Friday, 19 April 2024

Elliptical Trainers

ProForm 920 E Elliptical Trainer Review

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The ProForm 920 E Elliptical Trainer is the top-of-the-line machine in the ProForm Endurance collection, and a new release for 2016.

This front-drive elliptical is an upgraded version of the earlier 520 E and 570 E models, with a wider choice of workout programs, more resistance levels and heavier flywheel. It’s also the only elliptical in the Endurance series to be iFit enabled, meaning you don’t need to purchase a wireless iFit module separately.

But how does it compare to NordicTrack ellipticals in the same price range? Does this model really represent the best elliptical under $1000 or should you be looking towards a machine from Sole Fitness, Precor, Xterra or Yowza?

In our ProForm 920 E review we’ll be making some important comparisons between the workout programs, entertainment options, warranty, incline range and much more, to help you decide on the best elliptical trainer for your own home workouts.

Design and safety features

ProForm 920 E Elliptical Trainer

As the top elliptical in ProForm’s Endurance series, the 920 E has been fitted with the full 20″ power adjustable stride, making it an excellent choice for family environments.

However, the stride cannot be adjusted in isolation, instead working in a similar way to the stride adjustment on one of the CardioCore ellipticals from Yowza Fitness. This means the stride lengthens and shortens in relation to the incline gradient. A steeper incline means a shorter stride, while a shallower incline creates a longer stride.

The incline can be powered through a range of 0° to 20° using the quick-select controls on the console. This is a significant improvement over the 520 E model, where you had to manually set the incline angle before stepping on the pedals.

The pedals themselves have also been upgraded. Although they have always been adjustable on every one of ProForm’s Endurance ellipticals, it’s only on the 720 E and 920 E models that they were also given a layer of cushioning. This helps to reduce the impact of your stride, protecting your knee and ankle joints.

Taking a look inside the front drive system we have a 25 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel, which combines with the Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) system to create smoother strides and transitions between resistance levels. The ProForm 920 E has 24 of these resistance levels to choose from, many of which can be chosen via the quick-select controls on the console.

ProForm have also used the same Commercial-Gauge solid steel in the construction of all their Endurance ellipticals, but it’s only the 720 E and 920 E models that offer the highest 325 lb weight capacity.

One final design feature worth mentioning is the soft touch upper body workout grips. These have been a feature ever since the 520 E, and their overall design hasn’t changed much. But because the 920 E elliptical offers both touch and telemetry (chest strap) heart rate monitoring, this makes them a much more viable option.

With the chest strap (included) being used to transmit your heart rate, your hands are free to hold the moveable handles and use your upper body muscle groups, such as biceps, shoulders, back and chest.

Safety features
With any piece of home fitness equipment, safety must always be a priority. For elliptical machines we’ve seen several types of security systems used during our reviews, including a simple locking pin for the pedals and a password protected display console.

Unfortunately ProForm doesn’t appear to have either of these options, which isn’t uncommon for an elliptical at this price range. The password protection we just mentioned was only really seen on Precor’s high-end ellipticals, and on some of NordicTrack’s ellipticals, such as the 12.9 Elite. The foot pedal locking pin is slightly more common, but again something we mostly see on high-end ellipticals costing upwards of $2000.

ProForm 920 E Elliptical Trainer

ProForm 920 E Elliptical – Features Summary

  • 32 Workout Apps
  • 24 Digital SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance Levels
  • EKG Grip Pulse sensors
  • 25 Lb. Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • Soft Touch Upper-Body Grips
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • 20″ Power Adjustable Stride
  • 20 Degree Power Adjustable Incline
  • 7″ Backlit Display
  • iFit Enabled – No need for wireless module
  • iPod Compatible Audio + USB Charging Station

Display console design

ProForm 920 E Elliptical Trainer

Although the 3 ellipticals that make up the Endurance collection appear quite similar in their basic frame design, there are some important differences in the design of the console.

In upgrading from the 720 E to the 920 E you actually lose the set of quick-select resistance controls. There’s also no sign of any controls being built into the moveable set of handles, which means you have to rely on the plus and minus symbols to scroll through the individual levels.

However, you do still have the quick-select controls for adjusting the incline ramp, positioned directly below a set of quick-select buttons for navigating the 3 onboard workout program categories (Calorie, Intensity, Performance).

But the most significant improvement in upgrading from the 720 E to the 920 E is in the screen design. Not only is the screen now 40% larger, but it’s also a full-color touch-enabled display with full access to Google Maps.

This helps to create a much more immersive workout experience than any of the other ProForm Endurance ellipticals, and because the 920 E is iFit enabled and requires no additional module, you can start enjoying the new workout programs as soon as the machine is assembled (providing you have a subscription).

You also still have many of the most popular features from earlier models, including the CoolAire™ workout fan, iPod® compatible audio and USB charging station, in-depth workout feedback, integrated table holder and two methods of heart rate monitoring.

Heart rate monitoring
The ProForm 920 E elliptical offers two forms of heart rate monitoring; Dual-Grip EKG™ touch sensors built into the static handles or via a Bluetooth chest strap.

Our personal preference has always been for elliptical trainers that offer wireless heart rate monitoring. It leaves your hands free to switch between grip positions and allows you to recruit upper body muscle groups for a total-body workout experience.

That’s why we appreciate ProForm including the Bluetooth chest strap with this machine. Combined with the iFit enabled console this really gives you everything you need to start training.

Of course, it’s still useful to have the static handles for if you only want to monitor your heart rate for a short time, or if you want to isolate your lower body muscle groups, such as quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes.

Workout programs and user profiles

The ProForm 920 E elliptical has 4 main types of workout program to choose from; Manual, Onboard, iFit and Set-A-Goal. Because the 920 E uses a power incline, some of these programs will automatically adjust the gradient as well as the resistance level. We’ve included a quick reference guide to these workouts, which you can find below.

  • ManualThis is the only program that lets you step on the pedals and follow no preset resistance or incline profile, with no prompt to adjust your running speed (happens during Set-A-Goal workouts).
  • OnboardThis is where you can choose from any of the 32 onboard workouts, available in the following categories; Calorie Workouts (12), Intensity Workouts (10) and Performance Workouts (10).After making your selection using the quick-select console controls or touch screen, you will then follow a preset profile consisting of multiple segments, each 1 minute in duration.Each of these segments has a target for the incline level, resistance level, and cadence (speed). The incline and resistance levels will adjust automatically, but the target cadence is something you’re prompted with via the target zone meter on the screen. You can manually override the resistance and incline settings at any time if they prove too challenging.
  • iFitWe take a closer look at iFit later in our review, but these programs are basically designed to create a much more immersive experience than simply following a flashing segment on a backlit screen.Instead you can download personalized workouts tailored towards a variety of fitness goals, add them into your training schedule, monitor your workout feedback during the workout, then analyze your performance when it’s complete. Many of these programs even display a map via Google Maps, and a marker highlighting your progress.
  • Set-A-GoalThis is a feature that we noticed on both of the earlier Endurance series ellipticals, and allows you to set a target for the distance, time and number of calories burned.This program is based entirely on your choice of intensity, and doesn’t make any automatic changes to the incline or resistance level. Instead you simply have a target that counts down towards your goal, and a target zone meter that prompts you to adjust your pedaling speed to stay close to your target cadence (RPM/running speed).

iFit Enabled console

iFit is a smart fitness technology system shared by NordicTrack and ProForm, and can be found on many of their high-end elliptical trainers and treadmills.

Offering downloadable customized workouts, comprehensive fitness tracking and workouts powered by Google Maps, you can even create up to 3 additional user profiles to keep an accurate workout performance record for friends and family.

The Google Maps routes even go beyond a simple satellite map view by providing Street View in many cases, as well as incline matching technology that automatically adjusts the incline of the machine to match that of the real-world route you’re following.

All the technology you need to benefit from the iFit experience is already built into the console of the ProForm 920 E. All that’s required is to activate a subscription and sign into your account.

For a 1 year subscription you’re usually looking at around $99, while 2 years can cost up to $159. For the latest information on iFit subscription prices, it’s always best to check the ProForm website directly.

Ease of assembly and maintenance

When it comes to the assembly process for the ProForm 920 E, we didn’t find anything new compared to the user manuals for the 520 E and 720 E models.

ProForm say on their website that as standard they can only offer curb-side delivery, which means you have to assemble the machine yourself with the user manual as a reference.

With some companies this would be a problem, but something we’ve noticed with all Icon Health and Fitness brands is that the user manuals are always of a very high quality. This means the ProForm 920 E has very clear instructions on how each part fits together, complete with exploded diagrams, parts references, tips and concise written instructions.

As with ProForm’s other Endurance ellipticals, assembly is simply a case of getting the base stabilizers attached, constructing the console upright, connecting the console and building the moveable handles.

With the machine fully assembled, you can also improve stability using the leveling feet beneath the rear of the frame, or change location entirely with the help of front-mounted transport wheels.

Professional assembly services
If you don’t like the idea of setting up the machine on your own, or simply don’t have the time, professional in-home assembly services are always an option. ProForm have their own group of authorized service technicians that can assemble the 920 E for you, but this does come at an additional cost and not all regions are covered.

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

Another option is Amazon, who have also started offering in-home assembly services for a wide range of home fitness equipment, including treadmills and ellipticals. Again this comes at an additional cost and you need to check if they cover your location, but it’s useful to keep as a reference to compare costs.

Of course, there’s always another option that doesn’t cost any extra, which is to assemble the elliptical yourself.

Maintenance required
The maintenance routine for the ProForm 920 E is exactly the same as for the 520 E and 720 E, which is for the inspection of all parts regularly and the cleaning of the elliptical with a damp cloth and mild soap solution.

One of the reasons we include the maintenance section in many of our reviews is in case the equipment requires any special treatments that you need to know about, such as specific cleaning solutions in the case of Precor ellipticals, or chlorine tablets for WaterRower rowing machines.

ProForm don’t highlight any other required maintenance for this model, but do include instructions in the user manual for adjusting the drive belt, reed switch and troubleshooting the incline system if required.

ProForm Elliptical Trainer Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 3 year
  • Labor: 1 year

One important fact about the ProForm warranty is that it’s only applicable to original purchaser. This means if you’re thinking of buying a model that’s already been used, you won’t be covered by ProForm’s warranty and will have to find coverage separately.

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4.5 / 5

One of the key fundamentals we use to review the quality of an elliptical trainer is its price. But at time of writing this is just under $2000 on Amazon, and just under $1000 on the ProForm website. For the purpose of this summary we'll be using the official ProForm website price ($1000).

When you're buying any modern elliptical trainer, you're ideally looking for multiple user profiles, a wide range of workout options, good selection of resistance levels and a stride length that comfortably supports your natural running motion.

The ProForm 920 E has all of this and more, with a full color touch screen that we're more used to seeing on NordicTrack's high-end machines. This combined with the fact that it's iFit enabled is enough for us to recommend this over the two other Endurance series ellipticals (520 E and 720 E).

Although you'll find a steeper incline on some of the Yowza Fitness ellipticals (up to 60°), the machines are only available at a much higher price point, and you don't have the benefits of iFit, even though some models offer their own myLiveLight system.

With a much wider choice of workout programs than Sole (usually 10 programs on each elliptical), and more immersive workout experience than Horizon Fitness or Xterra, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend the ProForm 920 E as one of the best ellipticals under $1000.

Product dimensions: 67.1"L x 25"W x 69.1"H Weight capacity: 325 lbs

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