Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you liked this article, read even more of Tayte’s articles on our website. ElliptiGO is an American Trail Running Association corporate member and has provided products free of charge.
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone in the trail running community including runners, race directors, running specialty stores and brands. “Chief Enthusiast Officer” and head of sales & marketing at ElliptiGO, Bryce Whiting, shares with us how his company is dealing with business changes caused by the pandemic. He also shares his plans for the future, and reasons why their products provide an excellent form of cross training for trail runners during these uncertain times.
[TAYTE] Tell us about the history of ElliptiGo.
[BRYCE] After participating in both contact and endurance athletics most of his life, CEO and co-founder of ElliptiGO, Bryan Pate, sustained knee and hip overuse injuries that made it extremely painful for him to run. He enjoyed working out on elliptical trainers, but did not like being stuck in gyms. As a former triathlete and cyclist, Bryan had spent much time cycling, but had always found it uncomfortable because of the seat and riding position.
In May 2005, he looked for a low-impact device that mimicked running and could be used outside, but no such thing existed. Bryan then set out to create a low-impact outdoor running device and ElliptiGo was born. The company was incorporated in 2010, now has seven different models and has sold over 30,000 ElliptiGOs.
[TAYTE] How has Elliptigo been managing sales during the pandemic? Are sales up or down?
[BRYCE] We are very fortunate. The whole team is working remotely except for one person who is going into the office to ship parts and accessories. Our manufacturing partner in Taiwan has not been impacted and we ship our bikes from a third-party warehouse in San Diego, California that is deemed essential. Thus far, we have not seen any interruptions to our supply chain.
With the closing of gyms and people looking for alternatives to stay healthy, our sales are actually rising. This past February we launched the ElliptiGO Fluid 365, a stationary trainer that works with all ElliptiGO models and gives tremendous flexibility to the user. It’s a great two-in-one, mobile outdoor and stationary device. You can set it up anywhere you want and easily remove the bike from the trainer to ride it on the roads.
[TAYTE] You had a team of field sales representatives before the pandemic. Are these folks still in place or have you had layoffs?
[BRYCE] All of our mobile representatives are still in place. We shifted some responsibilities on the internal team, but I am happy to share that we have not had any downsizing.
[TAYTE] What are your strategies for advertising and promotion during pandemic?
[BRYCE] We have a great solution/alternative for people looking to exercise during the pandemic, but we also need to be very sensitive to the situation because many people are struggling right now. Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic began, we kicked off a relationship with Gordon Wright and his team at Outside PR. They are true professionals and have done a great job helping us grow our marketing campaigns. We are currently in the planning phase for a virtual charity ride to raise money for a worthy cause. We hope to leverage the powerful community of almost 30,000 ElliptiGO customers to support this charity ride.
In addition, our group of sponsored athletes, including Alyson Felix, Emily Sisson, Amelia Boone, Jared Ward, Alysia Montano, and Dean Karnazes, are using their ElliptiGO bikes and sharing their stories on social media.
[TAYTE] Could you describe your products and how they are used?
[BRYCE] ElliptiGO Inc. is the pioneer and world leader in stand-up cycling. ElliptiGO launched the first elliptical bicycle in 2010, the first stand-up bike in 2018, and most recently, the ElliptiGO Fluid 365, our first stationary trainer. The original ElliptiGO long stride bikes launched in 2010 were designed to be the ideal cross-training device for running. They provide the closest cross-training experience to running, but without the impact. Runners typically prefer this model.
The SUB models are our stand-up bikes. They have a circular motion, like a bicycle, but use custom cranks which are shorter than most bicycles. This makes the device easier on your knees. In addition, SUB models leverage a custom foot platform, adjustable steering column and an architecture that makes it comfortable to ride while standing.While the motion feels less like running, the SUB models provide a comfortable full-body workout. They have none of the back, neck, or seat issues associated with traditional cycling.
One of our SUB models, the MSUB, is currently our only off-road model. The MSUB is equipped with disc brakes, front suspension and 27.5” knobby tires. It’s been a hit with trail runners looking to cross-train on trails. All of our bikes can be turned into indoor or stationary models using our new Fluid 365 stationary trainer.
[TAYTE] What advice would you have for someone who hasn’t tried an ElliptiGo?
[BRYCE] Simple, try it! Until you experience an ElliptiGO, it’s hard to understand why it’s such a great exercise tool. Check out the Try It First page on our website and take one for a spin if you have the option. If you are unsatisfied with our products, we have a 30-day return policy.
[TAYTE] Do you partner with any helmet manufacturers?
[BRYCE] We definitely encourage our riders to wear helmets and to practice safe riding. We partnered with leading helmet manufacturer Giro to offer an ElliptiGO branded helmet featuring their Multi-directional Impact Protection System or MIPS technology. MIPS allows the head to move inside the helmet, which helps reduce the harmful rotational impact of crashes and head knocks.
[TAYTE] How can trail runners get more information if they are interested in purchasing or trying out an ElliptiGO?
[BRYCE] We sell ElliptiGO bikes through specialty running, cycling and fitness retailers nationwide, the ElliptiGO headquarters and online. For more information, visit they can visit www.elliptigo.com.
[TAYTE] Do you have anything new coming up in the next few months?
[BRYCE] We recently announced that we’ll be producing a limited edition ElliptiGO 11R to commemorate our 10-year Anniversary, which will be shipping out this summer. We hope to explore the electric bike/e-assist category in 2020, via a retrofit kit. The initial prototypes are promising and they still provide a great workout. This product will be a great solution for folks who are discouraged from riding because they live near a huge hill or for those who want to ride with friends faster than themselves. We will share more information on this soon.
[TAYTE] How does an ElliptiGO compare to riding a bicycle?
[BRYCE] Compared to a road bike, riding an ElliptiGO will burn more calories. A study by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) found that riding an ElliptiGO burns 33% more calories than cycling at the same speed. This equates to a more time-efficient workout. An ElliptiGO is more comfortable for most users. The upright riding position can be much more comfortable than the hunched over riding position used on traditional bicycles. In addition, there is no seat pain, a common complaint from cyclists. Riding an ElliptiGO is a weight-bearing exercise that feels similar to running. This helps elevate your heart rate and slow the rate of bone density loss compared to a non-weight bearing activity. Finally there’s less gear needed to ride an ElliptiGO. There’s no need to put on a cycling clothes or shoes. You can just jump on the ElliptiGO and go!
To be fair, there are some disadvantages to using an ElliptiGO compared to a road bike. The ElliptiGO weighs more, has a wider frame and is longer than a normal bike. This makes it more of a challenge to transport and find a car-rack for. An ElliptoGO is also slower. The upright position and less efficient propulsion system combine to reduce speeds by about 20-30% for a given effort. If you normally ride a bike at 20 mph, you’ll only go about 16 mph on an ElliptiGO using the same effort.
[TAYTE] How does an ElliptiGO compare to using a stationary elliptical machine at the gym?
[BRYCE] An ElliptiGO can be used as an outdoor or indoor training tool. With our new Fluid 365 stationary trainer, you are able to ride our ElliptiGOs outside or inside at home. The ElliptiGO’s stride length is adjustable and can extend out to 25″ or down to 16″. Few indoor ellipticals have that kind of range and many have lengths closer to 19”. The longer stride length makes the ElliptiGO riding experience feel more like running.
The ElliptiGO’s foot platforms are closer together than on most ellipticals. We measured several elliptical trainers and found they had widths of up to 11″ between the centerline of the drive arms. We designed the ElliptiGO to provide the least amount of distance between foot platforms to more closely resemble running. The distance between the centerline of each drive arm is about 9” and the space between the inside edges of each foot platform is about 3.5”. The ElliptiGO can be more easily transported than a stationary elliptical trainers which are bulky, heavy and difficult to move and set up. The ElliptiGO helps build your core muscles because it requires the user to engage core muscles to balance while riding.
Some disadvantages of ElliptiGO are that it doesn’t have built in electronics, programs or arm levers found on most gym elliptical machines.
[TAYTE] Which muscles and body systems does an ElliptiGO workout target?
[BRYCE] The ElliptiGO provides a full-body, low-impact workout. From a cardio standpoint, the rider can determine the intensity. You can go for an easy spin or do intense HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts and reach your max heart rate. You can mimic easy runs, fartleks, intervals, or nearly any kind of running workout. The long-stride bikes activate glute and hamstring muscles, which is important for runners. The SUB models are more quadricep dominant and all ElliptiGO models target core muscles.
[TAYTE] For runners looking to incorporate more cross training activities in their training, how might ElliptiGo be a good fit?
[BRYCE] ElliptiGO is a great cross-training tool for trail runners. Over 300 university and high school track and field and cross country teams use our products. Nearly 100 athletes who competed in the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials regularly use ElliptiGO bikes to build strength and aerobic capacity. Our bikes also help elite athletes reduce stress on their bodies and recover from injuries that result from pushing their bodies to such high levels.
To learn more about why ElliptiGOs are such an effective cross training tool for runners, we’ve developed the following resources:
- Cross Training for Athletes – Integrate ElliptiGO bikes into your program
- Training for Performance Athletes [PDF]
- ElliptiGO Training Plans – Enter code: Train2017
[TAYTE] What advice would you give to trail runners considering purchasing an ElliptiGO?
[BRYCE] If someone wants to ride on trails, the MSUB is the best option. The standing position gives you a great line of sight while riding. This model has no seat, which allows riders to better control their body position. The MSUB is geared for hills, off-road climbs and can handle most grades. If riding on trails is not that important to you, I would encourage you to check out our long-stride bikes.
[TAYTE] What is the injury risk while riding an ElliptiGO?
[BRYCE] ElliptiGOs have similar risks to bicycles, but are arguably safer on the roads for several reasons. ElliptiGOs are taller than bikes and offer a better line of sight so riders can see over SUVs, into intersections, etc. ElliptiGO riders take up more space in cars’ side and rear-view mirrors, making you more visible to traffic. Regardless, ride safe, be present and aware of your surroundings and always wear a helmet.
Editor’s Note: Be safe as we continue to navigate the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to follow the recommendations and updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including proper hygiene practices. Also consider reading iRunFar’s COVID-19: A Trail Running and Ultrarunning Community Guide.