Sunny Health & Fitness Carbon Pro SF-E3981 Elliptical Trainer

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Sunny SF-E3981

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265 lbsManual
10 levels

The Sunny Health & Fitness Carbon Pro SF-E3981 elliptical trainer features a similar design to the Sunny Carbon Premium SF-E3982. However, this is a more basic model as it does not have motorized resistance. Its equipped with a manual magnetic resistance system and its console does not have pre-set workout programs.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 69.3L x 28.7W x 64.8H inches (176L x 73W x 165H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 95.5 lbs (43.3 kg)
  • Supported weight: 265 lbs (120 kg)
  • Stride: 16 inches (41 cm)
  • Incline: No
  • Resistance: Manual magnetic, 10 levels
  • Fitness monitor: Time, speed, distance, calories, pulse, RPM, scan, goals
  • Extras: Device holder
  • Warranty: Frame 3 years / Parts 180 days

Frame construction

The Sunny Carbon Pro SF-E3981 features a steel frame combining cylindrical and oval tubing in its construction. The whole frame is double-coated with a thick paint finish black in color; this is the only color available for this elliptical at least for the moment.

The machine also integrates several parts made from a tough thermoplastic material. The most notable ones are the pedal trays and the covers of the drive system. The casing of the fitness monitor is also plastic-made. All the plastic parts and caps are black or dark gray in color to match the machine’s frame.

The fully assembled trainer is fairly large. It is approx. 69.3″ (176 cm) long, and 28.7″ (73 cm) wide, while its moving arms reach a height of approx. 64.8″ (165 cm) above the floor. It is also recommended to allow at least two feet of clearance all around the elliptical for correct usage and ease of access.

The machine is also pretty heavy. With all the parts assembled, it weighs approx. 95.5 lbs (43.3 kg). This being said, the transport of the packaged unit may require two persons. However, once the unit is fully set up, it can easily be moved by only one person. That’s because its front base bar integrates two small wheels. Also, both base stabilizers feature adjustable levelers.

This Sunny Health & Fitness elliptical is equipped with two sets of handlebars, one fixed and one mobile. The fixed handlebars attach directly to the front upright bar of the machine with two screws so they are non-adjustable. They integrate pulse sensors and have short grips. The moving arms feature longer grips without any sensors or controls. They attach to the pedal bars and the upper mid-section of the front mast of the machine. Thus, they cannot remain stationary while you pedal; they continue to move for as long as you pedal.

Elliptical path, stride, and pedal height

First of all, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3981 elliptical does not have an incline system. Therefore, you cannot adjust the length of its stride or the angle of its elliptical path. It offers a medium-range stride of 16″ (41 cm), so it should be able to accommodate comfortably users up to 6’2″ (188 cm). Taller persons should still be able to use this elliptical trainer but they may not benefit from a complete and satisfying range of motion.

As we’ve mentioned above, the machine’s pedal trays are made of durable thermoplastic material. They have front and side guards as well as a textured surface for improved foot stability. They do not have any extra articulations or cushioning. However, just like any other elliptical, the SF-E3981 provides a very low-impact ride. Also, the pedals and the machine’s crank are pretty durable; they should be able to support users up to 265 lbs (120 kg) with no problem.

The machine’s elliptical path is slightly inclined forward. Therefore, the pedaling motion resembles a descent on a soft ramp or hill. This leads to a more consistent workout for the thighs, glutes, calves, and tibialis muscles.

The machine’s pedal step-up height is approx. 9″ (24 cm). Also, at their highest point, the pedals reach approx. 13″ (34 cm) above floor level. Therefore, it is recommended to use this elliptical trainer in a room with a ceiling height of at least 20″ (51 cm) higher than your own height (or than the height of the tallest user).

Resistance and drive

The Sunny Health & Fitness Carbon Pro elliptical trainer is equipped with a manual magnetic resistance system. This being said, you don’t need a power adapter for it or an external power source in order to adjust the resistance. But on the other hand, the included fitness monitor cannot adjust the resistance automatically and does not have pre-set workout programs.

The unit’s resistance system consists of a magnetic brake connected to the tension dial at the top of the front upright bar via a steel cable. Therefore, when you turn the knob, the brake moves closer or farther from the internal flywheel which increases or decreases the workout load.

Evidently, the main advantage of the magnetic brake is that it does not touch the flywheel, so there is no friction and the pedaling motion is very smooth and quiet. There are 10 levels of resistance available. The lowest one generates a fairly light pedaling difficulty. Conversely, the 10th level offers the possibility to perform a more consistent workout.

Like most other fitness bikes or ellipticals with a magnetic resistance system, the Sunny SF-E3981 features a belt drive system. This means that you don’t need to worry about the lubrication of the drivetrain. It also generates less vibration than a chain. For reference, the integrated belt is a poly-v model, code number 6PJ380.

Last but not least, this Sunny Health & Fitness elliptical trainer is equipped with a 13-lb (5.8 kg) flywheel. It’s not a super-heavy flywheel as the ones in spin bikes but does have a perimeter-weighted design. This type of construction leads to a more consistent pedaling motion and superior stability. Plus, it is bi-directional and you can pedal in reverse if you want.

Fitness monitor

The Sunny Health & Fitness Carbon Pro SF-E3981 elliptical trainer is equipped with a rather basic fitness monitor. It features an LCD display divided into 5 sub-sections in order to show multiple workout metrics at once. It tracks time, speed, RPM, distance, calories, and pulse.

Speed and distance are shown in English units (MPH, miles) and there is no option for changing them to metric units (kmh, kilometers). The pulse reading function is grip contact only. Therefore, you have to hold on to the sensors integrated into the fixed handlebars for the unit to track your pulse. It cannot read pulse from a wireless HR chest strap transmitters.

As we’ve mentioned above, the monitor unit does not have pre-set programs. It also does not have Bluetooth connectivity and it is not compatible with any fitness apps. It does offer the possibility to create workout goals for time, distance, and calories burned. If a workout goal is selected, the monitor will count down from the selected value until it reaches zero, always indicating the remaining value from the selected goal.

The unit features three buttons. These are Mode, Set, and Reset. The Mode button allows you to scroll through the workout metrics and select the one you want to view on the top, larger section of the display. This way, you can also select the Scan Mode that rotates all the metrics showing each one for 6 seconds. The Set button serves the purpose of creating workout goals. And finally, the Reset button clears all the values on the monitor to zero.

The monitor unit is battery-powered. It requires two AAA batteries which are included. It starts up when you begin pedaling and also automatically turns off if it does not detect any activity on the elliptical for more than 4 minutes. It also integrates a device holder.

Assembly and Maintenance

The unit’s base frame with the drive and resistance elements comes pre-assembled. The rest of the parts still require user assembly, though. So, you will have to attach the front base bar, the rear base bar, the front upright mast, the pedal bars, the moving arms, the fixed handlebars, the pedal trays, and the fitness monitor. This may take up to two hours of your time. However, the process is not too difficult and the manual provides clear assembly instructions. Also, all the necessary tools are included.

In terms of maintenance, the internal parts do not require any lubrication. The unit’s joints may require lubrication after a while in case they begin to squeak. Other than this, you only have to keep your elliptical clean and periodically check for loose bolts or damaged parts.

The Pros

  • Sturdy frame – can support users up to 265 lbs;
  • Aesthetic design;
  • Adjustable levelers on both base bars;
  • Transport wheels on the front base;
  • Durable textured pedals;
  • Fixed handlebars with pulse sensors;
  • Maintenance-free belt drive;
  • Balanced, 13-lb flywheel for improved motion stability;
  • Manual magnetic resistance system for a seamless, whisper-quiet pedaling motion;
  • Fitness monitor included – it tracks time, distance, speed, RPM, calories, and pulse;
  • Goal settings for time, distance, and calories;
  • Device holder included;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • All the assembly tools are included;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • No online connectivity;
  • No pre-set programs;
  • No bottle holder;
  • No incline.


The Sunny Health & Fitness Carbon Pro SF-E3981 is an elliptical trainer made for home use. It features a 10-level manual magnetic resistance system, a 13-lb internal flywheel, a set of durable pedals, and a fitness monitor that tracks time, distance, speed, RPM, calories, and pulse. It’s an excellent machine for low to medium-intensity cardio workouts, muscle toning, recovery training, stamina development, and weight loss.

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