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Customer Review

134 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I own it, my family loves it., February 1, 2012
This review is from: Sole Fitness F85 Folding Treadmill (Sports)
I personally own a F85 2011 model. Here is my take on the treadmill that you are considering...

Treadmill shopping is a daunting task, especially for a "researcher" like myself. I'm not going to discuss specs or most features -- lots of sites can fill that void. About 85% of what I found on the internet was garbage -- very obviously someone looking at a spec sheet that had never been on THE treadmill.

Let me outline my treadmill experience, my quest, my purchase, and my thoughts on the treadmill we are PERSONALLY USING:

First off my history, I've been a runner for the past 30 years. At one time I was very competitive but due to knee injuries now run recreationally at a pace between 8-10 minutes a mile for health. I have a wife who runs/walks, a son who runs in cross country, and a 9 year old daughter. Our regular users range between 50# and 225#. We have been life long health club members, until moving out to the sticks in the past 6 months. So I'm accustomed to running on Precor and Lifefitness treadmills at the YMCA. I've also used Spirit, TRUE, and others at hotels. I've used proform and nordic track treadmills at relatives. I liked the YMCA treadmills, thought the general hotel treadmill was fair-good, and hated the junk that my relatives were suckered into buying. (I also own an Octane Fitness Q37 elliptical. Very pleased with it also).

Secondly, my quest. I spoke to fitness stores who badmouthed Smooth and Sole (predominately internet brands). I noticed some vocal fitness store owners who badmouthed those same products in several runner's world message board threads. I spent an hour on the phone talking to Smooth fitness folks. I spoke to the main guy that travels all over west michigan repairing any brand of treadmill. I looked at the leading consumer's research magazine (which gave the non-folding model of this treadmill a "best buy" rating). I'd recommend you axe out any reviews that are from folks who have never been on the treadmill in question or a variety of treadmills. This is how Weslo treadmills have estatic reviewers that sing the praises of thier subpar treadmills. In all honesty I was looking for the treadmill that most closely resembled my YMCA experience at the lowest price. If that is your quest plan on spending $1,800-$2,500. (I got one for about $1,800 delivered and assembled, Took two guys about an hour to put it together).

Thirdy, why a sole F85?
1. I only care about the running experience. I love the solid construction, the 22" belt, and the feel of the running deck. It most closesly resembles my YMCA experience. The difference between a 22" belt and a 20" belt is significant for this daydreamer. This running deck really feels right.
2. I don't care about heart rate monitors or programs, but this does have them. (Any treadmill in this price range has a sufficient motor, incline, warranty, etc.). If you are after a fancier fan, ILive fitness programs, or speakers you will want to go elsewhere. In the end those things do not matter at all.
3. The Smooth brand had some major problems in my estimation. First off it does not show pace per mile (only MPH) -- what real runner does not care about pace? This flaw raised huge questions about the input of actual runners in making their product. I also could not see a smooth treadmill in person prior to purchase -- and wasn't willing to take that leap of faith. Finally, it seems that they encourage reviews amongst both paid sites and owners. They were in my final mix but these red flags were too much for me.
4. I ran on a consumer Precor in the same price range. I felt the feel of the running experience was inferior to the F85 -- and it was bare bones compared to the F85 features.
5. The repairman I spoke with has an experience base unlike anyone else. He has been repairing fitness equipment full time for over 10 years. He has agreements with several brands to do warranty service (but not Sole). He also does not have a vested interest. His input on the construction and repair history of Sole treadmills was positive and did nothing to disuade me from purchase.

Lastly, my thoughts on this treadmill after about three weeks of family use.
1. Everyone loves it and I remain very positive about the actual running feel/experience on this treadmill.
2. Only problem is the fan quit working. (Which is so close to the feel that when the fan was working that I probably won't bother to fix it).
3. We ran on it at Dick's sporting goods prior to buying, go look try one out there if you wish.
4. At the YMCA some of the newer treadmills may be slightly better than this, some of the ones that have been around awhile are slightly worse.
5. The "handles" are not as sturdy as a $5,000 treadmill when supporting your weight. I use them frequently to jump on and jump off the moving belt. They are sufficient, but I can tell the difference.
6. If it were up to me I'd program the belt to speed up and slow down more rapidly.

Best of luck in your search. It's only a good purchase if you actually use it! Bump me if you have any questions...
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 1, 2013 8:46:13 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 6, 2013 10:39:22 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2013 12:03:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 2, 2013 12:09:38 PM PDT
Mark M. says:
I have right around 200 hours on my treadmill and had the sole factory contracted service guy out today, covered by warranty. This is my first service call or routine maintenance done.

1. He replaced the fan (actually the main board had a bad component that caused many of the fans from my era to fail -- it since has been corrected in the manufacturing).

2. The rear roller has a bad bearing and was replaced. It just started making noise in the past few days.

3. The deck was lubed per the mfg recommended service interval of 180 hours. The advice from this repairman was to do it slightly more often than recommended (each 6-9 months or 120 hours).

All in all my review remains as written. I really love the feel of the running deck. The treadmill has been absolutely trouble free except for the items noted above. The repair was quick, efficient, and covered under warranty. Doing the math it appears ours is used about 4 hours a week.

Service guy had relatively nice things to say about this treadmill. Sounds like he has seen some that are used in a commercial setting with heavy use and no maintenance. Those have held up fine but may need a deck replaced (lifetime warranty in home use) if not lubed per their service interval. I asked about weak points and it didn't sound like there was any one item that fails often.

Sounds like your use is similar to mine, and I'd buy again. The company makes Sole and Spirit treadmills and many of their internal components are the same. I'd recommend getting on one somewhere to see what you think. I've had another 4-5 runners that were in it when they visited and their reviews are positive also. I also think its money well spent to get a beefier one with a bigger deck over the smaller models (like an f63).

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2013 9:22:29 AM PST
What's your opinion on the top of the line Pro Form and also the 7.65 Smooth treadmills?

I'm 75 now and only walk on em. I've worn out my Weslo, (after 10 years), and I'm looking for more than likely my last purchase of one as the dirt bed is approaching.

Appreciate your valued opinion.

Thanks,

Gary

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2013 12:04:48 PM PST
Mark M. says:
Gary,

The treadmill is a great way to stave off the old "dirt nap.". Got a kick out of your question. Ive never been on a smooth treadmill and my experience with proform really predates the higher end offerings they are doing now. If your weslo lasted 10 years I have to think any good quality treadmill should last you the next 20. That means you can shop again at age 95.

Of you have a Dicks sporting goods in your area I think they carry both the Sole brand and proform, try them out side by side and see what you think.

Wishing you the best, in the best quarter of your existence.

Keep the faith!
Mark.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2014 2:15:06 PM PDT
TV says:
Hey Mark. This is one of the reviews I read before ordering my own F85 from Sole. I've had it a week now and have yet to use it due to an error that comes upon the console ( L1 Low Speed). I've been in touch with tech support and they are Fedex-ing out a motor control board and drive motor, assuming that is the problem. The next available appt for a technician to physically come out is the end of next week. I'm going nuts here. I am a runner, I want to run on my new treadmill! While on the phone with tech support, we did rule out the speed sensor magnets as the problem. You seem to know your treadmill. Any suggestions that you would recommend while I stare at my new treadmill for another week??
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