Life, Running, & Medicine.
Notes on life as I see it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sole E35 Elliptical Review (early)

So here' s my first review of the Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer.  I will plan to give another review after a few months of use and of course will append as necessary if there are any issues.
Ordering & Delivery
Ordering directly from SoleTreadmills.com saved me the sales tax over going to Dick' Sporting Goods.  Also included in the price was free freight delivery to the doorstep.  Ordering could not have been easier online.  I got a confirmation that night in email and a shipment confirmation with a tracking number the next day.  They said it would take 10-14 days but got a call from the freight company saying they had it in Atlanta just 6 business days later.  It was delivered to the sidewalk in a large heavy box, undamaged.
Assembly
All in all it took about 1 hour to move the parts upstairs and assemble.  Hardest part is the flywheel unit which must've weighed 100 pounds.  Would definitely recommend some help with moving it.  Assembly is pretty clearly laid out and easy to follow.  I bought some Locktite thread glue to put on the bolts to keep them from loosening but forgot to use it.  Oh well.
Overall
First off this machine is very impressive in its durability.  It seems like it is made very heavy-duty with big heavy steel parts and tightly fastening bolts.  I don't see how normal use could hurt the frame components.  It has the look of a stripped-down industrial machine.  Operation, thus far, has been very quiet.  I worked out this morning just one thin wall away from my light-sleeping wife who did not notice.  I was careful to really tighten all the bolts and make sure of no cross-threads when assembling.  If any do work loose I will locktite the threads to keep it from happening again.  I bought some 3/8" thick interlocking floors pads from Wal-Mart for the mat over my wood floor.  The base sits only about 20" wide and 82" long.  Seems very strong.  The machine weighs some 220 lbs and has a 30-lb flywheel.
Console
The console is appears to be no-frills.  Only a few buttons, no crazy displays, no crazy stickers.  A lot of cheaper treadmills seem like they put a lot or colors and lights on the console to sell them.  This is not the case with this machine.  It has a fan that does almost nothing (don't even notice when it is on).  It has simple speakers for your iPod and interestingly also has a headphone output that I can't figure out what it is for (if you had an iPod why plug it in to the machine just to plug your headphones in to the machine?).  The workouts seem adequate (hills, intervals, fat burn, manual and a user-programmable one) as is the 16 levels of resistance.  Weirdly there is also a heart-rate control program, but the Sole website says this machine does not have that setting.  Interestingly the console will record you running in "reverse" mode but doesn't have any programs that take advantage of this like the gym models.
One point of interest is that it seems like the console reports about half the calories burned as the LifeFitness models I use at the gym.  On the LifeFitness, a comfortably hard workout for me burns 15cal/min.  A similarly "comfortably hard" workout on the Sole burns me only about 8cal/min.  There is obviously wide variability in these calculations and it may change after the machine is more broken-in.
Pedals and Smoothness
Very smooth.  No jerks, very comfortable and natural.  The 20-inch stride is the same as the commercial LifeFitness models I have used.  Trying out the cheaper shorter stride ellipticals at Dick's was useful to really see the difference.  The shorter the stride the less like running and the more like bicycling. Also practically no swaying or rocking.  The pedals have a 2-degree rotation on them to take pressure off your knees, so it is more like running.  Also they have adjustments to add up to 10-degrees of forward tilt which they claim helps with the problem of some people's toes/feet going numb after a long workout.
Heart-rate Monitor
The chest strap seems to only work when I am really sweaty and it is pretty tight.  The palm grips work best after your palms are sweaty but is much more reliable.  After reading some other sites out there it seems those chest straps are universally notorious for unreliable monitoring.  So far have not been able to get the heart-rate controller to work because can't get the chest strap to pick up my heart for long enough.
First two workouts
No complaints.  Pedals are comfortable enough for barefoot (though maybe not recommended).  The heart rate strap reliability is not quite there yet.  There could be more frills with the console, like saving workout/user data, etc; but the simplicity is nice too.  The calorie counter being "different" from the other machines I use is a little disappointing, but I don't know which is more accurate anyway.  All-in-all it felt like I was on a commercial-quality machine, and so far would recommend to anyone wanting a "home gym".
 
 
 

14 comments:

Scott said...

When do you think you'll write the followup?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. It is well written and easy to understand. TopC

Mike said...

I had a slightly different experience – below is my review that I just posted on Amazon.com

Warranty / Service worthless

I did a lot of research before I purchased my Sole E35, and one of the big issues I factored in was the warranty. My experience so far is that their warrant is worthless.

On 1/17 called the tech support/warranty department in the morning and got a recording that the office was closed (okay, Saturday - understandable) but I could not leave a message because the mailbox was full (first sign of trouble). So I went online and completed a work ticket on the Sole web site.

1/20 called again and this time got a person (after a long wait on hold) -I told her I was following up on my electronic work ticket, she checked the computer and said she had no record (so much for their web site). I asked if she at least had received my warranty card (I both mailed it and completed the online form) - the Sole lady on the phone literally laughed in my face, I kid you not. She stated that they receive "thousands" of these cards and do not have time to enter them - I am not embellishing here. So I started at square one and gave her my issue (the left arm was bent and thus the left arm and leg peddle clicked and bumped). She then become professional and polite, took my information and said someone would call me in with 24 hours.

1/22 (50 hours latter) - no call, I called Sole again (forth attempt to get service) - this lady was very nice, apologized for the delay, checked the system (this time I was in there), but said they were very backed up with service calls (perhaps an indication of their quality?)- she could not give me an estimate of when they would get back to me, just promised that they would - someday.

I will update this entry if Sole ever follows up, so if you are reading this and I do not have a date of follow up, it means they have not.

One other point - Sole states that you can assemble their machine in "about 25-35 minutes" -In all honesty, this is another exaggeration (as other reviewers have pointed out). It is probably the same marketing person who came up with the line on their web site "With SOLE you can expect the best product, the best warranty, the best service and the best support. We will do whatever we can to help you make the most of your fitness equipment." Right now I just be happy if they returned my repeated phone calls.

FreiKorpa said...

Yes, the girlfriend and I just bought one, it's my first ever experience as I mostly run outside, she's used them in the gym. It's not when I realized how different of a workout you do get did I pitch in my half of the cost.

We managed to get a 2008 model at 1400 CDN, but I mixed up the info on the site thinking it included delivery, owner Fitness Superstore was nice enough to call to verify if I had a pickup to bring it from the nearest depot. however, and for $40 it was placed right into my door, which really isn't too bad as Sole doesn't pay the shipping for last year models. Damn heavy! Ouf!!!

Putting together was quite fast, I have lots of power tools. :P However all the plastic covering parts (I call it cowling or waste our planet with more damn plastic) I left out, nothing wrong with the industrial look of shiny bolts and mechanical view to me.

Feels really like running a little with a little more work on the butt if you want, but sometimes I go up to 11 and work the arms out, really fun and with these cold winters, I think it's the best thing that came into this house. My only disappointment is that it doesn't have users, like it's kinda anti-couple or family purchase. I know programming, and seriously would have cost them nothing to add this if they did it for their other machines. I guess it's one of those "try to remove some important features just to make them buy the next step up" kinda deal. Other then that I really can't complain, and was really impressed with the construction. Those steel hand pegs are some wicket metal twisted design.

I've found the purpose of the iPod and speaker plug, it's to make you wonder as to what the hell it is in the event that you get bored while working out. It just doesn't make sense, probably wanted to put iPod in the marketing brochure, maybe I'm just dumb or something. But don't tell me, so far it's really doing it's job.

Well, got to go, my cheese burger is waiting on the table. :D

Doc26.2 said...

i guess the ipod plug is reasonable... if u wanted to use the crappy little speakers. But why then the headphone jack.... i mean why would you plug ur ipod into the machine, then your headphones in right beside it? (i tried it btw to see if it made the beeps go silent and it did NOT).

Homer said...

Very good review! I've cretated website for all information about Sole E35 elliptical - http://solee35elliptical.com. Feel free to post reviews there.

Linda said...

I have found the same thing about the calorie counter. I am wondering which is more accurate, the SOLE elliptical count or all the other information I have found. At the gym I could usually predict 100 calories per 10 min--this is more like 50 per 10 min. When I look at online websites, they also have a considerably higher calorie burned count. I guess it is better to have a count lower than the actual amount so at the end of the week/month, you have really burned more than you think. Does anyone know which is more accurate?

Bert said...

The beeping noise can be quickly fixed by entering engineering mode per the manual that comes with the elliptical or online at http://www.soletreadmills.com/pdf/manuals_2009/SOLE_E25_E35_2009.pdf . Maintenance Menu in console software:The console has built in maintenance/diagnostic software. The software will allow you to
change the console settings from English to Metric and turn off the beeping of the speaker
when a key is pressed for example. To enter the Maintenance menu (may be called
Engineering mode, depending on version) press and hold down the Start, Stop and Enter keys.
Keep holding the keys down for about 5 seconds and the message window will display
"Engineering mode". Press the enter button to access the menu below. Press the up and down
keys to navigate the menu.
a. Key test (will allow you to test all the keys to make sure they are functioning)
b. Functions (Press enter to access settings, use up/dn keys to scroll)
i. ODO reset (reset the odometer)
ii. Units (Set to English or Metric display readings)
iii. Sleep mode (Turn on to have the console power down automatically
after 20 minutes of inactivity)
iv. Motor test (continually runs the tensioning gear motor)
v. Manual (Allows stepping of the gear motor)
vi. Key tone (Turn on or off the beep when a key is pressed)
vii. Calibration Allows you to calibrate the gear motor that sets the
workload. Press enter to calibrate and the motor will reset itself to make
sure that level 1 is set to the lowest resistance possible.
c. Security (Allows you to lock the keypad so no unauthorized use is allowed)
When the child lock is enabled, the console will not allow the keypad to
operate unless you press and hold the Start and Enter buttons for 3 seconds
to unlock the console.
d. Exit Select to exit engineering mode
Incline calibration: If there is a problem with the incline, try running the calibration. Press the
Incline up key and the Start key at the same time. Hold them down for 5 seconds and the
Incline calibration will start and run automatically. If the problem persists contact service.
This is an awesome elliptical and once the beeping stopped I have no complaints at all.

Nate in NY said...

Thank you for all these comments! I am considering buying an E35 and this has been incredibly helpful. 2 Questions: Do I see wheels on one end and therefore can the unit be pulled into and out of position like into the room and then up against a wall? And- does the display console have a little shelf or lip at the bottom that might hold a book or magazine? I love to read while I'm training. Any help out there? Thanks!

Bert said...

Yes to both questions Nate. There are wheels to move the elliptical, but the machine is heavy so I recommend getting it as close to where you will use it as possible. Its hard to go wrong with this one in my opinion. Good luck.

Nate in NY said...

Thanks Bert! I have another question since I'm getting such good info here. What type of clearance do I need above? Meaning, my ceiling height? I realize it will vary depending on the person but I'm 6'1". If I'm standing on the pedals how high will my head go? Also, I notice the e35 is only rated to 250 pounds and I've read recommendations that if we're going to really put the machine through it's paces we might be better off with the higher rated e95 which has a 400lb rating and the flywheel is 5 pounds heavier. Any thoughts? Thanks!

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