The Sole F80 treadmill, winner of two Consumer Best Buy Awards, is one of many in the category of medium priced treadmills. The leading-edge research that has gone into Sole products and made them a leader in commercial markets is the same that they offer to consumers in their latest line of fitness equipment. The F80 has an awesome array of features designed for ease of use and stowage coupled with specifications that are user oriented. The most notable fact about the Sole name is the strength associated with it. Reviewers have consistently praised the product for its durability and warranty coverage in the case of a malfunction. The Sole Company’s extensive experience in making commercial strength treadmills has given them the foundations to develop one of the most mobile, versatile units within its respective price range. Consumers can expect an overall solid product backed by sound research and prompt customer service.
Features and specifications of the Sole F80 treadmill
The Sole F80 treadmill boasts an impressive list of features that were designed to put the user in control. The specific characteristics of the Sole F80 treadmill include:
• One-Touch operation
• Reinforced frame
• Over-sized rollers
• 2-ply belts
• Cushion Flex Whisper Deck
• Noise reducing technology
• User-friendly display
• Quick controls on the handrails
• Optional video integration
• iPod/ iPhone/ MP3 ready
• Mounted speakers
Easy Assist deck system
Operating the F80 is simple and safe for any household thanks to the one-touch system. To deny access to small children designers placed a smart release lever towards the top of the unit. Users simply pull the lever and stand back as the F80 lowers the deck in two stages, coming to a gentle rest in the exercise position.
Double horseshoe frame for strength and comfort
The design team behind the Sole F80 was concerned about the comfort of their customers as they developed the frame. Reinforced double-horseshoe folding construction provides a stable, more solid foundation for exercising by reducing vibration and excess movement within the infrastructure of the unit. The frames were built to comply with the production demands of the hotel industry, marrying strength with mobility to get one of the sturdiest frames of any folding treadmill. To add to the comfort of the user engineers introduced over-sized rollers and 2-ply belts in the interior of the deck for a surer feel when jogging or running.
Proprietary Cushion Flex Whisper Deck technology
One of the most innovative characteristics of the Sole F80 treadmill is the Cushion Flex Whisper Deck technology. Since 1992, Sole has been developing their deck system to reduce the amount of impact that the joints absorb. The most recent models offer a reduction of .365, a 40% decrease in total friction. This is good news for the spine and joints of the hips, knees, and ankles as they are extremely susceptible to damage from long-term, high-impact exercises.
Although the F80 provides a solid platform for the most aggressive runner, the Flex Deck is gentle enough to work in a rehabilitative capacity. Many institutions have implemented daily exercise as an aspect of the therapy routine. The low-impact deck is perfect for individuals with injuries or other disabilities.
A common complaint from treadmill owners is the noise created while exercising. Many exercisers listen to music or audio books, catch up on T.V. shows, or take the time to organize their thoughts; excessive impact noise can be extremely distracting. The solid construction and cross-reinforcements of the double horseshoe design significantly reduces the sound of steps regardless of the pace of the user. An additional benefit of being originally designed for use in luxury hotels is a capacity to accommodate up to 350lbs while retaining a lightweight, secure, and slim figure.
The display on the Sole treadmill is centered directly in front of the person exercising and provides easy access to all of the available options. The unit is pre-programmed with six workout programs to choose from and two blank presets for the users to design their own plan, while the clear blue backlit LCD screen and large buttons make monitoring workout data simple. Changing the settings is as easy as reaching out and adjusting the correct area of the workout to make it right for the user.
Quick controls on the handrails
The engineers anticipated the need for easy and convenient access to the integral aspects of treadmill exercising: speed and incline. This need was addressed by the inclusion of control buttons on both handrails for immediate access during a workout. Users of the Sole F80 praise the designers for this feature, claiming that their attention to details and level of customer-oriented development was the most impressive aspect of their purchase.
iPod/ iPhone/ MP3 ready
Sole designed the F80 to be plug-and-play ready with popular mp3 players and the iPod/ iPhone platforms. An audio jack on the face of the display accepts the adapter to hook up a favorite audio source. According to the manufacturer’s website individuals that listen to music or watch a favorite T.V. show typically work out longer and at a higher intensity than those that do not.
Mounted speakers: premium sound at an economical price
With the inclusion of two speakers into the display mount the treadmill is capable of quality sound whether music, audio book or ambient sound therapy. Beside each speaker is a storage compartment that is great for holding an mp3 player, remote control, baby monitor, or bottle of water. Sole understands that consumers need easy access to their accessories and their forward-thinking leaves customers satisfied with their purchases.
Exercise data interpreted and boldly displayed
Many people enjoy taking a more hands-on approach to their training by tracking the various data that is produced during a workout. The data monitored by the F80’s computer include a calorie calculator, pace estimator, and pulse monitor. The systems also records time, speed, and incline according to the user’s preference and offers a ¼ mile feature for track-like simulation followed up with graphs depicting the peaks and valleys in intensity during the workout. This data is important to individuals conducting interval training; they will rely on it to know when to increase the intensity and when to rest. These features offer the user consistency and training guidelines that help prevent the plateau effect common in exercisers.
Audio/ Video integration
To reiterate their devotion to user satisfaction Sole Athletic offers the INVU monitor loaded with various audio and video outlets for multimedia plug-ins. The TV monitor has RCA jacks along the back of the display that allows users to connect everything from digital T.V., satellite dishes, DVR’s, and computers for enhanced experiences.
Some of the other treadmills that are in direct competition with the Sole F80 include:
• Reebok 9500ES
• Lifespan TR3000
• Nordic Track Commercial 1750
All of these models include the folding option and have a specific level of mobility.
The Reebok 9500ES is a real contender for the spot of best treadmill in the price range. What separates Reebok from the Sole is industry experience. With the level of research and development that has been the cornerstone of Sole’s business for so long, Reebok cannot produce a better product and charge the same price. The 9500ES has a more powerful engine at 3.5 horsepower and consequently a higher top speed, however, the F80 offers up to a three percent steeper incline. The belt on the Reebok is slightly wider but Sole makes up for it with their 2-ply double woven material. Each utilized their proprietary deck technology, Cushion Flex Whisper Deck for Sole F80 treadmills and DMX Adjustable Impact Absorption for the Reebok 9500ES. The latter offers 35 preset workout programs compared to the F80’s six but Sole answers with two additional presets that are user-defined to add customization options. Additionally, the Sole F80 treadmill provides two heart rate monitors, one on the handrails for convenience and another in the form of a chest strap.
The Lifespan unit is not as powerful as the Sole and does not reach the same top speed but in addition to 10 levels of incline, the Lifespan allows five levels of decline. The belt and deck of the Lifespan is barely longer and offer nothing spectacular in the form of deck support and impact reduction as found in the F80. The Sole supports more weight and comes with more LED display features while the Lifespan offers more preset programs and the presence of a Polar Heart Rate Receiver and contact Pulse Grips like the Sole series F80.
The Nordic Track Commercial 1750 is another of the Sole’s most aggressive competitors with many similar features and handy amenities. At 3.5 horsepower, the Nordic Track model is stronger and faster with the same level of incline possible in the Sole. Both units have a commercial strength belt with over-sized rollers for smooth and reliable operation. The Nordic has an interactive touch screen display that makes it sexy and high-tech while not necessarily simpler and each can support the maximum weight of 350lbs.
The warranty is a pivotal part of purchasing a treadmill in this price range. While user-specific functions should be foremost for consumers, knowing the manufacturer will stand behind their product after purchase is very important. Lifespan and Sole support their treadmills with lifetime warranties on the motors, decks and frame plus five years on the belt, rollers, and internal electronics, finishing it off with two years on labor from Sole and one from Lifespan. Reebok offers a 20 year guarantee on their motors followed by 90 days on parts and labor. The Nordic Track Commercial 1750 offers the same warranty as the Sole F80 treadmill.
Shopping for a new treadmill in 2012 opens many new windows for consumers seeking to optimize their exercise regimen. The leading-edge technology allows for a more thorough tracking with accurate measurements of pace, speed, caloric loss, and heart rate. Important factors to consider are the features each offer and whether they meet the demands of the individual consumer. Design may also become a determining factor if space is limited or there is a personal preference. Machines of these sizes and weights must meet specific compliance codes for safety and reliability, consumers should be wary of any product that does not promise some safety rating.
Having the backup of knowledgeable and helpful representatives to assist with mechanical issues after the sale is just as important as product specifications. Products that promise the world may not always deliver, the right research is necessary in order to determine the track record of the various manufacturers. For example, Sole has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any mid-priced treadmill and their models are famous for their longevity and durability. They are able to provide superior customer service because their product begins on a solid foundation of industry experience.
The Sole F80 treadmill is a solid investment for individuals looking to maximize their workout and develop an accurate measuring tool for their progress. The unit is bristling with user-friendly evolutions such as the easy assist deck technology for safe easy access, double horseshoe frame construction to provide a greater amount of support and comfort while reducing impact 40% over comparable models. This additional support from Proprietary Cushion Flex Whisper Deck technology makes the F80 perfect for individuals nursing an injury or other disability that discourages high-impact activities, making it perfect for therapeutic and rehabilitative purposes. The same technology makes the model perfect for seasoned runners and serious athletes alike. With the inclusion of advanced tracking programs the user is always in full control of their workouts. The peaks and valleys feedback allows the user to understand the areas where they may require additional focus by identifying weak or troubled areas. The multimedia features on the F80 such as dual zone speakers and iPod/iPhone/ MP3 integration makes plugging in an audio source quick and easy. There are many excellent treadmills on the market, among them, the Sole F80 treadmill stands out as a leader among its peers.