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Nordictrack VR21 vs FS10i

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

May 2, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Nordictrack VR21 vs FS10i

This is a comparison of the Nordictrack VR21 and FS10i including pros, cons, and alternatives . Follow the links for more details.

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Overview and review of the FS10i Free Stride $3999 - $2999

This is a review of the Nordictrack Fs10i model. You will learn about the specifics, pros, cons and alternatives of this elliptical to ake a deicison. This article was originally published in "Which elliptical to get from Nordictrack".

Overview of the Fs10i

The FS10i free stride is the newest addition to the center drive elliptical product line of Nordictrack. In 2020 it comes with a hefty price reduction of $1000 which makes it an attractive buy on the high end of the portfolio. As long as this remains, it is definitely the better option over the FS9i model. The main features of this machine are its center flywheel, the 10% incline option, 10-inch monitor and the free moving ellipticals which make it a stepper, ellipticals, and treadmill in one machine. The full list of features includes:
  • 10" Smart HD Touchscreen
  • Includes 1-Year NordicTrack iFit® membership**
  • Bluetooth® Audio Capabilities
  • Two 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers
  • AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan
  • SoftTouch™ Upper Body Grips
  • Oversized Cushion Pedals
  • Center Drive
  • 20 Lb. Effective Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • 32" Auto-Adjustable Stride
  • 24 Digital Resistance Levels
  • 0 – 10% Incline
  • OneTouch® Controls
  • Commercial Solid Steel Construction
  • Oversized Levelers
  • 375 Lb. User Capacity
  • Transport Wheels
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • 58.5" L x 29.5" W x 74" H Footprint
  • 10-Year Frame Warranty
  • 2-Year Parts Warranty
  • 1-Year Labor Warranty
This is the newest machine in the line up for free stride from Nordictrack in 2020 with a killer price. Observe how it will develop in the future as this value for money offer might not extend to the future.

Pros of the FS10i

The pros of the FS10i are:
  • All bells and whistles
  • Three for the price of one
  • Long stride 
  • Free adjustments 
  • Low impact
The FS10i still has all the bells and whistles in the Nordictrack Free stride line up. You or your clients will have little to desire when you opt for the FS10i as your free stride machine of choice. 
The concept of the middle flywheel for your elliptical enables that you can move more freely. This makes the FS10i a stepper, treadmill and elliptical in one machine. If you were considering getting all of these different machines the FS10i is still a bargain in terms of price and footprint which is being used up compared to getting three instead of one machine. Never mind the maintenance and energy consumption of the other machines. 
With 32 inches of stride, the FS10i provides longer stride than the Front and read-drove ellipticals from Nordictrack as there is no flywheel in the way. This will especially help your larger athletes or clients. 
The free adjustments of the movements will be beneficial for homeowners with big families or commercial gym owners with a wide variety of clients. This is the main engineering idea behind these free stride machines which move the flywheel to the middle of the machine, rather than having it in the front or back.
The low impact on knees and ankles is one of the main health advantages of ellipticals compared to treadmills. If you have an underlying condition or work with a lot of clients with weak hips and legs, this is a better machine for health reasons than a treadmill with a higher impact. 

Cons of the FS10i

The cons of the FS10i are:
  • High price
  • No big screen
  • No remote control in the handles 
  • Floating experience
  • More prone to error
  • Low-calorie burn
Even when the price is reduced to $2999 the FS10i is still a considerable investment. There are lower-cost options for free striders in the Nordictrack portfolio. Especially if you are not bought into the free stride concept as you do not have to provide a lot of variety or comfort with the machine you buy, definitely look somewhere else. $2999 can buy you a rack, barbell, and plates for a full gym setup if you invest it somewhere else. It depends on your goals, available space, and training preferences.
As the flywheel is in the center of this design the FS10i has no real stand or option to attach a big screen as other treadmills or ellipticals would have. In a home gym, this can be solved with a screen on the wall or no screen whatsoever. In a commercial setting, a screen on the wall can become quite small for individuals who are for away or want to do their own thing while they are exercising. If you think that entertainment options are a must for yourself or your clients over the experience of the free stride than opt for a front-drive elliptical or a big treadmill where a big screen can be attached. 
Compared to the FS9i Nordictrack model the FS10i has no controls to adjust resistance and incline in the handles. These are positioned in the console. This is the only main advantage I can see for the Fs9i over the FS10i. If you like this convenience, go for the Fs9i instead.
While the fleeting experience is great when you have great body awareness and like to experiment, it can be stressful for someone who just likes to have a stable, repeatable experience. The many options you have with the FS10i which require a bit more fine motor skills than on a traditional elliptical might not be for everyone. 
Moving the flywheel from the front or back of an elliptical to create more options and a longer stride poses two engineering challenges. One is that the flywheel can not be as big as with front- and rear-drive options, as you have less space. Second is that you need more moving parts to make the machine go in multiple directions at different angles. The smaller flywheel and the more intricate design make the Free stride models more error-prone than the front and rear drive options. While it is unlikely that you will break this as a home gym owner by yourself, the commercial gym owner should consider how much mileage each machine will go through depending on where it is positioned in the gym and how many machines you have.
General consideration for elliptical machines is that they burn fewer calories on average compared to bikes and treadmills as the exercise is less intense. If you are generally healthy and want to maximize the calorie output per minute, the elliptical machines are not the right buy for your need.

Summary for the FS10i

The FS10i is the best buy from Nordictrack in 2020 for a free stride elliptical with all bells and whistles. As long as it is cheaper than the FS9i this will hold. This is a good machine for the home gym owner with a big wallet and some health issues, who still want to exercise regularly. For commercial buyers, the price will be too high for someone who is thinking to buy more than 5 units at a time. Boutique gyms that work with a lot of clients with very specific needs will find this machine useful.

Overview and review of the Nordictrack VR21 749 / 999 (UK/US)

This article discusses the pros, cons, and alternatives for the Nordictrack VR21.This review was originally posted in “Which Nordictrack bike to get”. Follow the links for more details.

The Nordictrack VR21 is the little brother of the VR25 in the Nordictrack recumbent bike line up. Its main features are a 5-inch backlit display, 9kg flywheel, and 125kg maximum capacity. The full list of features reads as followed: 
  • 5" Backlit Display
  • iFit Bluetooth - 1 Years Membership Included
  • Smart BlueTooth (BLE) Chestbelt Compatible
  • Dual 2-Inch Speakers
  • Recumbent Frame
  • Step Thru™ Design
  • 9kg Flywheel
  • 25 Digital Resistance Levels
  • Onetouch™ Controls
  • EKG Handgrips
  • 125kg Max User Weight
  • Lumbar Supported Cushioned Seat
  • Horizontal Seat Adjustment
  • Extra-wide Ergonomic Pedals with Adjustable Straps
  • AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan
  • Front-mounted Transport Wheels
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • Integrated Tablet Holder
  • 32 Workouts Apps
  • Assembled Dimensions - 155L x 59W cm x 132H cm
  • Product Weight 48kg
  • Boxed Weight 57kg
  • Boxed Dimensions - 153L x 65W x 39H cm
  • Warranty - 2 Years parts and labor; 5-year frame guarantee upon warranty registration within 28 days of purchase.
The VR21 is the better option for home gym buyers who want to save some money as the 9kg flywheel is more than enough. Commercial buyers might consider this option when they want to buy 5 - 10 units instead of the VR21. Otherwise the VR25 might be the better option. 

Pros of the NordicTrack VR21

The pros of the VR21 are:
  • Price
  • Meshed seat
  • Comfortable position
The VR21 is the cheapest recumbent bike that you can get from Nordictrack. If you want one and like the NordicTrack brand, this is the one to go for. Especially if you are a home gym buyer. Commercial buyers might consider this model when they buy in bulk. If you only want to have one or two on the floor, invest in the VR25 and the bigger flywheel as they will clock more miles per unit as a fleet of ten VR21 on the floor. 
The meshed seat is a good little design feature to prevent sweating like mad. Other models have hard plastic full seats which can become sticky and unpleasant. 
If you only want to moderately exercise and still use the time to go through emails or place some calls, a recumbent bike can be a very good option. They also have the advantage over ellipticals that they are closer to the floor and therefore do not need high ceilings. 

Cons of the VR21

The cons of the VR21 are:
  • 9kg flywheel
  • Space requirements
  • Low-calorie burn
  • No touch screen
The 9kg flywheel puts the VR21 at a disadvantage to the VR25 model which has an 11kg flywheel. For home users this will not be as relevant as for commercial users. The trade-off is that you pay less money.
Compared to a traditional bike a recumbent bike takes more space and burns fewer calories per minute. If you want to optimize your floor space for the maximum amount of people burning the maximum amount of calories this is not the model to go for. Keep your clients and space requirements in mind, especially when shopping for recumbent bikes. 
Compared to the VR25 the VR21 has no touch screen. If you want to get the full benefit of an easy workout while doing your work or surfing on the internet, the touch screen option will go along way for convenience. 

Alternatives to the Nordictrack VR21

Aöternatives to the Nordictrack VR21 are: 
The Nordictrack VR25 is the big brother of the VR21. Personally I think that this is a better option for commercial buyers who only want one or two recumbent bikes on their floor. Otherwise, homebuyers can save some money by getting the VR21. The worse media options can be compensated by just using your own devices on an easy ride. 
The NordicTrack C700 is the treadmill alternative from Nordictrack in the same budget range as the VR21. The C700 is a good option for walkers and joggers to get some miles in. If you intend to get your calorie burn in while standing, this might be the better option than the VR21. The C700 is not suited for runners who will take their treadmill through a lot of abuse in speed or distance. 
The NordicTrack SE3i elliptical is the cheapest elliptical in the Nordictrack line up. This can be a good compromise for all your clients or the entire family when you think that a recumbent bike does not have enough oomph. Just make sure that you have enough clearance to the ceiling as an elliptical will put you in a higher position than a recumbent bike and is harder to get on and off. 
The concept 2 model D is the industry standard for indoor rowing. If you want to row and turn your cardio into a full-body workout, this might be better option than the VR21. A rower can also be hung on the wall after your workout to save some space. The only downside is that the calorie burn per minute is also relatively low compared to treadmills and upright bikes. 
The Rogue echo bike is my personal favorite for indoor gyms. This is a straight forward machine to make you sweat. No extra bells and whistles, just pure focus on high-intensity interval training. For some this bike might be intimidating, but I love it and it is also reasonably priced. Still, i would not place this one in an old folk's home or rehab center. The VR21 might be a better option in those scenarios.

Summary for the Nordictrack VR21

The Nordictrack VR21 is a good budget option for a recumbent bike from Nordictrack. If you want to relax and still burn some calories, this is the right machine for home use. 

Topics: Treadmill