbs to lift, store, and lower the elliptical safely.
Obviously the Vertical SpaceSaver design is an attractive feature, but if you’re unable to lift this weight or have someone that can help when you want to store the machine, it’s probably not something that will benefit you.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts: 3 years
- Labor: 1 year