Magnetic vs. Flywheel Elliptical, What’s the Difference?

When you start your search for buying an elliptical trainer, you might find yourself asking, which is the best one? Between a magnetic vs flywheel elliptical, which one should be your choice? 

The best cross trainers do the same job – tone the muscles and help with weight loss but have different functionalities. They are different in terms of the resistance level and a few other factors.

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Elliptical Flywheel

An elliptical trainer with a heavier flywheel is bigger in size. And bigger size means you would need more space for keeping it. Just like flywheel elliptical, magnetic elliptical also has certain drawbacks too. 

We have broken down the key comparison factors for magnetic and flywheel elliptical trainers to make the selection process easy. So, whether you are getting an elliptical for your in-home gym or commercial fitness center, this comparison will assist you in making the right choice. If you are sold on the elliptical flywheel here is my favourite:

Schwinn Fitness 430 Elliptical, Black
  • Goal Track capability enables users to set individual exercise goals by tracking time, distance and calories to compare with previous workouts
  • 20 inch stride with Precision Path foot motion technology simulates a natural running motion
  • High speed, high inertia drive system offers easy start-up and smooth, quiet workouts

Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What’s the Difference?

Look at these comparison aspects to get a better understanding. 

  • Changing the Level of Resistance 

One thing that both elliptical trainers offer is the ease of changing the level of resistance. 

When it comes to the magnetic elliptical, one can easily change the resistance level by switching between the gears. Whereas in the flywheel elliptical, the contact pads move closer. And this further creates more friction. 

  • Accurate Level of Resistance 

Another essential thing to consider is the accuracy level of resistance that can be set on both the ellipticals. It’s important to exercise at the same level of resistance or even higher to achieve your fitness goals. 

Talking about the magnetic elliptical, one can quickly set the accurate level of resistance. That’s because an elliptical with a magnetic system is computerized. Meaning you can easily change the level you require. 

Here is my recommendation for the best flywheel elliptical at a reasonable price:

Schwinn Fitness 430 Elliptical

Magnetic Resistance Elliptical

Magnetic ellipticals are also very popular in commercial gyms because of this feature. 

On the other hand, an elliptical with a flywheel does not offer the desired accuracy level in terms of resistance. While this elliptical can help you complete your exercise, it’s not as good as a magnetic elliptical when it comes to accuracy level. 

If you are looking for the best magnetic resistance elliptical, look no further:

Exerpeutic Magnetic Flywheel Elliptical Trainer Machine for Home Gym with Natural Elliptical Motion, Bluetooth MyCloudFitness Tracking and Pulse Rate Grips, Black Blue
  • [Heavy duty steel frame construction] user weight max capacity of to 275 lbs.
  • [Ellitical Stride] Comfortable 13” ergonomic stride with a natural elliptical motion that eliminates any bouncy movement that other competitive elliptical experience.
  • [LCD Computer] 2 User profiles, 3 Computer workout goal settings: distance, time and calories burned, 24 Computer preset workout programs and Bluetooth Smart Cloud Fitness with free MyCloudFitness App to monitor your workouts

Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

However, if the right level of resistance is not something that matters to you that much, you can pick the flywheel elliptical. 

  • High Level of Resistance 

If you want to burn more calories, you would have to exercise harder. And for this, you need an elliptical trainer that can be set at a high level of resistance.

Fortunately, both of these types offer the highest overall resistance level, but there is a difference. 

You can set to a significant resistance level with flywheel elliptical, but it’s not the highest. However, with a magnetic elliptical, you can reach the highest level and can exercise faster. 

So, the magnetic elliptical trainer is ahead by an inch in terms of the high resistance level. 

  • Level of Wear and Tear

Another aspect that you might want to compare is the level of wear and tear. Less wear and tear mean less maintenance, which eventually saves money. 

Between magnetic and flywheel elliptical, it’s the magnetic elliptical that suffers less wear and tear. That’s because, in this kind of elliptical, the only thing that changes is the magnet. 

But in the case of the flywheel elliptical, something touches the flywheel. So, as the level of resistance increases, the level of wear and tear also increases. Thus, more maintenance

  • Price of the Elliptical 

No matter how great an elliptical is, you should never pay more for it by exceeding your budget. 

magnetic vs flywheel elliptical

If you have a tight budget, a flywheel elliptical would be an excellent choice for you. Flywheel elliptical looks traditional and is available at a lower price point. 

The magnetic elliptical is on the pricey side as it is computerized and comes with a few additional features. 

  • Noise Produced by Elliptical 

While exercising, the last thing that you want to hear is the loud noise produced by the elliptical. 

In the case of magnetic elliptical, there is almost no noise. But the flywheel elliptical can be a bit noisy. 

What’s Better Between Magnetic and Flywheel Elliptical?

Flywheel elliptical trainer comes with direct contact resistance, which increases the resistance. As the resistance increases, exercise becomes more challenging. 

That’s because to maintain the resistance level, you would have to pedal faster. Thus, you burn more calories. This kind of elliptical is made of sturdy material and lasts long. 

On the other hand, magnetic elliptical comes with magnetic resistance. The magnetic resistance makes this elliptical more popular as it solves all the issues that direct contact resistance can’t solve.

Here is my personal recommendation for a reasonably priced magnetic elliptical:

Exerpeutic Magnetic Flywheel Elliptical Trainer Machine for Home Gym with Natural Elliptical Motion, Bluetooth MyCloudFitness Tracking and Pulse Rate Grips, Black Blue

Pros and Cons of Magnetic and Flywheel Elliptical

The magnetic elliptical comes with a few advantages and shortcomings. For starters, a magnetic elliptical can quickly reach a higher level of resistance. Also, it can be operated smoothly, and no part of the elliptical comes in contact. 

But magnetic elliptical requires more investment. So, if you are looking for an elliptical for the long term, you can consider buying a magnetic elliptical

Similarly, flywheel elliptical also comes with a few limitations and benefits. Like this elliptical trainer has unbeatable resistance. It’s an excellent choice for people who are into intense workouts because it can help them achieve their fitness goals. 

Besides unbeatable resistance, this elliptical is likely to create disturbance as it produces a loud sound. This can be an issue. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Cross Trainer Flywheel Weight

Does a heavier flywheel mean better performance? 

A heavier flywheel elliptical means more resistance. Also, the heavier the flywheel is, the smooth it will perform. 

Moreover, a heavy flywheel also produces less noise and gives a natural riding experience with a good stride length. But it requires more space to fit in and it also makes the elliptical more difficult to move.

Flywheel vs Magnetic 

Does a Flywheel Elliptical Feel Better? 

When compared with the magnetic elliptical, flywheel elliptical can be a bit challenging to exercise with. And if it has a heavy flywheel, the workout becomes even harder. 

Therefore, the magnetic elliptical feels smoother as it does not have a heavy flywheel. 

Before starting the selection process, it would be helpful if you practice on different resistance levels to know about your strength. 


Once you have understood how intensely you can do workouts, you can pick one of the two options. You can also base your comparison on other factors like cost, noise, maintenance, and performance. 

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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!