We wanted an elliptical machine. Rising club dues meant it made sense. My bad knees needed one.
Consumer Reports recommends some that cost about a grand—the Sole E35 is around $1,300 before tax, delivery included from Dick’s. I tried out a few nicely-priced ellipticals at local sporting goods stores. They squeaked, or rattled, or rocked. They were not a Precor EFX.
Precor’s EFX line is the gold standard for elliptical exercisers. We’ve used the club models in hotel fitness facilities and gyms around the country for years. They’re rock solid and have to be reliable to take the constant pounding they get. But the most popular club model EFX machines cost more than $6,000. A brand new 546i (fixed arms) is listed at $6,295 while the 576i (moving arms) is $6,499. (List prices are sometimes discounted by retailers, but not by much.)
Precor does make a line of home models for list prices between $2,999 and $5,399, but these are not the same as the club models. And since machines arrive unassembled, Precor recommends that they be professionally assembled, which adds to the cost, and delivery probably will as well.
LOOKING FOR EFX
So I went on the internet to see what I could find. Googling Precor ellipticals turned up several e-commerce retailers dedicated to used and rebuilt EFX models, with prices routinely half or less the cost of new machines. Eventually I winnowed the entries down to a handful, then settled on www.eonfitness.com when I dug into the site and discovered the company is based in Los Angeles where I live, a comforting factor when dealing with usually anonymous e-retailers. Numerous club model EFX machines were listed and shown, many of them totally remanufactured. The site seemed professional and interested in fitness. There was a nice quote from De La Rochefoucauld: “Wisdom is to the mind what health is to the body.”
However, the selection proved bewildering. Models with moving arms and fixed arms. Models with fixed ramps and adjustable ramps. And most surprising to me, models that plugged into the wall and cordless ones. I’d never seen an EFX that didn’t use electricity, but there they were. That made sense for people like us who might want to use their machine in a protected outdoor area with no convenient electrical outlet. But how did they work? As it turned out, they use a rechargeable battery pack ($26 from E On Fitness or $95 from Precor) that requires replacement every three years or so.
It comes down to four options: fixed or moving arms; fixed or adjustable ramp; corded or cordless; and age/cost. E On Fitness had six 546 fixed-arm/adjustable ramp models available, eight 556 moving-arm/fixed-ramp models, and a couple of 576 moving-arm/adjustable-ramp models. About half were plug-in. Prices ranged from $1,999 (546i version 1) to $5,399 (556i) and varied in cost based on age and degree of rebuilding.
THE AGONY OF CHOICE
After reaching E On Fitness owner Alex Goncharov on the phone, we eventually settled on a 546i version 3 plug-in priced at $2,549. Alex gave me double good news. First, his rebuilt machines arrive fully assembled. And first-floor (not curbside) delivery and setup anywhere in California is included in the price. He also told me that fully remanufactured machines like the one I was buying was disassembled, factory parts were used to replace worn ones, and the reassembled machine was powder-coated to look brand new. The work was done, he said, by a former Precor tech.
Getting a recent-model, fully assembled, completely remanufactured, rock-solid EFX 546i delivered and set up for three grand less than a brand new model was a tasty proposition. Still, buying something for that kind of money with a credit card from an e-site is something to think about. And I did. (Normally when I buy something online I use a credit card number generated for the purpose, but that wasn’t an option when dealing with E On Fitness over the phone.) But Alex was always available and forthcoming on the phone, and he was patient with my questions. There was a decent warranty. So I gave him my credit card information, and a week later he personally arrived with the machine.
And it looked brand new and operated flawlessly, including the complex electronic panel. But there was a surprise—it was a cordless 546. Alex had loaded the wrong one, which costs more than the corded version.
“Oh, well,” he shrugged. “You just saved another two hundred dollars.”