If avoiding boredom is your primary concern -- or if several primary users can't decide between an elliptical and a bike -- the ProForm Hybrid Trainer may be the most practical answer to your needs. It's not the most stable or durable elliptical trainer on the market, but most users love it for its value and ability to convert between elliptical trainer and recumbent exercise bike.
Two machines in one. Most users say that ProForm's silent magnetic resistance (SMR) lives up to its billing on the ProForm Hybrid Trainer, providing a smooth, quiet ride -- at least at first. But more than anything, they're thrilled with the hybrid trainer's ability to transform from recumbent bike to elliptical and back again.
However, the transformation isn't quite perfect. You can't use the elliptical trainer's moving handlebars while it's in bike mode, and the hybrid trainer may not be a good fit for tall users; one 5-foot-11-inch commenter posting to HSN.com says "the bike part feels too short. I feel like my knees are in my chest."
A few screws running loose. Users say the ProForm Hybrid Trainer is easy to put together, as long as you have two or three hours to spare. Some complain that the boxes arrive damaged or missing essential hardware, though, so you might want to double-check the condition and contents before accepting delivery. You'll also need four AA batteries. Users have a few suggestions for fine-tuning the hybrid design. They wish it displayed distance in terms of miles and kilometers instead of revolutions, and say the screen is hard to see when they're in bike mode. A few also wish the bike seat adjusted back and forth instead of the pedals.
May not go the distance. Users report decent build quality for the most part, but the ProForm Hybrid Trainer seems to get a little noisier as time goes on -- a symptom that leaves us wondering whether it can live up to its ambitious 350-pound user weight limit over the long term. Problems with persistent squeaking are common enough that, according to one Academy.com poster, the manufacturer has fix-it kits ready to send out. In general, however, most users scale their expectations to match the hybrid trainer's price and come away happy.
Super-short warranty coverage. The ProForm Hybrid Trainer's warranty doesn't extend very far. It has a five-year frame guarantee, but only 90 days of parts and labor coverage. A parts warranty that short can leave users out in the cold very quickly, such as one Amazon.com user whose console broke after less than five months of use; when she inquired about a replacement, she received a price list of parts in return. For the most part, however, owners seem more or less content with the customer service they've received.
More than 100 users review the ProForm Hybrid Trainer, giving it an average score of 4.2 stars and making it the most popular elliptical machine sold here. They say it's sturdy and quiet and easy to switch from bike to elliptical, but that it's tedious to put together.
Review: ProForm Hybrid Trainer Elliptical and Recumbent Bike, Contributors to HSN.com, As of December 2013
After about 90 user reviews, ProForm's Hybrid Trainer earns an overall average of 4 stars out of 5. Most say it's quiet and easy to use, but we found some complaints about durability and missing installation instructions and hardware.
Review: ProForm Hybrid Trainer, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of December 2013
Just over two dozen users review ProForm's Hybrid Trainer here, giving it an average score of 4.2 stars out of 5. Most say it's quiet and easy to use, although we found a couple of comments about installation hardware missing and long assembly times. Most agree it's a good value.
Review: ProForm Hybrid Trainer Elliptical, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of December 2013
4. Sports Authority
Just a handful of users review the ProForm Hybrid Trainer at SportsAuthority.com, giving it an average score of 4.5 stars out of 5. They say it's easy to put together, and that being able to switch between elliptical and bike modes means you won't get bored.
Review: ProForm Hybrid Trainer, Contributors to SportsAuthority.com, As of December 2013
Just a couple of owners review the ProForm Hybrid Trainer here, giving it a 3.5-star average score. One says it's "a fine quality item for the price"; another thinks it's a great idea, but poorly executed.
Review: ProForm Hybrid Trainer, Contributors to DicksSportingGoods.com, As of December 2013
A few users review ProForm's Hybrid Trainer at Academy.com, giving it an average score of 4.3 stars. One complains about a persistent, annoying squeaking noise, but says that if the fix-it kit the manufacturer sent works to stop it, "[the hybrid trainer] will be a great purchase."
Review: ProForm Hybrid Trainer Elliptical Bike, Contributors to Academy.com, As of December 2013