ProForm Endurance 520 E Elliptical Cross Trainer Review

When we saw a front-drive elliptical, with an incline function for this budget, it wasn’t a surprise that it was Proform that was responsible. But our interest was piqued and we simply had to take a closer look. Here’s what we found…

Assembly of this cross trainer is a simple enough task, albeit that you need two people and about 1-2 hours of spare time to build it. Handier readers will take around an hour, and the less handy, rather more. There’s nothing complex here at all, far from it. But there are quite a number of steps and some of them are quite fiddly. Still, this is something you need to do only once and the resulting machine is certainly not insignificant. With a footprint of 173cm x 65cm  (68.1″ x 25.6”) and a height of around 1.7m, this is certainly a substantial-looking machine.

The thing that made us most interested in the Endurance 520 E was the fact that it has an incline and to see that on an elliptical at this price raised some eyebrows. How have they done this? That was the question on everyone’s lips. We didn’t have to wait long for the answer though as it became apparent during the assembly process. This elliptical does indeed have an incline function, but, it isn’t electronic. Rather it’s a manual incline system that gives you up to a 20° maximum incline. There are 5 settings ranging from flat to 20° which need to be set before you start your workout. Sorry folks, you won’t be changing the incline settings here without getting off this cross trainer and then getting back on again. If you’re planning on doing a specific workout that targets a specific group of muscles then this is a handy function. Changing levels is easy enough and is just about as straight-forward as it can get, just lift the handle and apply a little elbow grease. But if you’re planning on getting yourself an iFit subscription and dipping your toes in the water with a personal trainer led workout video that takes you up steep hill climbs, then this isn’t the model for you.

All the key areas on the 520 E is very much as you’d expect from a Proform machine. The pedals are nice and large with plenty of space no matter how large your feet happen to be. The position is comfortable for the widest possible range of user heights and shapes and the ergonomics are sound. There’s a 20″ stride and at 78kg (171.9lbs) this elliptical sits heavy on the ground so there’s very little movement in the frame. The action feels silky smooth despite the slightly light-weight 8kg flywheel too so clearly Proform has worked some magic with the internal components here. This all makes the workout experience a good one and it’s easy to quite like this machine.

The console is a classic back-lit two-colour LCD screen and it does a pretty good job. The contrast is adjustable as is the brightness so it’s easy to get it set up how you want it. It’s also possible to change the unit of measurement from kilometres to miles for those that just can’t or don’t want to get their heads around metric measurements. All training data is easy to see and the buttons are laid out logically and are easy to understand. There are 20 preset workouts which is enough to keep most people’s attention and with 20 resistance levels, this elliptical is more than capable of pushing most people. Put this cross trainer on the maximum incline, maximum resistance and then hit a target program and you’ll be feeling those muscles start to burn soon enough!

Like with all current Proform ellipticals, the console is iFit compatible (subscription required)  which significantly increases the number of training options you can access. Subscribers to iFit get the added bonus of  Google Maps workouts that allow you to map out your own routes on Google Maps and high-definition workout videos led by professional personal trainers which are really impressive. You can view your sessions and participate in these personal trainer-led workouts via a tablet that you’ve installed the iFit software on and that you can place in the tablet holder on the elliptical giving you a great view during your session. You can also participate in online races against other iFit members as well as get access to personalised advice for nutrition, exercise routines and sleep schedule. iFit is a whole world unto itself and if you want to know more it’s best to visit the iFit website for full details. The only drawback here is that you won’t benefit from the hill climbs which on more expensive models would automatically raise the incline level as you start your ascent.

Other features include stereo speakers, a music port so you can plug in a music player, water bottle holder and pulse sensors,  a USB charging port and a tablet holder. On the downside, there is no wireless receiver so it’s not possible to use a chest belt. This is definitely disappointing on an elliptical that costs this much and we strongly suspect that the one that really should be there has made way for the manual incline system. Of course, this is to try to keep the retail price down but it does mean that if you want to measure your pulse you’ll either need to grab onto the fixed handles or invest in a separate heart rate monitor.

The Proform Endurance 520 E is, as you’d expect, a quality machine and that’s reflected in Proform’s 2-year parts and labour warranty.

Best Price

The ProForm Endurance 520 E 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

The Proform Endurance 520 E is a decent offering. Well built, quiet and smooth with great ergonomics this elliptical cross trainer has enough different training options to keep you busy. If there's one thing we're not overly keen on here it's that Proform has tried to include the incline function in a cut-price way by making it manually controlled, ditching the motorised system and also ditching a wireless heart rate receiver. That's disappointing and really does let this model down. We'd suggest taking a look at the DKN XC-190 which features a heavier 10kg flywheel making it smoother, a 21-inch length, has interactive training options and a Bluetooth connection, and has a wireless heart rate receiver, all for a couple of hundred pounds less! There's a reason the DKN XC-190 is our elliptical of the month in this category...

ProForm Endurance 520 E Specifications

  • 8kg (17.6lbs) Effective Inertia flywheel
  • 50.8cm (20”) individually adjustable stride
  • 20 levels of SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • Large Backlit display
  • 20 programs
  • iFit® Smart Bluetooth compatible (30-days Family membership included)
  • Heart Rate Measurement via hand pulse sensors
  • Conveniences: build-in water holder, integrated tablet holder (requires Android 5.0+ with Bluetooth 4.0+, iPad 3 or newer with iOS 8+), Front-mounted transport wheels
  • Audio: Compatible music port for iPod®
  • Dimensions in Use (L x W x H): 173cm (68.1″) x 65cm (25.6”) x 170cm (66.9″)
  • Maximum User Weight: 125kg (275.6lbs)
  • Product Weight: 78kg (171.9lbs)
  • Adaptor Included

ProForm Endurance 520 E Elliptical Cross Trainer - Console / Display Unit

ProForm Endurance 520 E Elliptical Cross Trainer - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Incline settings allow you to target different muscle groups
  • Ergonomics and comfort are excellent
  • Very sturdy bit of kit

The Cons

  • Incline settings are manual can't be changed during a workout
  • No heart rate receiver
ProForm Endurance 520 E Elliptical Cross Trainer Reviewer Ratings

Ease Of Installation - 5
Appearance - 7
Smoothness - 7.5
Comfort - 8
Reliability - 7.5
Noise - 7
Ease Of Use - 7
Controls - 7
Warranty - 8.5
Value for Money - 5
Best Price

The ProForm Endurance 520 E 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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