Despite some negative expert critiques, the Schwinn 431 has an overwhelmingly positive consumer following. Users have minor issues with the elliptical, primarily during assembly, but are very happy with their purchase overall.
Smooth but squeaky. Consumers are more than happy with the cost-effective performance of the Schwinn 431. It's a favorite on Amazon.com, where it gets 4 out of 5 stars after more than 200 reviews, and is commonly described as smooth and a good deal. One user says, "It has a very smooth ride and feels very sturdy even when I ride it at a quick rate."
The 431 has a 25-pound flywheel and can accommodate users of up to 300 pounds. Its stride length is a fixed 18 inches, however, which may prove too short for taller users. Some reviews say the handlebar stride is uncomfortably short, as well.
Small issues with assembly. Many owners complain that several parts didn't line up correctly during assembly or the product was missing parts. Building the elliptical proved impossible for a few, who had to return the whole machine. Aside from that, most reports agree that assembly isn't too challenging.
Once it's together, the elliptical is easy to use with a backlit LCD on the center console that displays time, calories, heart rate, distance and more. The 19 available programs -- a lot for a machine of this price -- includes a manual mode, custom mode and three heart-rate programs. Heart rate is measured on two stationary handgrips.
Owners say the fan is loud and useless. The Schwinn 431 has no MP3 input plugs, but does provide a space to hold a player.
Varied opinions. Despite its price, the 431 is impressively solid, reviewers say. A few owners report a "squeaky" noise coming from the pedal after a few weeks, which one fixed by slightly loosening a bolt within the pedal assembly.
Consumers say they're content with the stability of the elliptical despite its 59-by-26-inch footprint. However, experts at TreadmillDoctor.com are unimpressed, calling the machine a "stain on Schwinn's reputation."
Lower price, shorter warranty. Schwinn offers a warranty of 15 years on the frame, two years for parts, one year for electronics and 90 days for labor, but this is still below industry average. Some reviewers say that any piece of $700 fitness equipment should have better coverage.
Few owners comment on customer service, but those who do have positive things to say. One EllipticalTrainerInc.com user states, "my dashboard was not functioning for (the) fan. I called up Schwinn and the replacement was promptly mailed." No reviews address service after the warranty expires.
Review Credibility: Very Good Editors at TreadmillDoctor.com rigorously test the products they review, including disassembling each machine. They rate each elliptical on adjustability, reliability, noise level, value, warranty, quality and ergonomics. Here they give the Schwinn 431 a score of just 2.61 points out of 10, calling it a "stain on Schwinn's reputation."
Review: Schwinn E 431 Elliptical Review, Editors of TreadmillDoctor.com, Not dated
Review Credibility: Very Good A former Smooth Fitness executive, Waters tests elliptical trainers, and speaks with fitness equipment salespeople and experts. Instead of conducting a full evaluation, he compares the Schwinn 431 to the 420, which he reviews extensively. He indicates that the price increase is worth the added features like a backlit LCD and longer service warranty, but suggests purchasing an extended warranty. Waters names the 420 a Best Budget Elliptical Buy.
Review: Schwinn 431 Elliptical Trainer Review, Fred Waters, Not dated
Review Credibility: Very Good The Schwinn 431 attracts about 220 consumer reviews at Amazon.com, where it gets an average 4.2 stars out of 5. Owner comments vary in length and product experience. One compares the 431 to the Horizon EX56 and EX66, and Sole 25.
Review: Customer Reviews: Schwinn 431 Elliptical Trainer, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good About 30 users post comments on Walmart.com's product review page, giving the Schwinn 431 an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. Comments are brief and provide little detail, but 87 percent said they would recommend the elliptical to a friend.
Review: Schwinn 431 Elliptical Machine, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good About 50 owners provide feedback on the Schwinn 431 at EllipticalTrainerInc.com. Reviewers must provide pros and cons, a consumer description and a few brief comments. Here the machine gets an average 4.3 stars out of 5, with users saying it's quiet, easy to use, operates smoothly and has a sturdy base.
Review: Schwinn 431 Elliptical Trainer, Contributors to EllipticalTrainerInc.com, As of November 2012