Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical Cross Trainer 2017 Review

Xterra Fitness has been manufacturing high-quality machines for nearly a decade and impressed us with various elliptical models over the years. The prior version of their range-topping Free Style 5.8e was a firm favourite of ours and as such, we were keen to see how the new version stacked up.

The 5.8e is a large and heavy machine (a good thing as it makes it ultra stable in use). For the initial assembly process, we’d recommend having two people as doing so will make the process much easier and quicker. The precision engineering that’s gone into the 5.8e becomes apparent during the assembly process with all the parts aligning as they should without the need for anything to be forced in order to get the correct fitting.

Once assembled, the first pleasant surprise becomes apparent: the machine in the flesh looks much better than the photos! Looks aside, the reason we loved the previous version of the 5.8e was its performance. We were eager to jump on and find out how this compared.

There’s only one word to describe the 5.8e in use: “Wow!”. The motion is silky smooth and feels just right. The marketing spiel talks about a 2-degree inward slant on the pedals and a low Q-factor (distance between the pedals) as the reason for it – we don’t know whether this is really the reason for it or just the combination of components being really well balanced, but the movement on the 5.8e is truly exceptional.

In terms of resistance, the 5.8e doesn’t disappoint either. There are 20 levels of electronically controlled resistance and the top end provides enough resistance to really make even the fittest users break out in a sweat after 10-15 minutes! It’s worth noting that the heavy duty moving parts, along with the decent weight flywheel used in the 5.8e mean that the motion is still nice and smooth at maximum resistance and doesn’t become stiff or jerky.

Like its predecessor, there is an electronically controlled incline ramp. This changes the stride path from a pure ellipse at the lowest setting to a more circular one at the highest setting. This transition from a low amplitude walking motion to a higher amplitude stepping motion results in different targetting of muscle groups in the legs. A side effect of this the power ramp is that the stride length itself changes (the higher the incline, the shorter the stride) and this means that users of different heights are likely to find a setting with a stride that feels natural and comfortable.

So, the mechanics of the latest 5.8e get top marks from us, but do you need to be a rocket scientist to use it and control it? Xterra seems to have made a conscious choice here to focus on clarity and simplicity over bells and whistles. You won’t find internet connectivity or overly complicated gadgets. At the centre of the console is a big (7.5″) backlit, high contrast LCD display that provides all the necessary feedback in a clear and easy to understand fashion. The resistance levels and the power incline position can be controlled via buttons on the console or alternatively using controls on the moving handlebars. These additional controls on the handlebars are particularly good as they enable exercise intensity to be varied without interrupting upper body workout to fiddle with the console!

In terms of programs, there are is a decent selection of pre-set ones. Each of these can have their duration as well as intensity level and max incline set. In effect, the smaller number of programs on this Xterra is equivalent to a much larger number of fixed pre-set programs on machines from other brands. In addition, at the start of each program, you’re asked to enter your age and weight in order to get a more personalised estimate of calorie consumption.

There is one program option that really stands out called “Fitness”. This program does something that we’ve not seen on other machines: Combine cardio interval workouts with strength training! Once you configure the desired internal durations and intensity, you do a cardio interval on the machine, then follow the instructions on the scrolling segment of the display to step off the machine and do dumbbell work or push-ups for a set amount of time and the console beeps when it’s time to finish that and jump back on the machine for the recovery interval before the cycle repeats. This is a clever idea that is designed to deliver real fitness improvements in the shortest possible time!

In terms of heart rate measurement, the machine has pulse grip sensors which are fine for an occasional rough guide to heart rate. For accurate and continuous heart rate feedback, a chest strap can be worn and a nice touch is that the console display has a dedicated segment to show the percentage of max heart rate visually, rather than just a number. We’re also pleased to see heart rate controlled programs being available on the machine.

If all of these training options aren’t enough, ultimate flexibility is ensured by the presence of 2 user-defined programs on the console. In terms of other console features, there is a tilting fan and a pair of speakers.

From what we can tell, Xterra has kept all of the same build quality and features of the original 5.8e that made it one of our firm favourites. In an age where most manufacturers are cutting specs or compromising on quality in order reduce costs, this is a refreshing change.

The 5.8e is a well-engineered thoroughbred of an elliptical trainer. It’s built to handle the toughest of workloads (up to a max weight of 150kg!) and keep on giving its users effective workouts for years to come. We like the fact that Xterra have chosen to invest in the build quality, rather than console gadgets that’d end up being out of date within a couple of years. In terms of quality, motion and effectiveness, the 5.8e now sets the benchmark as the best in class in the sub-£1000 space. We highly recommend it!

 

 

Best Price

Currently available for £799.00 from Sweatband.com

Review Summary - In Brief

The 5.8e is a well-engineered thoroughbred of an elliptical trainer. It's built to handle the toughest of workloads (up to a max weight of 150kg!) and keep on giving its users effective workouts for years to come. We like the fact that Xterra have chosen to invest in the build quality, rather than console gadgets that'd end up being out of date within a couple of years. In terms of quality, motion and effectiveness, the 5.8e now sets the benchmark as the best in class in the sub-£1000 space. We highly recommend it!

Xterra Free Style 5.8e 2017 Specifications

  •  11.3kg (25lbs) flywheel
  • 20” (50.8cm) stride
  • 20 levels of electronically controlled incline
  • 20 levels of electronically controlled magnetic resistance
  • 7.5″ blue backlit LCD display
  • Feedback: RPM, speed, calories burned, time, distance, pulse, incline
  • 13 programmes (1 manual, 8 pre-set, 2 user-defined, 2 heart rate controlled)
  • Heart rate measured via pulse grip sensors and wireless receiver (chest strap optional)
  • Oversized cushioned pedals with a natural 2 degree inward slope; 2” Q Factor (distance between pedals)
  • Multi-grip with remote resistance and incline controls handlebars
  • Conveniences: integrated audio jack and speakers, integrated swivel fan, tablet holder, transportation wheels
  • Product Weight: 98kg (216lbs)
  • Max. User Weight: 150kg (330lbs)
  • Dimensions in Use (L x W x H): 209cm (82.3″) x 72cm (28.5”) x 170cm (67.3″)
  • Power Source: Mains
  • Warranty: 5 years parts, 2 years labour

Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical Cross Trainer 2017 - Console / Display Unit

Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical Cross Trainer 2017 - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Amazing build quality
  • Easy to use
  • Lots of training options with adjustable incline and intensity
  • Biomechanics are excellent
  • Real interval training programs

The Cons

  • Doesn't store user profiles such as age & weight for multiple users
Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical Cross Trainer 2017 Reviewer Ratings

Ease Of Installation - 9
Appearance - 9
Smoothness - 10
Comfort - 9.5
Reliability - 9.5
Noise - 9
Ease Of Use - 9.5
Controls - 9
Warranty - 9.5
Value for Money - 9.5
Best Price

Currently available for £799.00 from Sweatband.com

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

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