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201 of 217 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth machine, rough sell
Abstract:
So far this has been a big, solid and pretty fun-to-use machine at a relatively good price. DO NOT take any deals on used equipment offered by Smooth. A 10% discount is too small to justify the potential headaches. I had major problems with the purchase and initial mechanical failure of a used machine, which cannot be returned for refund...
Published on July 17, 2008 by J. D. Carlo

versus
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Want to Love My Smooth CE 7.4 Elliptical Trainer
Update #2 :

I just stumbled on this review of the Smooth Fitness CE7.4 Elliptical Trainer that I posted two years ago, and thought I would give you a quick update. A couple of months after my last update, the machine developed an annoying squeak. Based on comments from others I suspected the problem was a matter of overtightened mounting screws on one of the...
Published on February 2, 2009 by radial


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201 of 217 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth machine, rough sell, July 17, 2008
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
Abstract:
So far this has been a big, solid and pretty fun-to-use machine at a relatively good price. DO NOT take any deals on used equipment offered by Smooth. A 10% discount is too small to justify the potential headaches. I had major problems with the purchase and initial mechanical failure of a used machine, which cannot be returned for refund.

Article:
I relied heavily on reviews like this one when I decided to buy my first elliptical trainer -- in fact my first exercise machine of any type -- so I'm hoping to return the favor.

When I started my search, I was drawn to the brand names I had seen in the gym, namely Life Fitness and Precor. I loved the way the gym elliptical got my heart rate up and my body moving without the pounding to my (overweight and out of shape) body I got on a treadmill. I was addicted.

I knew the machines were expensive, but was still not prepared for the sticker shock when I saw what even used Life Fitness machines cost - between 3 and 5K. At the same time, I knew for sure I wanted the feeling of gliding almost weightless on a big sturdy machine, not cranking on a man-sized eggbeater from Wal-Mart.

After some searching I came across Smooth. The consumer and trade-publication reviews I read were very positive in terms of the construction and design of the machine and by extension the quality of the workout. In choosing the non-consumer reviews I relied on (or put differently, avoiding scam reviews that might have been somehow 'influenced') I sought sites that immediately acknowledged the industry leaders I had been priced out of - Life Fitness and Precor in particular. If a review began by saying "Life Fitness is the absolute best you can get - IF you can afford it", and *then* went on to praise another brand on its cost/quality merits, I figured I was in the right place.

Smooth Fitness was generally well-liked by these reviewers; they were also generally pretty adamant about the fact that buying an elliptical machine priced less than $500 dollars was at best a gamble, at worst a rip. The better idea, they said, was to sink that money in a long-term investment (ie pony up the bigger bucks). I weigh 220 pounds and like to jump around on the pedals while listening to 200 bpm techno -- something made of plastic wasn't going to cut it. So I took their advice and chose to 'invest'.

The reviews I read kept coming back to one theme with the Smooth brand: machines that aimed for gym-quality construction based on sound design principles, offered at consumer-level prices, between $1000 and $2000. They said Smooth was an online-only vendor selling directly to the consumer, which in principle is one thing that allowed for the lower prices (as opposed to, say, cheap materials or shoddy workmanship). Since that initial research I learned that - if I understand correctly - Smooth machines are also sold under another brand name through more traditional outlets such as actual retail stores. I believe the other brand is 'EVO', and that the machines appear to be identical, just with different stickers on them. More about this in a minute...

All of this appealed to me - I was willing to pay twice as much or more for a studly machine that would last 10 years as opposed to 10 months. I'm a young-ish consumer who isn't afraid to conduct business over the internet, and the positive sense I got of the Smooth machines seems to have outweighed my natural desire to try a thing out before buying. It was at this point that I tried filling the experience-gap with actual consumer reviews, and started learning about the scatter-plot effect of unsolicited reviews...

Mostly people said it was a decent machine that ran well at the right price. But there were weird spikes in the data - one guy was homicidally furious about bad customer service and a machine that didn't work. One guy said he had turned the resistance all the way up and it still was pretty easy. A woman complained that her stance on the machine was giving her knee trouble. Ultimately I looked for the median in all this, and it seemed positive. Being an impulse-buyer, I was on the phone a short time later.

And this is where the one down side - and a pretty big one frankly - to the purchasing experience began. I got on the phone with a salesman. By which I mean a guy who wanted to sell me something - specifically something more expensive than what I was trying to buy to begin with. The story:

At the time of my purchase (January 2008), there were three levels of Smooth trainer that seemed potentially right for me: the CE 2.1, CE 3.2 and the CE 7.4. As the naming system implies, these are all in roughly the same family, with a higher number meaning a more robust machine. As the numbering implies, the 2.1 and 3.2 are very similar, with the jump to 7.4 being a bigger step up. You can read all about these machines at <a href="URL">[...]</a>

As I said, I'm overweight and out of shape. You don't get that way being the kind of person who just has to get some exercise every day. Sure, I was jonesing for that good elliptical rush and wanted to be able to roll out of bed and get it without the struggle of getting to the gym. You can see that I live in constant oscillation between compulsion and sloth. I was sufficiently self-aware to acknowledge in the end that I was not likely to be on this thing every day, no matter how much I wanted to believe I would be. In any case, the top-end 7.4 was rated by the company as potentially able to endure use by multiple people on a daily basis (ie gym-level consumption), and by all known laws of physics I could not actually become multiple people. Also I live alone. So logic dictated that even a greedy feature-hungry guy like me should save the roughly $500 and go with the mid-range 3.2.

A note here about Smooth's pricing. I don't really fault them for it, but they use the term 'sale price' as though the machine were actually 'on sale', implying the price could go back up in the near future. This isn't really the case - just my experience based on roughly 8 months now of having periodically checked their pricing on these three machines. Since the winter of 2007 the prices have been pretty stable: both the 2.1 and the 3.2 hover at $1500 - the price difference being so small I wonder if anyone would buy the 2.1. The 7.4 is steady at $2000.

A note about 2.1 vs. 3.2. From what I can tell, these are the same machine, but with the 3.2 having a more sophisticated and feature-rich control panel. These things are very modular I've learned - I could walk over right now and in 30 seconds completely detach my control panel from the machine. In fact, my understanding is that the panels only have one fundamental interaction with the actual machinery, which is varying the current flowing to the electromagnet that controls resistance. You could (and I did experimentally) run all you want on the machine with no control panel hooked up, it just will be at the no-resistance level. Of course the panels do other important things like monitoring your speed, theoretical distance travelled, pulse rate (on some machines), but none of these things is properly mechanical. In fact, one of the things recommending the Smooth machines is that they operate on a very simple physical principle - in terms of the complexity of the machinery there's really not much to them. This is a good thing it turns out - it means less opportunity for things to go wrong, better performance and longevity.

You learn a lot about the machines when you buy Smooth, because you assemble them yourself, which also can mean troubleshooting your new purchase yourself...

So as I was saying, I had settled on the mid-range 3.2 when I got on the phone with Keith B., sales consultant. Keith upsold me, and I can't blame him for it, it's his job, and I'm a big boy who knows how to say 'No'. But I mention it because I didn't see actual salesmanly behavior coming from an internet-only operation, and it might catch you off guard as well.

As I said, Keith upsold me, and did it by appealing to my greed -- he informed me that for just $300 more I could get a used version of the illustrious 7.4 - that's a 10% discount. I'm the son of a salesman, and on the hard-sell scale I'd say Keith was at about a 5 (1 being apathetic McDonald's workers, 10 being a used car salesman), he wanted me to make the deal. And folks, deep in my heart I wanted the big boy, even though I had rationally made the conscious decision to be moderate, my primal urge was to get the biggest most expensive thing they had, and I did.

And frankly, for a 10% discount, the subsequent head and heartaches were just not worth it. I would have been better off spending the extra $200 and just buying the brand new 7.4. I'm going to be bold and tell you to refuse the offer I got if it is made to you. See, this is how I learned that the Smooth is also offered as "EVO" through the more traditional supply chain, because what I bought was some kind of store model or otherwise recycled EVO-branded 7.4 (I wasn't able to learn the actual story of the machine I bought - there were multiple used ones for sale). You can see where the EVO stickers used to be.

The deal I got was that the machine was covered by the same 5-year warranty as any other 7.4, *but* I waived right to the usual no-questions-asked return policy. I should mention that the warranty on these machines was another big selling point - 5 years on anything fundamental to the machine is a pretty good deal, better than you get on some cars, and is Hyundaiesque in how far it exceeds competitor's offers.

Anyway, the company operates out of King of Prussia, PA, two hours up the road from me, and I figured if anything went seriously wrong I could load the machine up in my Oldsmobile, drive up there, and throttle them with one of the swing-arms if necessary. Keith and I did the deal.

There were some unnecessary shipping headaches after that which Smooth (specifically Keith) could have prevented. The machines are shipped by 3rd-party trucking companies. Keith was supposed to send me a document indicating when and how I could expect to take delivery of the machine, which he failed to do. I eventually called Smooth (and got the other salesperson), asking for the documentation, but what I was sent still didn't include the shipping info. Instead I got a voice mail from a trucker parked outside my apartment saying "I guess I'll take the crate back to the terminal..." I had to look the shipper up on the internet -- based on the guy on voicemail saying "This is Kenny from Blahblah Shippers..." -- find a workable phone number for the local depot, and make my own arrangements for the drop off.

So I took delivery of the machine, which I'm here to tell you is HUGE. I have carried a lot of furniture in my time, but the back half of the 7.4 - the business end - seriously nearly herniated me and another young dude who was helping me. It didn't help that I live on the second floor of an old building with a ridiculous winding staircase. We cracked part of the plastic covering in the course of our epic struggle to round the last corner. To this day I wonder how I'm going to get the thing out when I move.

But that was the point, after all, a big sturdy machine. And although the plastic covering I mentioned is kind of ridiculously fragile by comparison, the rest of the machine would probably survive a vigorous mortar attack. A hopped up John Belushi could run the Boston marathon on this thing and never shake it an inch. It's all welded, no screws, nothing that isn't supposed to be a moving part that might work loose or start to rattle. On this point, thumbs up.

But my friends, after all this excitement, and a relatively uneventful assembly (note: have a partner, solo assembly efforts almost resulted in hernia #2 of the night), here was the crusher: It didn't work. As I said there's not much that can mechanically go wrong with these things, but when I tried rotating the 'legs' all I got was a sickening grinding noise. I was p.o.'d, to say the least.

I removed the dainty plastic covering to discover that somehow the flywheel was misaligned such that it was grinding on the housing of the electromagnet controlling resistance. The more I played with it the worse things got to the point where it wouldn't even rotate any more and there was a fine dust of metal shavings forming on the works.

After seeking emergency counseling for retail rage I contacted Smooth. Gotta say, Keith didn't sound too interested (shame on you Keith), but fortunately he quickly dumped me to the man in charge of service. Now, after slagging Keith mercilessly, I should really go on record about how great the service guy I dealt with was - his name is George. George was ready and willing to ship any spare parts that were needed, and scheduled one of the third-party service techs Smooth uses for field maintenance to come to the house. The one big drag was that getting the service tech to my house took more than a week b/c he works a multi-state area solo.

The service tech, Chris from Atlantic Fitness, was great, and much to my relief, was able to fix the problem. Since his visit, the machine has had no mechanical difficulties - not even a squeak folks. One minor downside: Because the plastic on the aforementioned wheel mechanism covering is cheap and flimsy, Chris just wasn't able to make the two halves join up again quite flush or get all the screws to take/seat properly.

So Chris, and by extension George, saved the day. But they couldn't remove entirely the sense that this didn't need to have been so hard. I mean, you can imagine the alternating rage and buyer's remorse I experienced in the intervening two weeks from delivery to Chris' arrival, and here was my internal story of woe:
1. I took the upsell deal on the used machine, a deal I rationally knew I should have refused, and spent $300 more than I planned.
2. Smooth screwed up the communications on shipping, causing me headache #1.
3. On arrival, the used machine has a catastrophic mechanical failure. It is useless other than as a coat rack.
4. The machine cannot be returned for a refund because of the used equipment deal I agreed to!
5. I have purchased a $2000 coat rack.

If the machine hadn't operated so well in the last six months, I would add that no matter how well fixed, any machine that has had a problem of this sort must be more likely to suffer further problems, making me a sucker even if it works in the short term. We'll see how it's doing in a year or 5 years from now when the warranty runs out.

So that's my story. Since January, the machine has gotten, I'll admit it, 'light' use. My enthusiasm took a while to recover from the stress of the initial purchase. But today the elliptical is my friend. All the more nutty stories I read on the web have proven to be non-factors. I can't imagine someone turning up the resistance to max on this thing and doing a full workout if they aren't some sort of mountaineer. The stance is good - no knee trouble or whatever. The stride is long and feels good for an average six-foot tall guy. The cheap plastic wheel cover is only there to shelter the rear assembly, and hasn't like fallen apart or started creaking or anything.

The only thing that took some getting used to are the unique-to-Smooth pivoting foot pedals. Ultimately I think they're a plus, it makes sense that some rotation at the ankle joint is needed to create a more natural stride. At first it felt kind of goofy - but that's one reason I waited this long to write a review.

Hope this helps.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Purchase, April 26, 2007
By 
Ben Kaplan "kappyben" (New York, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
I've had the Smooth CE 7.4 Elliptical for about two months now and I love it. This machine stacks up very nicely to the expensive ellipticals I've used at the gym. Here are some pros and cons:

PROS

* It's very smooth! I'm not going to pretend I like working out, but the smoothness of this machine makes it a little more enjoyable. It's very easy on the joints and you get a full body workout. The g/f and others have noticed my more-defined arms recently, and it's all from the elliptical! If you use this thing regularly and push yourself, you will have a healthy heart and feel great. I really work up a sweat when I use it, but the impact on my body is low.

* Set up was pretty straight-forward. Don't get me wrong, it's no cake walk, but Smooth couldn't sell it so cheaply and at such high quality unless it makes the parts separately and has the customer put it together. It took me about a day to put the whole thing together, but I was also futzing around and took breaks. The instructions were much better than average.

* The best quality for the cheapest price. I know $2,000 doesn't sound cheap, but if you want a quality home elliptical, you've got to pay for it. Many of the more expensive brands like Precor charge much more for the same quality.

* Good interface. The screen measures heart rate, distance, speed, and time. It measures a bunch of other metrics too, but I don't really care about them.

* Plenty of different programs. I've only used the "Manual" program so far, but there are plenty of different options to play around with.

* Comes with a wireless heartrate monitor. It's one of those elastic things made by Polar that you strap around your chest.

CONS

* I think the highest difficulty level should be harder. I work out on level 16 for 35 minutes -- and it's a great workout -- but 16 is the highest it goes. Level 16 should either offer much harder resistance, or the levels should go up to 20 or something.

* It's big. Make no mistake: this baby is big and heavy. I'm sure it needs to be, because you can tell it's very well made and high quality, but when it first arrived -- and I saw this mammoth box sitting in my tiny living room -- I thought I made a big mistake. (I live in a 750 square foot apt.) Once I set it up and started using it, however, I got used to its footprint and realized what a great machine it is.

Overall, the pros far outweigh the cons. If you're looking for the best home elliptical machine and have the money, the patience to do a long-ish set up, and the space, this is the one for you!
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, Smooth & Quiet, November 6, 2006
By 
T. L. Colby (Grand Rapids, MI) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
I've had this unit for about 3 months and so far have no regrets. Mine arrived in just under a week from the time I placed the order. There was some damage to the plastic housing around the flywheel during shipping. So, I took a couple digital photos before even unpacking it & sent them to customer service. They responded the same day and sent replacement parts that arrived a couple days later. I use it for 30 minutes a day nearly everyday. Despite earlier reviews warning this may not be a good fit for smaller people, I'm a 5'5" male and find it to be very comfortable. I personally wouldn't want the stride any shorter - however, I am also a runner so that may make some difference. I haven't played around much with the various programs because I'm content to set it to the resistance level I'm comfortable with and go. Sometimes I'll manually change it up or down during a workout depending on how I feel on a given day. My only con: I do occasionally notice a ticking noise, but overall it's extremely quiet, smooth and stable. No problem hearing the TV while using it. I highly recommend this machine. Just be aware of the large size of it and measure out where you plan to put it ahead of time so you know it'll fit!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, Smooth Quiet, May 17, 2008
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
When I got mine, they included IN-ROOM delivery which was definitely smart (think "refrigerator box"). I called Smooth Fitness two times with questions before I purchased and they were very helpful. Assembly is very easy (took me about an hour). The solid, smooth, quiet flywheel with electromagnetic resistance is the reason I purchased it, and it is excellent. The computer has some quirks if you care about using all the features, but it's great in basic mode.

When using the machine, you are raised up by 14 inches, so make sure you don't have a very low ceiling or low-hanging lamp that might be in your way.

It has 16 resistance levels. Level 1 is very easy. Level 16 is very hard - you need to pull up on the handlebars to maintain speed, like bicycling up a steep hill. Level 3 - 5 is great for a light workout.

It comes with a wireless heart rate sensor (made by Polar) that straps around your chest. But you don't need to wear it if you keep your hands on the upper body workout bars which have built-in (wired) sensors, or if you don't want to monitor your heart rate.

I've had it for two days and I'm still getting adjusted to it. At first, it felt a little awkward, but when I moved my body position more forward, close to the handlebars, it felt more natural. Also, I think I need to lift my heel when I stride, or maybe I need to put something under my heel so it feels right. But I think these things will resolve with more use.

Manual mode is excellent for a quick exercise session when you don't want to deal with programs, personal settings and a lot of buttons. You just turn it on and press start. A timer shows your exercise time and you can change the resistance levels up or down whenever you want by pressing the up or down button. Changing levels is quiet and instant.

I think the instruction book for using the computer could be improved. It's somewhat helpful, but I still needed to experiment to figure out some features. Also, I think they don't do a good job explaining target heart rate and maximum heart rate. There's lots of info on the web about this.

The heart rate monitor is little annoying because whenever you interrupt the reading - like when you take one hand off of the upper body workout bar, or changing the program - the readout goes to 72 and very slowly returns to the correct value. I happen to have a Polar heart rate monitor (wrist watch) which also picks up the signal from the wireless (chest) sensor. I strap my wrist watch monitor around the handlebars and refer to it for continuous, instant readings.

The scan mode, which automatically cycles through all the readings, is good, but it's annoying that whenever you pause or change the program, it defaults to non-scan mode. The indicated speed seems a little slow to me, but I only use it as a reference point. When you turn it off, you lose your age and weight settings.

The flywheel has a large inertia so you need to allow yourself to slow down gradually to bring it to a stop.

It was pouring rain when I got it, and I thought how great it was to be "jogging" indoors.

*************

This is my follow-up after 2 months: The machine continues to work well. It's solid, quiet and smooth. This machine can give a serious workout - the sweat flows and you need to stay cool, so I setup an electric fan to blow on me. When I play my favorite CDs while striding, the time just flies by, the calories burn away, and it's a fun workout. I'm losing weight, my resting heart rate is lower, and my knees haven't felt this good in a long time.

I find it's best to place my feet in the exact center of the footpad. The footpad moves like a see-saw with each stride, and my heel lifts up a little on the forward stide. It works well to place something like a small block of wood in the front area of each footpad to keep your feet from sliding all the way forward.

I just jump on and press start. I don't mess with setting my weight and age and other things. I just use the readings as a guide on my day-to-day progress, such as how many minutes did I run and what was the calorie total.

It's best to use the wireless Polar chest sensor that comes with the machine to monitor heart rate. Then I put masking tape over the metal sensors at the top of the upper body workout bars. It's more accurate using the wireless only. For my workout, I try to keep the RPM between about 60 to 72 and then adjust the resistance level with the up or down buttons to maintain a particular heart rate. For resistance levels above about 7 or 8, your arms can start doing some work also.

You can stride in reverse for a great quad workout. Don't forget to let the machine gradually slow all the way down before you step off.

So far, I think it's been a worthwhile investment.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid elliptical, July 28, 2006
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
Ordered the CE 7.4. Moving and setup definitely needs two strong guys and takes time. Shipping box is 29"x29"x72" and weighs 238lbs ....

The CE 7.4 is very solidly made and in my opinion a much better deal than ellipticals from Precor or Life Fitness. I (6'6" tall) enjoy it very much but I can see that small people might have a problem with it. The ride does feel very smooth indeed.

Could it be better? Sure, but then you're also spending $2k instead of $4k ...

regards,

Mike
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Want to Love My Smooth CE 7.4 Elliptical Trainer, February 2, 2009
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
Update #2 :

I just stumbled on this review of the Smooth Fitness CE7.4 Elliptical Trainer that I posted two years ago, and thought I would give you a quick update. A couple of months after my last update, the machine developed an annoying squeak. Based on comments from others I suspected the problem was a matter of overtightened mounting screws on one of the pieces of plastic that shroud the working joints. Sure enough, after backing off the torque on a couple of screws, the squeak was gone and my workouts went back to whisper quiet.

And that was the last problem I had. I've logged lots and lots of miles in the past couple of years. And I have to say this elliptical is solid as a rock. I did have some initial problems/moments of panic in getting the machine working properly. But once those problems were fixed, that was that. The machine is a very well designed and manufactured piece of equipment. Well worth the cost.

Update #1 :

My elliptical is fixed and working fine. I finally got the attention of the service people at Smooth Fitness, but had to resort to subterfuge. If you call their number with a service or repair problem, my experience is that you should NOT select the menu option for service or repair. That one invariably dumps you into voicemail where your message might get answered eventually, but it won't be anytime soon. Instead, pick the option for people who want to buy equipment. That way you get an actual human being on the phone. Not the RIGHT human being, but the one who answered my call and listened to my tale of woe apparently went over to the service department and rapped someone on the head because I got a call back from them 10 minutes later. They took down my information, told me I would receive a parts order in the next few days and that I would hear from the repair guy shortly thereafter.

That's pretty much what happened. The parts they shipped me were the two halves of the plastic shroud that covers the flywheel mechanism. I guess they figured out from my problem report that they would need to be replaced, and they were right. Chris from Atlantic Fitness showed up a couple of days ago as scheduled and had me fixed up within an hour. Chris seemed to think that whoever originally assembled the machine might have overtightened the shroud mounting screws to the point where something broke. Could be, but it seems equally possible that it happened during the shipping process. This machine is very heavy and it's easy to imagine how rough handling during shipping could generate enough torque to damage the shroud mountings. Anyway, Chris was able to fix that problem with the new parts. The noise it turns out was the result of a drive belt rubbing against the housing. Chris said there were several internal positioning adjustments that could be made to get the drive train all lined up, and he got the belt positioned correctly. The machine is now whisper quiet.

I'm going to upgrade my rating to three stars. I'm still not impressed with the Smooth Fitness customer service operation. This appears to be a good piece of equipment, reasonably inexpensive, apparently well designed, and mechanically solid. However, getting it serviced should be a lot easier. Chris the repair guy from Atlantic Fitness was great to deal with. I wouldn't hesitate to do business with him or his company in the future. But it's pretty faint praise when the best thing about your customer service operation is the performance of a subcontractor.

Anyway, the equipment is working now and working well. Let's see how it holds up over the next few months. I will be updating this review as things develop.

----------

After weeks of scouring the internet for information and reviews on elliptical trainers, I settled on the Smooth CE 7.4 as the leading option. I was impressed with low price, reported quality, a good warranty, and dimensions apparently designed for a relatively tall person like me.

I ordered the machine over the holidays when I'm sure the company was dealing with a surge of orders and holiday absences, so it took a little longer than expected to hear back. But it was just a few days longer, so no big deal. Shipping was timely and the shipping company delivered the crate right to my garage vs. the curb. Good thing too because that box is ginormous! Heed what everyone else says about the need for a couple of able bodied people to hoist this thing around. You are definitely NOT going to be dragging the main assembly up any stairs by yourself.

It went together easily. The whole assembly probably took just a little over an hour. While assembling the machine, I noticed that the two halves of the flywheel cover (the big wheel in the back) didn't exactly mate. It seemed as if there was possibly some damage in shipping. But it didn't look serious.

During my first session, it was obvious that something was not right. Instead of the smooth quiet mechanism I was expecting, I got a machine that generated a loud scraping noise with each revolution of the flywheel. Maybe that shipping damage wasn't so trivial after all. Oh well, I told myself, good thing I went with a company that offered a decent warranty.

What I didn't count on was the difficulty of getting any response from the company when I called to take advantage of that warranty. Forget about emailing the customer service department. If anyone is actually reading that email, you would never know it. I've written them half a dozen times with no response. And calling is not much better. I left a number of messages on the customer service line before finally getting a return call from "Jimmy". Unfortunately, I wasn't able to answer the call, so all I really have is voicemail apologizing for the delay in responding and citing a phone outage. Phone outage? Well maybe, but it sounded a lot like the old dog ate my homework excuse.

I have now left some more voicemail on Jimmy's phone, so hopefully he'll call and I will have some better news to report. If so, I will update this review. But at this point, I'm not feeling like a well-served customer. Smooth Fitness needs to hire some folks to answer the phones and read the incoming email. Otherwise, what is probably a fairly decent product is going to be eclipsed by stories like this one and customers are going to shop elsewhere.

Jimmy, I really want to love my CE 7.4, so please give me a call and let's get this thing fixed.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so far so good, January 17, 2009
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
i got this trainer 3 weeks ago. so far i LOVE IT!! assembly was just like there name SMOOTH. you dont even have to read the words, just follow the pictures. it took me about 30 min. to assemble, but this sucker is big and heavy though, so get a friend to help.i was lucky the delivery guys put it inside my house even though i didnt pay for it, but the box was to big to go into my workout room. so i was on my own from there. it does have wheels on it, so once i got it out of the box( not easy to do) i wheeled the main piece(flywheel and base) into the room myself.every bolt hole lined up PERFECTLY!! there was no fighting to get it together, VERY well machined piece of equipment.
So how was my workout once i got it together?? a little weird at first.it felt different than other ellipticals. the foot pedals do take some getting used to, but if you center your foot in the pedal its great. Also compared to other ellipticals, you are VERY close to the stationary handle bars, which felt VERY weird at first. this takes some getting used to, as there is no reaching forward to change settings, its right there.also, if you were a REALLY fat person i would think your belly might hit the handle bars.( not trying to sound mean or anything).
i never really thought an elliptical would work your arms, but i was WRONG!! if you put this on level 6,7,8,9(depending on your strength) your arms come into major play ecspecially on a 30 min or longer run. after i got used to the body position( say 1 week) i loved it.this thing will work you pretty darn good.it is one of the most STABLE pieces of equipment ive ever been on.
i really cant see what can go bad on this machine other than the bearings( which will last for years). most ellipticals dont even have bearings just bushings(metal on metal). i do mechanical and electrical work for a living, and ive looked this machine over extensively.if you have to change a bearing they are VERY easy to change and easy to find for sale at almost all auto parts stores or online( unless they are pressed on). just be VERY careful with the wires when you assemble this piece of equipment. make sure no wires are in the way before you tighten the bolts.
other than that ENJOY, THIS IS A VERY WELL MADE ELLIPTICAL!! NOW PUT IT TO USE!!
also, use the smooth5 coupon code on there main web site and save 5%($1888 instead of $1988 and if you call, you get a free mat, a $45 value)
GOOD LUCK AND TAKE CARE

UPDATE MAY 2012
I DONT CARE WHAT ANYONE SAYS this machine works great!!! i did have a problem with the pedals squeaking, which i removed the shrouds around the peadals and tightend the 2 screws. ( i left the shrouds off) and have had absolutely no problems since. i use my mp3 or watch t.v. while using it so the sound of the machine doesnt really effect me, but to be honest its not loud. nothing is broken, display works perfect. tensioning system works great. its pretty much like new. if i had a complaint it would be the foot pedals they are what make all the noise(not much). other than that its great!! i use it 4 days a week and have since i got it back in 2009. i do wish i would of got it at the price they are selling it for now!!!!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feels just like the elliptical at my health club, March 2, 2006
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
I purchased the Smooth 7.4 elliptical trainer from the Smooth Fitness web site. It wasn't on sale when I bought it, so I paid $2,499.

I have been using it for about 3 weeks now and I am very impressed. This trainer feels like the ellipticals I used at my gym. It is very quiet and has a real stable and solid feel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth CE 7.4 Trainer, July 15, 2008
By 
Diane E (ATLANTA, GA, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
After trying out several ellipticals in stores and surfing the web, I narrowed my choices to a machine sold at Sears and the Smooth 7.4. After reading several negative reviews of the Sears machine pertaining to missing or defective parts, I decided on the Smooth. After waiting almost 2 weeks for delivery the deliveryman was nice enough to bring the box into my basement and I managed to get most of the assembly completed myself. That is until I ran into a factory defect that prevented me from proceeding. I notified Smooth and they sent the replacement parts and since it was under warranty, they sent an assembly person. Once completed however, there was a malfunction with the LCD display, but once again the part was mailed to me and I was able to swap out the display console myself.
With all that said, now that the machine is working properly, it has been excellent. Very smooth, much quieter than my treadmill, and the program variety is more than I will ever need. I feel I got a quality machine for a good price.
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Customer Service Ever - Don't Buy, February 16, 2010
By 
NWArkGirl "Mickey" (Northwest Arkansas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Smooth Fitness CE-7.4 Elliptical Trainer (Sports)
Let me be upfront - I have no idea if this machine works. Since I got mine 2 months ago it has never worked. Smooth has admitted it has electrical problems. But more to the point, let me tell you about the customer service of this company.

I got the unit and paid for delivery and set up. The logistic company who delivered put it in the room, took away some of the packaging and said "we are only paid for 1/2 hour" and just left - with the unit in pieces. This was a Saturday so I left a voicemail for Smooth Customer Service. After hearing nothing for 4 days I called again during the week. Smooth dispatched same company. This time, the guys stayed for longer, but had never put together an elliptical. They were reading from the booklet, when things didn't work, the openly talked about jamming things together. After 5 hours they go to turn it on and it doesn't work. I'd lost a whole day of work and still didn't have a working machine. So I call Smooth again. After a week they dispatch a local handyman, again who has never seen an elliptical. He absolutely destroys the machine - pounds on it with a hammer, scratches every part trying to pry parts open. So once again I complain again to Smooth. They want to send him out AGAIN. I refuse. After two weeks go by without contact, I call again. They ignore my complaints about how the machine looks now and dispatch one part. They finally invest in getting an actual fitness machine mechanic to work on it. The part doesn't solve the problem - machine still doesn't work. (Another day of work missed). I asked for a new machine. They refuse. They send yet more individual parts. Also, each time they send parts they send the via UPS ground so it's a 10 day delivery time.

The new parts come, the parts still don't fix the problem because - not surprisingly - the whole unit has been put together wrong. I ask again for a new machine to be dispatched, but demand a discount. At this point I have taken 3 days of vacation - out of my 2 weeks a year. I hear nothing from them for 3 weeks. Today their absolutely awful customer service manager calls and says, "we will give you a new machine". In total, I have lost 3 vacation days and over 2 months of time. I say, "for a discount?" (This is after I read reviews on their own site talking about how they used to offer discounts for minor inconveniences and I consider what happened to be to be pretty major). He says no, no discount.

So I said forget it - get the machine out of my house and give me my money back.

Truly, I don't think I've ever had such a horrible experience. Maybe it's new management or maybe it's just this particular customer service manager, but given that they are internet only and you have no store/local option for service and support, do not trust them. Their machines are not reliable enough to have this little support.

It's too bad because I have seen the other reviews and I wish I'd gotten to see if it worked.
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