Customer Reviews: ProForm 850 SpaceSaver Elliptical Trainer
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on November 13, 2007
The unit is specifically set up to just meet the max weight UPS will ship, and the box gets chewed up because of it, make sure you are home to inspect the package and reject it if you have any concerns. The unit comes unassembled and I cannot remember how long it took to put it together but figure a couple of hours. It is reasonably well made but if you are say 250 or more don't count on years of service. It does not come with a wall power supply which is irritating but the batteries seem to last 6 months. The movement is fluid and somewhat natural and I have no trouble getting a good work out. I like the machine, The range of motion is a little short but since I am 5' 8" its fine. Moving it around is not a problem for me, but someone smaller might find it difficult. Just realize, even though it folds, it is still pretty big, 3' x 2' x 5.5', luckily I have a large closet nearby.
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on February 20, 2007
This unit is excellent for the money. The construction is rugged enough for someone like myself who said "supersize me" a few times too often. It doesn't wobble under load, and offers very quiet and smooth operation. The space-saver feature is a real plus for me - I have a tiny house, and it easily folds into a small footprint - width 26" x 40" folded, and 66" unfolded. The front rollers make it possible for one person to move. The instrument panel works well - basic, functional resistance controls and a few decent training programs (I get rather amused by the marketing features that makes some of these machines boast about having a zillion programs, which are often fluff, or unusable). Assembly took me 4 hours, working alone - the instructions were the most clearly written I've seen in a long time. If you've ever changed your car's oil, you won't find any challenges here. I was able to get it into my house with the aid of a 2 wheel hand truck - two people (or opening the box outdoors) may be required.
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on January 19, 2008
Be very careful when deciding to purchase from Pro-Form based on their stated warranty: I purchased a SpaceSaver 500 based upon the product packaging, which listed a 10-year frame warranty and one-year parts and labor. When I got the thing fully out of the box and dug the instruction manual out, the warranty there claims a 90-day parts and labor, with the customer having to either (1) pay for an on-site visit, or (2) pay shipping both ways to return a defective part for depot repair. I called Pro-Form to ask, and after about 15 minutes on hold and a couple of hand-offs to other people, a fellow in "marketing" said that all their frames now have a ten-year warranty (once he said "lifetime"). I asked him to either send me something in writing or point me to the warranty coverage statement on their web site, he couldn't do it. Seems to me they're counting on customers to figure it's not worth the time and effort to return such a heavy, bulky item when they find out their warranty is other than what they thought they'd purchased ....

This was my second (and last!) Pro-Form purchase: the first machine broke at a frame weld after about 15 months of moderately heavy (two times a day during the week) use. I figured they must have improved the frame design to be able to offer such a long frame warranty, but no such luck: the new model's built identically to the old, and it's liable to break exactly the same way (where the vertically mounted tube meets the main frame).

Oh, there's a pamphlet in the packaging offering to sell customers an extended warranty, too, which kicks in 90-days after purchase ....
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on February 8, 2009
This thing will be a big disappointment if you're expecting a well-built, stable trainer like you've ridden at a gym, or if you want something you can use in your living room while watching TV without headphones, etc., but if you have realistic expectations, you can make it work.

I put ours in the basement, because the wood floors upstairs groan too much under the movement, and the whole machine is very loud (see below). Even on the cement floor, it is quite unstable and wobbly. At under 150 lbs, the movement of my weight can easily get one of the legs to come up off the floor when I'm using the arms, and I could definitely topple it completely if I really swung into it. So I put cinder blocks on the back edge of the back foot. You have to position them sort of half-on or else the pedals will catch them. Because of its instability, the trainer slowly creeps forward and the cinder blocks fall off about every 1/2 hour, so I have to drag it backwards periodically. I also tighten the bolts every few weeks (I just took the big magnet things off the arms so I can have easy access to the bolts underneath), which helps a bit. I do wonder how it would hold up under a bigger body...

While swaying like a ship at sea, it also makes the appropriate noises, like a creaking wooden hull. I always listen to headphones while riding, which drowns the racket out.

The heart-rate monitor is 100% useless (my heart rate is evidently either 40bmp or 220; no matter how long you hold the sensors, it never stabilizes on a remotely reasonable measurement). If this is important to you, you will need to budget an extra $50 or more for a wrist-strap-on thing that actually works.

I don't bother with any of the programmed courses. The resistance adjustment works fine. The console does require 4 D batteries, but it really takes a long time to use them up. I assume that they would run down faster if I used the fan.

Riding for any length of time tends to make the soles of my feet really ache in a way that the trainer at the gym doesn't. I suspect that the reason is that the "ellipse" that your feet describe on the ProForm is fatter and shorter, so you're doing a lot more up-and-down pushing and less back-and-forth. I bought better sneakers and put some cushioned in-soles into them. I also try to switch between going forwards and backwards about every 5 minutes; the latter puts the weight on your heels and thus eases up on the ball of the foot for a while. This mostly alleviates the problem.

I didn't have to do the assembly myself, but I'm told it takes hours, and just looking at the instructions is pretty daunting. Because of the size, the trainer can be moved around fairly easily in a semi-assembled state (take off the console/arm unit and pedal/legs; fold up the wheel housing; take the feet off if necessary), fitted into a small car, etc.

My biggest worry is that since the thing is obviously so chisily built, it will break before long. I especially worry about the fact that there's no way to oil those creaking bearings. OK for several months so far, fingers crossed...

All in all, I'm actually happy enough with my jury-rigged set-up, because I got the thing for pretty cheap, and pre-assembled, and I really prefer using it while watching TV of my choice in my house over a gym visit. So if you are willing to deal with the limitations that I mentioned, then the price makes is a reasonable choice; I think it's the cheapest such thing you'll find. But if you're not on board with all these limitations, don't even consider it.
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on April 27, 2009
I had a pro form almost two years ago (earlier model), I paid 1/2 what I paid for the 850. It lasted about a year and a half. I used it about 1/2 hr a day 5 days a week, when it broke I decided to spend a bit more and get the 850, after reading the reviews I was a bit hesitant: things like slightly wobbly, and loud raised flags, but I thought, "it's probably not that bad" BIG MISTAKE, ITS WORSE!!! The thing is absolutely a piece of junk. not worth $49.99, much less the approximate $499.99 I paid for it.
Wobbly is an understatement. The thing feels like it going to break... handlebars shake, the whole frame sways (and yes I tried removing third leg, advice from previous reviewer, not much of a difference).
Loud, another understatement. It just sounds absolutely horrendous... it clanks and groans, the handle bars slap the center of the frame and make a really annoying noise as do the pedals when in use.
I've never felt so cheated, the thing is just not worth it.
However... it you don't plan on actually using it, it does look nice(lol).
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on March 19, 2008
Don't expect a major piece of gym equipment here but for the last few weeks I've had it I've had no complaints. It took me about two hours to assemble it - with some help - and most of that time was spent identifying the various screws.

I only use it three times a week for about half an hour - so I'm not a heavy/power user. The unit is not as stable as your gym's machine - but it doesn't wobble too much or make a lot of noise. The motion is pretty smooth and overall it's quiet (I use it on a carpeted surface). So for the convenience of its folding I think it's worth it. It's very easy to fold and wheel around the apartment.

The display isn't that great but serviceable and the fan isn't really that impressive but it's fine for basic stuff (clock). I'm suspicious of the calorie and carb readouts. I haven't tried any of the programs yet because I prefer the "manual" mode.

I'll update this review if it craps out on me but so far so good.
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on December 16, 2008
This would of got 5 stars but, I had to fiqure out myself to take off the center foot to prevent excessive wobbling. Poor design on the feet but works great if the center foot is taken off. Also had a couple of bolt holes that wasn't tapped out properly, had to force in with channel locks and call customer service to get replacement bolts(cause they stripped out where the allen wrench goes in).
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on October 26, 2008
I purchased this item, and after assembling it (takes about 2 to 3 hours to assemble) I found out that the resistance levels don't work. There is only one level, and it's fairly high resistance. I have been using an elliptical machine at my gym and I workout on level 11 for 45 minutes. This machine is hard to do at level 1, and I can only go for about 5 minutes. It's not very useful for me, since the calories burned in 5 minutes are not enough for a good workout. This machine says it has 10 levels, but I cannot notice any discernable difference between the different levels. I'm pretty disappointed because I was hoping this would be a good machine - the space saving feature sounded nice. Also, the stride length is supposed to be 18" but it feels like it is shorter than that. It's more of an up and down motion than the type of range I am used to. Also, they sent the wrong screws for one of the steps - all of the screws in the picture show pointy ends on them, but the ones in the box are all flat at the end. For adding one of the plastic pieces it is impossible to screw in the flat-ended screw so you will need to go buy the same screw but with a pointy end. For part 105 buy six 6 x 1-1/4 pan head sheet metal screws, and the assembly will go much easier.
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on August 5, 2013
Great price, easy to assemble, and okay, so long as you're not looking to work out hard on this machine. But if you're needing something with "space saving" potential, and you hate going to the gym. This will get the job done.
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on November 16, 2008
I purchased this elliptical to help me keep to my exercise goals in the coming cold weather. I was used to using a good machine at my office gym and was looking for something comparable but could not afford to spend a lot of money. So far the machine has been good and putting it together was not a problem as noted in some of the reviews. My only complaint is that it rocks a little while I am using it. This does not interfere in my workout and aside from that the quality is good for the money.
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