Currently available for £245.61 from Amazon.co.uk
Reebok ZR8 Elliptical Cross Trainer Review
The Reebok ZR8 elliptical trainer is part of the 2012/2013 Reebok ‘ZR’ series of fitness equipment. With the previous ‘Z’ series machines, Reebok proved that it was a strong contender in the home cross trainer market, making machines that were feature rich and good value. So how does the ZR8 stack up?
On paper, the ZR8 seems remarkably similar to the highly successful Z9 elliptical trainer. In fact, the specifications are actually identical! In a lot of ways, this makes sense as the previous Z9 was such a hit that Reebok seem to have just focused on a cosmetic upgrade and a rebranding of the Z9 to be named ZR8 in order to make the machine fit in with the new range of complementary treadmills and exercise bikes.
Like its predecessor, the ZR8 is a nice looking, compact cross trainer that’s mains powered. We’re pleased to confirm the motion on the ZR8 is fluid and smooth, thanks to a hefty 9kg flywheel and a respectable 15” stride length. With so many similarly priced machines on the market with only a 13 or 14” stride, it’s good to see that Reebok has exercised good judgement and kept a stride length on this cross trainer that makes it a natural fit for most people 6ft or under.
We’ve already mentioned that this cross trainer is mains powered. Unlike the entry-level cross trainer in the ZR range (the ZR7), the ZR8 offers 32 levels of computer-controlled resistance. The console has a decent sized, colour LCD at its centre is simply and logically laid out. A cursory glance and it’s clear that’s it has a fair few features that can be accessed through the seven clearly labelled push buttons on the front. For those that just want to jump on and exercise without any complications, this is simple enough to do by pressing the start button and starting to stride, using the up and down buttons to control the resistance.
For those seeking variety, the console offers a good amount of training of options. The manual programme is actually a target one whereby you can specify target time, distance or calories and begin exercising whilst controlling the resistance manually to suit. The target settings simply count down to zero, and you’re informed when your session goal has been achieved.
There are 12 pre-set programmes to choose from and we like the fact that the resistance profiles of each of these is printed on the console. This makes picking the right programme nice and easy. Each of these programmes can be used at a variety of difficulty levels, providing a good amount of flexibility.
In addition to the target (manual) and the 12 pre-set programmes, there is a user-defined programme, enabling a totally custom programme to be designed and stored in the console as well as a WATT control programme, something normally only found on much higher priced, precisely calibrated ergometers.
Lastly, in terms of programmes, there is a heart rate controlled programme that allows the user’s age to be entered and a choice of 55%, 75% and 90% of maximum heart rate can be selected to exercise at. Whilst we’re big fans of heart rate controlled training, we’d advise against using the HRC functionality on the ZR8. The simple reason for this is that the ZR8 doesn’t have a wireless heart rate receiver and to use this programme, the user would have to be holding onto the static handlebars, where the pulse grip sensors are. The big issue here, apart from the fact that you’re effectively unable to get a full body workout as you need to keep hold of the static handles, is the idea that pulse sensors are accurate enough to provide the data needed to make the workout effective while also keeping you safe. Yes, it does work, but a quick comparison against a chest belt and heart rate monitor watch setup shows that a chest belt is far more accurate. It’s a nice idea but it looks like there’s a bit of box ticking going on here as without a chest belt it’s not a viable programme to use.
Finally, this elliptical trainer has a heart rate recovery test function. After an exercise session (which has the effect of the raising heart rate), you press the “recovery” button and grab the pulse grips on the handlebar for one minute. The computer monitors the rate at which your heart rate is returning to its resting level over this time and based on that provides a fitness rating between 1 and 6 – the lower the number, the better your fitness level. This feature provides good medium to long term motivation as it makes it possible to tangibly measure improvements in fitness levels as a result of regular use of the ZR8 cross trainer.
Reebok haven’t forgotten about the practical details in this highly specced cross-trainer: there are a set of leg levellers to cope with use of the machine on slightly uneven floors and also transport wheels at the front of the machine so that the elliptical can be moved around without needing two people to lift it!
The warranty is the standard Reebok Fitness one, which consists of 2 years onsite parts and labour.
With the ZR8, Reebok clearly has a nice cross trainer on its hands. A compact sized elliptical trainer with a 9kg flywheel and a decent stride action. The only thing is, is that it's missing some things that it's direct competitors in the same class do offer. One of the best examples of this is the Viavito Sina which has 4 user-profiles and a wireless heart rate receiver. That makes all difference, especially when you're talking about heart rate control programmes! The Sina is also at least as well put together as the ZR8 and also matches the length of the warranty cover, plus it has more programmes too. For the small difference in price, it looks the better buy right now.
Reebok ZR8 Specifications
- 15″ / 38cm stride length
- M-Force brake system
- 32 levels of electronically controlled resistance
- 9kg / 19.8lbs flywheel
- Computer with backlit 5.5” LCD monitor
- Feedback: time, speed, rpm, distance, calories, pulse, target pulse, constant watt display
- Programmes: manual (target time, distance, calories or pulse), 12 pre-set, user-defined programme, WATT control programme, heart rate controlled programme
- Recovery test: Yes
- Pulse measurement via grip sensors
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 110cm / 43″ x 66cm / 26″ x 162cm / 64″
- Maximum User Weight: 120kg / 265lbs
- Product Weight: 35.5kg / 78lbs
- Conveniences: big footplates with anti-slip rubber, transport wheels, leg levellers
- Guarantee: 2 years parts & labour
Reebok ZR8 Elliptical Cross Trainer - Console / Display Unit
Currently available for £245.61 from Amazon.co.uk
Also see our Elliptical Cross Trainer Comparison Table
Whilst every effort is made to give you accurate information we cannot guarantee the technical specification. Models change on a regular basis and may differ slightly from the above review. We recommend you contact the retailer if you have a question regarding technical data. Please read our Legal Disclaimer