Running machines from Sole Treadmills are some of the best cardio workout machines that you can buy for your home gym (or your home living room). Sole enjoys a well-deserved reputation for building high-quality, durable, and user-friendly treadmills. But if you are going to buy a Sole treadmill, which model should you choose? We put together a chart that compares the most important features of the models. And to help make sense of the jargon, we explain each of the features and let you know why they are (or are not) important.
Basic Treadmill Workout Features
These are the core features of Sole treadmills that affect the basics of your cardio running workout.
The running surface is probably the most important part of your treadmill. The first thing to look at is size. Sole treadmills come in lengths of 55 or 60 inches. If you are walking, then any size will do. If you are above average height or a very aggressive, fast runner with a long open stride, then you will want one of the 60 inch models — either the F80 or the F85. The 55 inch length of the F63 would be OK for any runner, but if you are tall or fast, you’ll enjoy the extra 5 inches. At 22 inches, the F85 running surface is actually 2 inches wider than the other models. While that’s a “nice-to-have” feature, anyone will be fine with the 20 inch width and you wouldn’t notice much difference.
There is more to the running surface than just the size. The construction of the deck is also very important. The F63 has a 1 inch phenolic deck that helps cushion your strides and lower the impact on your joints. This makes your running and walking easier on your body than exercising on asphalt.
Considerably better is the Whisper Quiet Cushion Flex Deck found on the sole F80 and F85 treadmills. As the name implies, proprietary Sole engineering has made this deck one of the quietest, smoothest moving, most durable decks of any treadmill. But even more important is the Sole Cushion Flex system which was designed specifically to provide a low-impact workout and reduce the stress on your spine, hips, knees, and ankles. In fact University researchers testing the Sole found it that it provided a 36% – 40% lower impact workout than walking or running on pavement.
The F63 deck comes with a 3 year warranty, while the F80 and F85 decks come with a lifetime warranty. So while the F63 is great, Sole is quite confident that the F80 and F85 decks will last forever and serve you a bit better.
Treadmill Speed, Pace
The top speed of treadmill is important, but few runners will be max out their treadmill at home. Speeds are typically given in miles per hour, but we find that most runners are more familiar with their pace rather than their speed. So, as you can see in the chart we’ve done the conversion math for you. These three treadmills range from a maximum pace of a 6 minutes per mile for the F63 to 5 minutes per mile for the F85. (If you are running more than a 5-minute mile, then you’re probably a professional athlete with a team gym and some super high end treadmills.)
One overlooked but nonetheless important statistic is the minimum treadmill speed. Due to their large, heavy flywheels, Sole treadmills have an amazingly slow low-end speed — 1 mph for the F63 and 1/2 mph for the other running machines. Why should you care? Because no matter how fast you walk or run, starting out slow is quite convenient and very safe. You don’t want to have to jump onto your treadmill while it’s already running at a quick pace. Starting and stopping slowly makes for an easier and safer workout.
The incline is also a very important part of your workout. You can really turn up the effectiveness of fat burning exercises by using the incline. In fact, University of Georgia researchers found that running uphill works 9% more muscle with each and every stride as compared to running on a level track. And English researchers found that you need to set your treadmill incline to 1% to get the same workout as running on level ground outside — otherwise it’s like running downhill!
All the Sole treadmills come with an incline that raises up to 15%. And with Sole’s double horseshoe, all-steel welded frame, the incline is very solid and steady. You wont’ feel any rattle or shake and the treadmill will be just as stable at 15% incline as at 0% incline.. The only difference you’ll notice when the treadmill is raised is an increased intensity in your workout, and you’ll feel that fat melting away!
Features To Help You Get the Most From Your Workout
Beyond the basics, some treadmills certainly offer more than others. Some items are just bells and whistles that are “nice to have.” But some can really improve both the quality and the enjoyment of your treadmill workout.
Sole Treadmill Console: Message Board and Programmed Treadmill Workouts
All Sole models have a nice, vibrant, blue-tone LCD display console. The F63 is slightly smaller at 6.5 inches while the F80 and F85 are 7.5 inches. But either one will serve you well. They all include standard treadmill metrics and monitors, such as speed, pace, calories burned, incline, time, pulse, and distance traveled.
They also include a really great message board feature that assists you in all stages of your workout. As you setup or program your workout, the message board will guide you with instructions – so there’s not need to hunt for the instruction manual. During your workout, the message board gives you feedback and instructions. And when your treadmill workout is complete, you’ll get a summary telling you how you did. Very handy!
All the displays come with 6 per-programmed workouts so you can add some variety to your exercise regimen. That will help keep you interested and motivated to get the most out of your workouts. And if the pre-programmed treadmill workouts don’t meet the needs of your fitness goals, you can create 2 additional custom programs so that you can target fat burning, weight loss, endurance, cardio training, or anything you want. Depending on the program the display also allow you to chart you progress on a 1/4 mile track or see where you’ve been and where you are going on a peak and valley graph.
Heart Monitors and Heart Rate Cardio Workout
All the Sole treadmills come with two ways to monitor your heart rate. You get both pulse grip heart rate monitors and a wireless chest-strap heart rate monitor. The wireless monitor has a very impressive accuracy of 99.9%.
The F80 and F85 also come with 2 heart rate controlled programs that give you a very controlled cardio workout. You give the Sole treadmill your age, and it automatically calculates your safe target heart rate and then adjusts the speed and incline to reach and keep your target heart rate. This is a great feature not usually found in home treadmills in this price range.
Bells and Whistles: Armrest Speed Control, MP3 Speakers and Cooling Fans
While some of these features were only found on the top-of-the-line Sole models, since 2011 all the Sole running machines have these bells and whistles.
The armrests have large, easy to press buttons that allow you to make on-the-fly adjustments to both the speed (on one armrest) and the incline (on the other armrest). This is very handy, because you can slow down or increase the intensity of work out during your workout without having to reach for the console and make adjustments from the various buttons there. It’s a great design.
Since many of us like to listen to music while we workout, the Sole treadmills come with built in speakers. These have a cord that you can plug into the headphone jack of your iPod or your favorite MP3 player. The fidelity of the speakers won’t break any nearby glasses or windows, but you’ll be able to rock your workout to your favorite tunes or listen to the latest podcast or your next audio book. And you won’t have to constantly adjust your ear buds or fiddle with armband or waist straps to hold your player.
The Soles also come with 2 built-in cooling fans. Again, if it’s a crazy hot and humid day, this won’t replace a good air conditioner. But they’ll certainly help keep you cooler while you sweat off those pounds or train for your marathon.
Treadmill Machine Details: Folding And Built To Last
All the Sole treadmills are folding. For some other manufacturers, the folding option can make the treadmill flimsy and unstable. But not for Sole. Their treadmills where originally built to enable the Hilton hotel chain to provide treadmill in guest’s hotel rooms. So even at 200+ pounds, the folded treadmills are as stable as a room-service cart and you can wheel them around as needed. And the Sole Easy Assist design means they can be easily and safely folded up or down by anyone. Whether you have a huge home gym or a tiny living room, folding the treadmill when not in use is a real space saver.
The top-notch engineering seen in the clever and solid folding design is carried throughout the entire treadmill. With an all-steel, welded (not bolted) frame, all the folding Sole treadmills are more stable than most non-folding models from other treadmill makers. And instead of simply painting the frames, they are finished with an epoxy powder that is baked right on.
The motors are all high torque, industrial quality machines with all-steel, zinc-coated, large diameter flywheels. The flywheels — not found in most other treadmills in this price range — make for a smoother spinning, vibration free running surface. And they increase the life of the motors — all of which come with a lifetime warranty.
The rollers used by Sole are larger in diameter than the industry average. Why do you care about the roller size? The larger rollers make for an even smoother movement of the running surface, and they extend the life of the belt. So bigger is better.
The Sole warranty is top notch. A life time warranty on the frame, motor, and Whisper Quiet Cushion Flex Deck is proof that Sole has made these running machines well and they are willing to stand behind them. The 3 or 5 year warranty on other components and the 2 years labor on the F80 and F85 are unmatched by other manufacturers. Add all Sole owners we’ve heard from have been very satisfied with Sole customer service. So, in the unlikely event that you do have a problem with your treadmill, Sole will take care of you and get it fixed.