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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.
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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.

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on October 8, 2012
This review is for the 2011 model, which mechanically is the same as the 2012 and 2013 models except for the ears on the handlebars introduced in later 2012. (You can verify this by check the parts lists and diagrams). A few cosmetic differences were introduce each year and some minor program differences. The 2011 model can sell for several hundred dollars less than the later models models.

Assembly: Any one can assemble that has normal range of motion and the strength of a typical adult. Even the required tools are provided although you might want to use your own higher quality tools. The screws, bolts,and washers, are packed into several small groups, one per each major set of assembly steps in the written instructions. And there are labeled of the bolts, screws, and washers so you can easily tell them apart.

The instructions and parts labeling are sufficient for assembly but have three flaws. 1) The instructions do not state the order of bolts and different types of washers; 2 the drawing is too small to see the order of assembly of small parts (it's not just that the smallness, but the resolution is too low to properly discern some of the smaller parts); and 3) the many plastic parts are not labeled so you must identify them based on the exploded diagram; it would be much easier if the parts were labeled or the diagram larger. Luckily some common sense and/or a magnifier can one conquers these issues. Or one can go to the website and navigate to Support and find the parts diagram. You can load this up on your pc and enlarge with good resolution -- on the soletreadmills site click on ellipticals and go to bottom of page and under Support select Service Documents, Select Elliptical Exploded Views/Parts Diagram. (The service documents are pdf files so you'll need Adobe Reader to view them.)

Otoh, if you didn't have the instructions at all, you could probably figure it out given enough time. The first time you assemble, 3 hours is not a bad guess. Subsequently you cloud probably assemble one in less than an hour because you would no longer need to check back and forth with the drawings, the text and the parts.

All of this is assuming you already have all of the parts at the final location. Moving the larger chassis parts is cumbersome at best. The flywheel-connecting rods assembly is too heavy for the average person to lift and even with two people, it is terribly cumbersome. I found it useful to take off the connecting rods; they are easily put back on once the parts are moved to the final location. If you can't pull them off after removing the bolts (one on each arm), then use a rubber mallet to help coax them off; they are a tight fit but do slide off once the bolt is removed. Use the mallet to coax them back on later. This extra bit of work makes the arms and flywheel assembly much easier to carry.

Use of controls: Like most instructions, they are too boring to read. You can fool around with them and pretty well figure them out; they are reasonably intuitive. But after playing around, you should read the instructions to get full advantage of the control unit.
Use of machine: The Machine is very quiet; nothing like a bike or treadmill. You could whisper to someone across the room and if they could hear you when the machine was still, they could hear you when you were using the machine. There was a slight squeegee-like squeak at first from the rear rollers, but this disappeared after a few minutes of use and never came back.
Controls are conveniently placed, especially the resistance level and ramp incline adjustment, which can be made with a thumb on the handlebar mounted controls.

I have enough relatives to investigate a small sample of people of different heights using the machine. If you were well over 6 foot tall, you might prefer the longer stride of the much more expensive machines. I you are shorter than 5' 3" you might appreciate a shorter stride of some other machine, but for most folks a 20" stride is good.
One relative complained that the resistance could not be set high enough, but he's the kind of guy that goes around in too small t-shirts and flexes his biceps whenever there is anyone in the room, even if it's only him.

Superfluous add-ons: There is a small (3") tubeaxial fan mounted on the control panel. Presumably it is there to provide some white noise ambiance. It serves no other useful purpose. This type of fan is useful for moving small amounts of air in small air spaces, where the small volume provides cooling for electronic devices or other relatively small heats sources. As a human body cooling device (or even a cooler for any single part of a human body such as a face or a hand, etc.) it is pure hokum.

You can plug in an mp3 player and listen to you player through speakers in the control panel. However, if you own an mp3 player then you already have speakers (headphones, earphones) and they will undoubtedly sound better than the E35 speakers - unless all you have are the original Ipod earbuds or some other very cheap earphones/headphones. Get yourself a small dock for your mp3 player--you deserve for all that exercising you're doing ;) .

I didn't take off points for these because I didn't expect them to be worth a tinker's damn, and because the machine is a great value anyway. But seriously folks, the speakers and fan are as useful as drawing little hearts to dot your "i"s.

Build quality: I don't have metallurgical equipment to stress test welds, steel composition, and such but the welds, while not all are pretty they do appear to be solid--and they are all covered with those many plastic parts. The chassis is rigid under weight and there is ample use of bolts where parts are joined, and the spray coat finish is very nicely done.

Conclusion: If you want an elliptical to keep fit or help lose weight, the E35 is a very good value. You can get fancier machines, but at nowhere near the price.
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on February 16, 2011
I had wanted this product for a while, between the E55 and E95 this is the better value for the Money . The E95 has a heavier Fly wheel and some more advanced Target heart rate features and Stabilizers int he back but mostly its the Same machine as this for 400$ less. One thing I was very pleased wish was the steps involved in putting it together, altho the toughest challenge was getting the box in the house and then opening it and moving the base into the room. This is at least a 2 person lift and at least a 2 person build, we built it in 3 hours and also put a Boxflex ultimate 2 together (well half of it) in the same time frame. I am a big Guy at 330lbs, (hence buying this), however the machine handles my weight well altho it may shake a tad here and there if i really run on it but a good mat under it will fix that, mines rather thin.

One feature that was really cool is the Heart rate monitor i have is a Polar that i got a few years ago that has a wireless strap, this system comes with its own however I prefer my Polar, the E35 picked up the HR signal from my Polar without any configuration needed. This was cool and not expected.

The sound quality with an Iphone is good however the speakers are not up to par with a good set of headphones or another sound system you may have in your Room. They are pretty much equal to a Clock radio speaker and are doable.

The Fan is pretty weak, i guess it is ment for just a light breeze but its weak even by those standards.

The display on the 2011 model is Bright Blue led. information is easy to understand and the machine has a power save mode when idle for a while.

One thing that is kinda annoying is the Power plug for this unit is under the front fly wheel, the placement of this means you will have a cord running out and back to the left side of the elliptical... im contemplating getting an extension cord and zip tying it under the frame so it pops out the back just so its not a trip hazard.

I suggest if you are thinking about this product that you go to a local Dicks Sporting goods and try one out , they carry them .

It will suit my needs along with a Bowflex Ultimate 2 that i got off Craig list for 900$, (1900 under retail)
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on June 28, 2011
This is the second Sole E35 I've purchased. The first worked perfectly well, but my wife and I wore it out after three years. We actually cracked a weld on the frame, which makes it sound iffy, I know, but consider that we used the machine 6 days a week for more than 40 miles/wk combined and lost more than a combined 220lbs in the process (along with a reasonable diet, of course). Needless to say, we put a great deal of strain on the machine (saving our knees a lot of wear and tear).

I had no second thoughts about purchasing another Sole. I think the price is well worth it. We had a cheaper machine before, and it fell apart on us, and I've tried health club equipment and found the E35 comparable in its stability and ease of use. I'd recommend putting the machine on a hard, flat surface and we've placed one of those rubber pads under ours to smooth out the minimal vibrations.

The Sole is also pretty easy to assemble (though I used my own tools, not those included, because... well, they're MY tools and they're nice and shiny). There are essentially three major parts to put together and plenty of plastic panels to cover the exposed bolts. I think it took me 2 hours of work (including getting it out of the box, best done with a partner, since the part with the flywheel is HEAVY!) to assemble.

I bolted a small flat panel TV/DVD combo into the wall in front of my machine and ran a cable from the ear-phones connection on the TV to the music jack on the Sole, then plugged my ear-phones into the Sole's earphones jack. Voila, I can watch shows while I exercise (quietly) that I'd normally watch while sitting on my butt. It's a bit more cumbersome than using a machine with the tiny TV built into the machine, but a heck of a lot cheaper (plus my screen is bigger than their screen, providing me with that "mine's bigger" satisfaction, PLUS I got to drill something into a WALL. WOOHOO! I even got to use my stud finder. I like to hold it to myself and pretend to make it beep).

Oh, and the Sole E35 is pretty darn quiet, even if I'm NOT when I exercise (I like to scream advice to the Doctor. He hears me, I just know it!).
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on November 30, 2012
Bought this 3 weeks ago to replace a StairMaster and so far it's been great. My wife loves it too. Took about 3+ hours to put together, mostly because of all the plastic add-ons, but not too difficult. Seems we had no errors, as everything got tightened down.

If you need to move this yourself, don't take the mainframe out of the box because the footstep legs move with the wheel, making it almost impossible to lift without 8 hands. Instead, take all the other parts out to lighten the load and then transport up stairs in the box. This machine is not easy to move around until it's put together. The machine seems very well made and solid. Worth the extra $$$.

Revised review: After 4 years of intermittent use the resistance motor failed and had to be replaced. Apparently this is a common problem because the parts are plastic. For $1100 I think Sears/Sole should revamp the motor with metal parts like the E95 because we only got about 200-250 hours on it. I would not buy a machine this expensive with cheap parts again. Instead, I would seek to pay less for a refurbished commercial machine.
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on July 26, 2012
I was very surprised at how well this elliptical was constructed. It's solid. I'm a big guy, 6'5" & 330 lbs, this thing is awesome. Quality built and have had zero issues with it. Assembly was simple but I work at tearing down and building electrical equipment so, to me this was an easy build. Not ever being on or used an elliptical, I have nothing to compare it to. To me, it seems very solid and I liked the way it is set up with the flywheel out front. The operation is very smooth. It would be nice if the unit would save each work out stats. The built in fan is lacking but having used a treadmill with a fan, I'm sure they all are not that great. I have not used the built in speakers yet, and probably will never use them, but, it's nice to have an option to plug in your MP3 player and if you wanted to, a headset/earbuds. I was surprised that it came with a heart monitor/chest strap and it works just fine. The screen is easy to see and read and easy to program. I have not gone through all the programs yet. The first couple of days, the machine kicked my butt, mainly because I'm out of shape!!! All in all, I am very happy with this purchase so far.
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on October 8, 2012
... break into a sweat and weak in the knees? Well that would be the Sole E35. What a machine! We have had this machine for almost a yr. As close to gym quality as we could afford, and we have used gym machines. The previous reviews about the fan and music connections are correct. The hardest part of assembly was getting into the box. It was delivered right into our exercise room. We had it up and running in about 2 hrs. Everything was included to finish the assembly. This is truly an all body workout. I can't run on a track or path because of my knees, yet I can go for 30 minutes on the elliptical. My husband has created two different user programs that are quite difficult, and the other programs also work very well for both of us. He's 6'1" and I'm 5'5" and the stride seems to work for both of us. Our only disappointment was the machine doesn't hold a tally of our miles, time, calories etc, so we keep that info on a calendar. It is quiet enough to watch TV or listen to music. This may be a petty gripe but you would think for the money paid they would be able to locate the on/off switch in a more convenient location. This is a high quality machine and it's all we could ask for in a home elliptical. Amazon had the best price we could find at that time and the free shipping was a plus.
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on November 18, 2011
My husband and I assembled this ourselves. It took us 4 hours from start to finish.

The only issue we had with the instructions was at the part where you have to put the washers on the bar for the arms-I later found online a video for this and we did it wrong-so we will have to take that part apart on each side and correct that mistake. What caused some of our confusion is the plastic parts were on backwards-the open end of the ring was exposed, not the closed end. If we put the washers in like that they went into the opening so we reversed it-a mistake.

The bulk of the assembly time was the plastic finishing parts.

I am going to use it for the first time today. Prior to using it I have two issues-the plastic cover on the front will not click in-the big part that covers where the front pole connects to the flywheel.

The other thing that is a pretty terrible design error is the placement of the plug. The placement is bad enough-on the bottom left under the flywheel-but the way you have to plug in the power cord is bizarre. It is kind of hard to descibe but you have to bend the cord in an odd way-the connection on the cord is backwards-again this is hard to describe but I think you would know what I am talking about if you have put it together. I am going to contact them to see if I can use a different cord that is straight, not the one provided that forms an L.

It seems very solid and well worth the money-I will post again after using it.

As usual Amazon delivers their products on time and professionally.


This machine is great! I still have to contact them about the piece that fits over the top of the flywheel but I have been using it for three weeks and I love it! It still makes a noise here and there-I might need to level it like the instructions say-but it gives a great workout and I actually enjoy using it. Well worth the additional cost from the other ones I was looking at.
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on December 9, 2012
...during assembly! I had a couple problems getting the rear piece connected to the front piece. The 2 holes on the right side did not line up perfectly. It wasn't something that could be fixed by moving the sliding piece forward or backwards- it was a side to side issue. The bolts simply would not catch the threads. The other side lined up perfectly. I had to thread the bolts from the opposite side and torque it through to scrape off enough of the metal lip that was blocking it to be able to thread it through in the other direction. This damaged the bolt threads, but it was still able to be used.

I also found that a pin in the connector to the incline motor was bent causing the display to report an incline error. I had to straighten the pin and it then worked ok.

Aside from the build quality issues, it felt like there were 100 plastic panels to attach. Imagine getting a car and having to attach the fenders and body panels. I understand the need, but this made putting together sauder furniture seem like child's play.

I have no experience assembling other ellipticals, so I have no idea if this is typical. I have setup treadmills and they are relatively easy to setup compared to this. So be prepared.

It took about 3 hours to setup- which is way too long in my opinion. After assembly, it seems like a decent product. It does feel like you're positioned very close to the console and as far as I can tell there is no way to adjust that positioning.

Once assembled, it feels like a quality product...
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