What do you get when you cross an elliptical machine with a bicycle? Revolutionary cross-training for runners and a fun new sport. ElliptiGO was born out of passion and necessity when co-founder and Ironman athlete Bryan Pate could no longer run due to injuries. He could train on the elliptical machine, but hated being indoors. He recruited his friend, co-founder Brent Teal, who is an ultra runner and mechanical engineer, to develop the world's first elliptical bike and an outdoor means for running without impact. Five years later, the ElliptiGO is taking the running and fitness world by storm.
The concept was to take the low impact virtues of the elliptical motion, fine tune to better emulate the running motion and blend with the transient characteristics of a bike to ride outdoors. The result is a high intensity running-like workout without the impact forces on the body.
Being a self-proclaimed gadget girl and cross-training advocate, I was excited to have the opportunity to get the skinny on this new device and use it while I prepared for the 3-day, 60-mile TransRockies Run. I wasn't sure how it would translate to my running performance, but after five months of riding the ElliptiGO here is what I've found:
You can train harder without the risk. One of the first things I noticed was my heart rate was as high if not higher as my running workouts. This in part, is due to the standing, weight bearing riding position and the increased wind resistance as you gain speed. The foot position is designed to be closer than the Elliptical machine and the range of motion longer much like a running stride. This translates to a running-like motion in a high-intensity package with no pressure points (saddle, neck, soreness) or impact on the body. It's also a great option for those that can no longer run as frequently or at all. It allowed me to train effectively on back-to-back days and recover efficiently.
It climbs hills like a mountain goat. The ElliptiGO has eight gears just like a bike, which allows for efficient hill climbing and a great way to strengthen your core and legs. Unlike running which requires a toe push off, efficient ElliptiGO riding involves a flat foot on the drive arm and an emphasis on pushing through the midfoot and heel. Doing so activates the gluteal muscles, strengthening with every stride.
Physical therapists often report that weak gluteal muscles are one of the most common running issues and can lead to aches, pains and inefficient form. You can also ride the ElliptiGO on flat terrain and use the resistance of the gears to develop core and leg strength as well. Learning how to engage the gluteal muscles and gain the sense of what that feels like can translates to more efficient running form on the roads.
It's easy to learn and highly social. It looks tricky to ride, but it isn't. The handlebars are similar to a mountain bike and the stem height is adjustable to accommodate a wide range of people. The wheelbase is wider and the weight lower than that of a bike, which helps to create stability. Those who cycle or use the elliptical machine feel comfortable in minutes. Because you can ride the ElliptiGO at speeds of 13 to 20 miles per hour and faster, you can participate is cycling events and ride with your cycling buddies.
You can leap tall buildings in a single bound. OK, maybe not buildings, but ElliptiGO riders are taking to setting world records all over the nation. In fact, co-founders Pate and Teal have already ridden in century rides, across states and climbed Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America (sea level to 14,000 feet) in three and a half hours. ElliptiGO is running without impact and much, much more. It's a new way to train, race and explore the world.