Customer Reviews: Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill (Previous Years Model)
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on December 15, 2010
I am a regular amazon customer and frequently buy here but somehow for this purchase, I decided to buy from Sole directly. The delivery was not fast, took 10 days but the box was in great shape and the delivery service was good (I paid for the delivery to any room, which I highly recommend if you have to negotiate stairs with this 300 pound box).

The running surface is excellent, my wife is the main user and she has put more than 5 miles a day on this machine at more than 7 miles an hour for 45 days so this thing is getting some great use. The running surface is cushioned well as advertised. The fact that the buttons are set for predefined (4, 6, 8, 10 miles/hr) does not bother me so much but the time it takes to speed up or slow down to the predefined speed is noticeable.

Some of the accessories are funny in my mind. I think adding the fan is kind of unnecessary since it adds little to no benefit. I also think the speakers are of course not excellent quality. I have found the "music pass through" (plug my iphone to the treadmill and then speakers to the headphone jack) to be very useful as I can now control the music while running. The cup holder is in a very awkward position (lower shelf below console), don't imagine you could actually use this while running.

I have used the heart rate belt with great results and find it very useful but the handlebar heart-rate monitor has not worked for me. I considered calling Sole about this but honestly, you can't run or even walk comfortably, holding them.

In regards to putting it together, it was not difficult except I had some difficulty getting the plastic covers over the siderails-console) to line up well. I only needed help with moving the running surface out of the box (heavy) and then some help holding the console in place (light) while screwing pieces together. I put it together in less than an hour. I really like the folding mechanism. My 100 pound wife could comfortably raise and lower this with no danger (the lowering is vacuum assisted to prevent it from falling on someone).

running surface 4-5 stars (quiet and soft)
controls: 3 stars (awkward set up with some of the settings and time to speed up/down)
accessories: 2 stars (poor location and or poor function)
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on November 11, 2010
This is my first treadmill ever, and I was nervous to spend so much money, but all the reviews everywhere (here and on Consumer Reports) said that this one was the best at-home treadmill you could buy. Why buy a cheaper one that will break in a year? You can't beat the awesome warranty on frame, parts, and even labor. So with peace of mind, I took the plunge and placed my order.

First off it is VERY HEAVY and even my weight-lifting husband had trouble dragging it into the garage. But once, in place, it assembled fairly easily--the trickiest part was the plastic cover pieces--it's nearly impossible to reach or see the screw holes in some areas--but those are really for looks anyway. I just took my first run on it and I am TRULY IMPRESSED--I have run on treadmills at the gym before, and this is definitely comparable. It is solidly constructed, very stable, has a smooth tread, the interface is nice, and has all the basics you need--speed, incline, time, calorie count, mileage, cup holders galore, plus a few extras like heart monitor handles(and separate chest transmitter), a fan, and the ability to be folded up and rolled away.

There are a few slight downsides if you are used to professional-grade treadmills at gyms, but IMO these don't take away from the product AT ALL:
-The speakers truly suck, but hey, do you really need speakers on a treadmill? I have an iHome for my iPod and a tv with DVD player nearby, and now a treadmill--what more could I ask for?
-It is a little slower to speed up/slow down and to raise/lower the bed than models I've experienced at the gym--but only barely--and there are preset levels for both incline and speed so you can more quickly jump up/down

I am just so happy to own my very own treadmill to keep me going, and I very much look forward to maintaining my running regime over the harsh upstate New York winter, for once. Thanks Sole for making such a great product!
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on December 3, 2010
I,like many others, have researched treadmills for a long time (over a year) prior to making a purchase. I had been running at two different gyms, talking to everyone I could (who isn't a sales person) who purchased a unit, and actually ran on way too many units in stores. Without a doubt the Sole (and model) beat it's competition.

I picked up my unit from a local store as they had a sale going, making it slightly cheaper. Don't be fooled by the $500 savings, this model has always been $1,499 anywhere you look.

The box is extremely heavy, but manageable with two adults. The main issue I have with my unit is that several of the plastic trim pieces were broken upon opening the box. I've contacted customer service (Sole) and it appears that I can get replacements from them.

Functionally this unit is great. No issues at all while running 8+ MPH, no swaying, no movement at all. The speed and incline do take a bit to get to their settings in comparison to all of the gym machines I've been on. I find myself waiting frequently for the speed change to happen.

The only reason I left off the last star is I'd much prefer that the side buttons (for speed / incline) were user defined. I don't run at any of the speeds the buttons are preset for, so I do not get a 1 touch speed selection. I hit 6, and then go to one of the other speed buttons (below the console or on the arm) and have to hit that 10 times to get to 7. I'd love to see an update that allows me to set the one touch buttons to a speed / incline that I would like.
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on March 24, 2011
I purchased this product after reading reviews by consumer reports, the treadmill doctor, etc. What none of the reviews cover are two horrible "features". The one that affects workouts the most is how slow the unit is to change speeds. I have used many treadmills, both at home and at gyms, none are this slow to change speeds. I consider myself an average user that uses this treadmill for cardiovascular health. I work our for about an hour 3-4 times a week walking/running on the treadmill (my average walking speed is 3.8 mph and my running speed is about 5.5 mph).

The problems with this treadmill are as follow:
Slow to change speeds! - I try to do interval training using a couple of DVD's designed especially for treadmill use. Well by the time this treadmill slows by 2 mph every interval program I have used has already gone past the speed reduction and is well into the workout. By the time it speeds up again to a proper speed you are so far behind the where the next cycle is about to begin. To make it even worse it does not show or indicate ongoing speed change. Unlike other treadmills that continually beep while making changes, this treadmill beeps once at the start of a change and you have to wait until it feels like it has stopped changing.

Just as annoying is the constant beep EVERY MINUTE whether or not there is a change in speed or incline. As I stated earlier I work out for 60 minutes, so I have to listen to 60 beeps. There is no way to turn it off, I understand and support a beep for changes but why you would have one every minute with no change is beyond me.

The last thing I don't like (but this is common to all treadmills I have used) is that when using the Cardio program you can not limit incline. I have foot problems and I need to avoid inclines above 2, but the unit only lets you set a maximum speed. There is no way to limit Incline.

Most annoying is that I have not been able to find a contact for the manufacturer, they contract out their service and the service centers can not help with firmware change requests (to at least get rid of the beep).
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on January 16, 2012
Overall Assessment: For features, functions, and overall quality at a very reasonable price, I think the Sole F80 is an outstanding value.

As of this writing, we've had ours for 5 weeks, logged over 100 miles, and been through every workout numerous times. In general, the F80 has exceeded my expectations. It actually makes treadmill workouts "fun" - something I never expected. The standard preprogrammed workouts all vary the speed and/or incline about once a minute, alternating between stress and recovery. There are no long boring slogs (unless that's what you want - then you just go manual).

And the display screen provides so much feedback that you're always aware of exactly what's going on and what to expect next. That makes the time pass quickly, so that when I stop exercising, it's because I'm tired; never because I'm bored.

And one more point: it's a pretty machine. The fit and finish are nice, I like the choice of colors, and the whole setup looks pleasant and inviting in our exercise room.

The Worst problem we've experienced is the chest strap for the heart rate monitor. It's unreliable, and we can't seem to find any way to fix that. At first I thought it might be a battery problem; but changing the battery didn't help (and by the way - that's a tedious task involving four micro screws).

Fortunately, I had an old Timex heart rate monitor and the chest strap from the Timex works perfectly with the F80. It turns out that there are several inexpensive heart monitors that claim to work with "heart rate interactive treadmills and gym equipment," so if you want accurate heart rates - budget an extra $35-$40 to buy one of them.

Delivery and setup: The F80 came packaged in one gigantic box weighing 304 lbs. Fortunately, the delivery crew (from Sears) took it directly to our exercise room and set it up for us. They were very experienced and had it up and running in about 30 minutes. There were no obvious problems with the assembly other than the usual issues with a couple of blind nuts. From watching them assemble it, I'd say that I could have had it set up in about 90 minutes, allowing for the normal amount of trial and error (but I was very thankful to have them do it for me).

The F80 worked perfectly from the start, except, perhaps, for a rhythmic thumping noise that's most noticeable at the very top speeds - 10-12mph. But then again, I'd never run that fast on a treadmill because of safety. At reasonable speeds the F80 is a quiet, smooth running machine.

Display screen: The display screen is outstanding. I absolutely love it. It shows incline, distance, countdown clock, your speed, heart rate, and number of calories. It graphically displays your heart rate as a percent of maximum (based on your age), and it shows you your progress around a quarter mile track. A bar graph inside the track shows you exactly where you are in your workout program and what to expect next. With all that information feeding back to you, the workouts never get monotonous.

Approach to training: As a former marathon runner, I'm used to starting each run with a certain distance in mind (x number of miles), and then trying to run it in a specific time. The F80 turns that on its head: you specify workout time (say 20 minutes) and maximum speed (usually 6mph for me), and the distance ends up being just an interesting statistic at the end. The F80 approach is much more enjoyable, and probably more beneficial; but it did require a change of mindset on my part.

I keep my individual workout times short - anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. But I'll string three, four, or five workouts together in a single session lasting up to 90 minutes; similar to the way a weight lifter will divide his total workout into "sets." I think that's the best approach for getting an effective, well rounded workout without the drudgery normally associated with treadmills.

Workouts: I use all of the preprogrammed workouts, and find that I prefer them over manual controls. Each workout begins with a 3 minute warm-up and ends with a 3 minute cool down (you can bypass these if you're in a hurry). The system manages things so that every minute or so you're getting a different speed and/or incline; but it never exceeds the maximum speed that you specified at startup. Generally speaking, one or two minutes of stress will be followed by one or two minutes of recovery, so it never gets overwhelming, but it still gives you a great workout.

Individual workouts vary according to their names. For example, the "Hill" workout alternates between segments of high speed/low incline and low speed/high incline. "Fat Burn" maintains a steady speed throughout most of the workout, but varies the incline. "Cardio" alternates mild stress with mild recovery to achieve a gradually increasing heart rate. "Strength" uses lower speeds and higher inclines to build leg strength. And finally, the "Interval" workout is similar to "Cardio," but more extreme - higher speeds and steeper inclines, interspersed with easy walks for recovery.

Of course, you can create custom workouts or just go manual if you prefer.

One gripe though: the HR1 and HR2 (heart rate) buttons are useless. In those workouts, the system tries to keep your heart rate constant at either 60% (HR1) or 80% (HR2) of your theoretical (age based) maximum. You manually select a speed, and the system moves the incline up or down as required to maintain a constant heart rate. The problem is that it takes time for the heart to adjust to different stress levels; but the F80 is very impatient. At the start of the workout, it's frantically jacking up the incline until it forces your heart to work too hard; and then it goes just as fast in the opposite direction while flashing "Reduce Speed!" messages across the screen. After a few minutes, it settles down; but starting out is always a pain. Therefore, whenever I want to maintain a target heart rate, I just use the manual controls. It works much better that way.

Criticisms from other reviewers:

Speed up/Slow down times: Some people have complained that speeding up and slowing down takes too long. I have no idea what those people are talking about. The treadmill is exactly as responsive as it should be. You can jump it up in two mph increments using buttons on the console or fine tune it with 1/10 mph buttons on the handle. In either case the belt gains and loses speed in a perfectly reasonable manner.

Fans: I've read that the cooling fans are ineffective. I'm not sure if that's fair. They won't blast you off the belt, but they do provide noticeable cooling - if they're aimed correctly. That's important. In their original position the fans are aimed too high for my 5'9" frame; but they can be rotated lower. Some people might not realize that.

Drink holders too low: There are two drink holders on a cross brace that probably is too low to be reached from a moving belt. But there are also pockets higher up on the console where you can easily store a water bottle or two. For myself, I never drink while the belt is moving; that's just a common sense safety rule.
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on October 4, 2011
Here is my initial reaction to the Sole F 80. I bought mine from sears and picked it up and put it together.
1-This machine is clearly heavier than my old Nordic track that died after about 800 miles.

2-The machine was packed well and other than being heavy was easy to unpack.

3-The machine was put together in about an hour. I don't get some of the reviews that say this machine was so difficult to put together. Again something that makes me suspicious. I thought the instructions were straight foward and there were no mysterious to figure out when putting during assembly.

4-after an initial run the machine is very stable. Yes it does make noise when you heel strike, but other wise the motor and deck seem pretty quite. I tend to be a heel striker so I make more noise. It doesn't help that Im 6'4 260. Again I am not sure what the complaint is from the 1 stars on noise. This ain't a commercial tread mill people. If you comparing it to a cybex, life star, or woodway that you find in your gym then you are a fool. It wasn't supposed to be those and never will be. YOU SPEND 1500 on this not 35-4500.

5-Speaking of height, the deck length is great. Love it.

6-There were some complaints of beeps. umm people get your tread mill serviced. No beeps at all.

7-The display is straight forward and easy to read. It is not real flashy.

8-The fans do seem pretty weak.

9-Haven't played with the Chest strap or I pod attachment, but after my initial thoughts on this treadmill I feel confident that I am going to find that the 1 stars way off on those also.

10-The deck folds up and drops very easily and nicely
As an initial review I recommend this tread mill. As you do research on this tread mill you will not find one negative review from industry insiders. I am suspect of the 1 stars. I think they fall into two categories. 1-People that just got a lemon, something that can happen with even the most expensive treadmill. That is what Warranties are for. 2- Fake reviews . I will up date this as I get more miles in, but so far I am very pleased.

Update: Ok took a short break in run.

1-The chest strap works great. again I don't know what some of the 1-2 star reviewers are beefing about. The signal was strong and consistent. My only negative on the chest strap is the battery case. The person that decided to put the battery behind 4 ultra small screws should be hunted down and hung.

2-The I pod speakers sound fine. They aren't a high end sound system by any means, but they certainly get the job done. Again my findings make me real suspicious of the negative reviews.

3-I ran a short interval program. I didn't find any problem with the time between speed changes. Is it as fast as running out side or a cybex or wood way? No. But again....that is unrealistic. The speeds change fast enough to do intervals as long as you want to.

The interval program is not really an interval in my mind. It is more like a hill type program. There are only 5 bumps and that does not increase with added time, The bumps just get longer. I wish the program was more of a standard Interval program. Don't get me wrong. It will make you sweat. The program makes great use of not only speed, but incline to kick your butt.
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on December 25, 2010
The first thing I noted about this unit was that the huge box that the delivery guys left in my garage said "Weight = 130 pounds". Really? How about "130 KILOGRAMS" (286 pounds), which is what it weighs. What a monster of a box. Anyway, finally got it to the room that I wanted it in, and assembly wasn't too difficult.

Overall it is the best treadmill I've used, gym or otherwise. Very good running surface, plenty big for me (6', 205 pounds), and is very sturdy. Incline and speed work very well. No doubt it will last a long time.

Now for my gripes: The pre-programmed programs are good, but using User 1 and User 2 to program your own leave a lot to be desired. Instructions are essentially non-existent. Doesn't tell you how to modify them or anything. It is probably possible, but I haven't figured it out yet; got on their website and there are no additional instructions. Overall, the user-programming sucks, and that is a shame because it would have been so easy to do it right. You can program your own custom hills, speeds, etc, but there are no instructions on how to modify it later.

Also, the speakers are a great idea, but the quality is not good. Couldn't they have at least spent $10 on the speakers? I will likely try to put in my own, as I really like to plug my MP3 player into them.

Overall, I'd buy it again. But Sole could have spent just a little more time and made the electronics a lot better.
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Don't get me wrong, this is a decent treadmill and for the current price of $1,049 a fair value. It certainly works as well as other reviewers have described.

However, the listing is a bit misleading. Apparently you are expected to know/notice from the description, "Sole took the F80 to the next level in 2011" and model number F80-11 that what you are receiving is a 2 year old model. In hindsight it's "obvious" but not so much when you're shopping.

I just wanted to help others avoid the surprise when the truck drops off this 230 lb box that says boldly on the front "New 2011 Model".

As for assembly, the thing arrives in a single box that weighs 250 lbs. Once you get it open the heaviest single piece is the base and it weighs 150 lbs. Unless you are real strong or there are a lot of you it's a good idea to be there to meet the delivery guy and do what you can to have him help you get the box as close as possible to where you want the treadmill set up. From that point it is possible to slide the base out of the box and begin assembly. However there is one point, where you connect the console, where it is *much* easier if there are two people working, one to hold it and another to plug in the electronics connectors.

Finally, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, if you buy this treadmill. It arrives in "Display Mode" and you will never be able to turn off the treadmill without flipping the power switch inconveniently located at the base. The directions tell you the get it out of "Display Mode" you need to hold down three buttons, "Stop", "Enter", and "Display", all at the same time, for five seconds and then press the "Up" button. The trick is you need to press the small "Up" button on the handle, not the great big button labeled "Up" on the console. From other reviewer comments and numerous entries on the Internet I realize I wasn't the only person fooled by this.
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on December 16, 2011
Purpose: The F80's core purpose is a treadmill for exercise, and as a pure treadmill, it's 5 stars. I've logged 75 miles so far, and it's smooth, quiet, stable, solid, comfortable. No complaints whatsoever. It is a nice treadmill.

Delivery/Assembly: Amazon worked closely with the deliver service and I received the treadmill within 4 days of ordering it, exactly where I wanted the box left. I've served time in the past as a carpenter, so my opinion was that assembly was simple and straightforward. About a dozen parts, three dozen fasteners. Clear instructions.

Audio: The speakers are crap. There's not an internal amplifier and they are quite small, so if you are running fast, you won't hear much (particularly with dialog if streaming a movie or show), and you are way better off wearing earbuds. There is an audio input as well as an output port (mini plug). I'm not sure what sense it makes to ever use the audio output port, why wouldn't you plug your headphones directly into the device (ipod, touchpad, etc.)? It serves no purpose.

Display: The display is adequate at best. Personally I have it obscured with a tablet most of the time anyway, so don't care, but would be nice to be able to display more data streams simultaneously. The buttons on the console are minimally adequate. It would be nice to have more customization for multiple users. Again, I don't really care, I put the mill on manual mode, it seems to remember my settings, and I go forth. When my wife uses it, I guess she keeps the same settings...45 minutes, 40 year old male. Oh well.

The heartrate monitor is adequate at best. It only seems to work when the treadmill is running, so you can't monitor your 5-min recovery without having the treadmill running at at least minimum speed. The heartrate chest strap is complete garbage when compared to something like a Polar or Garmin Forerunner setup. Mine didn't even fit together well, I had to use an exacto knife to cut some plastic away to get the strap to connect more comfortably.

In summary, you will buy this because you run, or walk, and want an absolutely solid, smooth and comfortable platform. It is that absolutely. Don't buy it if you want all sorts of bells and whistles and a retina-display.
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on December 13, 2010
Summary: This is 5-star Plus, awesome machine! Easy assembly. No adjustments, ready to run right out of the box. Much better than some health club machines and as good as most. Quiet, very little vibration through our floor. Heavy! This is NOT a negative. Two or more strong backs, a young Arnold or mechanical help and creativity are requirements. Only a 4-mile jog logged, so far. I'll add to this post in a month or so.

The whole story:
I ordered my Sole F80 treadmill from Sears online on Sunday, December 5, 2010 and it arrived in the local Sears store on Thursday the 9th. I got it for 10 percent under their list during one of their weekend online sales and got extra points for using my Discover card; Sears is a Discover partner. I also bought the Sears extended warrantee and I hope I wasted my money. When the Sears guy was loading it into my pickup, I noticed that the corner of the box had ripped open, but nothing inside seemed to be damaged. I took date and time stamped digital pictures of the damaged box, anyway. I could have had it delivered to our house with no extra cost, but I didn't want to wheel the 300 lb package 200 feet through snow covered grass with my light duty hand cart. It was easier to have it loaded into my pickup truck and then back up to our patio door. A second reason was that if the package arrived severely damaged, I simply wasn't going to take it home. Refusing shipment from a semi truck driver can get to be a little touchy.

Once home, getting it into the patio was easy; getting it up the steps into the house was more difficult. Not wanting to strain my back unnecessarily, I rigged up a chain falls to one of the patio roof support beam that is closest to the house and hoisted the heavy end with that. The other end was no problem to lift. Once it was inside, with the light end on a mechanic's creeper, I could crab-walk the thing sideways onto the cow stall mat that I had purchased from Tractor Supply; thanks for that tip, whoever posted it!.

Assembly was very easy and took about an hour until I got to the last six screws; they took about 15 minutes. The assembly instructions are not written for use by a simpleton. I can see where it would be easy to get something messed up if you haven't had experience assembling this sort of thing. Actually, the most difficult part was the last six screws that fasten the leg shrouds to the frame. The speed nuts had slipped out of alignment with the mounting tabs, so I had to use a small nail punch to center the speed nuts over the holes in the mounting tabs. The top screw hole in each shroud is recessed in a pocket and the pocket isn't big enough for two of my fingers. I didn't want to go through the process of magnetizing the little Sole supplied Phillips head screw driver so I put a dab of caulk on the head of the screw so it would stick to the screw driver long enough to be lowered into the hole. Two of the screws are about 1/2 inch above floor level so rocking the machine up and blocking it with one of the Styrofoam packaging blocks made things easier.

I did a quick scan of the operating instructions, and did my first four mile jog in manual mode so I could play around with the speed & elevation. Everything worked as advertised with no adjustments. I have only a few very,very minor criticisms. The fans were next to useless, likewise the tray that clips over the crossbar between the uprights and the one of the shrouds rattled a bit when the incline was at 0 percent incline. A very minor inconvenience is that there doesn't appear to be a volume control for the speakers so I had to use the MP3 player volume control. I have a small window fan that will do a better job of keeping me cool, the console pockets will hold my drink bottle and MP3 player and the shroud rattle was easily fixed with a small piece of adhesive backed weather stripping. I don't ever plan on using it at 0 percent incline, but my wife might and the rattle would be very annoying. I haven't used the wireless heart rate monitor because I'm an EMT and I have a medical grade pulse oximeter that I use to check my spO2 (saturation percentage, oxygen) and heart rate.

So far, with only 4 miles logged, I am very well satisfied with the F80. My wife loves the powered incline mechanism, the pneumatic assisted un-fold mechanism and the fact that it folds up and rolls around easily on hard floor. The F80 would be perfect with larger wheels, more powerful fans and a volume control for the speakers. An integrated DVD player with AV input to the display would be a great feature to add. Actually, my little portable DVD player will work just fine if I Velcro it over the fan outlets.

I have it on my calendar to post an update or new review mid-January, 2011. I'm really hoping that I have nothing of substance to add at that time.
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