It may look strange at first, but the ElliptiGO combines the best of running, cycling and the elliptical trainer to deliver a low-impact, high-performance workout, and added to that, it’s a lot of fun to ‘ride.’ – BY SEAN FALCONER
The first time I saw the ElliptiGO, I thought what the heck is that thing? It looked like the ‘rider’ was running at the same time as riding a bike, with a swinging leg action similar to the elliptical trainer at the gym… It did look a bit odd. At first. Then I tried riding the ElliptiGO myself and within minutes I was sold on the concept.
To begin with, you need to learn a few tricks, like how to mount the bike – you do it much like a bicycle, putting one foot in a foot platform and pushing off with the other foot before swinging your leg over. You also need to get used to the elliptical pedalling motion, but I found that my balance came easily – it really felt like riding a bike! Steering is easy with the conventional bicycle/scooter-style handlebars, as is changing gears (up and down triggers) and braking (normal front and back brake handles on either hand-rest), but one snag I personally picked up at first was when cornering. I kept trying to lift my inner pedal by ‘back-pedalling,’ as you would do on a normal bike, which almost made me fall a few times. Other than that, I found it easy to ride and soon cranked it up to the highest gear, and before long my quads were talking to me. More like pleading for mercy, actually, because I was getting a damned good workout!
The bikes come in three models with three, eight or 11 gears. I found the eight-speed quite adequate for my training needs, whereas the three-speed offered too few gear options for my liking and was better suited to flatter surfaces with only minor climbs. Other bonuses are that standard bicycle accessories are usable on the ElliptiGO, such as water bottle holders or a bike computer, and you can purchase stationary attachments for training indoors. Also, it folds down to a more compact size, so can be transported inside a SUV or larger car, and fits on some conventional bike racks.
The ElliptiGO is the ideal cross-training device for healthy runners, and an excellent replacement for running for injured runners. Various people can use the same bike, too, with minimal adjustment (start with height and rotation of the handlebars), plus adjust the toe-straps on the foot platforms, which are big enough to handle any size foot. Best of all is you can wear your running shoes – no need for expensive cycling cleats. Then the crank arms can also be adjusted to give you a shorter or longer stride length, and I found the longer option better, as it was then closer to my running stride length and thus felt more natural and powerful.
But the ‘million dollar question’ I wanted to answer when I set out was how well does it climb hills? Well, let me tell you, I flew up the hills! After all, just as you would stand on the pedals of a conventional bicycle on a steep climb, with the ElliptiGO you’re already standing, so you just gear down and keep going. It is actually smoother than on a bicycle, and I found it easy to put a bit of sway into my arms to ease my legs through the extra workload.
It only took a few test rides on my borrowed ElliptiGO to convince me that I want one for myself. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re awesome – and they give you a great workout!
Get it: The ElliptiGO 3C retails at R26,000, the 8C at R33,000 and the 11R at R47,000. The first two models are available in a choice of three colours (red, lime or black), but the 11-speed only comes in black.