Sole F85 Treadmill Review – 2020

Kristen (Kacey) NelsonKristen (Kacey) Nelson

Last Updated: November 23, 2020

The Sole F85 treadmill is one of the best folding treadmills on the market. It is built on a sturdy, reinforced frame with a full 60” long by 22” wide running belt. The Sole F85 is very quiet and has a powerful 4.0 HP motor that will support extended running and high intensity training. This hearty treadmill will support up to 400lbs, which is 100lbs more than comparable treadmills, which makes it a great option for larger users. Sole backs up their treadmills with a full lifetime warranty on the frame, motor and deck, which is a reflection of build quality and durability. We are impressed with the Sole F85 and recommend it as an excellent choice for your home gym.
Sole F85 2020 model review

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Treadmill Awards: Best Treadmills for Heavy Runners 2020

Best Treadmill for Heavy Runners 2020
If you are looking for a serious running treadmill and has a high weight capacity, then the Sole F85 is for you. It’s super durable and is designed to be used frequently, that is why we have given it the best treadmill for heavy runners award for 2020.

Who It’s For: Runners who want a quiet, well-powered folding treadmill with simple features and tech

The SoleF85 is for users looking for:

  • Quality construction who don’t need the extra tech and online subscription options
  • Incline range of 0% to +15%
  • Max speed of 12mph
  • Folding treadmill that is easy to move with more wheels than on comparable models (4 rather than the standard 2)
  • A 10.1” TFT backlit screen with 10 workout options
Pros
  • Extensive Lifetime Warranty
  • 400lb Weight Capacity makes it ideal for larger runners
  • Steel Frame is sturdy but still folds up when you are finished
  • Incline Range 0% to +15% gives you lots of training options
  • Four wheels under the frame make it surprisingly easy to move
  • Chest Strap Included for heart rate training programs on the console
  • Simple LCD Screen does not require a subscription to run the onboard programs
  • Tablet Holder at top of console for your personal device
Cons
  • Raised buttons more likely to get dirty or sticky
  • Hood is large and sits high at the front of the deck
  • Cushioning isn’t as soft as comparable machines
  • Console is simple; but preset buttons skip two-by-two


FeaturesSpecifications
  • Steel Frame
    • The Sole F85 has a fully reinforced frame with steel side beams and cross beams under the deck. Even the support rails are all steel. The sturdy running platform has a low 8” step up height and minimal vibration, so when running at full speed on an incline, there is very little movement. The handrails on the F85 are epoxy-covered steel, which is unusual — most treadmills have plastic molded handrails.
  • 400lb Weight Capacity
    • The Sole F85 only weighs 301 pounds, but it can support 400 pounds. This makes it ideal for large runners looking for stability and quality. The impressive frame-to-user weight ratio makes it durable but still easy to move. Two wheels situated under the side legs and two under the deck roll easily, so you can slide this along carpet or in and out of a closet.
  • Lifetime Warranty
    • Sole stands behind their products with impressive lifetime warranty coverage for frame, deck and motor.
  • Incline Range
    • A +15% incline is a steep grade which will engage your glutes and hamstrings during training. The Sole F85 has no problem maintaining and holding the deck steady at a steep incline. The combination of multiple speed options and a respectable incline range provides valuable variability in any training regimen.
  • 60” Long by 22” Wide Running Surface
    • The F85 is a folding treadmill, but it still has a full sized 60” long by 22” wide running surface. This gives you plenty of lateral width and fore/aft space for a long stride.
  • EasyAssist Folding
    • The F85 folds up easily; simply hold the steel grab bar at the base of the deck to lift and the frame will lock into place in a vertical position. From here, you can pivot the treadmill gently towards yourself to move using the four wheels under the frame.
  • Chest Strap Included
    • The included Sole chest strap will sync via Bluetooth with the LCD display so you have a heart rate readout right on the screen. A chest strap is the most accurate way to calculate your heart rate, however, there are also EKG sensors built into the handrails for convenience as well.
  • Clean, Simple LCD Screen
    • The 10.1” TFT LCD screen is white, back-lit and easy to see. Large numbers list Workout Time, Incline, Distance, Speed, and Calories burned. Readouts for: Pace, Pulse, and Heart Rate appear at the bottom of the screen. There are four screen options to display laps, vertical, segment time, or data scan. While the display is not a touchscreen, the large numbers are clear, simple, and visible.

Construction:

  • Footprint: 66” long x 83” high x 37” wide
  • Item Weight: 301 pounds
  • 22” x 60” Running Surface
  • 2.75” Rollers
  • Step Up Height: 8″
  • 4.0 HP, DC Type Motor
  • 2-Ply Belt

Console:

  • Bluetooth Speaker Compatible
  • Tablet/Phone Holder
  • USB Device Charging
  • Bluetooth Compatible
  • Pulse Grips & Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitoring
  • Chest Strap Included
  • Cooling Fans
  • 10.1” TFT LCD screen

Functionality:

  • Speed : .5 – 12 mph
  • Incline: 0 – 15 Levels
  • 6 Standard Programs
  • 2 Custom Programs
  • 2 Heart Programs
  • Easy Assist Folding

Warranty:

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Motor: Lifetime
  • Deck : Lifetime
  • Electronics: 5 Years
  • Parts: 5 Years
  • Labor: 2 Years

In-depth Review of Sole F85 Treadmill


Construction

Frame

Sole F85 frame
The Sole F85 frame is solid and well-built. Sole consistently builds some of the most durable fitness equipment and the F85 treadmill leads the pack with steel support beams, cross rails, uprights and handrails. The F85 treadmill makes very little noise when in use or when inclining due to its hearty construction. The running platform folds up and locks in place when you are finished and the four wheels slide easily along the floor when you need to move it.

Deck

  • Cushioning/Feel
    • The Sole F85 has a Cushion Flex Whisper Deck that is designed to reduce impact by 40%. While certainly an improvement over outdoor surfaces, the cushion in the Sole F85 is not as soft as comparable treadmills. When compared with running outside, I feel the F85 provides a tremendous improvement over the shock impact of asphalt or concrete, but it isn’t as cushioned as other treadmills in the same price range.
  • Length/Width
    • Running Belt 60” long by 22” wide provides plenty of running space. However, one consistent complaint we have with the Sole machines is the larger motor hood at the front end of the deck. This sits high up off the belt and if you run too close to the console it frequently gets in your way. The motor hood houses the motor which is stored on the front end of the deck, but a slightly lower profile cover would help reduce foot impact while running.
  • Belt
    • The 2-ply belt has a gently textured surface and feels supportive underfoot. There is no slapping sound underfoot and the belt nestles against the side rails as it moves along. One concern is the side rails are a slick plastic that could become an issue if you drip sweat when running. This could make the side rails slick when you step onto them. Make sure to hold the handrails and find a good foot position when stepping aside onto the side rails.

Motor

The hearty 4.0 horsepower motor is among the strongest on the market and will support heavy training, interval work, and intense conditioning. The motor won’t overheat and provides incline/decline and speed adjustments that are smooth and quiet. At some point when testing the F85, we had to step to the side to see that the deck was actually moving! It is so quiet, you don’t notice or hear motor noise as the deck inclines and declines. Speed adjustments are similarly even so when adjusting pace you don’t need to hold on or brace yourself as the belt changes speed. The motor provides plenty of power for a quick pace, multiple incline changes and a consistent running speed underfoot.


Console/Controls

Sole F85 console

Screen

Console and screen design are one area where the Sole F85 could improve. The 10.1” screen is bright and easy to see, but it doesn’t compare with the full color touch screens available on similarly priced machines. The Sole F85 is simple and designed for those who like to just hop on and go. One reason Sole continues to be able to keep up with more tech-heavy machines is not every user wants all the bells and whistles. The console design and user interface is not the most intuitive on the Sole machine — but once you figure out the layout and programs, it is easy to use. Raised tactile buttons are good for those who prefer to feel the button under their fingers. And you don’t need WiFi or an internet connection to use the Sole F85. All programs are preloaded. Just plug in your treadmill and it is ready to go.

Layout

Console design is a little clunky. There are not separate buttons for each speed or incline option. Preset incline and speed buttons skip randomly. There are buttons for speeds: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 12mph. Incline buttons are: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15. Manual speed and incline buttons are situated right under the screen; these allow you to toggle at .10 increments, but it’s not an intuitive setup. Similarly, the F85 buttons are raised, so they might be more likely to attract dust or stick with repeated use. Another unusual feature on the F85 is buttons on the handrails. Right handrail has buttons for speed and left handrail for incline. These are positioned well for quick toggling, but they also get in the way and can be a problem if you accidentally grab the bar and hit a speed button.

Fans/Other Accessories

  • Two Fans sit just above the screen, but they don’t provide much air flow. While it’s nice to at least have some option here, the fans are relatively underpowered and don’t provide much of a breeze.
  • A tablet holder is included on the F85 just above the console. This is a great addition since the console doesn’t offer WiFi or subscription options. The tablet holder makes it easy to run a cardio program on the treadmill while watching something on your tablet or phone. The adjustable clip should hold most devices securely.

Sole F85 console and tablet holder

Storage

There is good storage on the F85. In addition to two large pockets on either side of the console, an additional storage tray spans the width of the deck under the console. This has another three large pockets for additional storage.


Functionality

With all the bells and whistles, the x32i is designed to impress. We put it to the test with several performance challenges.

Performance

The Sole F85 treadmill performed well during our testing period. It supported runners and walkers of various sizes and weight, with no one noticing any lag in motor power or limitations during use. The Sole F85 is very sturdy and you can feel this while running. The deck is not as cushioned as some, but we were still able to use the F85 for intervals, sprints and longer runs without an issue. We’d love to see Sole upgrade the console with a more intuitive interface and layout, but this is a minor issue compared to overall performance.

Incline / Decline range

Sole F85 incline
The Sole F85 features a +15% incline max. Incline training helps strengthen glutes and hamstrings to offset quad dominance and facilitate muscular balance in the lower body. Also, adding incline variability to a training regimen helps prevent overuse injuries and ensure muscular balance. It doesn’t offer decline options; but that also allows it to sit slightly lower on the floor. At a 0% grade, the F85 has an 8” deck height, which makes it easy to step on and off. The solid build on the F85, combined with impressive incline and speed range, creates a powerful and well-rounded piece of exercise equipment.

Pre-programmed workouts

The Sole F85 has six workout programs for: Manual, Hill, Fatburn, Cardio, Strength, and HIIT. Two custom programs and two heart rate training programs are also available with buttons for each just below the screen. Each button loads the same program each time, so you always know what you are getting. You can also play your music through the speakers via an input jack in the console.

Subscription Options: Sole app on phone

The Sole F85 treadmill does not feature any subscription videos or content delivered via an app. A Sole App can be downloaded to your phone to keep track of your workout stats, including calorie burn, heart rates and duration, but this does not correspond to an online subscription database of programs you can run via WiFi on the treadmill. The F85 is perfect for those who don’t want to worry about ongoing subscription costs or downloaded content.

Noise Level

The Sole F85 excels with noise control. Featuring a smooth motor, soft belt, and sleek engineering, the F85 runs as smooth as any treadmill we’ve used. Additionally, the fact that it sits closer to the ground seems to help with noise absorption.

Storage / Folding

Sole F85 treadmill folded
The Sole F85 folds up easily. Simply grab the steel bar at the base of the deck and lift. The deck is a little heavy — probably due to the extra length — but I am still able to lift it easily. Once folded, the deck latches securely in place to clear floor space. There are two wheels under the front legs and two more at the base of the deck. When securely locked in a folded position, you can pull the machine towards you and roll it out of the way. To unlatch it, grab the yellow release lever on the right side of the deck. Pull the lever gently, and the hydraulic system will gently release the deck down to the floor.

Bottom Line:

Sole’s F85 treadmill is the premier folding machine in the Sole lineup. It has a powerful 4.0HP motor that is smooth and quiet. This treadmill offers incline options up to 15% grade for uphill training, rolling hills, interval work and balanced conditioning. The 12mph max speed will challenge even the fastest runner and various speed settings provide options for any runner or walker. The preloaded programs are simple and easy to understand, so you know exactly what to expect each time. For some users, only having ten preset programs may be limiting, but for those who value simplicity over high-tech, the F85 is a great option. Raised tactile buttons also help users to know (and feel) when they press a button. The Sole treadmill includes speed and incline buttons on the handrail which is something we haven’t seen on other machines. This makes it easy to adjust your settings without having to raise your hands off the handrails. We love Sole for its quality construction and sturdy design. The F85 has a whopping 400lb weight capacity and is backed by a full lifetime warranty on the frame. If you want durability and quality without all the extra bells and whistles, the Sole F85 is an excellent place to start.

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