I have been running for close to 11-years. Mostly on, sometimes off. But I have enjoyed my runs so much that no other form of cardio even comes close.
That’s until my runner’s knee went from an occasional discomfort to a consistent niggle - so much so, that I could hardly last as long as I used to run on a treadmill. The pain started to radiate upwards from the sides of the knee cap and would last for up to 6-hours after my run.
After a quick eval, the doc and the physical therapist asked me to switch to a lower impact activity.
The thought of having to quit running was gut-wrenching. But so was the more morbid thought of being permanently disabled. So, after a lot of careful consideration, I decided to switch from running outside, to getting an elliptical for home use.
An elliptical doesn’t appear to be a great alternative for a run at first glance. But it’s a terrific one.
It gives you one hell of a workout without placing even the slightest impact on your knee.
After deciding to switch over to an elliptical, I spent the next two months researching elliptical trainers - from the standard ones to some teeny tiny but still cool ones (the likes of stamina inmotion elliptical) on the market. Much to my surprise, the shopping decision wasn’t easy at all. There are tons of options at different price points with features that I might or might not use.
Finally, I was able to narrow down on two top-rated elliptical trainers that don’t cost an arm and a leg, the Schwinn 470 and the Sole E25. It was toss-up between these two. So I decided to dig a little deeper into these.
A Quick Overview of These Two Ellipticals
Both Schwinn 470 and Sole E25 are excellent elliptical trainers that are reasonably compact fit into a corner in my basement, are built like tanks (6’3, 190 athlete here) and are quite feature rich for their price.
Neither are bells and whistles models, mind you. But that’s not what I was looking for either. My idea was to get an incline treadmill that would offer enough resistance to keep me occupied for the next 12-months, which was the average time that I would be resting my knees.
One of those foldable exercise bikes with backrest would have offered an even more relaxing workout to my knees, but I was shooting for something slightly more intense . So I resorted to choosing between a stationary bike and an elliptical, I opted for an elliptical then started my search and here we are.
Both models have magnetic resistance, pulse grips and an incline setting, which pretty much sums up my checklist.
Here are the meatier bits.
When I first learnt about the Schwinn 470, I was quite surprised to find an elliptical with a 20” stride in the sub-$1000 price bracket.
Most of the ellipticals at this price point have much smaller strides. Instantly, I was thinking, what’s the catch?
Well, turns out that there’s no catch. The Schwinn 470 is just an incredibly-good, budget-priced cardio machine. It has a very sturdy, metal center frame, a flywheel on the front and a sizeable crossbar.
The max weight rating is 300 lb. which is excellent. It features Schwinn’s Precision Path Foot Motion Technology, which mimics the natural arc of motion of the stride.
- Compact footprint
- 20” long stride/path
- 25 Eddy Current resistance levels
- Front flywheel
- Sturdy metal frame
- Sturdy, moving handlebars
- 10% power incline
- Dual backlit LCD-display
- Internal memory to store four user profiles
- Bluetooth data export to a variety of apps including MyFitnessPal, RunSocial, Mapmyrun and more.
- RunSocial compatible
- Pulse sensors for tracking vitals
- Media Shelf for books, tablet
- USB port
- Water bottle holder
- Inbuilt fan
- MP3 player
What I Like About the Schwinn 470
It’s complete bang for your buck. It has a beefy frame, large foot pedals which are comfortable for hour-long workouts, has both, moving and static handlebars, and there are 25-levels of magnetic resistance.
That’s ample resistance even for a seasoned athlete.
Moreover, if you ever feel that you have plateaued and are not getting your heart to pump as much as you should, just use the motorized incline setting, which can be activated on-the-fly.
The RunSocial compatibility seemed a little gimmicky on paper. But it really does increase interactivity by allowing you to select some of the most scenic running trails around the world.
To be honest, I was mighty impressed when I first saw the Sole E25 on display at a local store. It looked a lot sturdier than most home-use ellipticals that I have seen.
I wasn’t mistaken. Despite being an entry-level offering from Sole, the E25 is built like a tank. Like the Schwinn 470, it has a 20” path and a 20-pound flywheel. The max weight load rating is an impressive 350 lb.
At 70” long and just 24” wide, it’s the perfect size for any apartment room or basement. There’s enough resistance, a bunch of inbuilt workouts and there’s an option to customize two workouts and store them for reuse.
- Entry level model from a top-rated brand
- Best in-class warranty
- Sturdy metal frame
- Large, comfortable foot pedal
- 20 incline settings on a motorized ramp
- 10 inbuilt workout programs
- Touch sensor for heart rate monitoring
- Also compatible with wireless heart rate monitors
- Bluetooth data export to the Sole App. You can sync the elliptical to the app and use it as a remote to control the trainer.
- Accessory tray
- Water bottle holder and media shelf
- USB port
- Inbuilt fans
What Are the Most Notable Differences?
Just like the Schwinn 470, the Sole E25 is very comfortable to use. The oversized foot pedals and the large handlebars make it extremely easy, even for a tall user like me. My partner, who’s 5’7 was also able to use it comfortably.
The 20-levels of resistance are quite sufficient for a vigorous dose of cardio after your workouts. To add to that, there are 20-incremental levels of incline, which lets you fine tune the difficulty level. Exercising on this baby will give a lot of the usual benefits from working out; increased metabolism, keeping your weight in check, more energy, being more healthy, and all of that from the comfort of your home's backyard gym.
Entry-level is usually a term used to mask tradeoffs. You’d be surprised to know that there are none with the Sole E25.
Having said that, there are a few differences in these two models. Here are the most notable ones.
- The E25 has 10 built-in workouts while the Schwinn 470 has 29. That’s quite a sizable difference. If you prefer a hands-off approach to training, then this is something that you might want to consider while choosing between these two trainers.
- The Sole E25 has a sturdier frame and a max weight rating of 350 lb., while the Schwinn 470 is rated for 300 lb. To be honest, this doesn’t make a difference to me. I am 190 lb. and will be the heaviest user to use the treadmill. But if you weigh more than 300 lb., then the E25will be a better option for you.
- The Sole E25 comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame, while the Schwinn 470 offers a standard, 10-year warranty. Again, this isn’t a deal breaker for me.
- The Schwinn 470 weighs 167 lb. when fully assembled and there are wheels on the front which make it easy to push around the house. In comparison, the Sole E25 weighs 212 lb., which is a little too heavy for my liking.
- The Schwinn 470 offers 25 resistance levels, while you get only 20 with the E25.
Schwinn 470 vs Sole E25- Which is the better Elliptical?
If you compare the specs and the overall feature list, there’s very little to choose between the two. Both have identical-sized frames, the same path length, similar dimensions and almost the same features.
It all boils down to the specifics and individual preferences.
For instance, I feel that the Schwinn 470 has a slightly better backlit display because it allows you to see the complete screen even if you have parked a tablet or a book on the media shelf. That’s something that I normally do during my workouts.
I also like the increased resistance levels on the 470 and the quick keys that allow me to switch resistance levels easily. But my partner prefers the customizable workouts on the Sole. She tweaks settings and feels that it helps a lot more than the preset programs.
That said, let’s try to analyze the two on the basis of a checklist that I had prepared while researching about elliptical trainers.
Which One is Built Better?
Both, the Schwinn 470 and the Sole E25 feature heavy duty frames and are designed like commercial-grade machines.
The Sole E25 features a 38mm steel frame, while the 470 has thick steel-tubing.
That might seem like a glaring difference but there’s very little difference in quality. I personally wouldn’t get hung up over tiny details like this.
The only possible advantage that one gets with the Sole E25 is that it’s rated for more weight.
Which One is Quieter? - Schwinn Takes the Win
The Schwinn 470 edges out the Sole E25 in noise-free performance. While the Sole E25 is advertised as being a very smooth and quiet machine, I found the 470 to be quieter.
I believe that it’s the perimeter-weighted flywheel on the 470 that’s butter smooth and quiet.
Which One is More Comfortable?
Both these ellipticals are extremely comfortable with large foot pedals, a natural arc to the path and sturdy movable (and static) handlebars. The operation is very smooth and there’s no jerks even at the highest resistance setting.
The stride length is excellent and you have the option to exercise in both forward and backwards motion (reverse stride)
The control panel on the Schwinn is easier to use because of the quick access keys and the dual display. The Sole E25 matches up to this by offering incline controls on the handlebar itself.
So, it’s pretty even-steven when it comes to comfort. This reminds me of the time when I compared the Sole F63 to the Bowflex BXT6; both of these treadmills were very comfortable and it was hard to decide which one wins in this category.
Which Is Better for Beginners?
Both ellipticals are entry-level offerings from the respective brands. But there are a few features on the Schwinn 470, which make it a better bet for beginners as compared to the E25.
- It’s cheaper.
- It has 29 inbuilt workout programs including HIIT, fitness and custom ones. You are less likely to get bored or demotivated with more programs on offer.
- It’s a front-drive system which is easier to get used to even when you are transitioning from a different activity, like running.
- It has a very sturdy frame, but is quite lightweight at 160 lb. In a nutshell, it’s more portable than the E25.
- It’s great value.
Which One Offers More Features?
If you compare the basics, both these ellipticals offer near identical features. Both come with backlit LCD displays, both have media trays, USB ports, are compatible with a variety of Bluetooth apps and have integrated powered incline settings.
But if you look closely at the spec sheet, you’ll realize that you get more features with the Schwinn 470.
- Ability to store 4 user profiles vs. 1 on the E25. If multiple people in the family are going to use the elliptical, this allows each one to store their own profile.
- Inbuilt MP3 player vs. None on the E25. I agree that most people would rather plug in an iPad than use an inbuilt MP3 player. But I do. So do a lot of my buddies.
- 25 Eddy Current resistance levels vs. 20 on the E25. Not a huge difference initially. But as you progress, every additional level of resistance will be worth it.
- Dual layer LCD display vs. a single LCD screen on the E25
In comparison, the notable addition that you get with the Sole E25 is a chest heart rate monitor. Both treadmills are Telemetry heart rate enabled. But the 470 doesn’t include a chest strap. Which is a great way to measure your overall fitness level and how your cardiovascular health is doing.
That’s a minor quibble really. The Schwinn 470 is clearly the more feature rich option of the two.
The Schwinn 470 is the winner here. There are a total of 29 programs inbuilt into it.
12 of these are profiles, 9 heart rate controlled workouts, 4 customized ones, 2 fitness tests for beginners, 1 recovery test & 1 quick start workout.
In comparison, there are just 8 inbuilt workouts on the E25, with the option to customize two more. So, you get 10-workouts in total.
Size Comparison - Which is Better for Small Spaces?
The Schwinn 470 is 70 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 63 inches tall, which is quite reasonable for a full-sized elliptical trainer.
The Sole E25 on the other hand is 70 inches long, 24 inches wide and 64 inches tall. So the difference is only marginal and definitely not significant enough to make a difference to the amount of space it will occupy in your home. If you're on the hunt for a space saving exercise machine, any of these checks that box.
For those looking to enjoy both elliptical workout and treadmill runs, I'd say grab one of these and the nordictrack space saver treadmill to get the best of both worlds.
What Are the Customer Reviews Saying?
Schwinn Has Way more Positive Reviews
Both of these are top-rated treadmills with largely positive reviews.
The Schwinn 470 is considered by most customers to be a complete value for money purchase. The compact size, the 20” path, the Precision Path Foot Motion and the number of workouts are some of the features that are mentioned frequently.
It’s also used by a lot of seasoned athletes, mind you. Not just beginners.
The Sole E25 gets a lot of positive reviews about the adjustable 20-22” stride, the excellent incline ramp and the beefy construction. A lot of the users who use the E25 are tall and heavy, and prefer the extra max weight rating.
Some of the negative reviews about the Schwinn 470 are about the cumbersome installation. Some people were also dissatisfied with the 10-year warranty.
What About Price? How Do They Compare?
Both of these are entry-level treadmills and are priced below $1000.
That’s a very reasonable price range for commercial-grade construction and a feature list like this.
The Schwinn 470 is priced at $899 on the Schwinn website, while the Sole E25 is priced at $999.
The 470 is $100 cheaper, if you plan to self-assemble the machine. You can pay a little extra and get it professionally-assembled if need be.
What About Warranty? How Do They Compare?
The Schwinn 470 comes with a 10-year warranty on the frame and 2-years on parts. In fact, it is the one quibble that a lot of users have mentioned.
To be honest, that’s unfair flak. 10-years is pretty much the industry-standard for warranty on frames.
What makes it sound tepid, is the Lifetime warranty on the Sole E25’s frame.
If you are going to base your selection purely on the basis of the warranty, then the E25 is clearly a better bet.
Which is Easier to Set Up?
I read the assembly instructions that ship with both these ellipticals and to be honest, they are very identical.
I also watched some YouTube videos that show the assembly process. I didn’t find it as intimidating as some people make it sound like.
One thing that must be mentioned though, is that the Schwinn 470 weighs only 160 lb. when fully assembled. So it might be easier to assemble even if you do not have an additional pair of hands.
In comparison, the Sole E25 weighs close to 225 lb. when fully assembled. You definitely need an extra pair of hands to move that around.
So, Which Elliptical Should I Get?
After carefully analyzing all the features, the frame, the ease of use, the console, the workouts, the incline and the price, I decided to go with the Schwinn 470.
It is clearly the better of these two. It’s cheaper, has more workouts, more resistance and more incline settings.
The only advantage that I would get with the Sole E25 is the additional max weight rating and a heavier duty frame. I don’t think that makes any difference to my workouts. Not unless I gain an extra 100 pounds.
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