The Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (2014 model) forms part of a rear driven elliptical collection that also includes the CE 3.6, 5.5, 8.0, and 9.0.
But is it worth paying for the upgrade over the earlier 5.5 design?
In this review we’ll guide you through each of the exercise programs, workout feedback, and entertainment functions provided by the console. This is in addition to the pros and cons from customer reviews, to help you decide if the CE-7.4 is really one of the best ellipticals for the money.
A quick comparison between the Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 and the CE-5.5 shows that there is actually very little difference in terms of price when they are both on sale.
Both ellipticals also provide the same maximum stride length, measuring 21 inches, which can also be adjusted back to 18 inches if required.
One of the more subtle features of the CE-7.4 is the use of level adjusters attached to the base of each corner at the front of the machine.
A set of transport wheels has also been added to the front base stabilizer to make the 200 lb weight of the machine easier to move between workouts if required.
Unfortunately there isn’t a handle attached to the back like you might find on some of the equipment from Sole Fitness, but there is a bar with rubber feet that doubles as both a base stabilizer and a way of lifting the back of the elliptical.
If you’ve already done some research into other elliptical trainers, or have used a similar machine at your local gym, one of the main differences you’re likely to notice is the grip positions.
Whereas conventional cross trainers will have just two sets of handles (one stationary and one longer, moving set), the CE-7.4 actually provides you with 3 possible grip options.
The third set is actually horizontal and stationary, positioned closer to your body than either of the other two.
This has the added benefit of allowing you to maintain a more upright posture, which will help relieve any strain on your knees and lower back.
Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 – Features Summary
- Emulating the orthopedic movement of your ankle, the pivoting foot pedal supports your heel
- The CE 7.4 allows for smooth transitions and stops even during strenuous workouts with the superior technology
- Plug your iPod, MP3 player, CD player or other audio device to the auxiliary input jack and be energized
Display console design
At first glance the display console may not be as aesthetically pleasing as some of its better known competitors, but it still manages to provide many of the same useful features.
Rather than relying on a section of the LCD screen to provide feedback on your heart rate, Smooth Fitness have instead opted for a series of LED lights that correspond to different percentage levels.
These range from 50% all the way up to 95%, and acts as an accurate way to monitor your heart rate, when combined with a heart rate chest belt.
Although the console is far from small, workout information isn’t displayed in the main LCD section like you might expect.
Instead, the CE-7.4 uses two smaller screens to scroll through all of your most important feedback.
This includes your time, RPM, pulse, METs, distance, speed, calories burned, and watts.
As we would expect from an elliptical in this price range, you also get the opportunity to enter your age and weight, which can then be used in calculations for determining the number of calories burned, producing a more accurate result.
One final feature worth mentioning is the integrated cooling fan. This is a feature that sounds useful in theory, but in practice is an area where many companies still haven’t managed to get it quite right.
Preset workout programs
Something that’s becoming a more regular feature among high-end elliptical machines is the use of a USB device to sync and transfer workout information between the console and a fitness profile that you create online.
We’ve already seen similar technology with the SchwinnConnect system from Schwinn, and iFit from ProForm, but the Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 is the first elliptical we’ve reviewed that offers a system called ‘My Smooth Virtual Fitness Trainer‘.
In comparison, this probably has the most in common with SchwinnConnect, as it acts like more of a data transfer, rather than an extension of the workout programs you can choose from via the console.
This can be an excellent way to keep track of your workout progress over a longer period of time, allowing you to monitor your results and identify any trends that occur as the result of a particular style of training.
But even if this isn’t a feature you want to take advantage of, you can still choose to workout to any of 9 preset or 5 custom workout programs.
Each of the preset programs has been designed to help you achieve a specific fitness goal, and includes the following options:
- Target time – Set a target duration for your workout
- Target distance – Set a target distance for your workout
- Target calories – Set the number of calories you want to burn
- METS – Based on a scale from 1.0 to 16.0, with the different levels corresponding to the equivalent energy expenditure from performing different sporting activities.
For example, 1.0 METS is classed as ‘light activity’, such as housework or walking. At the other end of the scale, 16 METS is designed to produce the same results as running at 10 mph.
A few of the other programs available are fat burning, interval training, strength training, heart rate controlled, and even a fitness level test (based on YMCA Protocol Standards).
Ease of assembly
The first thing we noticed about the user manual for the Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 is how comprehensive the parts lists are.
Whereas most elliptical manuals only provide you with a list of the parts needed for the assembly, Smooth Fitness actually provides you a list of every part that went into the pre-assembly as well.
That includes the flywheel casing, base frame, each individual piece of the display console, and the parts that hold the flywheel itself together.
In all honesty this probably isn’t necessary, and there are at least 10 pages that you can more or less ignore until you get to the section that explains what you need to still put together.
The great thing is that even the base stabilizers and foot pedals arrive already pre-assembled.
All that’s needed is to attach the main upright to the frame and connect up the display console and you’re ready to start your first workout.
The quick and easy assembly was actually one of the main points we covered in the analysis of the customer reviews.
Taking all of this into account, it shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes to complete the assembly once you have all the parts ready and out of the packaging.
While images, online videos, and reviews like ours can certainly be useful in finding out more information about a product’s features, it’s usually difficult to build a balanced opinion of a company’s customer service.
Unless you have encountered any issues with the product yourself, then you’re not typically going to need to call or contact them.
That’s why it’s always best to combine review site research with a wider range of consumer reviews, which can often be found through some of the more popular online marketplaces, such as Amazon.
Unfortunately it seems like reviewers aren’t impressed by the customer service from Smooth fitness, with the majority of reviews rating the CE-7.4 at just one star out of five.
The following pros and cons are the reasons behind these ratings.
- Very sturdy frame prevents any unwanted movement
- Easy to put together
- Wide range of workout programs tailored towards specific fitness goals
- Slow customer service, with some customers being sent out the wrong parts as replacements
- Difficult to get through to an actual representative who can deal with any issues, as this often results in your call going to voicemail
- One reviewer reported an issue with the frame rusting, but was then accused of not cleaning the equipment properly
Whenever there aren’t many reviews for a product, it always makes it more difficult to judge people’s experiences.
But seeing as how even the 5 star rated reviews either haven’t needed to contact customer service, or have had a bad experience and are basing their rating on the quality of the machine, then this doesn’t give a particularly good impression.
Whereas we would usually try to base the lists above on the quality of the machine, the level of customer service seems to be low right across all reviews, making it difficult to find many positive points.
Although this doesn’t detract from the quality of the elliptical, buying anything of this value from a company you don’t have total confidence in is never a particularly good idea.
What’s covered by the warranty?
Warranty coverage tends to differ between the USA and Canada, but only in terms of the labor, and not for the frame, brake, or parts.
The following coverage applies, based on your location:
- Frame: Lifetime
- Brake: Lifetime
- Parts and electronics: 7 years
- Labor: 2 years
- Frame: Lifetime
- Brake: Lifetime
- Parts and electronics: 7 years
- Labor: 1 year
As with almost all of the fitness equipment that we review, these warranties are only valid for the original owner, and won’t apply if the model you buy has already been used.