*TreadmillReviewGuru helps consumers find the best home fitness products. When you buy a product we recommend, we may earn a commission.
Last Updated: March 15, 2022
The Sole Cardio Climber is a full-body vertical climber that tones both the arms, back, and chest as well as the legs, glutes, and hamstrings. This machine combines the up and down motion of a stair climber with upper-body handles to give you the ultimate workout! The CC81 Cardio Climber provides a low-impact workout similar to an elliptical; however, it has a slightly smaller footprint due to the vertical frame with handlebars that extend upward. The Cardio Climber will support up to 400 pounds and has a low step-up height of just 10” so it is a good option for users of all sizes. A comfortable resistance dial on the console adjusts the difficulty from levels 1-20. Let’s dive into this review of the Sole CC81 Climber and take a look at everything it has to offer.
The Sole Cardio Climber is sturdy and well-built with an all-steel frame, supportive uprights, and enlarged pedals. It weighs 256 lbs but is surprisingly easy to lift and move. Wheels on the front stabilizer engage as you lift and tip the machine, so you can roll it as needed. The height is the biggest issue to watch for when attempting to move the CC81.
Who The Sole CC81 Cardio Climber Is For:
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
- Adjustable handlebars with several different height positions
- Reasonable price tag
- The simple console doesn’t require the internet to use
Our Video Review
- 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
- 5×3” LCD Display
- 2 Water Bottle Holders
- Adjustable Resistance Dial
- Integrated Tablet Holder
- 1-20 Resistance levels
- Standard Programs: 6
- Manual Mode
- Pulse Grips & Chest Strap Compatible
- Lifetime Frame
- 5 Years Electronics
- 5 Years Parts
- 2 Years Labor
- The overall footprint is: 86” H x 59” L x 31” W and this is considerably smaller than standard elliptical machines.
- 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.
- Sole uses Eddy current braking resistance which is quiet and smooth and provides calibrated resistance from levels 1 to 20.
- The console includes 6 preloaded programs as well as a manual mode.
- 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.
- A thick tablet shelf on the console will hold your phone or device securely during your workout.
- The flywheel is 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.
- The CC81 is chest strap compatible so your heart rate can be displayed on the console during your workout.
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. The footprint is 86 inches high, 59 inches long, and just 31 inches wide. The CC81 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.
In-depth Review of Sole CC81 Cardio Climber
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. The frame is more vertical in design with the handlebars raising up above the console and flywheel base. This reduces the footprint size on your floor. Make sure you have enough overhead clearance. The CC81 stands 86” high when the top handle is at the highest point.
The handles extend up and down — and 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. The higher pedal raises to 20” off the floor. You do have to step up on the lower pedal and raise your body up onto the machine. This could be slightly challenging for anyone with balance issues or those with joint limitations. However, once you are positioned on the pedals, the action is smooth and low-impact.
The only issue I had with the frame design is the slight, forward-leaning angle. I found the angle to put a bit of pressure on my feet and knees, so I had to readjust my body position a few times. Once I found a comfortable position, I was able to get into a rhythm and it felt comfortable.
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 durable foam cushioning and have a 2-degree inward slope which reduces ankle and knee stress. The pedals were designed in conjunction with physiologists who helped Sole develop a comfortable and functional pedal.
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.
You can adjust the height of the handles via the four notches on both the front and sides of the vertical bar. The handles can also be adjusted to point forward, toward the user, or sideways where they extend laterally.
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 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.
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.
Sole CC81 Console/Controls
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.
There is not a fan on the Sole CC81 Cardio Climber.
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
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.
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. It’s surprisingly easy to move. We recommend measuring your ceiling height to verify you have sufficient overhead space.
10 Preloaded 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 with Heart Rate data
- Manual Mode
The STUDIO App
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, and compared to some of the best cardio machines we’ve tested.. 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 now has a digital fitness platform called STUDIO. There are over 3,000 on-demand classes led by trainers. There are classes for the treadmill, cycling, elliptical, strength, boxing, yoga, and more, so you can vary your fitness routine. They range in length from 5 minutes up to 60 minutes and new classes are added everyday. In class, there is a community leaderboard displayed at the bottom to show you who is taking the class with you. In the app, you can also engage in a chat to connect with other members.
The Cardio Climber isn’t Bluetooth enabled so you can’t connect it to the STUDIO app to see your metrics, but you can connect a heart rate monitor or your Apple Watch to see your heart rate percentage in the app. The classes aren’t my favorite, but it’s nice that they are optional to use with Sole’s Cardio Climber. If you have a membership to another fitness app, you could use that as well to stream classes.