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Seriously considering an Eliptigo

I am looking for feedback here from anyone who might have experience with one and of course from my physical therapist friends…..

On Wednesday when I met Clay at his office he said something about never being able to fix me if I kept running. I do not intend to quit running, but I am beginning to realize that I need to change some of my training methods. The last year or so has been frustrating. I have not been able to train at a level that I was a couple of years ago. Then, I ran 2400 miles. “Then” I was in the best running shape of my life and I set PRs in every distance. Now, I start to feel like I am almost there and my knee flares up and I have to back off. Now, after every hard workout or race I have an achy left hamstring. (rides home are often uncomfortable.) Now, I continue the fight with Plantar Fasciitis. After today’s Poppy Trot run I am resting with ice on my knee. My right heel has been pretty bad for the first steps every time I get back up….  Clay says I have degenerative back disease and that every one has it to one extent or another. So I can back off even more into cross training or ……….

An email from Greg McMillan’s McMillan running website caught my attention and has had me thinking this week.


You buy an elliptigo and (if accepted) Greg McMillan writes a free training program for the distance of your choice and the race of your choice – this calendar year. The program will incorporate the use of an Elliptigo for some of the training. If you do not PR, you can ask Elliptigo to buy back the bike.  Well, unless you still want to keep it. I do not think that I really want the guarantee. I want the free program to follow, after I recover from the surgery… I want the hope that I could PR again.

Doing some research I have found that there are a growing number of elites now who use Elliptigos as substitutes for some of their training runs, such as Meb as noted in the pic above. The University of San Diego did a study comparing the Elliptigo to Road Bikes and running. They found that the Elliptigo is very similar to running in the burning of calories and in heart rate – minute to minute. Similar effort gets you similar heart rate and calorie burn. You just travel a lot faster. The Elliptigo uses 33 percent more energy than a road bike at the same speed. Since the Elliptigo is heavier and has an upright (bad aerodynamic) position, A good cyclist would be able to go faster on a road bike than the Elliptigo. Still, users of the Elliptigo report average speeds in the upper teens which is all I am capable of on my road bike…

I am thinking I could commute on one of these to get the volume of my training back up to that “then” level of a couple of years ago without putting so much stress on my knees and back. It seems to be the closest thing to running that is not running. It mimics running with zero impact stress.

Here is a quote from Coach Jenny Hadfield, writing on She says she likes the ability to train harder without increased risk of injury. Hadfield says using an ElliptiGO is a great way to “strengthen your core and legs, mainly because unlike running which requires a toe push off, efficient ElliptiGO riding involves a flat foot on the drive arm and an emphasis on pushing through the midfoot and heel. Doing so activates the gluteal muscles, strengthening with every stride.”

So what is the drawback?  It is EXPENSIVE…… More than my road bike was.  That initial cost on the bike was quite a shock. Years later, however, I can report that I have put more than 4000 miles on that bike. As the miles go up the per mile cost of riding becomes more and more similar to the per mile cost of running. (at $100 and only 400 miles per shoe, that is .25 cents a mile – not that I ever buy $100 shoes)  It is just like the eye surgery I just had done. There was a big up front cost but when compared to 20 years of expensive glasses or contact lenses it pretty much evens out….


3 replies »

  1. I know several world class masters runners who are sponsored by EliptiGo and use it as part of their training. They of course say all those wonderful things that you just mentioned.
    Three years ago, I considered buying one. I have trained on the elliptical machines at the gym ,and Im sure it is an effective method of training. However, I found the EliptiGo to be big, bulky and expensive. It looked awkward to maneuver ,and where would I feel comfortable riding it around here?
    Since I travel a lot and do a lot of my training away from the antelope valley , especially in the summer, how would I transport it? Although I never test drove one , I didn’t feel it was worth the money .
    All the energy and calorie burning stats aside, I personally like riding the bike and do most of my training on my road bike. The bike is light and easy to
    transport. When I ride , I feel that the bike is an extension of me and easy to maneuver whereas I would feel connected to a piece of machinery on the EliptiGo.
    I don’t feel that my running and racing performances have suffered because the bike is less like running than the EliptiGo. It is my opinion that the spinning (rpms) that I generate on the bike has helped my leg turn over on the track in workouts and races. But this is just based on my own experience and not scientific data and facts.

    You have to decide for yourself of course, but because it would be a major purchase, I thought Id let you know my opinion.

  2. I agree with Steve, big, bulky, can’t ride it with others on their bike because it is slow. However I do endorse many forms of cross training, I have a commercial Tetrix Climb max have trained on it on and off for 5 years. I do think that is one reason I can climb well in the mountains on my bike. Of course you know I like the Ski Erg for general conditioning and now I am liking my Concept 2 rower neither of which come close to simulated running but are a hell of a cross training workout. Together they cost $1600
    I am still thinking of a pair of XC roller ski’s, cost is about $300-400 very portable and what a workout. XC skiers have some of the highest VO2 max. I must say though that the bike is still my favorite. How about a high end mountain bike? I will send you info on one for sale at Helen’s bike shop in Santa Monica I think it is about a thousand dollars less than the ElliptiGo.
    Good luck on your decision.

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April 2014


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