Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine Review
Having an elliptical machine in your home is a great shortcut to getting in a good amount of cardio every day. It is always there, easy to use, and sometimes portable. Many elliptical machines can even fold for easy transport and storage. They will get your heart rate up, burn calories, and give you more energy for daily tasks. For most of us who are not competitive athletes, those benefits are what we most need from a fitness regimen.
In the old days, treadmills and stationary bikes were the preferred home cardio tools. But they both come up short when it comes to building strength anywhere but in your legs. Elliptical machines, which often cost about the same as a treadmill, have the added bonus of an upper-body workout with movable handles. If you don't want that, or if you are resting your trunk muscles for a day, it is usually easy to pedal on the elliptical without holding the handles.
Today's review is of the Sole E35 elliptical trainer. Sole has been making elliptical trainers, bikes, and treadmills for many years. We will talk a bit more about Sole's background after our pros and cons list, so stay tuned.
Sole Fitness has a great reputation and supplies equipment to many hotel fitness rooms
Each unit comes with a comprehensive warranty for home use
25-pound flywheel provides smooth resistance adjustments and is quite quiet in motion
Unit is big enough that the 20" stride is lifelike and does not jerk or feel awkward
Cushioned pedals are also adjustable by height--texturing keeps your feet in place
Elliptical inclines for HIIT workouts and hill climbing, with 20 incline levels
Programs include heart rate target training; heart rate is from handle sensors
Stride length is fixed and will be too short for users with longer legs
No workout apps or ways to download new workouts; might expect this from an elliptical machine this expensive
One of Sole's smartest moves was not to diversify its product line. They sell treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes. That laser focus makes them experts on engineering, design, and customer service. It also helps keep costs down. Sole Fitness is one of the best compromises we have found between high-end features and an affordable price. Their elliptical machines, like the E35, are not made to be moved around or folded for storage. They are something you can bring into your home that will replicate a gym experience, without you having to join a gym or leave your private workout space.
So what do you get for that purchase price? The Sole E35 has won awards for being the best under-$1500 elliptical in its class. The textured, oversized pedals are above average in comfort. The strain on your joints is minimized, thanks to the large flywheel, steel frame design, and those pedals. People often choose the elliptical because it is low impact. The Sole E35 has enough cushioning and support to be even less jarring than cheaper models.
The flywheel and motion transfer system are all exceptionally quiet. Pedals won't jam, whether you walk forwards or backward. The Sole E35 has moving handles, for those upper body workouts we talked about. They frame the computer monitor, and will also provide heart rate when you grasp them. Remember, no handle-based heart rate sensor will be as accurate as a chest strap. Fitness tracker watches have their shortcomings, too. Unfortunately, the E35 has no means of connecting with a chest strap.
You also do not get any compatible apps, or a way to add more workouts. For about the same amount of money, you could purchase a bike or treadmill that has a free year of iFit, with the option to subscribe once the year ends. iFit lets you run in dozens of virtual settings, and compete with people all over the world. You also get some access to trainers with iFit. The Sole E35 will help you stay in shape but does not offer any of those advanced options.
Every owner's manual opens with a series of safety warnings. Some are obvious, like never using a cardio machine barefoot. Still, there are often a few rules that surprise even us, your veteran editors. Here are a few gems for the E35. You may want to consider some of these, and you would never know about them if not for the manual and for us.
The Sole E35 should never be installed on a shag carpet or extra thick carpet. It can damage both the carpet and the machine. We'd guess it's because the feet get a chance to sink in, which brings the pedals and flywheel closer to the carpet, where it can catch and tear.
Do not use aerosol cans in the same room with an elliptical machine. The motor can spark unexpectedly and cause a fire. You should not use portable oxygen near the Sole E35 for the same reason.
To Sole's credit, the manual also acknowledges that the heart rate sensors are not 100% accurate and should never take the place of medical advice. The heart rate numbers are a guide, not something to plan your life by. One final note--the buttons on the console are calibrated at the factory. They do not need a lot of pressure to operate. So push them, but do not mash them, as mashing could cause damage and affect your warranty.
Ease Of Use
Here is a warning, from looking at the directions: when you assemble the Sole E35 elliptical trainer, you assemble it from the frame up. Sometimes a cardio machine will arrive with everything in place except the handlebars and console, or a similar setup. This is not the case with the E35. The assembly instructions, including exploded views of each bolt placement, go on for several pages. This is not to discourage you from purchasing the E35, we just want our readers to know what they are up against.
Once assembled, the E35 is pretty easy to operate. The pedals are actually angle adjustable, not just height adjustable. Pulling a lever changes the angle, so you can tweak the settings until you get comfortable and have a full range of movement. The incline angle is set from the console, by pushing a button, which is a nice advantage over models with manual incline adjustment.