Sole CC81 Cardio Climber Review – 2020

Kristen (Kacey) NelsonKristen (Kacey) Nelson

Last Updated: August 20, 2020
Sole CC81 Cardio Climber review 2020
The Cardio Climber is a full body workout machine that tones both the arms, back and chest as well as the legs, glutes and hamstrings. This machine combines the forward and back motion of an elliptical with the up/down work of a stair climber to give you the ultimate workout! The Cardio Climber has a slightly smaller footprint than a typical elliptical due to the vertical frame with handlebars that extend upward. The Cardio Climber will support up to 400 pounds, is low impact, and has a low step up height of just 10” so it is a good option for anyone looking for full body training that is easy to use. The Cardio Climber has a resistance dial on the console so you can select the right resistance for each workout, or adjust the tension up and down for interval training or rolling hills! We are impressed with the quality design and functionality of the Sole Cardio Climber.

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Who it’s For: Users looking for low-impact, full-body training machine with a compact, vertical frame

The Sole Cardio Climber is good for users who are looking for:

  • A quiet machine that provides low impact training
  • Something that can be used while you watch TV or use an iPad
  • A smooth elliptical that won’t cause your toes to go numb
  • Adjustable handlebars with several different height positions
  • Reasonable price tag
  • Simple console that doesn’t require internet to use
Pros
  • Upright frame design targets upper body muscles: arms, core, back and chest
  • Oversized pedals move up and down 12” for a full lower body workout as well
  • Get the advantages of low impact, full body training in the safety of your own home
  • The Cardio Climber is quiet and can be used in shared spaces
  • This machine supports up to 400 pounds of user weight
  • Has a low step up height of just 10 inches
  • Handles adjust up and down as well as in and out
  • Lifetime warranty on the frame from Sole reinforces the quality construction
Cons
  • Is larger than comparable climbers (but smaller than most ellipticals)
  • Does not fold up
  • No subscription classes or content

FeaturesSpecifications
  • Vertical frame design allows for 12” of step range on a compact footprint
    • While this is larger than some climbers, it combines the fore/aft movement of an elliptical as well and therefore has a larger base. The overall footprint is: 86” H x 59” L x 31” W and this is considerably smaller than standard elliptical machines.
  • 1-15 inches of arm travel with adjustable height handles
    • You can adjust the handles up or down for 4 different sizes so users of all heights can enjoy the Cardio Climber. You can also shift the handles so they point forward or adjust them so they point outward to target different muscles.
  • 1-20 levels of resistance
    • Sole uses Eddy current braking resistance which is quiet and smooth and provides calibrated resistance from levels 1 to 20.
  • 6 preloaded programs
    • The console includes 6 preloaded programs as well as a targeted heart rate program.
  • Cardio Climber weight: 265 pounds, Max User weight: 400 pounds
    • The Cardio Climber weighs just over 250 pounds but will support up to 400 pounds. With a low step up height of just 10”, this machine is easy to get on and off and works well for both small and large users.
  • Tablet/Phone Holder
    • A thick tablet shelf on the console will hold your phone or device securely during your workout
  • Front Drive System with 25 pound Flywheel
    • The flywheel and drive system are located at the base of the machine which centers the weight and keeps the Cardio Climber feeling stable. The 25 pound flywheel creates smooth resistance for both leg and arm work.
  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Chest Strap Compatible
    • The CC81 is chest strap compatible so your heart rate can be displayed on the console during your workout.

Construction:

  • Vertical frame design
  • 1-15 inches of arm travel with adjustable height handles
  • 1-20 levels of resistance
  • 6 preloaded programs
  • 12” of step range
  • 10” step up height
  • Footprint: 86” H x 59” L x 31” W
  • Cardio Climber weight: 265 pounds
  • Max User weight: 400 pounds
  • Tablet/Phone Holder
  • Front Drive System
  • 25 pound Flywheel
  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Chest Strap Compatible
  • 15” Pedal Size
  • ECB Resistance
  • Chest Strap Included

Console:

  • 5×3” LCD Display
  • 2 Water Bottle Holders
  • Adjustable Resistance Dial
  • Integrated Tablet Holder

Functionality:

  • 1-20 Resistance levels
  • Standard Programs: 6
  • Custom Programs: 2
  • Heart Programs: 2
  • Pulse Grips & Chest Strap Compatible

Warranty:

  • Lifetime Frame
  • 5 Years Electronics
  • 5 Years Parts
  • 2 Years Labor

Summary

The Sole CC81 Cardio Climber is an all-in-one workout machine that targets all your major muscle groups for one calorie torching workout. This climber has adjustable handles that move up and down as well as rotate in and out so you can find the right height and target different arm muscles as desired. The pedals have a 12” range of motion and the lowest setting is only 10” off the floor for an easy step up height. The Eddy current braking resistance is also silent and provides up to 20 levels of resistance. A resistance dial on the console is easy to use. The CC81 is chest strap compatible so your heart rate can be displayed on the console during your workout. The 5×3 inch LCD display is not the largest, but it is easy to see and well positioned for good visibility. We also like the two large water bottle holders at the base of the console as well. The whole footprint is 86 inches high, 59 inches long and just 31 inches wide. The machine weighs 265 pounds. There are wheels on the front stabilizer so you can lift and roll the machine when needed, but we recommend placing it in the space where you plan to use it. This isn’t a lightweight or compact machine. A solid steel bar behind the pedal track provides a good hand grip for lifting.

Sole CC81 Cardio Climber review

In-depth Review of Sole CC81 Cardio Climber


Construction

Sole CC81 Cardio Climber review

Frame

The Cardio Climber has a sturdy steel frame. Most of the weight is centered low at the base which keeps it from rocking or moving too much during use. The frame is powder coated black with white lettering and just a pop of red. Sole backs the frame up with a full lifetime warranty, which is a reflection of its overall quality. The frame is more vertical in design with the handlebars raising up above the console and flywheel base. While the pedals do extend out a bit, the whole footprint isn’t too big. Granted, it’s larger than other climbers, but considerably smaller than comparable ellipticals. Since the machine provides the lower body movement of an elliptical with the pedals gently moving both up and down as well as forward and back, the frame design is appropriate.

The handles also extend up and down — and these move in conjunction with the pedals. So, even if you don’t hold the handles, they will still move when the pedals move. You can isolate either upper body (just use the handles) or lower body (just use pedals) as desired for targeted training.

The Cardio Climber has a step up height of just 10 inches, so when the pedal is in the lowest position, this is how far it is off the floor. This machine is easy to get on and off and supports a high weight capacity of 400 pounds making it a great option for larger users who may be looking for a full body, low impact workout that doesn’t require sitting on a bike or walking on a treadmill for hours.

Pedals

Sole Cardio Climber pedals

The Cardio Climber foot pedals are oversized and textured. The pedals are 15” in length and have a contoured ridge around the edge which keeps your foot from slipping off. These pedals will work with any athletic shoe. There is no strap on the top.

The pedals use a durable foam cushioning and have a 2 degree inward slope which reduces ankle and knee stress common on other s. There is also a dial that allows for custom angle adjustment on each pedal so you can find the right angle for you to eliminate the problem of numb toes which often happens while using an . The pedals were designed in conjunction with physiologists who helped Sole develop a comfortable and functional pedal. Sole recommends that users add 10 inches to their body height to determine the necessary overhead clearance for the Cardio Climber.

Stride Length: 12”
The pedals have a range of about 12 inches from the lowest to the highest point. This machine requires a healthy range of motion in the knee and hip joints, so for users with limited mobility we recommend testing the machine first to make sure you can use it safely. However, we have found that will regular use, machines such as the Cardio Climber strengthen the leg muscles and enhance the overall range of motion as muscles become stronger, toned, and more flexible.

Handles

Sole CC81 Cardio Climber handles
The handles on the Cardio Climber have multiple adjustment options. You have four different height settings so users of all sizes can reach the grips. The handles can also be adjusted to point forward, toward the user, or sideways where they extend laterally.

The handles have a 15 inch range so you can get a full pull down feel as you pull the handles towards you. This targets more muscles and is more challenging than a limited range climber.

When facing toward the user, the handles will engage the biceps, triceps, lats and trapezius muscles. When pointed outward to the side, the handles will engage the deltoids, lats, and teres major and minor.

The handles are coated with a comfortable spongy material that provides a nice grip so your hand won’t slip even if it’s sweaty. The grips can be wiped down as needed after use.

Resistance

Sole CC81 Cardio Climber resistance control dial
The Cardio Climber has 20 levels of resistance. Resistance is created via Sole’s eddy current system which does not cause friction and therefore is silent to use and doesn’t cause wear on the flywheel. The 25 pound flywheel provides a smooth pedal motion. There is a resistance dial on the console to control the resistance.

Console/Controls

Screen

Sole CC81 Cardio Climber console
The console is very simple and easy to use. The 5×3 inch screen spans the center of the console. It displays your workout program and metrics. At the bottom of the console the resistance dial controls your resistance level. The tablet holder is at the top so if you place your phone or tablet here it won’t block the screen.

Console Features

Fans
There is not a fan on the Sole CC81 Cardio Climber.

Tablet Holder
Sole CC81 Cardio Climber tablet holder
As mentioned above, there is a tablet holder with an adjustable clip at the top of the console. The adjustable clip will lift to hold your device securely. It is at the top of the console, but it’s not too high that you have to tilt your head to see it. It’s just slightly above the screen.

Heart Rate Chest Strap
The Cardio Climber will sync with a chest strap and Sole includes one with purchase. The chest strap will transmit your heart rate in real time to the display screen. This lets users know their current rate, which they can compare with their target rate and goal rate for any particular program.

Water Bottle Holder
Sole CC81 Cardio Climber water bottle holders
There are two large water bottle holders in the front of the frame. This area is also good for holding a towel or other storage as needed.

Noise Level

The Cardio Climber features magnetic resistance that is very quiet when in use. The pedals glide smoothly and the handles are attached in such a way that you can exercise without disturbing those around you. In general, this is a machine you can use in shared spaces. The lack of foot noise due to the smooth action of the pedals makes a big difference in noise control.

Storage / Folding

The Cardio Climber does not fold. There are wheels on the front stabilizer so it can be lifted and rolled when needed. We do recommend having two people or at least one strong person lift and roll the machine. It is large and difficult to lift, so we don’t recommend moving it often. The Cardio Climber be fine on an upper floor. If you plan to use it upstairs, we also recommend assembling it in the room you plan to use it. It’s easier to move in the original box than once it’s all assembled.

10 Preloaded workouts

Pre-programmed workouts

There are 6 pre programmed workouts on the Cardio Climber that will guide you through various intensities and resistance. These include:

  • 6 Standard Programs
  • 2 Custom Programs
  • 2 Heart Programs

No Subscription Content

The Cardio Climber does not play any subscription content or video classes on the console. There is no subscription option available, so you are limited to the 10 preloaded programs. While Sole does have the Sole App, this is simply a way to store your workouts and information. However, the Cardio Climber is designed to be fully inclusive so it does not rely on the internet or an ongoing subscription model for classes and videos. This saves you money since you don’t have to pay for added content. The screen is relatively simple compared to other fitness equipment. If you are looking for a quiet machine that has simple, understandable programs and doesn’t require internet access, then this is a good option for you.

Sole CC81 Cardio Climber review

Bottom Line:

The Sole CC81 Cardio Climber is a stable climber/elliptical hybrid machine with a vertical frame so the handlebars lift up and down rather than forward and back. The wide pedals are comfortable and will work with any athletic shoe. The step up height is only 10” and the max weight capacity is an impressive 400 pounds. We like the full body workout you get on the Cardio Climber. The handles also have multiple adjustment points and move in line with the pedals for a fluid feel underfoot. The screen isn’t overly large and the console has minimal tech, so this is a good option for users who don’t want to worry about added subscription content. The Cardio Climber has an impressive lifetime warranty on the frame and 5 years on electronics. Sole builds quality machines and the Cardio Climber is comparable to their other fitness equipment. This is a good option for those who want to workout at home on an upright, vertical machine that is quiet in use and not too hard to get on and off. If you are in the market for something different but useful, the Cardio Climber is a great option!

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