on January 26, 2011
Of the "consumer grade" elliptical trainers sold online and in some of the big box stores the E35 is one of the best. I've done a lot of research and the Sole has a smooth solid feel that many of the others (especially less expensive ellipticals) can't match.
The most important thing to remember is the best machine is the one you'll USE. If you have a jerky, clunky, noisy, or otherwise unpleasant elliptical you're less likely to use it regularly.
What you want in an elliptical is a solid frame that doesn't flex much when you really pound on it at higher resistance levels and work hard with your arms. If you try that on a cheaper machine, it will rock, flex, creak, squeek, clunk, etc. The E35 passes this test.
And you want a heavy flywheel (hidden inside) to smooth out the motion so it's not jerky. The resistance should feel constant throughout the stride. The E35 does. Front or rear "drive" doesn't seem to matter much.
You need good bearings at all the pivot joints to avoid "clunks" during the stride and keep it quiet. You also need good wheels that ride on solid tracks. Again, the E35 has all this.
Unless only shorter (as in under 5'10" or so) people will be using it, it's best to have a stride length around 20" not 17-18" like many of the cheaper models. For taller people a shorter stride feels "choppy" and isn't as fluid or pleasant. The E35 has a 20" stride.
The heart rate monitor grips tend not to work all that well when you're moving. That's true of even the $5000 club machines. As your hands move around on the sensors it confuses the electronics so your heart rate isn't that accurate or is only displayed sometimes. If you want accurate heart rate, use a chest strap. The E35 is somewhat rare in that it comes with a chest strap monitor (known as telemetric or telemetry). So that's a plus over other models including the Livestrongs.
The above are the most important. Everything else is much less important. Like the power elevation (incline) on the E35 works smoothly but doesn't make a huge difference in your workout (at least to me). A backwards (reverse) stride and changing your hand positions makes a much bigger difference.
The consoles all have various gimmicks and features but many of them won't get used much. The speakers for your iPod/MP3 player sound terrible--headphones work much better. The fan is a joke. You can't tell it's even on once you're working out. And fancy training routines add some variety but are not that likely to get used either. What usually works best is either a constant resistance, a ramp up-level off-and cool down routine, or an interval routine (hard/easy/hard/easy/etc.). Everything else is just kinda fluff--especially when it's easy enough to tap the resistance up and down yourself whenever you want during your workout.
Many manufactures play up the ergonomics of their machines. Some angle the foot pads in. Some (like the E35) have adjustable foot pads or variable strides. Some have the footpads closer together (like the Livestrong and Horizons). To be honest, unless you have really odd body mechanics, I think most of it is marketing hype. If you look at the $5000 machines, they typically have none of these features and are used by hundreds of different people a day at health clubs without any ergonomic issues.
It's worth knowing that Sole, Xterra and Esprit/Spirit are all made in China by the same parent company--Dyaco in headquartered in Taiwan with a US office in Jonesboro AR. Sole is mainly sold online and at Sears and Dicks Sporting Goods. Xterra has a different dealer network including some of the warehouse stores. Esprit and Xterra both have models similar to the E35.
Another big manufacture is Johnson that makes Horizon, Livestrong, Vision and AFG. Again, all the home grade products are actually made in China. I bring this up because Johnson has a better reputation for customer service than Dyaco. If you have a warranty issue, need parts, etc. you'll likely spend less time on hold with one of the Johnson brands.
NordicTrack, Schwinn and Nautilus are all the same company. And all seem to have more customer complaints. All 3 brands have been bought and sold sometimes more than once so don't assume because they were good in the past they still are.
ProForm is a favorite brand in the big box stores. And I couldn't find any that compare to the E35--but most are also cheaper.
I've compared the similarly priced Livestrongs to the E35 side by side and prefer the E35. The Livestrongs are nice but not as well made, had a few squeeks, and seem to have more complaints about problems on the various forums. The Horizon products (same company) have lots of bells and whistles but just don't feel right to me.
Vision makes some really nice ellipticals but they're mainly only sold through specialty fitness dealers and cost more than the E35. The same is true of Octane, Diamondback, Precor and Lifefitness. I've tried all of them. There's also Smooth, Star Trac, True and a few others with good reputations that I have't tried.
A good resource is treadmilldoctor dot com for relatively unbiased info on all the brands and brief comments on many of the models.
So that's my research and opinions. I hope it helps someone! The E35 is hard to beat for the price.
on November 10, 2010
I recently purchased the Sole E35 2011 model after spending a few weeks online researching between the Sole, Norditrack, Horizon, and other top models. I then went and tried a few machines out at some local shops, and my choice landed on the E35.
Reasons I chose the E35 over the E25 or E95, was mainly the heavier wheel and the longer unit was the perfect sweet spot. I also was buying this unit for my wife as well.
I have used many precor's and other top models at the gym for years.
I will update this review as time progresses, so here is the recently purchased review.
After two days...
Install, as many others has stated the box unit is extremely heavy and large, very difficult to carry. We were keeping it on a ground level entrance so just two people was enough. It took 2 people about 2 hours to put the machine together. The directions are very good and its virtually impossible to put any part of it together wrong.
After first use, the machine is whisper quiet, and very smooth. I did a 30 minute workout on lowest incline and it was just exactly as you would expect from the machines at the gym. I'm a bigger guy (6'1 270) and it did not shake at all. I tested the MP3/speakers feature and it worked perfectly. The wireless heartrate chest monitor works flawlessly as well and was rather nice since my gym only has the handles.
So far I'm very pleased with my purchase.
I will update this review in a month.
on November 2, 2010
Did the usual consumer report/amazon.com/treadmillDR. research and this brand came up with high marks for the cost. Then went to Dick's sporting goods where they have them in stock to check out. Actually ordered one direct from Sole as this was the best price (no tax, free shipping)...I splurged for the "turnkey service". It is an extra 235.00 and meant they would haul it to the second floor of my home and set it up and haul away all debris. WELL WORTH IT. Strikingly at Sole when I placed the order they discouraged this service and said for 100.00 they will deliver it to the room of your choice and "its really easy to put together" I don't think so.....The two professional movers who put together about one of these machines a week said it is challenging and it took them working together 2 solid hours. Soooo, think about that when ordering.
In terms of the machine itself, I have only had it for a week and both I and my 11 year old daughter have used it. I am 240 lb and short, 5 feet, 4 inches....the machine works fine for me both moving forward and backward directions. My partner who is only 5 feet 1 inch also says it works for her. (Shorter folks just grab the handle bars lower down.) It is totally quiet (much more so than my bowflex treadmill which sits next to it). It comes with a heart monitor strap, or you can grab the stationary hand grips and get heart rate that way. Compared to the precor I use at the gym, I find the quality and work out is comparable. Someone said the built in speaker for mp3s was useless. I plugged my ipod in and found it was plenty audible, even when not cranked to full volume. When I asked at Sole if there was any difference between this model and the 2010, they said just the color/quality of the display. So, the older reviews are likely relevant.
Bottom line: ok for the short and fat....worth paying extra to have professionals haul and assemble it.
on January 8, 2011
Updated 2/4: I've had the E35 for close to 6 weeks now and I remain totally impressed.
I've had this Sole E35 now for about 2 weeks and am highly impressed with the quality and workout I get. I have used Precor ellipticals in the past and really like them but there was no way I was going to spend $4K-$5K for one. The E35 is an incredible value of quality and offers an equally outstanding workout. I'm 230Lbs now (with a goal of 195), and I can say the E35 is a very solid machine with a sturdy high quality feel, and the 25Lb flywheel makes it plenty smooth as well. The machine glides in near silence, which I also love.
The screen is large and bright and offers plenty of options and information. You can monitor your pulse with either the hand grips or the chest strap, and both work excellent. Oddly the instructions say it offers 16 levels of resistance, but mine goes to L20. Regardless there are plenty of levels of resistance.
When shopping around I also compared it to the Livestrong 13.0e, which is also a very nice machine. But I was sold on the fact that the Sole has 2 glide rails on each side, rather than 1 like the Livestrong. It seems that 2 rails provides better lateral stability. Also, the display on the Sole is superior.
I am highly mechanically inclined and very comfortable using hand tools, and it took around 2.5 hours to put together, and I was taking my time and being very careful to do it perfectly. The instructions are well laid out, but the schematics could be a little better if they were printed a little larger. The screws, nuts and bolts are logically packaged and labeled by the steps in the directions. It could have been a little easier if they had labeled the plastic covers with numbers, so it took a little trial and error to figure out which cover went where.
It is a heavy machine. I was contemplating having four guys carry it from the garage to the basement, but instead decided to open the box in the garage and carry the separate pieces into the basement. This was a very wise choice. However it's important to note, that I did also remove the 2 pedal assemblies from the flywheel, which requires a 5/16" hex wrench and wrench for the nut (can't recall what size). You will need two people to carry the heaviest/largest pieces.
Also, about head room/ceiling height. I am 71.5" tall and I have the E35 under the duct work in my basement where I have 92.5" from the floor to the bottom of the ducts. When pedaling at the highest point and I have about 4.5" of clearance from my head to the duct. EDIT 2/4: The 4.5" headroom is when I'm standing straight up, and you don't use it standing straight up, so in practice I have more like 6.5" of head room.
All in all, the E35 is a great product that I can highly recommend. I'm looking forward to getting into great shape.
on November 30, 2010
We did some research and saw that the E35 from previous years was pretty well reviewed by Consumer Reports and regular consumers, but a few support horror stories made us a little skeptical of buying it online. We instead went to Sears where we were able to try it out next to other competing Nordictrack models and it seemed to be the best built. I've used cheap equipment before and since I'm 6'4" 245lbs I almost expect to hear or feel some give in the equipment, but we've had the E35 for about a week and after a couple workouts this thing is solid as a rock and whisper quiet. I was concerned about it being hard to use because I'm a taller guy, but it feels fine for me and for my 5'4" wife to use. As other people mentioned in their reviews, yes this sucker is heavy. The box it came in listed it as weighing close to 240 pounds, so don't expect to move the wheel up the stairs by yourself. It took about an hour and a half to put together and the directions were better than most I've had to use. My only grief with the E35 2011 so far is the cheap little fan in the console virtually pushes no air. This of course was not a selling point, just a neat little extra, but it's not even worth turning on. We instead bought a $25 fan from a local store which we use near the unit. If you're looking for a decently priced elliptical you plan to use often I would suggest you take a good look at the E35 and make sure you try it out in a store before you buy it or any other elliptical.
Well folks, this machine has been in our house for about 2 weeks...my spouse and I absolutely LOVE it.
I'll give you a breakdown of the assembly process (feel free to look at the images I uploaded in the "Customer Images" section of this product) and how the machine feels to the workout victims...er...participants!
Once I got everything out of the box, I read the instructions at least 3 times before I started to put anything together. I'm the guy who can't plug a toaster in the right way, so I wanted to make sure I did everything right the first time.
**Note: this instruction manual combines the assembly of the E25 and the E35 so make sure you go to page 17 when assembling this!**
Step 1: Incline Rail & Console Mast
This was pretty straightforward. Each part was easy to distinguish, though the drawings of the connector cables were pretty crude. Once I checked the back of the Console, it was pretty clear which connector went in each port.
Step 2: Handlebar
This was fairly easy too. I had to use scissors to snip off the zip strips on the handlebars, but that wasn't a problem at all. After assembling the first handlebar, the second was a breeze.
Step 3: Connecting Arm
Now we're in the home stretch. The picture of the Sleeve Spacer was pretty confusing so I uploaded a picture in customer images for you to see it better. This was the quickest step of the assembly so far.
Step 4: Plastic Parts
Exactly what it sounds like. This part involves putting plastic coverings over everything, and it was quite a good feeling to get to this point.
There was a misprint in step 2 of my instructions: it should read to use four M5x15mm screws(139) and four Sheet Metal Screws(142) for the inner connecting arm covers. Other than that, this last part was very easy to follow.
Altogether it took me roughly 2.5 hours from start to finish to get this assembled.
I will stand by this statement - if _I_ can put this together, you don't need to pay someone else to do it for you.
BUT DOES IT WORK?
Most definitely, YES.
As advertised, the "whisper-quiet drive system" is just that. It sounds like the fan on the console makes more noise than the drive unit! My feet fit comfortably into the foot pedals, and I LOVE having the option to raise the incline or the workout level using the buttons on the handlebars. My spouse frequents the elliptical machine at our local gym and she took to this like a duck to water - she didn't even need to read the instructions before she started her first workout!
There are 5 standard workouts, and for the elliptical-savvy (i.e. masochistic), there is the option to create your OWN workout.
The Sole E35 has the following warranty items:
Labor: 2 years
Frame Weldments: Lifetime
Cosmetic Items (grips, console overlays, labels/etc): 90 days
All Other Components: 5 years
I love this machine. It was relatively easy to put together, and it offers a wide range of usage. The instruction manual has good directions for assembly, program options, and general maintenance. The option to use MP3 players on the attached speakers and the additional heart rate monitor are excellent add-ons.
If this elliptical is in your price range, I would highly recommend it.
on February 19, 2012
This thing is unbelievable. I didn't want to spend 50.00 for an elliptical, let alone $1200.00....but i figured, I was getting pretty fat 6'0" 238lbs and it was cheaper for me to spend a bit more than a hospital stay with a heart attack, so i started looking beyond wal-mart. I spend a couple of months reading reviews for sub $500.00 and then sub $900.00 and all I read was about problems and BAD customer service....then I came across SOLE.
Now...I am a very detail oriented person and demand I get what I pay for. After reading an abundance of reviews and learning more about SOLE's Service Reputation, I jumped in and bought an E35.
I received the unit about a week after the order was placed. It came in a monster box and the packaging was poor. Part of the elliptical was literally hanging out of the box, but there was no apparent damage. I had to get a neighbor to come over and help partially assemble to move it in the house. The unit is heavy and the moving parts make it very difficult to transport out of the box in unassembled form.
An hour or so of bolt tightening and I was ready to roll. THIS THING IS AWESOME AND COMPLETELY SILENT.....I have been on and off to gym's for years and this is the quietest elliptical I have ever been on. Two minutes in and I decided I made the right choice.
Then...It Happened....the next day...a pinging started. There was a noise in my new $1200.00 elliptical, so...I went to the manufacturer's website (at around 11PM) and filled out an online form...which...I was planning on doing 200 times in order to get service. To my surprise, the next morning, SOLE called me. I was at work, but they left a VM and gave me their number. I called back the next morning, expecting to be put an a 60 minute hold and moments after I dialed, a nice southern accented woman answered and I spent 1 minute explaining the problem and a part was ordered and fed exe'd (rec'd) in 2 days. THEN...>THEN< I get a call from the repair man setting up an appointment for service. I DIDN'T HAVE TO CALL ANYONE...AMAZING....2 days later, Mark (repair) shows up, fixes me up and I am in business. 27 days, 20lbs lighter (DIET and exercise) and I have my silent machine back.
PEOPLE....SPEND THE EXTRA COUPLE OF BUCKS AND BUY SOLE. OTHERWISE, You get what you pay for and sometimes, that's a $900.00 Nordictrac squeak machine.
Negatives? sure....fan is worthless, but who cares. Speakers stink, but who cares. I watch TV or listen to an IPOD anyway. If I am hot and sweaty and the fan doesn't cool me...It means I am working hard and losing weight.
People, go SOLE. I was scared and leery too...it's a big investment, but so is the hospital.
on January 8, 2011
First, I want to thank people who put the valuable review about the elliptical in general and about the SOLE E35 in specific. I wanted to buy one for the whole family (my wife, my 16 year old son, and myself) and did a lot of research lately on many branch names, hoping to find the elliptical which is solid and trouble free for a the long term. All I want to say, Sole E35 is the one. It quiet, solid, and comfortable use for short guy like me (5'6 and my wife is 5'2), but it also provides challenge workout for my son (almost 200 lbs). It's simple to assemble the machine, but it takes time to do it (it took my son & I more than 4 hours). No problem with the machine for almost 2 months with three users for almost every day... We are very happy to have Sole E35 since we see the results from the time we spent on the machine. It's a good value to buy and you will not regret for it.
on June 1, 2011
Bought my E35 and had it for five months and loved the machine.. I used it four to five days a week and couldn't complain..One morning the ramp motor stoped working I called for service. The next day used the machine and blue smoke poured from the front flywheel and the unit shut down..When the technition serviced the unit he said it was "fried". He said my house is too close to the beach and the humidity killed it..I'm 6'2 210lbs and I think 45 minutes of hard abuse killed it.. I am now trying to get a refund from the company and am spending the extra money to get a Precor or lifefitness model...
on June 23, 2012
UPDATE: Ok, now after having this machine for nearly 1 year, and after Sole made good and performed a major update to my machine, I can now give the E35 a solid 5 stars - but beware. As I wrote in my initial review, my major complaint with this machine was the lacluster performance due to extremely low resistance even at the highest setting. After some back and forth with Sole, they sent a tech out and switched out the fly-wheel to the "older" 6 magnet flywheel. Now starting at around the 13-14 level the resistance is so great I actually work up a sweat and get a great workout! Sole should really consider reverting back to the heavier 6 magnet flywheel in all their ellipticals as this had made a huge difference with the machines performance!
First I would just like to mention the pro's of the 2011 model Sole E35 elliptical.
The machine is built to what I consider to be near-commercial quality construction. It has a very solid feel to it, and since its "curb" weight is over 200 lbs it does not move or wobble even as you really put it to the RPM test.
The programmed workouts are very easy to use and the manual control can be customized and saved to one of the two memory profiles. The assembly instructions are pretty clear however allocate at least 2 - 3 hours to put it all together. Its not difficult to assemble, but it is tedious and time consuming.
In operation it is whisper quiet and ergonomically comfortable. The power incline feature is quick and smooth, the adjustable foot pedals with the slight inward pitch are an excellent feature.
The con of the 2011 E35.... and this is a big one which gives me the "buyers remorse".... The major negative of this elliptical is that even at resistance level 20 (the max) and at the highest incline it still may not give you the most challenging workout compared to other ellipticals in this price and feature range. I thought perhaps there was an adjustment or recalibration which needed to be performed on the brake, so I called Sole Tech Support. I was transferred to a very knowledgable techie guy who informed me that this is actually a common complaint of the 2011 model. The reason is that the 25lb flywheel now only uses 4 magnets in the resistance braking system. Prior to the 2011 model they used 5 - 6 magnets in the flywheel which provided extreme resistance at the higher settings (which would give you a kicker workout), however there were supposedly complaints about the stiff resistance which prompted Sole engineering to downsize the magnets, providing less resistance and a wider appeal (I'm not so sure I buy that excuse).
Anyone in fairly decent shape will absolutely find the 2011 Sole E35 to be way too soft on the resistance side and not find it as challenging as the older models. This certainly does not live up to the Sole reputation of producing high output quality ellipticals. Considering this, I would not recommend this machine to anyone looking for or looking to build up to an extreme challenging workout.
If your looking for just a light elliptical exercise experience on a machine with excellent solid construction with good features then I would rate this machine 5 stars.