If an elliptical and a bicycle fell in love and had a baby, that would be the ElliptiGO. It’s a hybrid machine, but it’s a unique and fun alternative to cross-training.
If you want to get outdoors in the fresh air and do something a little different from running but you aren’t a fan of cycling, the ElliptiGO could be the perfect exercise machine for you.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the ElliptiGO, the runner’s bike.
What Is The ElliptiGO?
The best way to describe the ElliptiGO is that it’s an elliptical on wheels! It has the handlebars of a bicycle with the footplates of the elliptical—instead of pedals—that attach to the rear crank, which drives the chain and powers the wheels.
On the ElliptiGO, there’s no seat so you’ll stand the whole time you’re using it. The incline is designed in such a way that your knees and hips move through the range of movement—which emulates the running motion—without any strain being placed on the joints while maintaining good posture. Your shoulders won’t slouch over the handlebars.
Where Did the Idea Come From?
The idea for the ElliptiGO came to co-founder Bryan Pate, who was using an elliptical machine as his main form of exercise.
For almost thirty years, Bryan had taken part in endurance races, triathlons, and Ironman events. But he had reached a point where running left him in pain for days, despite running being his first love.
Wanting to do a form of exercise outdoors that was low-impact on the joints, where he didn’t have to drive to the gym or wait in a line for equipment to become available, he searched the internet for bicycle-elliptical-type devices.
After coming up empty-handed in his search, Bryan spoke to his friend and co-founder Brent Teal—a mechanical engineer—who was also an ultramarathon runner and Ironman triathlete. Together, they started working on what would become the world’s first outdoor elliptical bike.
The idea started in 2005. By 2008, the second prototype was finished and Bryan completed his first competitive 50-mile ride in 3 hours and 16 minutes.
They named the company ElliptiGO. The ElliptiGO not only gave Brent the feeling that he was running, but it proved to be a challenging workout that had no impact on the joints.
Why Is It an Effective Cross-Training Tool for Runners?
The ElliptiGO emulates the motion of running but unlike running, there’s no impact or jarring on the joints. You can also adjust the stride length—up to 25 inches—which allows for a greater range of motion, especially in the hip, which is great if you have tight hip flexors.
Unlike the elliptical machine, the ElliptiGO doesn’t have a flywheel. This means that when you are out on the road, it’s pure leg power that propels it forward. While the incline helps you to maintain a healthy posture, you’re still doing a weight-bearing exercise, which provides a challenging workout as you pedal your way along your chosen path.
You’re engaging your core, upper body, and legs to propel yourself forward. Without a seat to sit on, your core has to engage more than usual to help balance you, while your leg muscles work to create momentum against the resistance of the gears—there are 8 gears—and the surface that you’re on.
If you’re recovering from an injury or you’re unable to take part in other activities due to injuries, you may find that the ElliptiGO provides the cardiovascular workout you’re missing. It will help you achieve your fitness goals or maintain your fitness without pain or aggravating previous or current injuries.
Runners can use the ElliptiGO on some of their running routes or climb hills—which will target the hamstrings and glutes—on their recovery days, without having to worry about overuse, while reducing the risk of injury.
While it may look like it will be tricky to ride, after 5 minutes you’ll find your rhythm and you’ll soon be comfortably reaching speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, while having fun.
ElliptiGO vs Bike
The ElliptiGO offers a stable and comfortable riding position that helps to keep your body in alignment. This allows for more flexibility and range of motion for the hips, which will help runners with tight hip flexors.
The elongated elliptical path on the ElliptiGO 8C—adjustable stride of up to 25 inches—and flat foot pedals allows you to strengthen your leg muscles and really let you target your gluteal muscles as you’re pushing off through the midfoot and heel.
The standing position on all the ElliptiGO models turns this into a fun, weight-bearing exercise that not only increases your cardiovascular fitness, as you have to use your body’s power to propel you forward, but at the same time makes your bones denser and stronger. You’ll also be working on developing your balance, coordination and increasing your flexibility and range of motion.
A study that was conducted by the University of California, San Diego suggests that riding the ElliptiGo can burn up to 33% more calories than riding a traditional bike, depending on your intensity levels.
While you can adjust your saddle on your bicycle, you’re still sitting in a forward-rounded position—shoulders hunched—while the rest of your back can be rigid, leading to back pain. There’s not much flexibility for the hips which can leave you with particularly tight hip flexors.
You also don’t have to worry about broken cleats or pedals on the ElliptiGO, which reduces the risk of knee injuries!
While both the ElliptiGO and regular bikes can help one to achieve their fitness goals, one of the biggest benefits that the ElliptiGo has to offer is that it’s pain-free.
There are no pain points on the ElliptiGO, unlike that of being in a seated position on the bike where you can experience both neck and back pain.
3 Popular Models
Long-Stride ElliptiGO 8C
The long-stride ElliptiGo 8C offers the most comprehensive workout of the various ElliptiGO models. It’s the most similar model to an elliptical machine.
The 8C has an adjustable stride length of between 16 and 25 inches, so users of all heights can comfortably use it. It also allows for a wide range of motion, which increases one’s flexibility and stretches hard-to-reach places, like the hip flexors. A long foot pedal platform means feet of all sizes will fit comfortably and be stable while riding.
The ElliptiGO 8C features 8 gears, which provide resistance. You can use these to give yourself a highly effective resistance workout that’s easy on the joints. They’re also helpful if you want to HIIT sessions.
It’s also compatible with many indoor trainers, allowing you to use it indoors or outdoors. Choose from black, red, and green to suit your style. Be aware that it has a maximum weight capacity of 250lbs.
Compact-Stride ElliptiGO Arc 8
The ElliptiGO Arc 8 has a more compact stride length than the 8C, being adjustable between 9.4 inches and 11.8 inches. This is ideal for shorter users who don’t need a wide stride length. Pivoting foot platforms allow you to ride in a way that’s comfortable for you.
Like the 8C, the Arc 8 features 8 gears so you can adjust the resistance of your ride as you’re going. You can get a great workout at a variety of intensities just by shifting gears.
Like the 8C, it can be used outdoors or indoors—with a trainer—engages your core and lower body muscles and has a weight capacity of 250lbs.
Stand-Up ElliptiGO SUB
The ElliptiGO SUB is the model that’s closest to a bicycle, rather than an elliptical. The biggest difference is in the pedals, which look like traditional bicycle pedals. The stride moves in the classic bicycle pedal stroke rather than in an elliptical motion. You can’t adjust the stride in any way, but you can buy separate toe cages if you feel you need more support.
The SUB is basically a bicycle without a seat. The absence of a seat helps to reduce neck and back fatigue, and forces one to remain in an upright, standing position with better posture than on a traditional bike.
It has a telescoping steering column so you can get it at exactly the right height for you. You can also let it all the way down to place the SUB easily in a vehicle, although this is a standard feature across all models.
Like the others, the SUB features 8 gears and can hit speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. It’s available in red, sky blue, and gunmetal gray and can hold a weight of up to 250lbs.