Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical Trainer Review

Read our review of the latest version of the Xterra Free Style 5.8e here.

The word ‘Xterra’ has been made famous by the series of off-road triathlon events, but since 2009 this brand name has also been gaining familiarity and popularity as a fitness equipment brand born from the same prestigious manufacturers as ‘Sole’ and ‘Spirit’. Those 2 fitness industry giants have developed a widespread reputation for high quality, affordable and well designed fitness equipment, so we were eager to see if this new kid on the block would share the same qualities as it’s sister brands, or does it just share the same factories?! Here is the top of the range Xterra FS5.8e…

At first glance, the ‘5.8’ is an impressive looking machine finished in a mix of matt black plastic with glossy black paint on the curved framework. Perhaps one of the best standout feature are the large multi-grip handles on the dynamic arms. Not only do these handles allow for a wider variety of hand positions to target the upper body muscles from different angles, they also have integrated controls on them too. This upgraded 5.8e model, has separate thumb controls for both incline and resistance inbuilt into the dynamic handles. This addition means that controls are close at hand so adjusting the intensity needn’t interrupt your upper body training.

The static handles are there if you just want to isolate the lower body and these have the usual pulse grip sensors built in for basic heart rate monitoring. These sensors will probably be a little redundant on this model as you get a free compatible chest strap included for super-accurate, wireless heart rate transmissions. We were delighted to see Xterra had included this as we are big advocates of this method of monitoring for users who want reliable heart rate feedback. Plus, this top end Xterra machine is aimed at the type of user who would benefit from knowing exactly how their body is responding. Even if you’re not a serious ‘triathlete’ it’s great to be able to enjoy an unrestricted TOTAL body workout which is one of the main benefits of holding the dynamic handles.

One aspect of the ‘5.8e’ that may not live up to the expectations of the more advanced user is when it comes to top level resistance. There are 20 levels, but given this machine is named after one of the most brutally hard endurance events in the world, we were a little disappointed that the higher levels didn’t offer the same sort of challenges! That said, you’d have to be remarkably well conditioned to keep pedalling for any length of time at the top levels, as they certainly got the leg muscles burning and the heart pounding! Perhaps more import is the ‘feel’ of the movement. Joint protection and comfort are always a top priority and we are pleased to report that this machine has been beautifully engineered to be biomechanically spot on in terms of body alignment so there’s no undue stress on the joints.

This top-of-the-line model has the heaviest flywheel in the range at 25lbs and the smoothness of the pedal motion feels very fluid throughout the entire 20″ stride. The design and and precision engineering that has gone into the 5.8e is all done to keep the body aligned in a safe and natural position throughout the exercise. An example of this careful consideration to comfort can be seen in the design of the cushioned pedals which are inverted by 2 degrees and revolve with less than a finger width of space between them (Q-factor).

The motorised Incline feature offers an impressive 20 levels of gradient. Power it up and the guide rails pivot at the rear and produce a unique motion as the rollers and pedals travel at a different angle. This feature really adds a whole new dimension to the programs as well as targeting the legs and butt in different ways. Plus you can obviously pedal forwards as well as backwards to really blast those glutes and give your muscles new reasons to adapt and tone!

The console is a real triumph in simplistic and innovative functionality. Centre stage is a huge 160mm x 90mm display screen that is backlit in a vivid blue, which contrasts well with the white feedback data. The top of the screen is home to a strip of dedicated info boxes to give the basic info of RPM…Calories…Time…Distance and Pulse. For additional feedback you can scan through other data such as Altitude, speed, watts etc which pop up in sequence in the bottom message window. This area also doubles as a scrolling message display to give helpful assistance when programming.

In the middle of the screen there is a heart rate profile to keep you informed of your pulse readings at a glance. Either side of this are dot matrix profiles – On the left is Incline and on the right is resistance. This is an excellent idea on a cross trainer with electronic incline as it allows you to monitor, and control, both gradient as well as tension. All these features combine to offer a very intuitive and user-friendly console that is engaging without requiring concentration.

The 5.8 elliptical won’t wow anyone with the quantity of its programs but there is certainly enough to keep most users feeling challenged and engaged. This is helped by the fact that each of the 8 pre-set programs can be adjusted during setup, so the user can alter the time, peak effort and maximum incline level to suite. On paper, the program selection may seem rather limited to some rival brands, but when you check out the programs offered on the Xterra you can see that each profile is uniquely original so they haven’t just tweaked the courses to bulk up the figures on the spec sheet.

One program that really stood out was simply called ‘Fitness’. This program is rather innovative in that it combines the benefits of cardio fitness training with intervals of resistance work. All that is required is a pair of dumbbells (hand weights) or you could substitute with resistance bands or even do bodyweight exercises.  The session is highly customizable in that you can select how many intervals you wish to perform (10, 20 or 30), the duration of the intervals and even the duration of your recovery time at the end of each interval. Once you’ve completed a cardio interval, the message window instructs you of what exercise is next (i.e “STRENGTH INTERVAL 1 BEGIN DUMBBELL ROW”) and you can climb off the machine and perform the exercise before having a timed recovery period and repeating the intervals with a different strength exercise. It is widely accepted that resistance training plays a crucial role within a balanced exercise routine, yet despite this fact, we rarely see any other manufacturers attempting to combine the activities. The addition of this simple program is testament to this brands knowledge of training efficiency and gives insight into the fundamental aim of any of their products – to deliver RESULTS!

Heart rate monitoring is another important aspect of gauging personal performance and improvement so we were pleased to see the inclusion of heart rate controlled training options. By wearing the chest belt, you also have use of 2 HRC sessions. HR1 is set at 60% of your target heart rate (ideal for fat burning) and HR2 is set to 80% (for fitness conditioning). You enter your age and weight, set the time duration and the machine will automatically adjust the intensity to keep you within the right heart rate zone.

For further variety, there are 2 user-defined programs whereby you can create and store your very own bespoke sessions. These can be saved for future use or they can be changed to keep things fresh for long-term challenges.

So what do we think overall?

Aside from a decent sounding speaker system to connect to your ipod/MP3, a tilting fan and a rather nice little Xterra water bottle, you won’t get many gadgets and paraphernalia here. This follows in the tried and tested tradition of it’s sister brands (Sole/Spirit) by focusing on the basics – giving you a machine that is intuitive to use, beautifully engineered to be safe on the joints, and just as easy on the bank balance.

The weight capacity of over 28 stone (400lbs) and generous warranty speaks volumes about how durable and well-constructed the ‘5.8’ really is! Despite boasting some nice features and complex engineering, this machine is really designed to be a simple and straightforward ‘tool’ to develop fitness and conditioning. There’s no internet connectivity just a ledge for a tablet! This machine is designed to do the job of getting you fit, rather than keeping you entertained – and it does the job very well indeed! You don’t need to be a veteran triathlete training for Xterra events to make the most of this elliptical, in fact, the simplicity of it makes it just as ideal for a novice wanting a user-friendly and effective machine.

If you like the sound of this, click here to read our review of the latest version of the Xterra Free Style 5.8e.

Best Price

The Xterra Free Style 5.8e 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 5.8e elliptical is a serious piece of kit produced by one of the best manufacturers in the industry. It's got some great features including a bio-mechanically sound stride and an electronically controlled incline ramp. Whilst it is a good machine, we have to point out the it's since been updated and significantly improved upon with release of the new Xterra 5.8e Elliptical Cross Trainer 2017 model.

Xterra Free Style 5.8e Specifications

  • 25lbs (11.3kg) flywheel weight
  • 20″ (50.8cm) stride length
  • 20 levels of computer controlled resistance
  • 20 levels of computer controlled incline
  • Blue backlit 7.5″ LCD console providing feedback on: RPM, speed, calories burned, time, distance and pulse
  • 13 programmes: (8 pre-set, 1 manual, 2 user-defined, 2 HR)
  • Heart Rate Measurement via grip sensors and a wireless receiver
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 82″ (209cm) x 22″ (55cm) x 67″ (171cm)
  • Weight of the product: 243lbs (110.2kg)
  • Max User Weight: 400lbs (181.4kg)
  • Conveniences: Speakers, audio jack, transportation wheels, storage area
  • Warranty: Lifetime frame, 5 years parts, 2 years labour

Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical - Console / Display Unit

Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Biomechanically spot on! (Safe on the joints)
  • Free Chest strap included
  • Over 28 stone Max. User Weight – Ideal for heavier users
  • Some nice programs including 2 HRC and 2 User-defined
  • Lifetime warranty on the Frame (Plus 5 years for parts and 2 years labour)

The Cons

  • Top resistance may be a little weak for advanced users
  • Not for fans of inbuilt technology and gadgets
Xterra Free Style 5.8e Elliptical Reviewer Ratings

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

The Xterra Free Style 5.8e 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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