Sunday, June 24, 2012


This blog chronicles the first 3 weeks with my new Elliptigo. Why you ask? When thinking about laying out that kind of cash on a piece of exercise equipment I scoured the internet for every bit of info I could find. Most of the stuff was put out by Elliptigo but there were a few unbiased reviews I found interesting/useful. However, the kind of detailed summary I was looking for just wasn’t out there. That’s when I decided. If I did buy an Elliptigo I’d let others know what I thought. And not just after my first ride. I would provide a longer term analysis to determine if I made a good purchase OR if the Elliptigo would end up in the garage with the rest of my unused exercise equipment.

First here’s a little info about me…
Age: 60
Height 6’6”
Weight: 210

I’m retired and in “reasonably” good shape. As a University Professor for 30 years I had access to a very nice recreation center – where I participated in a noon-time basketball game 3x/week. This was my primary source of exercise and I loved it.

After my wife and I retired, we moved our base of operation to Galveston Island, TX. We love the Gulf Coast and our little house is 6 blocks from the beach. However, hard as I tried, I couldn’t find a pickup basketball game on the island (plus – my knees were giving out). So for the past year or so I’ve been searching for an alternative source of regular exercise. 

Therein lays the problem. I don’t like lifting weights, running is out and exercise machines are a total bore. Galveston is a great place to bike and we ride our beach cruisers on a regular basis. But it would be a stretch to call that exercise.

On a trip to California my wife saw an Elliptigo and couldn’t wait to tell me about it. It looked like a great solution to my exercise dilemma. I checked out the internet videos, got excited and then asked the obvious next question. How much? 

That's when things got serious...

Deciding to Purchase an ElliptiGO...

The Elliptigo seemed to have many of the features I was looking for to get back into a regular exercise regime. It’s similar to an elliptical trainer but with the added feature/benefit of not being stationary. Easy on the knees and hips. Plus I was already doing some cycling as a “passive” source of exercise.

My goal – a good cardio workout for 30 – 60 minutes at a heart reate of 130 - 135 bpm.

This might be the appropriate time to mention that I’m kind of a tightwad.  I’ll spend money on things within reason but there is NOTHING within reason about the price of an Elliptigo. At $2,000 - $3,000 it is way out of my comfort zone!!!  This was the single most important factor I agonized over before shelling out the $$$ for a new Ellipigo. If it had been a thousand dollars or even fifteen hundred I would have bought one on site. But 2 grand – come on. And that was for the cheapest model.

Here were my biggest concerns:

WOW that’s a lot of money. More than my first car cost.

What if I don’t like it all that much once I buy one?

At 6’6” and 210 lbs, am I too big for an Elliptigo?

Will I get a decent cardio workout or will it be like my beach cruiser?

Will it be too hard on my knees/hips/back – despite what the ads say?

What if – like all first generation stuff, there are design improvements or the price goes down?

My Purchasing Rational:
For all major purchases, I usually have to come up with some kind of rationalization to justify the expense. Some of these can be quite elaborate (i.e. protect the environment, conserve energy, make the world a better place to live and so on). Here were my thoughts on the Elliptigo.

Regular exercise is important and you can’t put a price tag on your health.

I have the perfect place to ride.

If it doesn’t work out I can sell it on Craig’s List. I might lose a few hundred dollars but it’s worth a shot. 

The latter was the major rational I used before making my purchase.

Analysis and Research:
I first checked out all the info I could find on-line. As previously mentioned, there was some good marketing info from Elliptigo but unbiased reviews were limited. Besides, these days you can’t be too confident about anything you read on the internet.

Next, I made a trip to Houston for a test ride. It was a good experience BUT – I was surprised that riding the Elliptigo was not quite as intuitive as I thought it might be. It’s different from a bicycle and I was a little shaky riding around the parking lot. The test ride took about 15 minutes. Also, after getting off I immediately felt some muscle strain in the knee area. 

I drove home with more thoughts and questions then when I arrived. Still too much money, not an easy ride and some unexpected muscle/joint pain. It took me an additional 2 weeks of internal debate to finally pull the trigger. I ended up buying a 3 speed Elliptigo (green) from a local fitness store. They were very helpful and while waiting on the paper work I noticed that most of their treadmills and elliptical exercise machines were selling for $3 - $5 thousand. I quickly added that to my list of rationalizations and moved on.

Week 1 coming soon...

Week 1...

Galveston Seawall
Since they only had the demo model at the store, I had to pick up my Elliptigo from the distribution center. I could have had it assembled there but opted to bring it home in the giant box. That was probably a mistake. The Elliptigo instructional videos provided helpful information and it’s pretty easy to get the front tire and handle bars in place. But my front brakes needed adjusting and 2nd gear was totally out of line. These weren’t huge issues but for the $$ I expected everything to work perfectly right out of the box. Silly me.

Then there was the tire inflation issue. The Elliptigo has high pressure tires, requiring a Presta fitting. To make a long story short, I ended up buying a hand pump with a built in pressure gauge and high pressure fitting. Another $20. But the most painful part was that by the time I got around to figuring this out it was too late to take it out for much of a test ride.

Thursday Morning – 6:30 am
My first real ride on the Elliptigo. It was pretty much a perfect morning. 75⁰F, light breeze, and just a few clouds. As I pedaled up the street I noticed some rubbing sounds and made a slight adjustment to the gear shift. 2nd was definitely not working. I put it in first and got in to a pedaling rhythm. I was still a bit tentative about turning/handling and totally focused on the road in an attempt to miss any big bumps or potholes. 

Galveston’s Seawall is a GREAT place to ride and at 6:30 am there aren’t many people out and about I headed west, in to the wind, shifted in to 3rd and started pedaling. I immediately noticed you really have to get up some speed to get a good rhythm/workout. That means riding would be limited to times when there weren’t many pedestrians on the sidewalk. 15 minutes later I was a mile or 2 down Seawall Blvd. and I turned to head back home. I could have gone farther but didn’t want to push it too hard the first day. It took me 15 minutes to get back to the house for a total ride-time of 30 minutes. About what I would do on an elliptical trainer. It was a good workout and I wish I had my heart-rate monitor to see if I hit 130 bpm's for most of the 30 minutes. I was definitely sweating like a pig! Now to see how I’d feel the next day…

Friday Morning – 6:30 am
Surprisingly – no unusual aches or pains. Knees felt good. Ready for my second outing. Weather conditions a carbon copy of the day before. Headed to the Seawall, turned in to the wind and got up to cruising speed. This time I was feeling a bit more confident and actually took a few minutes away from starring at the road to enjoy the scenery. Total ride time – 35 minutes. This may be a little too personal but - my hands sweat profusely and the handlebar grips are made of a hard “slippery” kind of plastic. Might have to get some riding gloves or grip covers.  Also need some kind of water bottle cage or holder.

Saturday Morning – 6:30 am
Ready for another ride. WOW – this is starting to feel like an exercise regime I actually look forward to/enjoy. Great riding weather again. Back to the Seawall but this time I started off heading downwind (east). Nice change of scenery but more joggers/walkers to dodge. 20 minutes later turned around and started pedaling in to the wind. Talk about kicking it up a notch. Returned home in a puddle of sweat and that kind of euphoria you feel after a good workout. Total ride time – 40 minutes.

Sunday Morning – 6:30 am
Knees and hip a little achy but that may be from yesterday’s full day of gardening. Great riding weather but a little breezier. Back up to the Seawall, then a turn in to the wind. I’m taking it a little easier today. A good 35 minute ride and I was back at the house with the first Elliptigo week under my belt.

Week 1 Observations…
The Elliptigo is good exercise. I need my heart monitor to do a better job of quantifying workouts. So far, no obvious muscle/joint issues. And – I enjoy riding it! All in all a thumbs up.

Disappointments. The brakes rub a little. 2nd gear is still not working and now there is a strange creaking in the headset/handlebar stem. This is really aggravating because I never even considered that there might be some kind of mechanical issues with the Elliptigo. ESPECIALLY for the kind of cash I laid out for this thing. Now I’m trying to figure out where I can get these issues resolved given that there is no certified dealer in my immediate vicinity. Luckily, there’s a great bike shop here on the Island (Island Bikes) and hopefully Jeff can make the necessary adjustments.

Week 2 coming soon…

Week 2...

After a 3 day break from riding, I’m back and ready to begin again. I’ve managed to get 2nd gear to work with a minor adjustment to the shifter barrel. Also, I’ve found a solution to the hand perspiration issue. I wipe my hand on my pants. That may sound a bit simplified but the significance here is that initially, I didn’t think I’d ever be able ride one-handed – even for a minute. That being said, my riding ability/confidence has GREATLY improved and I’m feeling very comfortable on the Elliptigo.

Thursday Morning – 6:30 am
Pretty steamy out with a light breeze. Recent rains have really jacked up the humidity. I begin my run down the Seawall in to the wind. This week I have my heart rate monitor and a quick check after a few minutes of pedaling showed 135 bpm. Perfect – I’m hitting my target. The ride back was a bit easier and my HR went down to 125 bpm. Still, I was feeling the burn by the time I got back to the house. Total ride time – 40 minutes.

Friday Morning – 6:30 am
Temperature in the upper 70’s with a light breeze out of the West. My rides are becoming routine – but not in a bad way. I like having a set exercise regime. BUT at my age that can quickly become a rut. I’ve already started thinking about other places I might ride ride or maybe even an event. The Seawall is still the ideal location. Oops – kind of got off track there. Speaking of which, I am now noticing a new noise other that the swish-swish the Elliptigo usually makes. Sounds like something rattling in the track. Oh and BTW my handlebar stem is still making a horrible creaking sound. Total ride time 40 minutes.

Saturday Morning – 6:30 am
Nice riding conditions with a few scattered clouds to cool things off. A very nice ride along the Seawall. The ride back, in to the wind, was pretty challenging and it was nice to have 2nd gear to lighten the load. Now that I’m more comfortable riding the Elliptigo I can better enjoy the sights and sounds of the Gulf. Still have a bit of a rattle in the right track. Guess I’ll have to make another adjustment. Total ride time – 40 minutes.

Sunday – 6:30 am
Humidity on the rise with only a slight breeze. Nice run up and back on the Seawall. My initial attempts at adjusting the track didn’t work and there is still a bit of a rattling noise. I’ll have to give it another shot. Another enjoyable ride on the Elliptigo. Total ride time – 40 minutes.

Week 2 Observations:
I’m definitely feeling more comfortable riding the Elliptigo, which has only added to the enjoyment. The Galveston Seawall is a GREAT place to ride! Best of all, I’m hitting my heart rate goal on 135 bpm (at least on the upwind leg). I may have to push a little harder on the downwind leg of my rides. All in all I still give it a big thumbs up.

I still can’t get over the number of tweaky things that aren’t working well on the Elliptigo. I guess all new bikes need adjustments as the cables stretch, etc. But I never even considered that my biggest disappointment would be maintenance related. If I had a dealer nearby I would have them make these adjustments but I’m here on an Island – literally. Guess I’ll have to become my own repair expert. The videos are helpful. Makes me wonder if others have had similar issues.

Week 3 coming soon...

Week 3…

I finally broke down and contacted ElliptoGO about my creaky handlebar stem. Naturally my call immediately went to voice mail. However, around 5:00 pm I received a call back from a very nice Elliptigo technician. She asked me a few questions, diagnosed the problem and then provided step by step directions on how to fix it. I was impressed and appreciative for the help. I haven’t fixed it yet but at least I know how.

Thursday 6:30 am
78⁰F with just a hint of a breeze. Had a nice ride and was able to push hard enough to keep my heart rate around 135 bpm. Still having a bit of a problem with 2nd gear – another adjustment required. Total ride time 40 minutes.

Friday 6:30 am
Another great day for Elliptigoing. A little cooler than yesterday with a nice breeze out of the east. Once again, with a little pushing, I sustained my heart rate at 135 – 145 bpm for most of the 45 minute ride. Take a look at the heart rate chart over in the right hand column to find your optimum.

Saturday 6:30 am
This was the first morning in the last 3 weeks that I was less than excited about riding. But my enthusiasm improved once I got going. It was pretty steamy hot with very little wind. Got my heart rate up in to the 130’s for about 30 minutes before I returning home.

Sunday 6:30 am
Final morning of my 3 week chronicle. Temps in the upper 70’s and not a breath of air. Pushed hard for the first half of the ride and then cruised back to the house, enjoying the scenery.

Week 3 Observations:
One of my biggest reservations about purchasing an Elliptigo was that I wouldn’t enjoy riding enough to use it as a regular source of exercise.  I “do” enjoy riding and it’s turned out to be a GREAT source of exercise. It’s very low impact and I’ve had no muscle or joint pain. At first I was a little unstable on the Elliptigo but my riding ability has greatly improved. Now, I’m as comfortable on the Elliptigo as I am on my bicycle. So bottom line – I give the Elliptigo a BIG THUMBS UP. Price is still a huge issue and I have a hard time understanding why they are so expensive - but I’m glad I made the investment.

I have been a little disappointed in the number of adjustments required in the first 3 weeks. This may not have been quite as big a deal if I had a dealer nearby to do the work. But since I don’t, I’ve had to do my own repairs. The Support Videos are very helpful and the Elliptigo technician that called me about my handlebar stem was very informative. This was an unforeseen issue but not a deal-breaker and I still give the Elliptigo a big thumbs up.

So here is a final analysis based on my original concerns...

WOW that’s a lot of money. More than my first car cost.
True - but worth the investment.

What if I don’t like it all that much once I buy one?
I really enjoy riding it.

At 6’6” and 210 lbs, am I too big for an Elliptigo?
Nope. I look freakishly tall but it fits great.

Will I get a decent cardio workout or will it be like my beach cruiser?
I've been able to consistently sustain a heart rate of 130 - 140 bpm.

Will it be too hard on my knees/hips/back – despite what the ads say?
No knee issues other than the normal (unrelated) aches and pains.

What if – like all first generation stuff, there are design improvements or the price goes down?
Only time will tell...

Post Script...
Shortly after I posted this entry I received the following 2 emails from ElliptiGO. Frankly I didn't expect to hear from them and I must say that I was VERY impressed with their response. Another plus in the ElliptiGO's favor.

Hi Don,
I would like to thank you for not just taking the time to post the blog, but to forward it to us to share your insights and feedback. I totally appreciate the effort and thorough examination of your entire purchasing and test riding experience! Your feedback is invaluable and is something we can learn from that will help us grow and continue to strive for providing the best product and customer relationships as we can.

The ElliptiGO is an investment and one we take considerable pride in, however, we know we can improve and it helps to have honest feedback on everything from price concerns, to first test rides, to maintenance. I do apologize you experienced a week plus of frustrations not having everything perfect out of the box. I am your point of service here at ElliptiGO and while we also support our dealers, if there is any questions you have or concerns or issues, I hope you will give either your dealer or us a call to help resolve/answer it. I truly hope you continue enjoying your ElliptiGO and keep us posted on your many adventures! I enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading more! 

Keri Cleeremans
ElliptiGO Inc,

Thanks very much for posting your review. It felt very even to me (even a bit more positive than I would have expected given the annoyances you’ve had with your ElliptiGO). It’s really, really helpful for me to be able to get that kind of insight into your experience. We’re working hard to deliver a quality product to our customers and it’s tough to gauge how we’re doing. We clearly have a long way to go to meet expectations across the board, but it’s nice to see that the product resonates with you (as it does with almost all of our customers). 

I sincerely apologize about you receiving an ElliptiGO that had a mis-adjusted shifter. I can provide a list of excuses as to how that got to you, but the bottom line is that you should not have had to deal with that and we are investing additional time and effort into preventing that in the future. I’m confused about the creaking. I know you’ve been in touch with Keri about that, but I have been traveling and now she is traveling, so I haven’t been able to close the loop there. That is an unusual issue on the c-series ElliptiGOs. Was Keri able to resolve it?

How did you feel about your customer service experience in general? Were there other issues that you had?  Did we help to resolve them?

Thanks again for taking the time to put this together – we really appreciate it, not only for our education but also to help other potential purchasers get a sense of what to expect.

Bryan Pate
Co-Founder and Co-President
ElliptiGO Inc.

For continued information on my experience and ElliptiGO related topics, be sure to check out the ElliptiGO Galveston Blog.