Sole Fitness F85 (2014/15 model) Folding Treadmill Review

The F85 Treadmill is Sole Fitness’ top of the line machine in their home use category, boasting similar specifications to their Light Commercial model (The TT8) but with EVEN more power! The spec sheet is undoubtedly very impressive but we are here to test how those figures stack up!….

First things first, it needs to be put together out of the box! Thankfully the lower part of the treadmill (motor/deck etc) comes pre-assembled but before we get up and running, the machine must undergo an 8-step assembly process to attach the side supports and console etc. The instruction manual is made up of black and white drawings that show the location of bits and bolts so although a little vague and small to see clearly, it is fairly logical with numbers and text instructions that help things along. Speaking of ‘help’, please remember that this machine weighs over 19 stone (123 kg) so a second pair of (strong!) hands is recommended to help with the build.

Once built, you have a machine that displays all of the impressive characteristics of a typical Sole treadmill: Imposing, club-style console, chunky framework and a large deck. In a word, it looks ‘quality’. Better yet, it really FEELS it too.

Sole machines are made in the same factory (Dyaco) as their sister company Spirit (famed for their commercial grade machines). What we are seeing clearly with the F85 is a treadmill that shares many of the same components as the Spirit commercial models but priced aggressively for the home market place. As we said in the opening paragraph “The spec sheet is undoubtedly very impressive…” and a maximum user weight of 28 and a half stone (181 kg) is testament to the build quality.

Perhaps the most staggering of the figures is the rating for the motor. One of the improvements Sole have made since the 2011/12 version is that their newest F85 has been increased from a 3.5 up to a 4 Continuous Horse Power motor! The top speed of 12 miles per hour may be a fraction under some competitors but it performs with the minimum of fuss and vibration. The only niggle we had during testing was the slight lag in response time when adjusting speeds, but this is perhaps only a relevant issue when doing interval training.

Where this machine out-does the competition is with its vast belt size. The running area measures close to 61” in length with an unrivaled 22” in width! As well as having that extra 2” compared to most 20” wide belts, Sole have positioned the console to be far enough forward to stay within easy reach but clear of the running area allowing for a noticeably unrestricted workout experience. Users of all shapes and sizes have the freedom to really stride out (especially when you electronically raise the deck up to steeper angles during incline training (it’s capable of 15% at max). Plus with over 80 cm of clearance between the side arms, there’s plenty of room for letting the arms swing too!

The side handles also have thumb controls to adjust speed and incline, so no matter where you are positioned on that huge belt, you can be in control of the intensity at all times.

It must be said that amongst all the amazing specs,  it’s rather a shame that the belt is only 1.6mm thick and not orthopaedic though the cushioning system provides just enough shock absorbency. Combining that with an 18mm thick phelonic deck (and all that room to move), makes exercising at any pace very stable, yet comfortable on the joints.

The Sole F85 has 10 programs with each having a dedicated button across the console for easy selection. ‘Only’ 10 programs may not look competitive on a comparisons table with other similarly priced brands but unlike many of them, each of Sole’s preset programs can be modified to adjust their duration and intensity. We like this approach – it means there’s no compromise on variety and the console is less cluttered and easier to navigate.

The big 9” bright blue back-lit LCD screen is just as thoughtfully laid out showing all of the important training feedback as well as a dot matrix display of course profiles etc in the centre. There’s also scrolling instructions across the bottom to help you at every stage of setting up (or saving your workouts to the 2 user programs) meaning there’s no guess work needed to utilise all the programs – and it real terms that means you are more likely to actually use them all!

There’s a Manual program with a 1/4 mile lap track feature, 5 pre-set programs, 2 user defined programs and 2 heart rate controlled programs. There is a heart rate transmitting chest strap included, which is essential for the HR programs. Whilst on the topic of pulse readings, we should mention the pulse sensors inlaid on the front handlebars. We have praised Sole’s design of having the console further forward to free up more of the running area, but this does come with a compromise that the hand sensors are also slightly further forward making holding on particularly difficult without leaning slightly forward. There is a simple and obvious solution – Slip on the chest strap transmitter! This will allow hands free training are also far superior in terms of accuracy of the readings.

In terms of ‘extras’ on the F85, there may not be a touch screen or interactive software with downloadable upgrades, but it’s still a good machine, though at this level and in this time we’re surprised then isn’t something along these lines built in.

At the top of the console is the cooling fan. On many machines this feature is often so ineffective it’s a pointless space waster! Not so on the F85! For one thing, the huge console certainly has room for it AND Sole have combated the usual failings of small fans by doubling up to give you 2 fans and twice the air circulation. Don’t expect too much of a gust, but these combine to give a welcome (albeit gentle) stream of cool air that can be directed by the tilting vents.

There’s an abundance of on board storage with 5 compartments in total, so there’s no danger of losing your keys or TV Remote and drinks bottles can be kept close at hand too.

There is also a jack plug to accept your Mp3 or iPod player that works through the two inbuilt speakers (or the separate headphone input). As with the fans, you must once again, view this feature as a welcome feature rather than a ‘wow factor’ – similarly, what pumps out is fairly good for the size.

When it comes to ‘big’ important features, we must turn our attention to how such a monster machine will incorporate into the home where space is often restricted. Here’s where we award more gold stars to the Sole designers. What you have here in the F85 is a big, heavy machine that folds relatively easily with a fairly compact space-saving footprint. Once in the folded position, we were pleased to see that Sole have gone to the lengths of fitting out the underside of the deck with some nice features. For starters, they have attached a molded, patterned plastic cover to conceal the frame and belt as well as stopping excess dust from gathering under the machine when in use. Unlike many other brands, Sole have equipped the base support with 4 wheels so that when folded you can roll the machine along without having to pivot the whole weight onto front wheels. This makes maneuvering it, fairly easy despite its bulk.

When it comes to unfolding it, you simply pull a conveniently placed hand lever in the top right hand corner and the deck smoothly and safely lowers under the control of a hydraulic gas strut. All these things point towards Sole’s impressive attention to detail and high quality engineering.

Sole treadmills are renowned for their dependable durability and equally solid performance capabilities rather than ‘bells and whistles’ technology. The F85 is a case in point – it’s an effective fitness tool rather than a gimmicky fitness toy! When it comes to investing in your health and fitness, the F85 is an all-round solid choice. Whatever your fitness goals, this machine has the scope to keep on working as hard as you ever will – and if not, it has a Lifetime warranty on the frame, motor and parts, with a 3 years on-site labour cover (parts guarantee includes all electronics, running deck and belt)!….Sole clearly seem very confident in the F85 and everything we discovered, suggests they have every right to be!

Best Price

The Sole F85 (2014/2015) is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Review Summary - In Brief

Our expectations of Sole Fitness' flagship, top of the range machine home treadmill were very high and we weren't disappointed. With the F85, Sole have created a solid treadmill with a large motor and a big deck size, even compared to machines costing a lot more. Nevertheless, it does lack interactive features which is a shame. The NordicTrack Elite 2500, which is our Treadmill of the Month, has specs to more than match the F85 and boasts an Android-powered browser, all for just £100 more. So yes, the F85 is a good machine, but currently if we were picking we'd go for the NordicTrack Elite 2500.

Sole F85 (2014/2015) Specifications

  • 4.0chp motor
  • 1-20km/h (0.5-12 mph) speed range
  • 0-15% power incline
  • Assembled dimensions (L x W x H): 208cm /81.9”  x 93.6cm /36.8” x  145cm /57”
  • Folded dimensions (L x W x H): 111.5cm /43.9” x  93.6cm/36.8” x 188.5cm/74.2”
  • 56cm x 152cm (22” x 60”) running deck
  • 18mm/0.7″ whisper quiet phelonic deck
  • Product Weight: 123kg /271lbs
  • Maximum User Weight: 181kg /399lbs
  • 9” vibrant blue backlit LCD display with dot matrix profile and  a 1/4 mile lap track feature
  • 10 programmes in total
  • Manual: 1
  • Pre-set: 5
  • User defined: 2
  • Heart rate: 2
  • Pulse measurement via grip sensors or  wireless receiver (using an included Sole Fitness chest strap)
  • Conveniences: Integrated sound system  with MP3 and iPod player compatibility, dual turbo cooling fans, quick speed and incline keys,  dual water bottle holders and accessory tray
  • Guarantee: lifetime frame, motor & parts + 3 years labour

Sole F85 Treadmill (2014/15) - Console / Display Unit

Sole F85 Treadmill (2014/15) - User Reviews

The Pros

  • WHOPPING 60” x 22” wide running area!
  • New improved 4 C.H.P Motor for 2014/15
  • Ideal for taller/heavier users
  • High quality components
  • Fairly easy to fold/unfold/maneuver
  • Outstanding warranty = Total peace of mind

The Cons

  • Slight delay in speed adjustment response
  • Thin, non-orthopeadic belt
  • No interactive features
Sole F85 Treadmill (2014/15) Reviewer Ratings

Power - 8
Appearance - 7.5
Running Area - 8.5
Comfort - 8
Reliability - 8
Noise - 8
Ease Of Use - 8
Controls - 8
Warranty - 9
Value for Money - 7
Best Price

The Sole F85 (2014/2015) is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Also see our Treadmill Comparison Table

Whilst every effort is made to give you accurate information we cannot guarantee the technical specification. Models change on a regular basis and may differ slightly from the above review. We recommend you contact the retailer if you have a question regarding technical data. Please read our Legal Disclaimer

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