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Nordictrack VR21 vs FS9i

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

May 6, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Nordictrack VR21 vs FS9i

This is a comparison of the Nordictrack VR21 and FS9i including pros, cons, and alternatives . Follow the links for more details.

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Overiew and review of the FS9i Free Stride $3799

This is a review of the Nordictrack Fs9i model. You will learn about the specifics, pros, cons, and alternatives of this elliptical to make a decision. This article was originally published in "Which elliptical to get from Nordictrack".

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Overview of the FS9i

The FS9i Free stride elliptical is a design that combines a stepper and an elliptical into one machine. The motor of this elliptical has been moved to the center so that you move more freely and have a longer stride for up to 32 inches. It comes with a 10-inch screen and a 20-pound flywheel. The full list of features includes:
  • 10” Smart HD Touchscreen
  • Includes 1-Year NordicTrack iFit® membership**
  • Pivoting Integrated Tablet Holder
  • Auxiliary Music Port
  • Two 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers
  • AutoBreeze™ Workout Fan
  • SoftTouch™ Upper-Body Grips
  • Oversized Cushioned Pedals
  • Center Drive
  • SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • 32” Auto-adjustable Stride
  • 20 Lb. Effective Inertia-enhanced Flywheel
  • 26 Digital Resistance Levels
  • 10% Power Adjustable Incline
  • OneTouch® Controls
  • iFit Bluetooth® Smart Chest Strap Included
  • Oversized Levelers
  • 375 Lb. User Weight Capacity
  • 38 On-board Workouts
  • Integrated Handle Controls for Ramp and Resistance
  • Transport Wheels
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • 58.3" L x 29.5" W x 73.6" H Footprint
  • 10-Year Frame Warranty
  • 2-Year Parts Warranty
  • 1-Year Labor Warranty
This is an innovative design that will keep your running, walking and stepping workouts interesting. Especially if you have the need to be easier on your ankles and knees and want to train with different stride lengths, this is a good machine. Compared to other center ellipticals this machine also has a 10-inch incline.

Pros of the FS9i elliptical

The pros of the FS9i elliptical are:
  • All bells and whistles
  • three for the price of one 
  • Free adjustments
  • Low impact
If you are looking for a center drive elliptical model this is the one with all bells and whistles from Nordictrack. You won't find a center drive elliptical with a longer list of features and all of them brought to the maximum.
With this elliptical, you will get two machines for the price of one. As the movement pattern is not fixed on an ellipsis you also get a high-grade stepper with this machine.
The free adjustments give your clients or yourself a lot of room to play around. This keeps workouts interesting and also makes it more likely that the stride length fits everyone in the family or your client roster. Front and rear-drive ellipticals have a stride length which can not be changed. This might feel uncomfortable or get boring for some users.
As with all ellipticals, a major advantage over treadmills is that you have a lower impact and therefore less stress to the knees and ankles while exercising. This is especially interesting if you or your clients deal a lot with injuries in these areas or have to build-up strength before they can run or walk on a treadmill. 

Cons of the FS9i

The cons of the FS9i elliptical are: 
  • High Price
  • Free moving parts
  • Floating experience 
  • Low-calorie burn
As this is one of the high-end machines from Nordictrack you will fork out a respectable sum on acquiring the FS9i. Machines with all bells and whistles have this in common and are designed for this purpose. Keep in mind that for one FS9i you can get four Rogue Echo bikes or a complete rack with plates and a barbell. If money is of no concern and you only want the best, go for the FS9i. Otherwise, you have cheaper options to have the same experience, build an entire gym or run a small cardio class.
While the free moving parts enable a great experience and flexibility in the run it also makes this elliptical more prone to error. The more moving parts you have the easier it is to fail. As the flywheel is in the middle it is also harder to design clear footpaths around the FS9i compared to a front or rear-drive elliptical. I see this is a possible challenge when you want to put 5 to 50 of these in a row in a commercial gym. This will leave a lot more risk of someone walking into a machine that is being used than having rear or front-drive ellipticals in a row. This is more a consideration for bulk buys and commercial use, but still should be considered. In addition, the front and rear drive machines are cheaper.
The floating experience of the FS9i is not for everyone. Especially if you have balance and spacial awareness issues you might be better off with a front or rear-drive machine.

Alternatives to the FS9i

Alternatives to the FS9i are:
The Nordictrack FS10i is a newer model from Nordictrack. When I checked the price was $2999. If you can get this machine at this price I personally think it is the better value for money from Nordictrack while still delivering the same experience as the FS9i. You can spend the $800 you save on a Total Gym to round up your exercise machinery for your home gym. If you buy in bulk you will appreciate an $800 saving on list price per item to invest in a bigger fleet or invest the $8000 saved on a different area in your commercial gym. If you buy in bulk and cash always try to negotiate a discount.
The Nordictrack elite 14.9i would be the front-drive alternative elliptical from Nordictrack. It comes with a big TV screen which can be securely fastened to the front. It might also appear to more clients as it is a safer bet and not a novel experience. I think home gym oners are better off with the FS10i while commercial buyers can consider the 14.9i elliptical as a high-end option with nice screens for the masses. No one will think your gym is cheap when you have these, while still not breaking the bank for unnecessary bells and whistles on the elliptical fleet. 
The VersaClimber SM would be my personal recommendation for home gym owners with a big wallet who want to maximize their calorie output per minute. If you want to abuse the heck out of your 20 minutes cardio a day and everyone in the house is on that fitness level but does not train at the same time, get a VersaClimber into your home. For commercial use, this is a machine that you can put in the corner for all the lunatics and extreme edge cases of the bulk of your clientele. The money you save from investing in five 14.9i instead of 5 FS9i can be invested in a VersaClimber to make more clients happy on the same budget.
The Rogue echo bike is my personal favorite for calories burned per second at the lowest cost. The Echo Bike is a low impact on the joints and does not take up a lot of floor space. It comes in at a price of about $700 apiece and is, therefore, miles below the other options outlined. It is a sparse machine with no entertainment options, so if you buy this in bulk, be aware that it will appeal more to the fitter part of the population who want to push themselves and not watch Television while exercising. For a home gym, to me, this is the ultimate option to cover everything at the lowest price. Unless you cant sit on your bum for more than 5 minutes while exercising.

Summary for the FS9i

The FS9i was cutting edge technology and a new idea at the time of its go to market. Since then I think Nordictrack has managed to drive down production costs in other product lines and came up with FS10i which is better value for money. The FS10i is not available globally yet, but I expect distribution to pick over the years. If you love ellipticals, free choice of stride and stepping in one machine, this is the one to get. If you can take stress to the knee and ankles or want to maximize calorie output per minute, I personally think there are machines out there for you which take less of your hard-earned money.

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