|Bowflex M5 Max Trainer|
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|300 lbs||Air & eddy|
Similar to the other Bowflex Max Trainers, the M5 model is a hybrid exerciser between an stepper an an elliptical trainer. Although it’s not advertised as a commercial model, it does offer the quality of at least a light-commercial machine. It combines air and magnetic resistance, and, as opposed to the M3 model that we’ve already covered here, it offers 16 levels of resistance. Plus, its console has several extra programs and is compatible with the Max Trainer app.
Key Features and Specifications
- Assembled dimensions: 49L x 26.5W x 63.5H (124L x 67W x 161H cm)
- Assembled weight: 143 lbs (65 kg)
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs (136 kg)
- Elliptical path: 10″ (25.4 cm) vertical, 4″ (10.1 cm) horizontal
- Handlebars: Mobile and fixed (with pulse sensors)
- Resistance: Air & magnetic, 16 levels
- Console: 8 programs, Bluetooth
- Extras: HR chest strap, bottle holder, device holder
- Warranty: 2 years
The Bowflex M5 Max Trainer features a heavy-duty steel frame designed to support users up to 300 lbs (136 kg). The machine is also pretty heavy; with all the parts assembled, it weighs approx. 143 lbs (65 kg). All this weight is reflected in its overall stability. Plus, its rear and front base bars are equipped with adjustable and rubberized levelers, while its front base has a set of wheels for easy relocation.
All the steel bars in the machine’s construction are coated with a corrosion-resistant paint finish. The color used is black. The covers of the drive mechanism combine gray, black, and red, these being the only colors available for this trainer.
As opposed to a standard, front-drive elliptical trainer, such as the Schwinn 430 for example, the Bowflex M5 has a considerably smaller footprint. It is only 49″ (124 cm) long, and 26.5″ (67 cm) wide. Therefore, it offers better storage possibilities. However, for usage, it is recommended to assign a clearance of at least two feet all around the unit for ease of access.
The Bowflex M5 Max Trainer is equipped with a set of large pedals. They feature lateral and front guards for improved foot stability. They also have rubberized inserts for an extra grip and reduced impact.
The pedal bars feature a set of large wheels with heavy-duty sealed ball bearings. Their outer layer is rubberized to reduce noise and improve the smoothness of the ride. The pedal tracks are cylindrical bars set at an angle of approx. 65° – 70°.
This Max Trainer model features two sets of handlebars, one mobile and one fixed. The mobile handlebars have two long grips (low/high) to promote various workout postures. They are attached to the machine’s pulley and pedal system and they cannot be locked to remain stationary. They continue to move for as long as you pedal.
The fixed handlebars feature short grips resembling the grips of an exercise bike. They are equipped with stainless steel pulse sensors and the console can monitor your pulse if you hold on to them.
Elliptical path, Q-factor, and pedal height
As we’ve mentioned above, the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 is a fitness machine between a stepper and an elliptical trainer. Therefore, its elliptical path is not horizontal as for a standard elliptical machine. It is approx. 10″ (25.4 cm) vertical, and 4″ (10.1 cm) horizontal. So, the pedaling motion is closer to stairmaster than an elliptical, but the impact on the joints is minimal and the range of motion is ampler.
The pedal Q-Factor (spacing between the pedals) is pretty narrow. The two pedals are only approx. 1.5″ (3.8 cm) apart. This means that the machine offers a natural positioning for your feet which leads to a correct motion, without extra lateral stress on the knees and ankles. It’s also important to mention here that since the unit’s path is almost vertical, taller users up to 6’8″ (201 cm) should be able to use this machine without a significant lack of motion range.
The machine’s maximum pedal height is approx. 19″ (48 cm). This being said, you’ll need a ceiling height of at least 20″ (51 cm) higher than your own height to be able to use this machine with no issues.
Drive and resistance
The Bowflex M5 Max Trainer combines air and magnetic resistance. The bottom section that looks like a turbine integrates a flywheel-fan which is the main resistance-generating element. As you begin pedaling and moving the machine’s arms, the fan spins and adds difficulty to the pedaling motion.
Like most other fitness machines with an air resistance system (i.e Concept2 Model D rower, or Assault Air Bike), the Max Trainer provides a dynamic response during usage. In other words, the faster you pedal, the more resistance you will get. But, the machine also integrates a metallic flywheel and a magnetic brake. This allows you to increase or decrease the overall resistance.
The magnetic resistance system is motorized. It uses a small servo motor which is connected to the console and to the magnetic brake. As you adjust the resistance, the motor changes the position of the brake which results in a resistance shift.
The magnetic brake offers 16 levels of resistance. The first ones are not extreme, offering the possibility to perform lighter workouts. However, the top 15-16 resistance settings simulate a hill climb and offer the possibility to engage in a considerably more consistent workout.
Needless to say, since the machine’s magnetic brake is motorized, the unit requires an external power source. A 120V 60Hz Input, 9VDC, 1500mA Output power adapter is included with the machine. Also, it’s important to mention that the console can adjust the magnetic resistance automatically, depending on the selected workout program.
The machine is equipped with a dual pulley and dual belt drive system. Differently put, the moving arm system is connected to a pulley which is attached to an intermediary pulley through a poly-v belt, while the intermediary pulley connects to the machine’s flywheels system to a second belt. This type of drive system not only improves the smoothness of the ride, but it also adds difficulty to the pedaling motion. Also, since the transmissions use belts, not chains, drivetrain lubrication is not required.
The Bowflex M5 Max Trainer is equipped with a console featuring two displays. The top one is similar to a car’s tachometer. It indicates burn rate, target burn rate, and has a small inner LED display that shows calories burned. The bottom display is larger. It’s an LCD type with an LED backlight. It tracks multiple workout metrics including time, RPM, heart rate, burn rate, resistance level, and a few others. It also shows the grid of the workout program in use.
The console has 8 workout programs, plus the Manual mode. The 8 programs are Max Interval, Calorie Burn, Stairs, Fat Burn, Calorie Goal, Steady State, Fitness Test, and Smart MAX interval. Each program offers a specific type of workout. Evidently, each program targets a specific workout. Some are interval-based, others focus on helping you lose weight, while others are great for keeping a healthy cardiovascular shape.
Two user profiles are also available on the console. Each user can customize their profile with their own data such as weight, height, gender, and age, for a more accurate calorie count and program settings.
As opposed to the M3 model, the console of the Max Trainer M5 has Bluetooth connectivity and you can sync it with your smartphone or tablet via the Max Trainer App. This app is free, available for both iOS and Android devices. It offers a few extra features including progress tracking, sync your workout data with MyFitnessPal, view workout history, etc.
It’s also important to mention that the console is telemetric. It can read your pulse from a 4.5-5.5 kHz chest strap. This accessory is included, so you can wear it during your workouts so you won’t have to hold on to the fixed grips for a pulse reading.
Assembly and Maintenance
The main body of the Max Trainer M5 comes pre-assembled but the rest of the machine does require user assembly. This may take up to two hours of your time. You will essentially have to attach the main unit to the base frame, connect the rail assembly, the moving arms, the pedals, and the console. The manual provides step-by-step assembly instructions and schematics, and all the necessary tools are included.
In terms of maintenance, the internal parts shouldn’t require any, at least for a long period of time. Therefore, you should only keep your Max Trainer clean and lubricate the wheels or the joints if necessary. In case the fan accumulates dust, you can vacuum it from the outside.
- Heavy-duty construction – can support users up to 300 lbs;
- Small footprint;
- Aesthetic design;
- Transport wheels and adjustable levelers;
- Durable, large pedals with rubber inserts and articulations for maximum shock absorption;
- Ergonomic mobile handlebars with a dual-grip design;
- Fixed handlebars included;
- Air and eddy current resistance;
- 16 levels of eddy current magnetic resistance;
- Dual belt and pulley drive system;
- Multi-window console with dual display;
- 8 workout programs (plus Manual mode);
- Two user profiles;
- Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility with the Max Trainer free app;
- HR chest strap included;
- Device holder included;
- Bottle holder included;
- Fairly easy to assemble;
- Little maintenance required.
- No sound system;
- No USB port for device charging or data transfer.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M3 combines an elliptical trainer and a stepper featuring an air & magnetic resistance system with 16 tension levels, and a dual belt drive. It’s a sturdy machine with excellent ergonomics. It is equipped with a dual-display console that offers 8 workout programs, has Bluetooth connectivity, and is compatible with the Max Trainer app. Finally, it’s not an affordable trainer but definitely offers great quality for the price.