Pros: Well designed, economical, iFIT compatible.
Cons: Assembly a bit difficult, ugly weld joints, slight noise in arm assembly.
This is our second Nordic Track elliptical. Two years ago, my wife and I decided to lose some fat and get in better shape. After much research, I chose a Bowflex XTLU for resistance workouts, and for fat burning, cardio/aerobic exercise, the Nordic Track VGR (cannot recall model) with power resistance. We liked the VGR, but I found myself wishing I had opted for the power incline feature of the next model up. The machine was smooth, and the only complaints were that it was a bit difficult to assemble, and there was a bit of a knocking in the rod within an arm assembly. I called Nordic Track (ICON), and they shipped a new assembly immediately. A year and a half later, we gave the VGR to my wife's mother, who loved it (she being in better shape than both of us put together!).
Well, I missed having the elliptical, and ordered the CXT 980. I liked Nordic Track's design, and the 980 model has power incline (as well as power resistance), and the new Reflex Step pedal rails (curved, spring-like affairs which "give" with your weight, eliminating "dead spots" in the cycle). Actually, I HAD noticed "dead spots" using the old VGR - a feeling of not being quite balanced, and having to work harder on the downstrokes to complete the cycle (becoming more noticeable the longer I worked out!).
Well, the CXT 980 arrived (left upside-down on our porch by the trucking company), and I went through the familiar trials assembling the unit. Upon trying it out, I noticed a HUGE difference in the cycling action. The Reflex Step did indeed add a "spring" to each stroke, and did a great job in eliminating the lag or "dead spots". It's advertized as returning power to your step, and I can say that I can work out longer with less leg fatigue, and a greater sence of balance and fluidity.
Unfortunately, the control panel did not read out the activity (time, speed, distance, cals burned, etc) at all. I called Nordic Track, and a very nice woman walked me through the arduous task of removing the flywheel covers (the manual's drawings did not match the actual mechanism design at all), where I discovered the sensor had slipped (careless delivery?!). After adjusting the sensor, the machine worked admirably, and I really like the way the console is laid out, showing the details mentioned above (speed, etc), as well as pre-set programs, 10 resistance levels, 5 incline levels, a LED-lit 1/4 mile track, and pulse rate (via hand grips). I must say I also purchased two iFIT CDs, and an iFIT video. They make the workouts less tedious, a lot more fun, and as a plus, the iFIT sends a signal to the CXT's console, automatically adjusting the resistance, and tracking the pace, which is very cool indeed. (A word about iFIT and the CXT: Nordic Track's website claims iFIT controls resistance AND incline. While this would be logical and a great feature, it is false. The incline is NOT controlled by iFIT programs. I called ICON, and a very courteous woman persued the problem, and emailed me that the designers felt that incline was not as inportant as resistance and pace, so incline was NOT controlled by iFIT. A bit of a letdown, since it could surely be incorporated into the iFIT programs which alert you when incline AND resistance are about to change!)
I must admit that if I had read the negative opinions here prior to purchase, I would have been scared away. However, I did not, and - so far, at least - I am glad. My overall experience with Nordic Track's ellipticals have been positive. Considering the cost/features of other brands, Nordic Track is very reasonably priced. Both of our ellipticals are fairly quiet, and smooth operating. I have noticed no noise coming from the flywheel assembly. Overall, the functioning of the unit is very smooth. The only complaint I have is that, like our VGR, the axle covers knock against the upright when using the unit. Some type of simple nylon cup or bushing at these points would probably help. Mildly annoying, but using headphones with the iFIT CDs and video, obviously not a problem. A wide variety of online programs compatible machines are also available through iFIT, and they add a great variety to the workouts.
One feature I like is one I had told my wife I wished the VGR had: adjustable pedals! Along with the Reflex Step feature, the 5-position adjustable pedal is great, as users can quickly adjust the positions to suit their strides.
While I was concerned when I read the negative reviews, I must say we have been quite satisfied with the CXT 980. It's attractively styled, affordable, and loaded with features. Hopefully, the unfortunate reviewers received bad units, and Nordic Track has worked out the bugs. As for our Nordic Track CXT, we still consider it a very good investment, and we're satisfied with the product, and the courteous, responsive customer support.