Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3988 Elliptical Trainer

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Sunny SF-E3988

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220 lbsBeltManual
8 levels

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3988 elliptical is basically an upgraded version of the SF-E3872 under desk model. The main body of the machine is basically the same, the only difference is the color. However, the SF-3988 model has a height-adjustable handlebar and a few extra features.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 33.5L x 18.5W x 51.75H inches (85L x 47W x 131H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 32.6 lbs (15 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 220 lbs (100 kg)
  • Stride length: 7 inches (17.7 cm)
  • Drive: Belt
  • Resistance: Manual magnetic, 8 levels
  • Fitness meter: Time, distance, speed, calories, scan
  • Warranty: Frame 1 year / Parts 180 days

Frame construction

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3988 elliptical machine is built on a steel frame. As opposed to the SF-E3872 model, its main longitudinal base bar extends past the front section of the main unit, offering the possibility to attach the included adjustable handlebar. All the steel parts in its construction are coated with a corrosion-resistant paint finish; the main color used is white. The pedal trays and the covers of the drive system are made of durable thermoplastic material.

The machine has a fairly small footprint which makes it ideal for a small room or apartment. It is approx. 33.5″ (85 cm) long, and 18.5″ (47 cm) wide. However, it still is recommended to allow at least two feet of clearance all around the machine for ease of access and safe usage.

The unit’s handlebar is adjustable. The tube of its top section has 6 adjustment holes and you can adjust it to the desired height via a small turn knob. The handlebar itself has a pretty standard design. It’s oriented upright and does not offer angle adjustability. It also does not have any pulse sensors or any other type of controls for the trainer. Its side sections feature PVC foam sleeves for an improved and comfortable grip.

It’s important to mention here, that since the resistance adjustment knob is placed between the pedals on the main body of the trainer, and the handlebar does not have pulse sensors, there are no cables passing through the handlebar tube. Therefore, its assembly is not necessary. By not attaching the handlebar to the elliptical, you can use it while seated or under a desk.

The main body of the trainer features a handle at the top so you can easily carry it. Its front base stabilizer is also equipped with a small set of wheels. The unit is not too heavy, so it can easily be handled and carried by only one person. Its net weight is only 32.6 lbs (15 kg).

Last but not least, the Sunny SF-E3988 features a small plate with three large holes in it, welded to the front base of the frame. This can serve as an anchor point for elastic bands, so you can perform arm exercises as well. A set of elastic bands is not included with the trainer, though.

Pedal construction, stride, and elliptical path

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3988 elliptical machine is equipped with a set of large pedals. They have a metallic base while their trays are made from a durable thermoplastic material. They are ribbed and feature side guards for improved foot stability. They do not have any additional cushioning or articulations, though, as is the case for the more expensive models. They are rated for a maximum user weight limit of 220 lbs (100 kg).

The pedals have large silicone wheels at the front with internal ball bearings for a smooth motion. The wheels move on two metallic plates which are welded directly to the base frame. The rear sections of the pedals attach to the unit’s crankset, which has flattened arms, similar to the ones in bikes.

The highest point of the pedal reaches approx. 10″ (25 cm) above the floor level. Therefore, it is recommended to use this machine in a room with a ceiling that is at least 15″ (38 cm) higher than your own height. Or, if you’re not going to attach the handlebar and use it under a desk, the desktop board should be at least 11″-12″ (27-30 cm) above your knees when seated.

This Sunny Health & Fitness elliptical trainer features a neutral elliptical path. Its stride is only 7″ (17.7 cm), so the pedaling motion resembles the one of a stepper rather than the one of a regular elliptical. But nonetheless, the machine provides an excellent leg workout, especially for the calves, thighs, and glutes.

The machine does not have an incline system. Therefore, you cannot adjust the angle of the elliptical path or the length of the stride.

Resistance system

The Sunny SF-E3988 elliptical trainer is equipped with a manual magnetic resistance system. Therefore, you don’t need a power adapter or power cord for it. But on the other hand, it does not adjust the speed or resistance automatically and does not have pre-set workout programs.

The unit’s resistance system consists of a magnetic brake attached to the internal flywheel assembly and to the tension knob on the machine’s main body. Therefore, when you turn the knob left or right, the magnets change their position in relation to the flywheel which increases or decreases the pedaling difficulty.

As opposed to a friction resistance system, the magnetic brake system comes with a few advantages. First of all, the magnetic brake pad does not touch the flywheel, so the pedaling motion is smooth and quiet. Also, since there is no friction between the brake and the flywheel, the brake basically suffers no wear and tear.

The machine makes available 8 levels of resistance. The first level delivers a fairly light pedaling difficulty, great for recovery training, or muscle toning. Conversely, the 8th level of resistance provides considerably more pedal tension for a more intense workout.

Drive system

The Sunny SF-E3988 elliptical is equipped with a belt drive system like most other fitness machines that have a magnetic resistance system. It integrates a J300 rubber belt designed for improved traction. As opposed to a chain, the belt does not require periodic lubrication, so you won’t have to take the unit apart for this task. Also, the belt produces less vibration than a chain and provides a smoother overall motion.

This Sunny elliptical trainer integrates a small flywheel featuring a perimeter-weighted construction. Its exact weight is not specified, but since the machine’s weight is only 32.6 lbs (15 kg), the flywheel probably doesn’t weigh more than 8 lbs (3.6 kg). Due to the perimeter-weighted design, it delivers a smooth motion and a consistent momentum.

The flywheel is bi-directional. In other words, you can pedal in reverse on this machine. This allows you to diversify your workouts and focus different muscle groups. However, coasting is not possible on it. The pedals continue to spin for as long as the flywheel is in motion; if you stop pedaling, the flywheel will also stop spinning.

Fitness monitor

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3988 elliptical machine is equipped with a basic fitness monitor. It features an LCD display with two sub-sections. It tracks time, speed, distance, and calories burned. Speed and distance are shown in MPH and miles; there is no possibility to set them to km/h and kilometers. The unit does not have an RPM function, a pulse reading function, or a step count function.

The monitor unit is pretty easy to use. It only has one button which covers all the functions. By pressing the button, you can change the metrics displayed on the bottom section of the screen and select between time, distance, and calories. The top section always indicates speed. The unit has a Scan Mode which automatically rotates the metrics on the bottom display showing each one for a few seconds. And finally, you can reset all the data on the monitor by pressing and holding the button for a few seconds.

The monitor unit is battery-powered. It requires an LR44 (1.5 V) battery which is included. It starts up when you press the button or when you begin pedaling. It also automatically turns off if it does not detect any activity on the elliptical for approx. 4 minutes.

Assembly and Maintenance

The base unit of the machine with all the drive and resistance elements, comes pre-assembled. You only need to attach the handlebar tube and the handlebar. This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes of your time. The manual provides clear instructions for it, and all the necessary tools are included.

Maintenance also doesn’t require much. The internal parts do not need any lubrication. So, in terms of maintenance, you only have to keep the unit clean and periodically inspect it for loose or damaged parts. If the pedal joints or the wheels begin to squeak, so lubrication may be necessary.

The Pros

  • Small footprint, great for apartment use;
  • Lifting handle on the main unit of the trainer;
  • Anchor points for elastic bands;
  • Adjustable handlebar with six height positions;
  • Lightweight, easy to transport;
  • Transport wheels integrated into its front base stabilizer;
  • Extra-large pedals with side guards;
  • Large silicone wheels on the pedals for reduced noise;
  • Zero-friction, magnetic resistance system (8 levels);
  • Belt drive system for a smooth and quiet pedaling motion;
  • Fitness monitor included – it tracks time, speed, distance, and calories burned;
  • Battery for the monitor is included;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • No pulse reading function;
  • No backlight on the display of the monitor.


The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3988 is an elliptical trainer made for home use. It features an 8-level magnetic resistance system, an internal belt drive, a set of large pedals with silicone wheels, and an adjustable handlebar. It is also equipped with a basic fitness monitor that tracks time, distance, calories, and pulse. In all, it’s a fitness machine designed for light to medium-intensity workouts, muscle toning, stamina development, and weight loss.

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