“ Manufacturer: Kettler / Type: Fitness „
I bought this second hand at £85, I thought why pay about £100 for a brand new budget model which would lack the features of a good model, look cheap, and be little use after a few weeks/months apart from as a coat rack. Instead i decided to look for a good second hand one. This model went for about £400 about 3 or 4 years ago, and although they are not available now, they are still a lot better then most mid level machines available today.
This comes with two manuals, one for assembling it and one for using the computer on the machine itself. The manuals are alright for what they are, they get the basics across to you. It would have been better if the second manual included some example plans to follow e.g. a six weeks weight loss plan, a ten week fitness plans, but these can be found on the internet these days so it is only a slight criticism. The programs on the machine are very good, it comes with 8 different programs which are useful for different purposes, for example if you wanted to improve your fitness you would use the program that kept your heart rate at a constantly high level. I might get to this program one day but for the moment i am still on the first two programs, which allow you to count up to a certain level, e.g. calories, miles, time or count down to a certain level.
This is quite big and sturdy so you can get going on it full force and it will stay in its place, all you do is set the resistance and put in your age, weight level and start training. The counters will then either start counting up or down depending on the program you have it on. The heart rate is measured either by the heart rate clip which you fit to your ear, or the main handles, not the moving handles. This means you will need to either keep the clip in or exercise your glutimus maximus to get a heart rate reading.
Overall i would recommend this, it is still getting used after a year, even though its for about 5 minutes a day, it saves on the gym membership, although I couple this with a multi gym to get the full effect of the gym. The training computer is quite good, the machine isn't noisy, you can barely hear the hum of the wheel, and people won't be laughing at your gym face at home during a grueling workout.
A few years ago, as part of the family fitness drive, I did some research into trying to find some form of exercise machine that I could set up in the home that we would all be able to use on a regular basis. In this fitness area, many people seem to just choose a simply stationary cycle, but that doesn't really exercise your top half too much. Road runners (or treadmills with the rolling road) are good, but take up a lot of room. But much of the advice I was coming across seemed to be pointing towards an Elliptical Trainer which would give your whole body a workout.
For those who don't understand the concept, an Elliptical Trainer is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, where it exercises the upper and lower half of your body together. The motion is a sort of circular skiing motion where your legs are stepping through in a circular motion and your hands and arms are working as if digging in ski poles to drag you along. The motion is normally linked to a weighted wheel to which you can apply resistance, which in turn will make you work harder and hence get you fitter.
Before we bought this Kettler model, we went to a large Sports Warehouse in Nottingham to see what was on offer because they said that they had numerous models out on display ready to try. Their display range went from a very basic Carl Lewis budget model (commonly found in the likes of Argos) right through the price range to a top of the range model costing thousands of pounds for a Pro Gym, in total about 20 different models to try.
What was quite interesting was going through the range and actually trying the trainers. The cheaper ones tended to be very rickety and shaky, with lots of creaks and groans. The stepping motion also seemed to be very 'clunky' on some and not very natural. And to be honest, the motion of some of the really expensive ones didn't really seem to be that much better. If you are intending to spend some time on these things training, then the motion is very important, and the only way you can appreciate that is to actually try it out in store to see if it will be acceptable to your style of training. Also, these things can cost a lot of money, and it will be a very expensive mistake to make if you order it off the web, have it delivered, and then find you don't get on with it. So actually trying out these sorts of machines is vital to appreciate the differences and determine what suits you because they are not all the same.
After a couple of hours in store, we finally settled on this Kettler Mondeo model. Firstly, it looked kind of sporty with the red wheel trim and the red grips on the centre bars. Secondly, it felt good and smooth to use, where the motion followed through with no flat spots. Finally, it seemed to be very stable and very quiet, and also had plenty of useful features to cover all aspects of fitness, features that I will come onto.
At the time, the company had an offer on, so we paid £550 for it and took it away in the car. The first think to appreciate is that this is a very heavyweight piece of equipment which you aren't going to be able to carry into the house by yourself - you will need help. At home, it probably took me just under 2 hours to put it all together. There are a lot of pieces to hook up and connect together, and you will need time and space to do so.
Space wise, it isn't really that large. The quoted dimensions are 150 cm long by 53 cm wide by 156 cm high. Now the base is actually 105 cm by 53 cm. The wheel bit sticks about 4 cm beyond the back, and as the step arm (that you stand on) comes though, it pushes out to the front to give an overall length of the trainer at about 146 cm at 22 cm off the ground. So you need a floor space that is at least 146 cm by 53 cm. But as you go up, the top of the arms are actually 60 cm wide and these push slightly further forward to about 160 cm overall. So the maximum box size (if you were to place it all in a box) I think should be 160 cm long by 60 cm wide by 156 cm high.
Ok, now that we have got it in the house and set up, let's run through the features. To start with, you have the wheel at the back, 46 cm in diameter weighing in at 20 kg. The braking system for it (to provide the resistance) is magnetic and motor controlled, and it can be applied in increments from freewheel up to level 15, which are all computer controlled. The step bits on the sides where you stand are adjustable through 3 positions to adjust to your body dynamics and size. All of the joints and connections are fitted with double ball bearings, and the rear wheel assembly has high quality, self-aligning ball bearings. Of note, the trainer comes with a 3 year warranty, and companies don't give those lengths of warranties away unless they really trust their products.
Coming through to the front, past the supplied water bottle, and up you come to the red bars which are covered in a flat rubberised material. It is difficult to describe but it is like a very fine rubber sheeting, not quite enough to make it too spongy, but enough to ensure that your hands don't slip. These red bars also contain the hand grip pulse sensors on the sides. If you don't want to grip onto the oscillating poles either side, you can grip these red bars so that just your legs get the workout. The pulse sensors link into the computer which is located at the top as you move up the red bars.
The computer is where it all happens, and it seems that they have now updated this computer element slightly on the newer trainers from the one I originally bought, because on mine, the red bars I have run up past the computer and loop over the top, whereas on the newer model, the bars stop at the computer. The rest of the trainer still appears to be exactly the same as before. Hence, looking at, and detailing my version of the computer, it looks fairly basic with an LCD display and only 6 buttons to choose from - Set, Program, + and -, Reset and Recovery. These control the 8 pre-loaded programmes that you can use to exercise with. But interestingly, whilst there are only 8 basic ones, each of these have so many variables that you can adjust to your own specifications that the list of programmes almost becomes endless. You can adjust for age, set your targets for exercise duration time (which can count up or down) or distance, or even set how much energy you want to burn off.
Coming back to those pulse sensors I mentioned earlier on the red bars, the pulse sensor input can also be input from a supplied ear clip which plugs into the computer, and this is common on the newer model as well. Using either of these sensor inputs, you can also adjust your training program to use your pulse rate settings in order to vary your workload on the trainer. It will use your pulse reading at any one time to vary the loading on the wheel according to your age, thereby ensuring that your heart rate and workload are working together to achieve maximum efficiency and training benefit. Using the pulse input, you can adjust and pre-set your exercise routine to be either Fat Burning, Fitness or a Manual level.
Once you have set everything, you can start the training. A quick movement of the wheel with the stepper or the handle will pull the trainer out of sleep mode and start up the computer. Down the left side of the screen you will have RPM (Revolutions per Minute), Speed and finally Distance. The right hand side of the screen has Pulse, taking those inputs from the sensors, and what your target pulse should be in comparison. Below this you have the Brake, indicating which of the 15 levels the brake is currently set at, and finally down to the Energy reading in KJoules. At the bottom in the middle is the exercise duration time, which will count up or down.
The main part in the centre of the screen indicates your training pattern. So it might be a hill that you are climbing, where a basic programme will see the brake intensity increasing with time, levelling off and then decreasing again. Or it could be a series of steps with the brake being applied on and off through a series of climbs, or any other variation than you can even alter yourself during training. As you continue the exercise, the section of that pattern that you are currently on will flash, so that you know where you currently are and what is coming next.
Actually in use, this trainer is very quiet. I have it set up in the bedroom and I've been using it whilst the wife was in bed, and I've not disturbed here. You can easily watch a TV, listen to the radio or hold a conversation with someone, where the only sound you'll hear from this trainer is the slight whirring of the wheel and the occasional additional whirr as the brake is incremented to a new level. There are no creaks or groans and the trainer is very solid and stable in operation, and can cater for individuals up to 150 kg (23.5 stones).
The motion is equally very smooth throughout the range. Apply the brake fully on and the weighted flywheel still manages to provide a smooth follow through to your step, meaning that there are no flat spots in the motion.
To balance the review, it is also worth noting any negatives with this trainer, and to be honest, there aren't that many. The first point I don't like is the supplied drinks bottle. They seemed to have removed this now on the newer model, but on the older models, it sits in a cage very low down on the back of the main upright stem at the front. The problem is that it is difficult to reach when you are using the trainer, almost making it useless to have, which is probably why they seem to have removed it on the newer model.
The second issue I have is to do with storage, because there is nowhere on this trainer to put a drink, or a phone or a TV control. In the end, I managed to slot in a small wooden shelf to sit on the level bit of the red bars just below the computer. The rubberised grip holds it steady and we can now put all our bits and pieces etc onto that.
The final bit that did become a little annoying was the computer display. On this older model, it is actually quite chunky, being made up of big dots, unlike your typical LCD display that will have smoothish lines and smaller dots. In the shop with bright lights etc it looked ok - not perfect, but ok. But when we got it home, to us it seemed fairly dim. It was readable, but we just wanted a bit more contrast between the black dots and the grey background. I contacted Kettler who did send me out a replacement unit, but it still had the same problem. I think it must have just been a bad design feature, because on their newer model, they have now replaced the computer screen with a much better display.
In summary, where does all this leave us? For pure build quality, smoothness of motion and the variety of training features, there is no doubt in my mind that this trainer fully justifies 5 stars. But then you need to balance that with the lack of storage issue and that slightly annoying display that taints that recommendation slightly.
So whilst it is good, I think in balance, the older model that I have is probably worth a 4 star recommendation. But get the newer model with the better display, and you are looking at a quality 5 star product.