Sole Fitness E55 Elliptical Machine Review
Sole Fitness supplies cardio machines to the hospitality industry. If you are a fairly frequent business traveler, and you work out in hotels, chances are you have used something made by Sole. It would have been a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical trainer. Those are the only 3 products Sole Fitness provides. Their niche focus allows them to support their products with a knowledgeable and proactive customer support department. If you have any issues with a Sole Fitness unit, help is just a phone call or instant message away.
That level of specialization also means you can pay a reasonable price for something that is durable, reliable and approaching or equal to what you would find in a gym. Today's review is of the Sole E55. It is a step up from the under-$1500 E35 but lacks the advanced features of the E95. This also means that, in some states, you could buy a decent used car with what you will pay for a brand new Sole E55 trainer. However, we rarely visit the Sole Fitness website without seeing a sale or discount. So if a non-portable, full-featured elliptical trainer is your goal, the Sole E55 could be for you.
Quality is comparable to any piece of gym equipment
Backed by a detailed warranty and helpful customer service department
20 levels of power incline, adjusted from the console
20-pound steel flywheel is quiet, shifts resistance easily
Resistance is magnetic, not friction, making operation even quieter
Comes with 10 preprogrammed workouts, including heart rate targeting
Will integrate with a chest strap heart rate monitor for accurate measurement
Stride length is not adjustable, so taller or shorter than average users are left out
No ability to download workouts/no mobile apps
The foot pedals use ergonomic, body-friendly design to reduce joint impact and ankle or leg pain. They are also oversized and textured to keep your feet in place, even during the high-intensity portions of any HIIT or Tabata workout. You will also appreciate the ergonomic shape, consistent rotation, and textured surfaces when you pedal backward for a change of pace. The contoured handles will keep you upright either way while providing strength training for your upper body.
The steel frame is covered forever under the warranty, and the Sole E55 has a generous user weight capacity of 375 pounds. That is far more flexible than the 250 pounds we usually see on home elliptical units. An adjustable stride length would have been a welcome touch, but 20 inches is enough for most users and body types.
Although it does not fold up, the E55 is advertised by Sole Fitness as being the light and compact offering of the product family. It is 64 inches high and 71 inches long, weighing in at 214 pounds. It is 27 inches wide, and you have to step up 14 inches to get to the lower pedal and start working out.
The Sole Fitness E35 has both audio speakers and Bluetooth connectivity, if you want to listen to music, stream a movie or play an audiobook while you work out. There is also an integrated tablet holder. We wondered what that is, too, but Sole Fitness does not say. Looking at pictures, it looks like a plastic extension that you can snap your tablet into, where it will be held in place horizontally or vertically. Maybe that's what it means? It's frustrating when a company of Sole's caliber uses unclear language.
Aside from the tablet holder and sound system, you get a USB charging port and included chest strap for heart rate, dual cooling fans, and a 9 inch backlit LCD display. Those are all great features, but we are nerding out over the chest strap. You almost always have to buy one of those to go with a compatible treadmill. With the strap, you can easily integrate a Polar or other accurate, reliable heart rate monitor. It will beat the handlebar sensors and the sensor on any wearable fitness tracker (which is something even tracker and cardio manufacturers are honest about).
There are 6 built-in programs, and you can customize two more. Those programs do include heart rate target programs. Though there is no social media, iFit capability, or third party compatible apps, you still get a good choice of activities you can do on the Sole E55 elliptical. There is also always the manual setting, so you can dial in the resistance and incline however you like it. When you change either setting, the transition happens quickly and seamlessly.
Finally, rounding out the features, the console is adjustable so you can change the viewing angle. That is a bigger deal than you may think since fixed screens can lead to neck pain and fatigue. It is not clear if the tablet holder is angle adjustable, but it is high up enough that most of us won't have to crane our necks too much. There is a water bottle holder, which can also hold your keys, phone, earbuds, protein bars (see what MyProtein has to offer), and other odds and ends.
Ease Of Use
The programs are not confusing, either, even for beginners. You can cycle through all 8 of them quickly using the soft-touch buttons. The LED display is bright and easy to read, and it is backlit if your eyes need extra support. For the custom programs, you can set up a profile that lets you resume a workout without having to re-adjust all your settings and preferences.
Although there is no iFit and you cannot download any new programs, the E55 is compatible with many third-party apps. This lets you export your workout data. There is also a Sole Fitness app. Any app you use with the elliptical will work via Bluetooth, so you have to have your device close for the signal to reach. The Sole E55 trainer has the smallest footprint of any elliptical in the Sole Fitness family, so it is the best choice for small apartments and other tight spaces.
The Final Word
It is durable and will perform the way you need it to every time. It takes up less space than comparable products, though of course, it is not as compact as a folding cardio machine. Resistance and incline both adjust quickly, with the incline settings available from the handles. The display gives you all the information you need, and it is both adjustable and legible. Perhaps the best things about Sole products, too, are the ways the company supports customers with an easy to reach staff and lifetime warranties.