The Sole F85 is a strong and robust treadmill with lots of impressive features and a modern, attractive design. The treadmill boasts; a folding deck design, a Cushion Flex Whisper Deck, a 9 inch LCD screen, a Sole message board facility, 12 MPH maximum speed, 15% incline and a pulse grip and chest strap heart rate monitoring facility. At around $1800 dollars, the Sole F85 certainly isn’t within the budget range of treadmills, but is it still value for money?
Dimensions & Technical Specifications
- 58 H x 80 L x 35 W inches (147.3 H x 203.2 L x 88.9 W cm)
- Deck Size 35 X 80 inches (88.9 x 203.2 cm)
- 400 pounds maximum user capacity (181.4 kg)
- 265 pounds assembled weight (120.02 kg)
- 301 pounds shipping weight (136.5 kg)
- Folding Deck Design – Easy Assist – SOLE Fitness if proud to offer the best folding treadmill design on the market. Our design features a patented all gear rack & pinion system with the Safety Lock Deck design that locks the deck into place when the treadmill is in the upright position. The F85 also comes with our Easy Assist Folding Deck Design, this unique feature allows you to release the deck, step back and the deck will unfold itself effortlessly while you watch. The Easy Assist Folding deck design is unique to SOLE and makes unfolding your treadmill all too easy.
- Convenient Controls – Users want to have the freedom of increasing speed and incline quickly, the display features quick speed/incline buttons along the sides of the LCD making it extremely convenient and easy to control and maintain your workout.
- Cushion Flex Whisper Deck – A unique design to any type of treadmill on the market, this deck provides our users with a comfortable and quiet workout as well as reducing impact of up to 40%. The reversible deck is the same type used in Commercial grade models and is wax lubricated, which means less work on the motor during use.
- Precision Welded Frame – Accurate and precise welding is important when designing a treadmill. Durability of a product begins with a strong frame, capable of handling multiple users of various weights and heights.
- Large Light Commercial Display Screen – The SOLE LCD console display makes work outs easier and more effective. A vibrant blue screen with large clean readouts provide users with helpful information, such as Heart Rate, Speed, Pace, Calories burned and many other useful bits of information
- Message Board – SOLE is proud to offer integrated message boards on most of our models. What is the SOLE Message Board; it is an alphanumeric text center that sends scrolling messages to the user in an effort to guide them through all of the details of every workout. Ever wonder how to set up the user profile workout, just push the user profile button the message board will walk you though the rest. Think of the message board as having someone standing next to you reading from the owner’s manual on what to do next in just about every function of the treadmill. After years of seeing people get frustrated in the gym and at home we came up with a better way to help you use the full capabilities of our treadmills, and we made is very user friendly. The message board will also recap your entire workout after you are finished, so you can see your progress.
- High Torque Motors with Flywheels- All SOLE treadmills feature the heaviest duty chassis and motors in their class. Beginning with powder coated all-steel welded frames and heavy duty stable inclines, we add industrial quality motors with large diameter, all-steel zinc coated balanced flywheels for a vibration-free secure running/walking surface. Why do we add a flywheel to our motors? Flywheels cause the motor to run cooler with less amp draw and extend the life off the motor. They also allow us to offer a start speed of .5mph of 1mph. SOLE also uses much heavier flywheels than its competitors which give you the fluid motion you’re accustomed to at the gym or on treadmill costing thousands more.
- Rollers- When we chose the rollers for our treadmill line we went with only the best and outfitted all of our treadmills with the same high-end rollers that most people only offer on $5000 treadmills. We use 2.75″ rollers with a sealed bearing design and copper ground wires for each roller to reduce static. Larger rollers make for a larger contact surface against the belt and longer roller and belt life. This makes for smooth, quiet, static free motion that will stand the test of time.
- Belts- We use double woven 2-ply belts with four layers on almost all of our treadmills. Two rubber layers over a middle PVC layer with a nylon backing that rolls over the deck and rollers. The rubber provides the durability, the PVC stops the belt from over-stretching and the nylon provides a smooth static free surface to glide over the deck and rollers.
- Bullet proof frames All SOLE treadmills feature epoxy powder coated paint, baked to appliance finish durability. This finish protects the all-steel construction, along with welded steel, not bolted, our frames are indestructible thus the lifetime warranty.
The machine has the capacity to comfortably accommodate a user of 400 pounds, so you’d expect it to feel pretty solid underfoot, and it certainly does. Despite the fact the machine is foldable, the Safety Lock Deck design works so well that it doesn’t feel as though the frame will move or rock during use. The Cushion Flex Shock absorption isn’t completely apparent the first few times you use the machine, but once it’s running smoothly this feature is a real joy and provides an exceptionally comfortable running surface. The extra long 60 inch long x 22 inch wide also receives top marks for comfort and safety. Those who are not completely tight or uniform in their running style will appreciate this extra ‘wiggle’ room. For users of all heights- particularly taller users with long strides- the length of the belt means full throttle sprinting with no stray footing worry.
The handlebar positioning is a little odd and doesn’t fully support a holding position which isn’t a great feature for those who struggle with balance, and the fan creates no more than a subtle breeze which has no real impact on your comfort levels during workouts.
On a basic level, the F85 provides a solid, comfortable base for basic walking and running programs. The incline level and 12 mph speed limit are adequate customization features that allow for higher intensity workouts if you wish to increase your fitness levels.
There are however a few issues with the treadmill that essentially render a large proportion of the features unusable depending on your needs.
The first issue is the fact that the machine is meant to be telemetry enabled which means it should be compatible with any polar chest strap. Unfortunately if you use your own chest strap and not the one they send you , you could find your heartrate is off by a long shot. This problem doesn’t make the feature unusable but it does make it irritating to keep switching equipment.
Another major issue on this machine is the programming. You get 2 customizable options, 2 heart rate and six preset programs. The 6 preset programs are very basic and unfortunately don’t tell you the distance travelled in as much detail as you might like. Rather than hundredths (2.21, 2.22, 2.23 etc) the display only reads in the tenths so you only know you’ve done 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 etc. You’ll also find that the heart rate programs are not very easy to work with. The program uses your optimum heart rate information and is designed to keep you within that heart rate, however, the way it does that is by changing the incline position on the machine, which you cannot adjust during the program. Unfortunately this can create heart rate spikes which then eventually make the program shut down automatically.
Unfortunately the mechanics of the machine are well designed to enhance the users fitness levels, whereas the programming almost seems designed to do the opposite.
Ease Of Use & Convenience
The machine can accommodate users of up to 400 pounds, so you should expect it to be heavy when it arrives. If you can get the machine put in the place you want to set it up you will save yourself an injury. It is easy to assemble and the foldaway option works really well to save space, particularly as the hydraulic lowering when you unfold it stops any parts snapping back into place and potentially hurting any child/ animal underneath and/ or the machine itself.
The cup holders are very deep and large which is always convenient when you’re looking to keep yourself well hydrated. The colours on the LCD screen aren’t particularly well thought out as the blue background and white writing don’t contrast enough for maximum easy reading.
The one exceptionally inconvenient feature of the machine is the fact that it does not have a volume button, so you are unable to adjust the sound levels whilst you are in the middle of a workout. You can go to the device and adjust it there, but you wouldn’t be able to do it with ease if you’re in the middle of a workout.
The entertainment features on this treadmill are the MP3 compatible speakers and the reading rack. The reading rack is a ledge which would place the tablet or Kindle in front of the screen, these types of entertainment item fit well on the thin ledge but you would probably struggle with a full sized book. The speakers are adequate and provide a relatively OK sound, aside from the volume issue (mentioned above) they are better quality than most you find inbuilt into exercise machines.
- Frame- Lifetime
- Motor- Lifetime
- Deck- LIfetime
- Electronics- 5 years
- Labour- 2 years
The Final Verdict
The Sole F85 is definitely a top of the range performance treadmill that can be enjoyed by all users; fitness lovers, home gym enthusiasts and especially professional runners. Unfortunately if you’re not buying it to improve your running technique; using it for full pelt sprints and endurance runs, it simply cannot be labelled as ‘exceptional value’.
It is well made, sturdy and has exceptional comfort levels and a fantastic warranty.
Invest if you’re a professional runner or runner enthusiast who needs the ability to enjoy low impact, full throttle running on a machine that’s built to take it. Look around for something else if you plan to just use it for walking or have particular programming or feedback needs.