Sole F65 Treadmill (2011) Review

Carrying on from the enormous and continuing success of the F63 comes a new addition to the Sole treadmill range. The need for a model to bridge the price gap between their F63 and the F80 model is without dispute, but does this machine deserves to lay claim to that vacant and prestigious position between that popular pair?….Does it have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with the competition?….Or is it destined to fall into obscurity? This the Sole F65!………..

At a glance, the F65 is clearly a Sole Fitness Treadmill…and that’s a good thing! Following in the footsteps of its little brother – the F63, it’s good to see that the design and the rugged durability are still very evident at first sight. Grab hold of it, try and shake it and we expect your teeth will rattle before the machine does!

Obviously the purpose of this article is to review the F65 based upon it’s own merits, but for anyone comparing this model and the F63, let’s point out the obvious upgrades – this has a marginally larger motor, a 3” longer running surface and a welcomed larger LCD display. Now when you consider that the F63 has won numerous awards and became one of the most successful treadmills in the U.S market for 2 years running, it starts to become apparent what the ‘next model up’ may represent!

Weighing it at a hefty 113kg the F65 has a maximum user capacity of 23 and a half stones, so it’s clear on paper that this is a machine designed to continue the Sole reputation of ‘bullet proof’ build quality. To put these ‘text specs’ to the test, we put it up against our own ‘heavyweight’ addition to the review team, Charlie Rawes, and it immediately became clear that the F65 had perfect right to claim such substantial figures! To see how the motor performed under ‘load’ (and violating the customary golden rule of treadmill care) our reviewer chose not to stand on the side running boards until the belt came to speed. Instead we tested how the large 2.75 CHP drive motor would fair with moving our 115Kg reviewer from a standing start. The result was effortless. Not a momentary lapse of momentum or sign of strain. From 0.5 Mph all the way up to 12 Mph (un-manned at that point!), this motor has power in spades.

The powerful motor, the sturdy construction of the frame, an 18mm thick ‘whisper quiet’ running deck AND 60mm rollers all combined to give little vibration and noise when in use.

When running on the F65, it proved just as robust without being unyielding underfoot.  The ‘cushion flex’ system offers ample shock absorption without feeling ‘spongy’. The 1.6mm 1 ply running belt does little to enhance comfort, but equally nothing to detract from the pleasant running experience. All in all, in the simplest of terms – it just felt right.

The size of the running area is also deserving of great praise, especially for taller users. The deck width is 20” by a whopping 60”. If you are long-legged, like to really ‘stride out’ or more generally speaking, you just want to clear any thoughts of the potential hazard of moving too close to the ‘end’ of the belt during workouts, then this is a real bonus. Possessing an extra-long running area is especially reassuring during uphill workouts when your stride length is naturally extended. Considering that the F65 is capable of incline levels up to 15% this extension comes as a very welcome addition.
The inclusion of an enlarged LCD display was great to ‘see’ too! Lower end Sole treadmills have suffered with the annoyance of a frustratingly small display. Thankfully the F65 has been treated to a 7.5” vibrant blue backlit LCD display with dot matrix profile display – this means no more eye strain AND the functions are intuitive enough to be easy on the brain too.

With such a large ‘health club-style’ console there’s plenty of room for that handsome display and a few more treats too! For starters, you have iPod and Mp3 connectivity with an audio connection jack plug sitting conveniently next to a nice big accessory storage holder – big enough to hold your player, your phone, even someone else’s phone! – Anything else can be put in the one on the other side!….Or in the compartments below on the cross support bar – yes there’s loads of storage, probably more than you’ll ever use but at least you won’t be hunting for the TV remote! Similar to the left hand compartment, the one on the right has a connection plug too; This one is for headphones. It’s a nice feature for disturbance-free workouts at home but it seems a shame not to make the most of the high quality integrated stereo speakers – We like! We also become fans of the…well…the fans! Mounted at the very top of the console was 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.

Onto programs now, starting with the most obvious, ‘Manual’ you can adjust the speed and incline with the up and down arrows on the console, which makes adjustments in whole numbers. Fine-tuning the intensity is easy with the controls on the side handlebars. We appreciate side handle controls for sheer convenience but this method also adds a bit of extra safety and control to your workouts too.

For further control, there are 1-step Quick keys either side of the display. On the left are 6 incline buttons from a 1% gradient all the way to the maximum 15 % and on the right, speed increments jump by 2 Mph 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. The incline motor seemed to be much quicker to respond and your leg muscles soon confirm that the deck is at a gradient!

Typical of Sole Treadmills there is not a huge selection of programmes, but the choice of 5 pre-set course profiles offer adequate variety. Plus if you don’t see anything you like in that lot, you have 2 user programs that allow you to design your very own workouts. Prior to any program you are set on a 3 minute warm-up which we think is a great feature to condition users into good practises (or this can be instantly bypassed by simply pressing the start button)

We particularly liked the ¼ mile track feature. The obvious benefit of such a manageable distance, as well as naturally challenging feature, is that it should keep most users engaged and motivated to beat personal best lap times!

Inside the console is 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. There is a rather clever profile gauge on the display to clearly show your current heart rate percentage.  For standard pulse rate readings you can simply hold onto the pulse grip sensors on the handlebars and the readings can be seen in the top corner of the display. Although cosmetically we liked the design of these ‘motorbike-style’ handles, we felt that they were perhaps positioned a fraction too far forward resulting in our reviewer having to lean slightly to keep steps clear of the motor hood. With a machine that boasts such a vast expanse of treadmill belt, it seemed a shame not to have allocated these handles a couple more inches of room.

Whilst on the subject of ‘room’, rest assured that the bulky deck is actually fairly easy to lift and locks positively into the upright position. 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! In fact, with the outstanding Product warranty of a lifetime frame, motor and parts guarantee as well as 3 years on-site labour cover, it rather begs the question “Why worry?!”

Best Price

The Sole F65 (2011 model) 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 Sole F65 treadmill addresses the most common criticism of the Sole F63, being the treadmill deck not being long enough for taller runners. With this comes a bigger motor as well to drive the longer belt, ensuring that this Sole treadmill has no shortage of power. So, with a price difference of only £100 with the F63, we think this is an upgrade well worth having.

Sole F65 (2011 model) Specifications

  • 2.75chp motor
  • 1-20km/h (0.5-12 mph) speed range
  • 0-15% power incline
  • Assembled dimensions (L x W x H): 205cm /80.7”  x 87cm /34.3” x  144cm /56.7”
  • Folded dimensions (L x W x H): 122cm /48” x  87cm/34.3” x 174cm/68.5”
  • 51cm x 148cm (20” x 58”) running deck
  • Unique design cushion flex
  • Product Weight: 113kg /149lbs
  • Maximum User Weight: 147kg /325lbs
  • 7.5” vibrant blue backlit LCD display with dot matrix profile
  • 10 programmes in total
  • Manual: 1
  • Pre-set: 5
  • User defined: 2
  • Heart rate: 2
  • Pulse measurement via grip sensors or built-in wireless receiver (requires chest belt that is optional)
  • Conveniences: Integrated sound system, dual turbo cooling fans, quick speed and incline keys, easy assist folding design
  • Guarantee: lifetime frame, motor & parts + 3 years labour

Sole F65 (2011 model) Treadmill - Console / Display Unit

Sole F65 (2011 model) Treadmill - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Solid feeling machine
  • Large LCD display
  • Spacious running area
  • Effective cushioning system
  • Lifetime frame, motor and parts guarantee as well as 3 years on-site labour cover

The Cons

  • Slight delay when adjusting speeds
  • Limited amount of pre-set programs compared to other machines
  • Rather thin 1.6 mm running belt (not orthopaedic)
Sole F65 (2011 model) Treadmill Reviewer Ratings

Power - 9
Appearance - 8.5
Running Area - 9
Comfort - 8
Reliability - 9.5
Noise - 8
Ease Of Use - 7.5
Controls - 8
Warranty - 10
Value for Money - 9
Best Price

The Sole F65 (2011 model) 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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