NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 Elliptical Cross Trainer

One of the biggest names in the global home fitness market, NordicTrack has been producing feature-rich, high-quality ellipticals for a very long time. One of the reasons they continue to remain a market leader is the fact that keep on pushing boundaries. As the years have gone by the quality of their products has continued to improve and more and more features have been added to their machines. We loved the original version of the NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 elliptical cross trainer, so we got the new version in to see it up close and find out how it performs.

Over the years we have assembled a lot of cross trainers and have experienced the whole range of emotions from relief to some serious frustration. Thankfully, the C12.9 is pretty good on this front. There are a few fiddly bits but nothing frustrating or complicated and it’ll take most people about an hour to have it ready to use.

The colour scheme used is the now familiar silver, grey, black. It’s sleek and modern will fit into just about any home. With a footprint of 178 x 73 (70″ x 28.7″) it’s a substantial elliptical that looks like it’s been built to take a proper beating, although it is a little smaller than the original version. Climb aboard and it’s immediately apparent that it doesn’t just look like it can take a hammering, it feels like it can too. After the first few minutes of the first ride, it’s obvious that the manufacturer has not cut any corners on the internal components. The motion is really smooth and uniform all the way through the cycle and even at low-level resistance and a heavy user, it remains so. NordicTrack doesn’t give an actual weight for the flywheel on this machine but instead prefers to provide the effective inertia, which in this case is 13kg. That’s a bit lower than the original version which ran at 15kg but in all honesty, it feels just as smooth as its predecessor.

One thing that sticks out straight away is that with this version of the C12.9 NordicTrack has ditched the dual rails and switched to a single-rail design. One of the common issues with less prestigious front drive elliptical trainers is that when using a single roller that runs on a single rail it can, at times of really intense activity, make it easy for the rollers to slip and come off the track. Therefore to see the switch from a double down to a single rail was a cause for concern. However, perhaps we should have had a bit more faith in this particular manufacturer as during testing there were no signs of any issues at all. Even when pressed hard during a test specifically designed to try to unseat the rollers from their rail, the structure held firm and did its job immaculately and without complaint. Yes, on paper it’s a downgrade from the previous version, but in practice, as far as we can tell,  this model is just as smooth, just as quiet and just as reliable as it’s predecessor. The only logical explanation for this lack of difference is that overall build quality has actually improved in the intervening years. We’d still like to have kept the dual rails though!

Lateral movement of the body of the machine is minimal during exercise making the C12.9 feel rock-solid. There’s also a reassuring absence of squeaks, rattles, knocks and rocking. Due to its 98kg (216lbs) kerb weight, this elliptical feels like it’s bolted to the floor and along with the overall smoothness this contributes to a feeling of genuine quality. This is enhanced by the fact that you can adjust the angle of the footplates to suit you and this provides additional support, reducing the chances of developing a strain or an injury.

NordicTrack advertise this machine as having an adjustable stride of 18″ to 20″ but it’s worth noting that, like it’s predecessor, the stride is adjustable by way of changing the incline settings. Select a flatter incline and the stride is 20″, select a steeper incline (up to 20%) and the stride is 18″. The incline mechanism is powered giving you the ability to change settings mid-workout. Being able to adjust stride like this also means that any user, regardless of their height, will be able to find a setting that works especially well for them. This makes this model suitable for family use where typically there’ll be substantial differences in the height and size of all the different users.

Resistance is adjusted by way of buttons on the console that let you either change the setting incrementally or jump to a specific setting with the single press of a quick access button. There are 24 levels of resistance to choose from and at the maximum setting, there’s plenty of resistance so even if you’re already in good shape you should still be challenged. The incline is also controlled via the same button set-up as the resistance, making it easy to alter the settings mid-workout. It’s a pity there aren’t any control buttons on any of the handlebars (especially the moving ones) but the way things are set up here it’s not the be all end all, even though it would be better if they were there.

At the heart of the console, there’s a 7″ HD touch-screen display and while it’s not quite as slick as a top end tablet, it’s still a thing of beauty on an elliptical. It functions in the same way as a regular tablet and is intuitive making operation pretty darn easy. It’s possible to set the unit of measurement you’d prefer between metric and imperial, which will appeal to a lot of people and there’s also a web browser. It’s all very well thought through and logical and the screen itself is nice and bright. NordicTrack has also added an adjustable tablet holder to the C 12.9 so if the built-in screen doesn’t give you all you need you can set up your tablet so you can watch TV or music videos etc. And, you can also install the iFit app and sign up to iFit (subscription required after an initial free trial). It’s a great way to control your training sessions and puts the C12.9 firmly in the high-quality category.

There are 35 preset workouts and a manual mode to choose from with the presets divided into categories such as calorie burn and high intensity making it easy to select a workout that’ll lead you towards your intended goals. Each workout displays the name of the workout and the estimated duration as well as the number of calories it’s been designed to burn and there’s a target RPM given so that all you have to do to get maximum benefit from the workout is to keep the RPM in the right zone and keep going for the full duration of the workout.

The C12.9 is also iFit compatible which vastly increases the already large number of training options on this elliptical. There are literally thousands of HD workout videos lead by pro personal trainers to choose from and we found them to be immensely enjoyable and engaging. Subscribers to iFit get the added bonus of  Google Maps workouts that allow you to map out your own routes on Google Maps, high-definition workout videos led by professional personal trainers, online races against other iFit members and personalised advice for nutrition, exercise routines and sleep schedule. If you want to know more about iFit  and how it works it’s best to visit the iFit website for the full lowdown.

Of course, being a NordicTrack creation the C12.9 isn’t short of goodies and essentials. There is a water bottle holder, a tablet holder, a wireless heart rate receiver and stereo speakers that you can connect to via Bluetooth, and a cooling fan that does a fair job of helping you to stay cool.

The C12.9 also comes with NordicTrack’s 2-year on-site parts and labour warranty.

Best Price

The NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Review Summary - In Brief

So, is the new NordicTrack C12.9 as good as the old one? Well, we'd have to say not quite, we'd have preferred to see the dual rails remain and losing them really does have an impact that's noticeable. That being said, the workout it delivers is smooth and comfortable with enough ways to exercise to keep you entertained and engaged for the long term. This is a solid offering but it's worth looking around because for a good bit less of an outlay you can get your hands on our current elliptical of the month, the seriously impressive DKN EMX-800 elliptical instead, and there are a number of good reasons we've voted it this months model of the month. You can also save a good few pounds by opting for the Proform 7.0 which comes out of the same factory as the C12.9 but is virtually pre-assembled and has a longer stride.

NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 Specifications

  • 13kg (28.7lbs) effective inertia
  • 24 digital levels of SMR Silent™ Magnetic Resistance
  • 0-20% Adjustable Power Ramp
  • 18”-20” (46cm-51cm) power adjustable stride
  •  7” Smart HD web-enabled full-colour touchscreen display
  • Console Feedback: Several display modes available (the display mode that you select will determine which workout information is shown)
  • 400 built-in training programmes iFit® enabled
  • Heart Rate Measurement via EKG CardioGrip™ pulse grips and Bluetooth® Smart wireless receiver (Bluetooth® Smart chest belt included)
  • Audio: Compatible music port for iPod®/mp3 player, two 2” speakers
  • Conveniences: Integrated tablet holder, water bottle holder, oversized levellers, front mounted tansportation wheels
  • Autobreeze™ workout fan
  • Adjustable oversized cushioned pedals
  • Soft touch multi-position upper body grips
  • Dimensions in Use (L x W x H): 178cm (70”) x 73cm (28.7”) x 177cm (69.7”)
  • Product Weight: 98kg (216lbs)
  • Max. User Weight: 135kg (297.6lbs)
  • Power: Mains
  • Warranty: 2 years parts and labour (must register within 28 days of purchase for 2nd year of coverage)

NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 Elliptical Cross Trainer - Console / Display Unit

NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 Elliptical Cross Trainer - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Adjustable stride length
  • 20% incline ramp
  • Plenty of on-board workouts
  • Interactive training via iFit (subscription required

The Cons

  • No controls on handlebarsSingle rail design
NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 Elliptical Cross Trainer Reviewer Ratings

Ease Of Installation - 8
Appearance - 8
Smoothness - 8.5
Comfort - 8.5
Reliability - 8
Noise - 8
Ease Of Use - 8
Controls - 8
Warranty - 8.5
Value for Money - 6
Best Price

The NordicTrack Commercial 12.9 is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

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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