Thursday, 23 May 2024

Elliptical Trainers, Equipment

NordicTrack E 8.7 Front Driven Elliptical Machine Review

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The NordicTrack E 8.7 Front Driven Elliptical represents one of their mid-range models in a collection that also includes the entry level E 5.7, and top-of-the-line E 14.5.

Generally considered their most affordable elliptical collection, the ‘E’ series specializes in providing challenging workouts without the entertainment features of their ‘Elite’ range.

This helps cut down on the cost, but does there aren’t any models that offer the 15″ HDTV screen. Although some models do offer a full colour touch screen, this is limited to the E 11.9 and E 14.5 ellipticals.

In this review we’re going to take a look at what this means for your workouts, by taking a look at everything from the design features and workout programs through to the console functions and warranty.

We’ll also be making comparisons with other affordable ellipticals in the same collection to help you decide if this is really the best choice of machine for your own home gym.

Design features

NordicTrack E 8.7 Front Driven Elliptical

Despite having four other ellipticals between them in the ‘E’ series, the NordicTrack E 8.7 shares many of the same features as the entry level E 5.7.

Most of these earlier models are capped at 20 digital resistance levels, but with the E 8.7 this increases to 22, giving you slightly more freedom over the workout intensity.

As with the ellipticals in their ‘Elite’ collection, this is controlled by a system called Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) which creates smoother transitions when you switch between the different levels.

This combines with a 20 lb inertia enhanced flywheel to create a smoother and quieter stride motion.

The length of the stride also receives a slight upgrade, and it now varies between 18″ and 20″ depending on the incline setting. Choose a shallower incline and you get the shorter stride, or switch to the maximum 20 degree angle and enjoy the full 20″ stride.

Being able to adjust the incline means you can focus on different lower body muscle groups. The shorter, flatter stride path created by a low incline is best for your quads and calves, while a steeper incline and higher resistance level is more of a challenge for your glutes and hamstrings.

Support your running gait with three toe-to-heel positions
The foot pedals are another feature that’s identical to the top ellipticals in NordicTrack’s ‘Elite’ collection.

NordicTrack E 8.7 Front Driven Elliptical

Each pedal has a cushioned surface to improve traction control and stability, as well as giving you three different options for the toe-to-heel angle.

This helps with finding a foot placement that closely matches your natural outdoor running stride.

Unfortunately this isn’t one of the NordicTrack ellipticals that offers a variable stride, making it better suited to runners more than walkers.

If you’re looking for an elliptical with a variable stride that acts as a stepper, elliptical, and treadmill all in the same machine, it’s worth taking a look at their FreeStride Trainers.

However, with NordicTrack’s FreeStride Trainers you only get the one set of handles, which means you can’t isolate lower body muscle groups.

This isn’t a problem for the E 8.7, where you have two sets of handles: one static and one moveable. The moveable set even offers multiple grip positions for varying the level of upper body muscle engagement.

Before we take a look at the console features, it’s worth mentioning there’s a water bottle holder within easy reach. If you use this to store a water bottle or intra-workout energy drink you can stay hydrated and improve your endurance and performance as a result.

NordicTrack E 8.7 Front Driven Elliptical

NordicTrack E 8.7 – Features Summary

  • 22 Digital Resistance Levels
  • 26 Onboard workouts
  • 5″ Backlit Display
  • 20″ Adjustable Stride Length
  • 20 lb Inertia-enhanced flywheel
  • 3° to 20° Adjustable Power Ramp
  • Soft Touch Upper Body Grips
  • iFit® Compatible

Console features

If you’re buying a new elliptical trainer, the quality of the display console and level of workout feedback probably features highly on your list of ‘must-haves’.

Without being able to quickly switch between resistance levels, see how many calories you’ve burned or find your desired workout program, it’s much more difficult to track your progress against fitness goals.

Entertainment features can also be important, but as we mentioned earlier, the NordicTrack E 8.7 is a mid-range elliptical in one of their more affordable collections.

That means you don’t get the web-enabled colour touch screen that’s built into the E 11.9 and E 14.5 models, and you miss out on the second viewing screen that you get with some of their Elite ellipticals.

However, the console is iPod compatible, which allows you to listen to your favourite music via the dual speakers of the Intermix Acoustics sound system.

Although it’s slightly smaller than the screen on the E 11.7 (6″), the 5-inch backlit display has a wide enough viewing angle to highlight all of your most important workout feedback.

Workout feedback includes:

  • Calories burned per hour
  • Distance
  • Ramp
  • Resistance
  • Profile of the current workout’s incline settings

  • RPM for the pedals
  • Number of strides
  • Workout duration
  • Speed
  • My Trail

You might have seen most of these stats before on the machines at your local gym, but one that may not be familiar is ‘My Trail’.

This shows a representation of a quarter mile running track on the screen, with a flashing rectangle used to indicate your progress around the current lap. You can also view the total number of laps completed during the current workout.

An AutoBreeze fan has also been built into the console to help keep you cool, with controls on the console for manually adjusting its speed.

But when you already have the incline and resistance settings to adjust, not to mention the music volume and keeping track of your workout performance, you might not want another button to press.

That’s why there’s an ‘Auto’ mode available, where the speed of the fan automatically adjusts based on your pedal speed.

Heart rate monitoring with a wireless chest strap
In terms of monitoring your heart rate, you’ll often have two options available to you. Either you can wear a chest strap (telemetry) or you can hold onto sensors (touch).

The NordicTrack E 8.7 supports both, with heart rate monitoring using the CardioGrip touch sensors, and support for telemetry chest straps.

If staying within a set heart rate range is important to you, you might be better off using the chest strap.

We’ve got nothing against touch sensors, but they do rely on you maintaining the same grip position throughout your workout. This isn’t always practical when you’re frequently changing the resistance / incline setting, music volume, or fan speed.

If you need to make regular changes to the incline and speed settings, either to override an onboard workout or for interval training, OneTouch controls help to reduce the time you need to spend at the console.

Workout program selection

NordicTrack E 8.7 Front Driven Elliptical

The NordicTrack E 8.7 features a variety of different workouts, including 26 onboard programs designed by a certified personal trainer.

You can also take advantage of iFit’s library of workouts, but bear in mind this is an iFit compatible elliptical, and not one of their iFit enabled models.

So what’s the difference?

iFit compatible means you might be able to access some trial programs, but you won’t be able to download any of the personalized programs unless you buy an iFit module.

You’ll also need an iFit subscription, and connection to a wireless network.

We still feel like this is an advantage over competing elliptical trainers that don’t have iFit as an option, but you won’t get quite the same immersive running experience as if you chose the E 11.9 or E 14.5.

This is because the backlit display of the E 8.7 isn’t a touch screen, and it’s not full colour. On the two top-of-the-line ellipticals, the screen is upgraded to full colour and web-enabled.

What this means is that you can download certain iFit workouts, then view your progress using a combination of Google Maps and StreetView. You could even create a workout that follows your outdoor running route.

Workout categories:

  • Onboard workoutsThe NordicTrack E 8.7 has 26 onboard workouts split into two categories: Speed, and Calorie. This is an upgrade over the 20 onboard programs that were available on their entry level 5.7 elliptical.Each program is split into a series of segments, and follows a set profile of resistance and ramp incline settings. Having this variation means there’s a collection of challenging workouts for all fitness levels, and helps prevent your body getting used to the routine (muscle adaptation).
  • iFit workoutsIf you’re connected to a wireless network, have the module, and have signed up for an iFit membership, you can download personalized workouts straight to the console.A series of icons makes it easier to navigate the various workout categories, and you can check up on your performance post-workout by visiting your online profile.

    Your profile is where you can combine your workout stats with a nutrition log, with a ‘Fit Score’ available as a representation of your overall fitness level.

    Because iFit has expanded to include so many exciting features, and even have its own line of wearable tech, this is something we’ll look at in more detail later in the review.

  • ‘Set-A-Goal’ workoutsThese are your best option if you prefer working towards a target.You can set a goal for the workout duration, number of calories burned, and distance, but unfortunately you can’t set a target heart rate range.

    This isn’t a feature we’ve found on any of NordicTrack’s ellipticals, treadmills, or bikes, although some of their Commercial treadmills do let you set a ‘pace’ goal.

  • Manual programThis puts you in complete control of the pedal resistance and ramp incline, and is the only program that doesn’t require you to follow a profile or set a goal.

Ease of assembly / maintenance required

Assembly instructions for the NordicTrack E 8.7 elliptical

One of the benefits of NordicTrack’s Elite ellipticals is the SNAP assembly system.

This means the machines have been designed in such a way that the upright for the console, and the console itself, fold down between the pedals when it’s packaged.

That way when it’s delivered, you can simply lift the upright into place and secure it with a couple of bolts, saving you a lot of time.

Unfortunately SNAP assembly isn’t included with ellipticals in the ‘E’ series until the E 11.7, a couple of models above the E 8.7.

However, although you have a couple of extra steps to follow, the written instructions are so clear and concise that you shouldn’t have any problems.

They’re also accompanied by exploded drawings with parts references if you prefer to work from diagrams.

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

If you do encounter any issues, it’s worth checking the NordicTrack Service website, which is a great resource for everything from manuals to order tracking.

An in-home assembly service is also available on a limited number of their machines in some areas. Their Service website also has a section where you can find out if this is an option for the NordicTrack E 8.7 in your local area.

View the NordicTrack E 8.7 user manual

Transport options
Despite having a larger footprint than their center drive ellipticals, the NordicTrack E 8.7 can still be moved if needed.

Due to the weight and size, the user manual recommends using two people, with one lifting at the back and the other at the front to assist with the lift and control the transport wheels.

After you move the elliptical to its new location, you can adjust the levelling feet under the rear stabilizer to compensate for any slightly uneven flooring.

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 2 years
  • Labor: 1 year
NordicTrack Elliptical Trainer Guide

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

One of the key selling points with the NordicTrack E 8.7 elliptical is the iFit compatibility, which combines with the 26 onboard workout programs to put it ahead of machines like the Nautilus E616.

Although the Nautilus E616 lets you create up to 4 user profiles, the 20" stride length is the same, and you're only getting a 10 year warranty on the frame, compared to lifetime coverage with the NordicTrack.

The Nautilus E616 also offers an 11% power incline, which is an upgrade over the manual incline of their E614 model, but doesn't match up to the 20% of NordicTrack's E 8.7. Also, both Nautilus ellipticals only offer a 300 lb weight capacity.

The Sole Fitness E25 is also in a similar price range, but again this doesn't measure up in terms of workout variation (only 10 onboard workouts and no iFit or equivalent). Warranty coverage is slightly better, with an extra year on the parts, and you do get a larger console screen.

Overall, if having a wide variety of challenging workouts is important to you, then it's hard to discount the NordicTrack E 8.7. Many of the features are also the same as the higher priced E 11.7 model, except for the fact it has 6 more workouts, 2 more resistance levels, a 350 lb weight capacity, and a slightly larger backlit display.

Product dimensions: 67" (L) x 25" (W) x 69" (H) Weight capacity: 325 lbs

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