As someone who's 5'8, finding the right elliptical stride was trickier than I'd imagined. Most elliptical manufacturers want you to think that a 16 inch stride is the perfect size for everyone regardless of their height.
But that's just not true.
I owned a 16" elliptical machine for two years and there was not one day when I did not regret my decision to buy it on a whim, listening to that fancy sales pitch. Here's the fact. There's simply not enough room for people with long legs to get a full range of motion on a 16" stride.
After knocking that one off on Craigslist, I spent 6-months contemplating whether to buy an 18" beast, a 20" elliptical. There are even bigger 22" elliptical, but for someone my size such a monster would be an overkill.
Over the course of my research, I realized that the 18" stride length is much more comfortable for people like me. If you too, are on the taller side, I highly recommend you get an elliptical with an 18" stride.
The difference may not seem like much, but trust me, it makes all the difference in the world. Not only is your experience on the machine more comfortable, but you also get a better workout because you're able to move more freely.
What Machine Best Fits Your Needs?
For those who want a quick grab, here's a breakdown of what elliptical is best for what.
- Best bang for buck option; Schwinn 411 - Check price on Amazon here.
- Best for Small spaces; Exerpeutic 6000 QF - See dimensions on Amazon here.
- Best for advanced athletes; Fitness Reality E550XL - Check resistance levels on Amazon here.
- Best for heavy users; SpaceSaver SE9i - Check max weight capacity on Amazon by clicking here.
The Best 18 Inch Stride Elliptical Buying Guide for 2022
That said, here are the top 18" stride elliptical machines I found, tested extensively, and spent weeks obsessing over.
#1 - Schwinn Fitness 411 Compact Elliptical Machine - Best Bang for the buck
I finally bought the Schwinn Fitness 411. This is one of the most popular elliptical trainers out there and for good reason too.
It's got all the features you need in a quality machine - an 18" stride length, heart rate monitor, LCD display, 16 levels of resistance and the option to select from 50 global routes provided you have a subscription to ''Explore the World"
But what really sets this elliptical apart from the competition is its price. It's very affordable without sacrificing quality or features. It's also quite compact which was important for me as I do not have the luxury of a large home gym setup.
Frame: Stainless Steel
Dimensions: 53"D x 24"W x 62.5"H
Resistance: 16 Levels of Magnetic Resistance
Max User Weight: 300 lbs.
Stride length: 18 inches
What I like about the Schwinn 411
The Schwinn 411 ticks off most of the boxes that I was looking for from an elliptical trainer for home use. It has a sturdy stainless steel frame that does not wobble one bit even when all 201 lbs. of me is on it. It's also pretty compact for an 18" stride machine which was a huge selling point for me.
The 411 comes with 16 levels of magnetic resistance that can be controlled via the knob on the console. Also, there are wireless palm grip heart rate monitors, which means that I do not need to strap one on to my chest during my HIIT workouts.
The machine is also very quiet which was important for me as I live in an apartment and needed a quiet elliptical for apartment use that won't send my neighbor breathing down my throat every time I stepped on it.
What I don't like about the Schwinn 411
My only gripe with this machine is that the incremental resistance is a little too much for my liking. I would have preferred it if the resistance levels were more spread out. That said, it's not really a deal breaker.
After spending a few weeks rolling with it, I am now used to the resistance levels and can adjust my workout accordingly.
The other thing I did not like is that the console does not come with a backlight which makes it difficult to read in low light conditions.
The Schwinn 411 in my opinion is the best 18 inch stride elliptical in the market right now. It's got all the features you need in a quality machine without costing an arm and a leg. It's also very compact which makes it perfect for small homes or apartments.
There’s a gripe or two that I have with it. But as I got used to the machine, I have started to appreciate it a lot more. It’s a phenomenal weight loss cardio machine for the price.
#2 - Exerputic 6000 QF
The Exerputic 6000 QF is a nifty little elliptical trainer that packs a lot of features into a small footprint. It's got an 18" stride length which is perfect for taller people or those with limited space.
The dimensions are only 46 x 16 x 64 inches, which means it can easily fit into a living room without seeming like an eyesore, or even into a low-ceiling basement gym.
It comes bundled with a MyCloudFitness App subscription, which brings interactive fitness to your home. The digital display is easy to use and navigate, and the built-in wireless heart rate monitor helps you keep track of your progress.
Frame: Stainless Steel
Dimensions: 46"D x 16"W x 64"H
Resistance: 20 Levels of Magnetic Resistance
Max User Weight: 270 lbs.
Stride length: 18 inches
What I like about the Exerputic 6000QF
The Exerputic 6000QF looks very unassuming. But has an enviable feature list. There are 12-inbuilt workout programs that can test your endurance. It can help you lose weight, get rid of a mom butt and build a bubble butt instead, or just improve your overall fitness.
The backlit display is clear and easy to read, and the buttons are large and well-spaced so you can use them without having to take your eyes off your workout.
A special note of appreciation for the 6" Q factor, or distance between the pedals. This makes it a lot gentler on your joints. I tried an elliptical trainer which had the widest stance.
Not only did it look comical, it actually led to a minor sprain in my groin. Not recommended one bit.
What I dislike about the Exerputic 6000QF
It tends to make a squeaking noise at the highest resistance setting. That said, at 201 lbs., I am close to testing its weight limit. My partner is only 5'5 and had no such issues. So, unless you weigh more than 265 lbs., this should not be a problem for you.
I think that the Exerputic 6000QF is perfect for people who want a relatively compact and lightweight elliptical trainer that doesn't skimp on features. It's also great for people who are looking for a mid-level full body workout machine that has the potential to grow with them as their fitness level improves.
The MyCloudFitness Subscription only makes the deal sweeter. Scenic routes, on-demand trainer guided workouts and the ability to compete with friends are all great motivators to keep you coming back for more.
#3 - Sunny Health & Fitness - SF-E3890
I first came across Sunny Health & Fitness equipment during an expo in California. I had never heard of them. So I was quite surprised to discover that they make affordable, prosumer grade exercise equipment for home use for over two decades.
The SF-E3890 is an elliptical trainer that's very similar to the Schwinn 411 in terms of size and dimensions. It's got an 18" stride length and a 62.5 x 25 x 67 inches footprint.
So, even if you are on the taller side, this machine should be able to accommodate you without being too cramped.
The steel frame makes it quite sturdy and the performance monitor tracks all the important metrics such as time, distance, speed, calories burned and heart rate.
Stride Length: 18 inches
Flywheel Weight: 8 lbs.
Max User Weight: 265 lbs.
Dimensions: 62.5" L x 25" W x 67" H
What I like about the SF-E3890
The Sunny SF-E3890 is a simple, no-frills elliptical trainer that does its job well. It's got a small footprint and can easily be moved around the house if needed, thanks to the caster wheels on the bottom.
The digital display, called the performance monitor is bright and colorful with great contrast. You are not going to miss out on anything even from awkward angles. Speaking from personal experience here folks as I multitask between daddy duties and working out.
There are a whopping 24-inbuilt programs, which sort of takes away the need for a separate subscription to an interactive fitness app. The 16-levels of magnetic resistance more than make up for the lack of a power adjustable incline.
What I dislike about the SF-E3890
I know that this is a budget-priced equipment. But I think the screws and covers could have been a lot better. Some of the covers were very flimsy.
The SF-E3890 is an entry-level machine, and it does not have all the bells and whistles that you would find on more expensive models or commercial-grade ellipticals. But it gets the basics right and is built to last.
You would be hard-pressed to find a better machine at this price point. The only potential drawback is the lack of an incline feature. But if you are just starting out, that should not be a deal-breaker. For advanced gym bros out there, you can turn the heat up with an incline treadmill if it's extreme intensity you're after.
The E550XL from Fitness Reality is their top selling elliptical trainer. This budget-priced machine surprised the heck out of me with its build quality and feature set.
With an 18" stride and a weight capacity of 275 lbs, it can accommodate most people. It has 24 levels of resistance, making it great for both beginners and more experienced users.
The machine is also pretty quiet, which is always a plus.
One of the things that I really like about this elliptical is that it comes with 21 built-in, computer-programmed workout routines. This is great for people who are new to elliptical training and need a little help getting started.
Dimensions: 57.5 x 24 x 66 inches
Resistance: 24 Levels of Magnetic Resistance
Max User Weight: 270 lbs.
Stride length: 18 inches
Programs: 21 Inbuilt workout programs
What I like about the Fitness Reality E550XL
The E550XL is a great machine for the price. It's well built, has a good feature set, and is quiet. It's also relatively easy to assemble, thanks to the feather-weight aluminium frame.
This has one of the smoothest and most natural pedalling motions of any elliptical in this price range. This is thanks to the double transmission system, which means, there are 2 flywheels and 2 belts.
This means that there is less friction and resistance, making for a smoother ride. The 24 levels of resistance are also great for people who want to try out progressive resistance as part of improving their cardiovascular capacity.
What I don't like about the E550XL
While the assembly is a reasonably straight forward process, the screw covers are a bit flimsy and tend to come off easily. While this may not seem like a huge problem, it can be a bit annoying.
The other thing that I don't like is that the display is a bit basic. It's backlit, but at a time when most ellipticals have colour displays, the E550XL's display seems a bit dated.
Despite a quibble and a half, the E550XL is a great machine for the price. If you're looking for a budget-priced elliptical with a good feature set, this should be one of the top options to consider.
#5 - SpaceSaver SE9i
NordicTrack's SpaceSaver SE9i is the Bugatti Veyron of ellipticals in this list. It's a high-end machine that comes with a hefty price tag. But boy, does it deliver on its promises.
The first thing you'll notice about the SE9i is its design. It's sleek, modern, stylish and not only does it qualify as one of the perfect home gym equipment for small spaces, it would look damn great in any home gym.
The machine is also very well built and feels solid and substantial. As expected from NordicTrack, the feature list is impressive.
The SE9i has a 18" auto-adjustable stride, a 10% power-adjustable incline and a huge 325 lbs. max user weight. That already sounds top notch, doesnt it? But I am just scraping the surface here.
Dimensions: 80" L x 32" W x 67" H
Resistance: 24 Levels of Magnetic Resistance
Max User Weight: 325 lbs.
Stride length: 18 Auto-adjustable inches
Programs: Comes bundled with a 30-day subscription to iFit
What i like about the SpaceSaver SE9i
Well, what's there to dislike about this trainer? It's a terrific machine that's packed with features. It's also built like a tank and is extremely sturdy and stable. When done using, you can use the patented 'space saver' design to free up on valuable real estate.
The auto-adjust stride allows you to change the stride length on the fly, without having to stop and adjust the settings. This is a great feature for people who want to be able to switch things up during their workouts.
The 10% power-adjustable incline lets NordicTrack's trainers alter the resistance remotely, if you subscribe for iFit.
iFit is a great way to add some variety to your workouts, as you can have access to an ever-growing library of workout programs and personalized training plans.
The subscription also gives you access to world-class trainers who will give you live, on-screen coaching to keep you motivated. Did I forget to mention the 14" HD smart HD touchscreen?
What I don't like about the SpaceSaver SE9i
The only thing that I can think of is the price. If only I could loosen the purse strings a bit, I would jump on this in a heartbeat. Everything else about the machine is top-notch.
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i is a first-class elliptical trainer that's loaded with features. It's also very well built and would be a great addition to any home gym. If you can afford it, this would be my top recommendation folks.
Things You Should Know About the Stride Length (and How to Choose It)
One of the trickiest bits of elliptical shopping that no one warns you about is figuring out which stride length is right for you. The general rule of thumb is to choose a stride length that's approximately equal to your height in inches. But how much is the ballpark?
Here's a short guide that will help.
What Elliptical Stride Length Is Best for Your Height?
We're all of different heights, there is a difference in height for a man and a woman. Some people believe that jumping makes one taller, others think that swimming makes one taller. However you choose to get taller, picking the right elliptical for your stature is what matters here.
12-16" - This is probably the best stride length for anyone shorter than 5'. You see, the shorter the stride, the less range of motion you have and that's not ideal for taller individuals.
16-18" - This is a good middle ground for people who are between 5'0" and 5'9" tall. It offers a decent range of motion without being too long or too short.
18-20" - If you find the 18" a tad too cramped for your liking, then go for the 20" stride. It's the most widely used stride length and it's ideal for people between 5'10" and 6'2" tall. I am 5'8. But i dont really have the longest legs out there. So, I found the 20" one to be a stretch for me.
20-22" - The 22" stride is the longest that you're likely to find on a home elliptical. It's only really suitable for people who are taller than 6'3".
Keep in mind that there's some amount of personal preference involved in choosing the stride length. Some people might find that a 16" stride is perfectly comfortable for them, even though they are on the taller side.
It really depends on your body type and how you feel when you're using the machine. So, it's always best to try out the elliptical if you get a chance.
12'-16" Stride Elliptical - Best for guys who are 5' or shorter
16"-18" Elliptical - Best for users within the 5'0" to 5'9" range
18"-20" Ellipticals - Best for users within 5'10" to 6'2" range
20"-22" Elliptical - Best for guys who are 6'3" or taller
How is stride length calculated?
The stride length is the distance between the pedals when they are at the furthest point away from each other. It's measured in inches and can range from as low as 12" to as high as 22".
Most modern machines will have a stride length that's adjustable. So you can change it to suit your needs. But not all of them.
Benefits of Determining Your Stride Length
The stride length is hands down, the most important aspect of selecting an elliptical because it's closely linked to your height. If the stride length is too short, you end up with a shortened range of motion, which is a recipe for injury.
On the other hand, if the stride length is too long, you end up over-striding and that can also lead to joint pain, as well as discomfort in the lower back and hips.
18 Inch Stride Elliptical Buyer’s Guide
Now that you know all about the stride length, it's time to take a closer look at some of the other features that you should consider before making your purchase.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind.
The Flywheel Weight
The flywheel is one of the most important parts of the elliptical because it's responsible for creating the resistance. When buying a stationary bike or an elliptical, you gotta keep a close eye on this particular feature.
The heavier the flywheel, the smoother the ride will be.
In general, you want to look for a machine that has a flywheel weight of at least 20 pounds. But the ideal weight is between 30 and 40 pounds. That said, there's a direct correlation between the flywheel weight and the price of the machine. So, you might have to make some compromises if you're on a budget.
The Resistance type and levels
Elliptical trainers either have a magnetic resistance or a mechanical, friction resistance. The magnetic resistance is considered to be the better of the two because it's smoother and quieter.
It also requires less maintenance. At one point of time, any elliptical trainer with a magnetic resistance system came at a premium price. But that's not the case anymore. You can now find affordable machines that offer a magnetic resistance system.
The number of resistance levels is another important consideration because it determines the intensity of your workout. In general, you want to look for a machine that offers at least 16 different levels of resistance.
The more the better. But that doesn't mean that you should choose a machine solely on the basis of the number of resistance levels. There are other factors that you need to consider as well.
The Display console
The display console is more important than you think, especially if you intend to park the elliptical trainer in your living room.
A good display console should be easy to read and understand. It should also offer a variety of features, such as the ability to track your heart rate, distance covered, calories burned, and so on.
Fancy consoles are full HD and touchscreen.
But even if you're on a budget, you should be able to find a machine that offers a backlit display console with good contrast.
The pedals are another important consideration because they play a big role in determining the comfort of your workout. The best elliptical trainers have oversized, cushioned pedals that offer plenty of room for your feet.
They also have a nonslip surface to prevent your feet from slipping, even if you're sweating profusely. Some pedals even have an adjustable width to accommodate different foot sizes.
Max user weight
The max user weight is an important consideration because it determines how much weight the elliptical trainer can safely support.
Thankfully, there is a whole spectrum of elliptical weight limits to choose from. But in general, you want to look for a machine that has a max user weight of at least 250 pounds.
But the ideal weight limit is 300 pounds. Always consider the fact that the absolute max may stress the elliptical trainer and lead to premature wear and tear.
Benefits of Owning a 18 Inch Stride Elliptical
There are many benefits to owning an 18" stride elliptical, especially if you are taller than 5'5. Here are some of the benefits that I have observed over the months.
Full Range of motion
I can attest to the fact that the 18" stride elliptical provides a full range of motion. I'm 5'8 feet tall, and I can comfortably use the machine without feeling restricted in any way. My stride is also very natural, and I don't have to worry about my feet slipping off the pedals.
Reduced risk of injury
When I was using the 16" elliptical, i realized that my leg muscles were overcompensating for the shortened stride, which put a lot of strain on my knees. But ever since I switched to the 18" stride elliptical, that problem has gone away. I can workout for 6 days a week and not have to worry about any soreness or discomfort.
The machine provides a low-impact workout, which is ideal for people with joint problems. It's also very effective in preventing injuries.
Compact enough for apartment use
Unless you have a swanky apartment with plenty of room to spare, you might want to consider a compact elliptical trainer. Most 18" stride elliptical trainers are very compact, and can easily be stored in a corner or closet when not in use.
They're all very easy to move around, which is a huge plus.
Best Award-Winning Elliptical brands
When I started shopping for an 18" stride elliptical, I had no idea which brands to trust. I did a lot of research and finally narrowed it down to three brands that consistently received good reviews from users.
Here are the three brands that I would recommend:
Schwinn is one of the most reputed and trustworthy brands in the fitness industry. The company has been around for over a century, and is known for its durable products, which do not skimp on quality.
They have an extensive range of elliptical trainers, which are suitable for all budgets. I particularly like the Schwinn 470, which is a mid-range elliptical trainer that offers the best of both worlds. But there are more, in case you are interested.
Formed in 1975 in Minnesota by Edward Pauls, NordicTrack is a leading manufacturer of fitness equipment. The company was acquired by ICON Health & Fitness in 1999, but still retains its NordicTrack name.
They have a reputation for their cutting-edge tech and innovative design. I like the fact that their machines are very easy to use, and offer a wide range of features. Their range now comes bundled with iFit Coach, which gives you access to hundreds of workout routines.
Sunny Health and Fitness
If you are on a budget, then I would recommend checking out Sunny Health and Fitness. The company is based in CA, and has been around for over two decades. The reason that i specified the low-price is because i was unaware of the brand myself.
But when I started to browse through their range of elliptical trainers, I was pleasantly surprised. The machines are very well-made, and offer features that are usually found in high-end elliptical trainers.
FAQ about owning a 18 Inch Stride Elliptical and using it
Now we answer a few questions you might have.
Q. What is the Best Elliptical for a Tall Person?
A. That depends on how tall you are and what your budget is. If you are over 5'8 feet tall, then I would recommend either the Schwinn 470 or the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i.
Q. Which Ellipticals Have the Longest Stride?
A. That would be 22" inch ellipticals. But a longer stride does not necessarily mean that it's the best elliptical for you. It all depends on your height and what feels comfortable for you.
Q. Can you adjust the stride on an elliptical?
A. Only if it features an adjustable stride. Most ellipticals come with a fixed stride, which cannot be adjusted. But there are some brands that offer ellipticals with an adjustable stride, like the NordicTrack SE9i.
Q. What stride length is best for elliptical?
A. The best stride length for an elliptical is the one that is comfortable for you. This is individual, and depends on your height. If you are not sure, then I would recommend going to a store and trying out different machines. You can always shop online later when you have made a decision.
Q. Are 18-inch stride ellipticals good for a Short Person?
A. Generally, they are suited only for people taller than 5'8. Shorter people might find the stride too long, and might feel uncomfortable while using it.
Q. Is 20 minutes a day on the elliptical enough?
A. Enough for what exactly? Are you trying to lose weight? Then it depends on how many calories you are burning. Make it intense enough and 20 minutes might be all you need. Even if you are just trying to stay fit, 20 minutes can be enough depending on your age, weight, and fitness level.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
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