Rear Drive vs Front Drive Elliptical – Which One Is Better?

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Written By Kathy Brewer

I am a certified personal trainer, and I take pride in helping people achieve their fitness goals through strength training, cardio, and nutrition. 





For many people, working out at home is the most convenient option. However, choosing the right type of exercise machine can be a challenge.

One popular choice is the elliptical trainer. Ellipticals are low-impact machines that provide a great cardio workout. But should you choose a rear drive or front drive elliptical?

Do you know the difference between a rear drive elliptical and a front drive elliptical? Many people don’t, but there is a significant difference.

Rear drive ellipticals have the flywheel located in the back of the machine. This gives the machine a more natural feel and provides a better range of motion.

Additionally, rear drive ellipticals tend to be quieter than front drive machines. However, they can be more expensive and require more maintenance.

Front drive ellipticals have the flywheel located in the front of the machine. This design makes the machine more compact, so it takes up less space in your home.

Additionally, front drive ellipticals are usually less expensive than rear drive models. However, they may not feel as natural to use and can be louder than rear drive machines.

Ultimately, the best type of elliptical for you will depend on your budget and your workout preferences.

In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of each type of elliptical trainer so that you can make an informed decision before purchasing one.

The Two Types 

Elliptical training machines are often divided into two types.

  1. Front Drive
  2. Rear Drive

This is referring to the location of the flywheel mechanism, which is what actually powers the machine.

If you’ve ever been to a gym, you’ve probably noticed that the majority of the ellipticals there have wheels located at the back.

On the other hand, the vast majority of residential models prefer to have the steering wheel in the front position, although this is gradually becoming less common.

What’s The Difference Between Front Drive vs. Rear Drive Ellipticals?

When choosing an elliptical trainer, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want a front-drive or rear-drive model. Both types have their own pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the one that best fits your needs.

Let’s find out how a front drive elliptical different from a rear drive elliptical.

Difference Between Front Drive vs. Rear Drive Ellipticals

1. Rear Drive VS Front Drive – Stride 

Stride of Rear Drive Ellipticals:


The elliptical stride on a rear drive machine simulates running or walking. When working out, rear wheel drive ellipticals tend to keep you more centered than front drive machines.

Stride of Front Drive Ellipticals:

A front drive may appear to be more like a stair climber workout. It has also been observed that when working out on a front drive elliptical, you tend to lean forward more than when working out on a rear drive.

Front Drive Ellipticals

It’s also worth noting that front drive ellipticals are easier to get on and off of because you don’t have to step over as much machine and are frequently lower to the ground.

Which one is better?

Some people claim that front-rear drive machines give you a superior workout, but we haven’t found that to be the case at all. When you increase the resistance on a front drive machine, you may get your heart rate to match that of a rear drive elliptical.

2. Rear Drive VS Front Drive – Mechanics

The fact that rear-drive ellipticals have fewer moving components is one of their benefits. Because of this, you have fewer components that could require maintenance.

For instance, the majority of front drive ellipticals feature foot pedals that travel on rails in the back. Especially with lesser machines, the rollers can wear down with consistent use if they are not replaced.

This is especially the case with front-wheel drive machines that only have one roller for each wheel. It is common to notice that the single rollers are not as stable as the others. 

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3. Rear Drive VS Front Drive – Flywheel 

The difference between an elliptical with front drive and one with rear drive is determined by the location of the flywheel in the machine.

When you press down on the foot pedals, motion is sent to the machine’s drive system, which is represented by the flywheel.

The levels of resistance that the elliptical machine offers are ultimately controlled by the flywheel. 

The location of the flywheel has a big impact on the user experience, and both of the available solutions have both positives and negatives associated with them.

Rear Drive Elliptical Flywheel 

If you’re looking for a low-impact workout, a rear-drive elliptical machine is a great choice.

The flattening effect is due to the flywheel’s position in the back. This will make it seem as though you are walking or jogging down a level road rather than uphill.

This doesn’t mean you’ll be without a slope, though. In contrast to front wheel ellipticals, many of these machines include multiple incline options at more moderate angles.

Many individuals weigh the available floor area while deciding between a front and rear flywheel elliptical. Space requirements for a rear-drive elliptical machine are often higher than those for a front-drive model. 

However, compare the way you walk uphill to the way you walk downhill. Most rear-drive elliptical trainers require additional space in order to accommodate the user’s ability to take longer, less strenuous steps, as the user will not be using the machine on as steep an elevation.

If you are on the fence about which elliptical to buy and have a limited budget, you may want to consider a front drive elliptical.


  • Excellent for a moderate workout
  • Usually, less maintenance is needed.
  • Less or no noise


  • Takes up extra room in your house
  • Usually more costly

Front Drive Elliptical Flywheel 

Front drive ellipticals, as the name implies, have a flywheel located at the front of the equipment. Due to the position of the flywheel, these elliptical machines will make you feel as though you are going uphill. The mere thought causes my thighs to burn.

That does not imply, however, that you must always work out on an incline.

Although one of the most notable distinctions between front and rear drive elliptical machines is that front drive machines are not as flat, they offer multiple incline settings. You can therefore select less steep settings. 

Front drive ellipticals can be difficult if you place a priority on good posture when working out. This is because many riders believe they must lean forward in order to gain forward momentum, which is counterproductive given the slope of the track.

Front drive ellipticals let you tone your thighs while taking up less space in your home. As a result, unlike rear-drive ellipticals, it won’t take up as much space if you opt to put it in a corner.

Although front drive ellipticals offer a number of benefits, they may require more maintenance over time than their rear drive do. 


  • Includes a wide range of resistance and incline settings.
  • Taking up less room, it is a more practical and cost-effective choice.


  • Usually requires more frequent maintenance
  • You are forced into a posture where you are leaning forward.

How to Determine Which Elliptical Machine Is Best for You?

If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of time researching before you make a major purchase. You might read reviews, compare prices, and test out different products before you find the perfect one.

The same is true when choosing an elliptical machine. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to know where to start.

When purchasing an elliptical trainer, there are several things you should keep in mind in order to get the most bang for your buck.

First, consider your budget.

Ellipticals can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, so it’s important to set a realistic budget before you start shopping.

Keep in mind that you usually get what you pay for when it comes to fitness equipment, so don’t be tempted to skimp on quality just to save a few bucks.

Second, think about the features that are most important to you.

Some ellipticals come with built-in heart rate monitors, while others have programs that allow you to change the resistance level or incline. If you’re not sure which features you need, ask a salesperson for help or look for reviews online.

You need to take a number of different aspects into consideration, such as the length of your stride, the flywheel in which you are comfortable, and the kind of workout you want to do. 

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Next, think about the size of the machine.

If you have limited space in your home, you’ll want to make sure the elliptical you choose will fit comfortably in the room where you plan to use it. Some ellipticals are also foldable, which can be a great space-saving feature.

Finally, make sure to try out the elliptical before you buy it.

Even if it has all the features you’re looking for, it won’t do you any good if it’s uncomfortable to use or doesn’t fit well in your home gym.

So take your time and find the perfect elliptical for your needs. With a little research, you’re sure to find the perfect machine for your workout routine.


Which type of elliptical machine is superior, the front wheel or the back wheel?

The more natural feel of a rear-drive elliptical machine is due to its flatter movement pattern. Users report feeling more straight and less like they need to lean forward while using a rear drive elliptical, in contrast to what many describe feeling while using a front drive machine. Although not always the case, stride lengths on rear-drive machines tend to be greater than those on front-drive ellipticals.

How significant is the length of stride when using an elliptical machine?

The stride length of an elliptical machine is one of the most important factors that determines how comfortable you will be while using the machine. Stride length is clearly not the only factor to take into consideration (features, warranty, weight capacity, etc.), but in my opinion, it is without a doubt one of the most significant aspects to take into account.

Wrapping Up 

Obviously, the model that you pick should be the one that feels the most comfortable to you in the end.

When deciding on an elliptical, it’s important to think about your stride length, the intensity of your desired workout, and the available space in your home.

It is in your best interest to get some hands-on experience with a number of different types of elliptical machines before you make the investment in one of your own.

But whichever elliptical you decide on, make sure to take advantage of all the features it has to offer and stick with it! You’ll be seeing results in no time.

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