Sole Fitness F65 (2013/14) Folding Treadmill Review

Recently Sole Fitness have had their biennial launch of the new 2013/14 ranges, and we were keen to see what new innovations they have been working on over the last two years. Most often, it gives us a chance to compare what ‘new improvements’ have been made to the old tried and tested past models and this time we check out the F65.

When the previous Sole ranges were launched back in 2011, one of the biggest selling points of the costlier F65 was that it had a longer running area compared to the F63; those precious extra inches went a surprisingly long way in justifying the extra £200 investment. With the 2013 updates, Sole increased the running surface area on all of the lower-end ‘F’ models to 60 inches in length (The ‘F’ stands for ‘Folding’). This wide-spread upgrade has made the F65’s presence retreat slightly out of the limelight when placed in a line-up between the more affordable F63 and the more expensive but superior F80.

This year the F65 has been treated to a more powerful motor, which is now up rated to an impressive 3.25 Continuous Horse Power (from 2.75). This motor spec makes the F65 dominate most of the competition in the power stakes; however, the F63 has also had a boost under the hood so it’s only a quarter of a horse power behind it! Both have the same top speeds, incline capacities and 2.5 inch rollers, so in terms of speed, smoothness and noise levels there is really nothing to differentiate between the two (aside from a 200 quid price difference!)

When compared to similarly priced offerings from rival manufactures, there are many aspects that make the F65 stand apart from the competition. As we’ve mentioned, the motor is exceptionally powerful at this price point, meaning that although the top speeds may appear close, the extra power should extend the lifespan of the machine because the F65 doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver the same speed. The ease at which the motor performs also reflects in relatively quiet noise levels in use too.

The build quality of Sole machines is often the standard by which many other brands are judged, and at this price point, the construction of the F65 is exemplary. When you climb aboard the large, unrestricted expanse of running area, you can feel, from the handlebars down to the base frame, that this is a very solid unit. The maximum user capacity has increased by a stone and a half for this new model, which is now rated at 25, stone (one factor that distinguishes this model over the F63) this makes the new F65 a good option for heavier and taller users.

Whatever your size or weight, the benefits of having plenty of power and space at your disposal are obvious. There are 15 levels of incline and when the gradient goes up, it is a reassuring feeling to have so much running area to stride on. The cushioning system is a fairly basic set up of 3 pairs of rubber elastomers, which supports a commercial grade reversible deck. This is a common set up on a lot of treadmills, so in concept it’s nothing innovative or unique, but when we upped the pace to jog and run, it did offer effective shock absorption while still feeling supportive under foot.

Moving on up the machine you’ll see a clever use of generally wasted space between the side support arms. Sole have taken the concept of an unimaginative support brace, and created a storage tray that spans between the two uprights which adds extra stability to the frame as well as offering loads of additional storage space to the two compartments on the console.

Mention of the console brings us nicely to another updated feature of the new F65. All of the ‘F’ series machines have been freshened up with a new display and this adds to an already well presented console.

The F65 has lots of convenient methods of adjusting incline or speed levels. There’s the usual up and down arrows on the console, handy thumb controls on the side handlebars and there are 1-step Quick keys either side of the display. The one touch ‘quick key’s are particularly worthy of note: On the left are 7 incline buttons from a 1% gradient all the way to the maximum 15 % and on the right, speed increments jump from 2 up to 12Mph. It’s good to see that the increment options extend to the machines maximum capabilities and these controls are undoubtedly handy for instant selection but we did find the ‘lag’ time between speed adjustments made us double check to see if the command had actually registered! It’s not a major issue, it doesn’t take long to become familiar with how the machine responds, just don’t let the term ‘Quick’ keys mislead you into thinking that speed changes will happen instantaneously if the speed is running away with you.

Typical of Sole Treadmills the selection of programmes appears slightly limited at first glance but the F65 allows the user to modify the pre-set default values so that programmes can be widely adjusted. It’s easy to bypass any setting up process and jump straight into the 3 minute warm-up (yep, even the warm up can be bypassed too!). The large blue backlit 7.5” screen makes setting up as easy as following the simple instructions that scroll across the message display window! This is a very intuitive and easy to use console, which we warmed to within the first couple of minutes of testing.

As well as being able to adjust the duration of the workouts and limit the maximum speed ‘peaks’ of any of the 5 pre-set course profiles, we liked the way that the user can also input their age and weight to ensure more accurate calorie consumption figures.

Speaking of improved accuracy, the console packs a heart rate receiver that can wirelessly connect with a compatible chest strap transmitter and allow you to enjoy the 2 heart rate controlled programs. We have always urged users to invest in a compatible chest strap, not just so that they can utilise HRC training, but also mainly because the pulse sensors on any machines can never guarantee much in the way of consistency or accuracy of readings. The ones here are no exception but all that doesn’t matter because Sole have kindly thrown in a complimentary chest belt with every F65! Using that, you can be certain that the readings are highly accurate and there’s a rather clever profile gauge on the display that will show your current heart rate percentage to keep you informed of how your pulse is responding.

In addition to the profile courses, there is the provision to create and store 2 user-defined customised workout sessions from scratch. The display serves to motivate in the Manual program too. With an LCD ¼ mile track in the centre of the display, you can really get absorbed in your workout by having the added encouragement of seeing the laps add up!

With regards to motivation, the F65 (as with all Sole machines) only has a basic few ‘extras’ to further your fun. There is iPod and Mp3 connectivity with an audio connection jack plug, which can play your tunes through an inbuilt speaker system. Despite the big ‘club-style’ console, you shouldn’t expect a ‘club-style’ speaker system – these are small but adequate. If the rest of the household doesn’t share your musical tastes, then there is a headphone input so you can keep your sounds to yourself.

Mounted at the very top of the console is a dual fan system. On so many machines, fans seem a little too weak to justify their space, but the size of this console allowed for two of them and they actually did make a noticeable difference! What a ‘refreshing’ change.

The F65 has the typical hydraulic lift-assist mechanism to make lifting the deck a great deal easier when it’s being stored out of action. What is unique here and really impressed us is the ease of which the F65 can be unfolded. Unlike many treadmills that incorporate a locking pin in a vertical support beneath the deck, or a foot peddle to operate the unfolding mechanism, the F65 has a far more accessible and easy method. On the top corner of the underside is a simple yellow plastic handle that can be pulled to release and lower the deck. As is the norm with most treadmills, it is essential that you ‘take the weight off’ the mechanism by using one hand to apply slight forward pressure on the deck when trying to unlock it. In the event of a user being unfamiliar with this common practise, we did feel that a metal handle would be more durable, although the plastic gave no indication of weakness. It must be said however, that there are very few times that you could EVER want or wish for Sole to ‘beef up’ any aspect of their equipment!

So what do we think of the F65 overall?

For anyone contemplating a Sole machine, we like to mention the one area that could be a make or break for some – The lack of ‘gadgets’! You won’t find USB ports or iPod docking stations on a Sole treadmill… Internet connectivity, touch screens or downloadable software compatibility just isn’t their bag. If you’re wanting the latest technological gadgetry, ANY Sole treadmill is probably not going to ‘turn you on’!

 

Best Price

The Sole F65 (2013/2014) 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

The F65 is a treadmill that ‘does what it says on the tin’ and is a very, very good machine, but with the top-of-the-range and higher specced Sole F85 currently available for £200 less there's just no reason we can see that you'd go for the F65 and not the F85.  

Sole F65 (2013/2014) Specifications

  • 3.25 chp motor
  • 1-20km/h (0.5-12 mph) speed range
  • 0-15% power incline
  • Assembled dimensions (L x W x H): 201cm /83”  x 89cm /35” x  144cm /56.7”
  • Folded dimensions (L x W x H): 120cm /47.2.9” x  89cm/35” x 185cm/72.8”
  • 50.8cm x 152cm (20” x 60”) running deck
  • Cushion Flex Cushioning
  • Product Weight: 115kg /253lbs
  • Maximum User Weight: 130kg /286.6lbs
  • 7.5” blue backlit LCD display HR% Graph and  a 1/4 mile lap track feature
  • 10 programmes in total (5 preset, 2 Heart Rate Control, manual, 2 user defined)
  • Pulse measurement via grip sensors or  wireless receiver (chest strap included)
  • Conveniences: Integrated sound system  with MP3 and iPod player compatibility, cooling fan, quick speed and incline keys,
  • Guarantee: lifetime frame, motor & parts + 3 years labour

Sole Fitness F65 (2013/14) Treadmill - Console / Display Unit

Sole Fitness F65 (2013/14) Treadmill - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Powerful 3.25 CHP motor
  • Maximum user capacity of 25 stone
  • Clear 7.5” LCD display & intuitive console
  • Spacious 60” x 20” running area
  • Easy to fold and roll.
  • Lifetime frame, motor and parts guarantee as well as 3 years on-site labour cover

The Cons

  • It doesn’t really offer much over the new 2013 F63
  • No Internet connectivity or downloadable software compatibility
  • Slight ‘lag’ when adjusting speeds
  • Rather thin 1.6 mm running belt (not orthopaedic)
Sole Fitness F65 (2013/14) Treadmill Reviewer Ratings

Power - 8.5
Appearance - 8
Running Area - 8
Comfort - 8
Reliability - 8
Noise - 8.5
Ease Of Use - 8
Controls - 8
Warranty - 9
Value for Money - 2
Best Price

The Sole F65 (2013/2014) 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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