It is not unusual for people to look for great value in everything that they buy. Take for instance the best treadmill to be used specifically for the home. While it is easy to simply buy the most expensive, the most professional-looking, and the most features-laden machine you could ever buy, sometimes these do not automatically guarantee absolute satisfaction.
As you may already be aware there are quite a number of inexpensive products that are at par with high end ones when it comes to their superb craftsmanship and embedded technologies. I am not saying that really expensive treadmills are nothing more than a product of marketing hype; make no mistake, these treadmills are used by seasoned professionals.
However, if you’re like me who is not really going to make a living out of the treadmill, do you think it really is worth it to invest in a machine that will cost you more than five thousands dollars? I don’t think so. This brings us to the question what treadmill can provide you the best in the world of fitness – form, functionality, and affordability?
Thankfully, there are a number of treadmills that is perfect for the home, friendly on the pocket, and reasonably built for the serious fitness buffs in all of us. One of these is the Sole F80 and I have been lucky enough to give this baby a real test. Here’s how it went.
Overview of the Sole F80 Treadmill
Fully capable of holding a 170-kilogram individual, the Sole F80 is a treadmill that features many of the technical wonders of a professional-grade exercise equipment but at a friendlier price and a really compact design. Inside its ultra-sleek and futuristic design is a 3.5 CHP motor that powers it to a top speed of around 19 kilometres per hour or roughly 12 miles per hour.
The high torque motor is slightly less powerful than professional grade machines, but it sure knows how to deliver a whopping punch for those who really like to push themselves to the hilt. As powerful as the motor is, I find it quite amusing as it doesn’t really create a loud operating noise. This is perhaps due to the unique design of its motor and drive belt assembly.
The console of the Sole F80 is more like that of a modern automobile with a large 7.5-inch blue LED-backlit screen in the centre and a cluster of buttons in the perimeter. The console is quite large compared to other products of the same price range.
It comes with the same bottle and cargo storage compartments but is conveniently located on a level between the base of the F80 and the control console. The handlebars elegantly curve towards the side and along the outer edges of the F80. Personally, I find the length of the rails to be somewhat wanting. You’d really have to reach out in front of you just so you can hold onto the railings.
Sturdy and Modern All-Rounder Treadmill
One of the most unique features of the Sole F80 is its folding deck design, made super easy by a unique Easy Assist Folding deck technology. This is clearly one of the really pleasant surprises about the F80. At first glance you would expect this behemoth of a treadmill to be quite a challenge to store. However, as bulky and heavy as it is, its deck easily flips at an angle standing almost parallel to the line created by the console bars.
While it may not be exactly in a perfect standing position, this allows the F80 to be stored easily in small spaces. It also locks into place so there’s no danger of it unfolding back down when you least expect it to.
The Sole F80 comes with all the useful program presets that you’d expect from a modern treadmill including 5 standard programs, 2 heart programs, 2 custom programs, and a manual mode.
A Closer Look at the Features of the Sole F80
Sturdy, stable, durable, and comfortable platform
What clearly sets the F80 from the rest of the pack is its sturdy and reliable design. The frame itself is precision welded to make sure it won’t buck under pressure. It does feel and look sturdy. The rubber belts are double woven in a 2-ply configuration and meshed on top of a PVC layer which further adds to the overall strength of the F80.
Nylon backing provides additional strength and resilience without adversely affecting the overall performance of the machine. When it comes to comfort, the F80 comes with CushionFlex technology. Personally, I’d say this is one of the greatest features of the F80 especially for individuals who may already be feeling the effects of aging in their joints.
Powerful yet quiet motor
At first I thought the 3.5 CHP motor was a bit underpowered to my liking. However, giving it a test run on all the available programs on the equipment soon dispelled all my apprehensions about the machine. It is a powerful motor even at 3.5 CHP fully capable of speeding up the belt up to 19 KPH. It’s exceptionally responsive, too.
I throttled the motor down to its lowest setting at about 0.80 KPH before throttling it back up again. There was very minimal delay in the response as you go up or down its speed range. There were no vibrations at all or any form of shuddering that would have instantly been generated through the shoes. Part of the F80’s powerhouse is its all-steel balanced flywheel that has been coated with zinc. Overall, running on the F80 was quite a pleasant experience.
You really wouldn’t believe that such a bulky and quite heavy gym equipment as the Sole F80 can be folded for storage purposes. It may not be in a really standing position but it sure can free up ample space on your floor so you can still use it for a variety of purposes. But what is really astonishing about the F80 is the way it easily folds itself up without breaking a sweat.
A review of its literature says that the machine comes with a proprietary rack and pinion system that allows users to easily fold the whole deck in a vertical position at an angle. Now, you may think that this rather unsteady position of the F80 is in danger of tipping over. Believe me I felt the same way, too. But, in addition to an extendable support base, the F80 also comes with a safety lock mechanism which serves to hold it in place in a vertical position. At least, this should help allay our fears of the equipment falling over our heads.
Health monitoring and optimum fitness at your fingertips
It would really be a shame if I’m going to say that the F80 falls short of expectations especially when it comes to its pre-programmed settings. While most individuals will look at the 10 program presets to be more than sufficient, there really is still much to be desired. However, it does come with the Hill, Interval, Fat Burn, Strength, and Cardio programs as standard. Plus, it also comes with two heart settings, one at 60% the maximum heart rate and another one at 80%. And then there are 2 custom programs as well as a manual mode.
Perhaps I am asking too much but these program presets are more than enough for the modern fitness buff. But what really amazed me is the fact that it already includes a chest strap in its package alongside the fully integrated pulse contact sensors on the handle grips for a more accurate heart rate monitoring.
Pros and Cons
With a powerful motor, a folding deck with secure latch-on mechanism, and a really comfortable running platform, the Sole F80 is a great option for those who would like to own a treadmill that is going to last for many years and provide them with the means to achieve their fitness goals in a more fun and enjoyable manner.
I may find the number of program presets to be a major drawback, but given the fact that I have already seen quite a handful of treadmills from the really cheap ones all the way to the high end units, you can always disregard this limitation especially if you’re still relatively new in the world of running and walking on treadmill. Plus, you get Sole’s undisputed reputation for quality products that it guarantees for a lifetime.