The Sole Fitness E35 is one of the highest consumer-rated elliptical machines for several reasons, including its ease of use, quality build and strong reputation. It's built with the same strong components and durability as its successor, our Best Reviewed Sole Fitness E95 (*Est. $1,600), but with fewer features.
A great ride. The E35 boasts a heavy flywheel, high gear ratio and sturdy frame for a solid, smooth motion. Its 25-pound flywheel is light compared to Sole's higher-end models but impressive for a mid-range elliptical. Users say the ride is noticeably better than on similarly priced machines.
Although it offers fewer extras than the E95, the E35 has 16 resistance levels and inclines to 30 degrees, which is adequate for most exercisers. Both the resistance and incline are powered and controlled with a single touch on the 7.5-inch backlit LCD.
A universal fit. The Sole E35 proves comfortable and easy to use. The foot pedals are a large 15 inches and tilt inward 2 degrees, providing a more natural foot position that reduces ankle and knee stress, according to the manufacturer. "My feet fit comfortably into the foot pedals, and I love having the option to raise the incline or the workout level using the buttons on the handlebars," says one Amazon.com user.
Incline and resistance are completely power adjustable, and can be operated from the handlebars as well as the control console. The blue backlit LCD displays time, distance, speed, rpm, watts, calories, ramp and resistance. It also contains a built-in fan and speakers with MP3 and iPod input plugs. Reviewers find the fan mediocre; one Sears.com poster calls it "really, really, really lame." The speakers also receive little praise.
Sole includes a chest-strap heart monitor with the E35, but a few users are unimpressed. "The only drawback deals with the heart-rate monitor. The one with the chest strap (included) is a little slow to respond," says an Amazon.com owner.
Most consumers report that assembly takes two hours, but compliment the manual for being thorough and easy to follow. If you don't pride yourself on your handyman skills, consider purchasing an assembly option. Buying directly from the Sole website, however, which doesn't offer assembly, comes with free shipping and no tax.
Stable and solid. The E35 has a large footprint, measuring 83 inches by 27 inches by 58 inches. This extra length plus its hefty 215-pound weight give the elliptical its noted stability. Even heavier users comment on the solid feel: "I weigh about 245 -- down 20 pounds since starting -- and the machine is sturdy even when I go at fast speeds," says one at Buzzillions.com.
A few consumers have an issue with a clicking pedal after some weeks of use. Some ignore it and others called Sole to repair the part, which they did efficiently.
Reputation for quality. The Sole E95 comes with an outstanding warranty; the frame is covered for life, while parts and labor are covered for five years. Sole Fitness also has a reputable customer service department. They're quick to respond to inquiries and most repairs are completed within a few days of the call, owners say.
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Review Credibility: Excellent Editors at ConsumerReports.org rate fitness equipment after rigorous testing. Elliptical trainers receive scores on several criteria including ergonomics, exercise range, ease of use, construction, features and user safety.
Review: Ellipticals: Sole E35, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, August 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good TreadmillDoctor.com editors began as exercise equipment technicians and have built a reputation for credible reviews. Although this evaluation is brief, editors rigorously test their products, including disassembling each elliptical. The E35 is rated on adjustability, reliability, noise level, value, warranty, quality and ergonomics. Here it's named first runner up in the $1,299 category, scoring 6.11 out of 10 points.
Review: Sole E35 Elliptical Review, Editors of TreadmillDoctor.com, October 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good A former marketing executive for Smooth Fitness, Waters tests elliptical trainers, and speaks with fitness equipment salespeople and experts. His reviews are complete but not comparative, and there's no mention of how rigorously or for how long he tests these machines. Nonetheless, he calls the E35 "a solid performer."
Review: Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer Review, Fred Waters, September 2012
Review Credibility: Good The nearly 90 consumer reviews at Amazon.com vary in detail. Some users post comments about the product after years of use, and some after just months. All posts come from personal experience and use. Here, the Sole E35 gets an average score of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Review: Customer Reviews: Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good Buzzillions.com posts nearly 80 user reviews of the Sole Fitness E35, and it gets an average score of 3.8 out of 5 stars. Comments include a list of pros and cons and summary. Some reviews are thorough, but aren't comparative.
Review: Sole E35 Elliptical, Contributors to Buzzillions.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good On ConsumerReports.org, 12 users give the E35 an average rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. The reviews vary in detail but must state time owned, a user description, pros and cons, and a comment.
Review: Product Reviews: Sole E35, Contributors to ConsumerReports.org, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good Consumer reviews on Ebay vary in product experience with some owning the machine for years, while others post comments after only months. The Sole E35 attracts only two posts here, and gets a score of 4.5 stars out of 5.
Review: Sole Fitness E35 Front Drive Elliptical Trainer, Contributors to Ebay.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good This review is comparative and complete. TopTenReviews.com rates ellipticals based on their features, accessories, warranty, and help and support, then compares the E35 to nine other machines. Included is a chart outlining features. The Sole E35 scores third behind the Precor EFX 5.25 and the Smooth Agile DMT X2.
Review: Sole E35, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, October 2012
Review Credibility: Fair While this review is detailed, the editor never mentions actually testing the elliptical and doesn't compare the E35 to other models.
Review: Gym Equipment Review: The Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Cross Trainer, Editor of JellyBellyOver40.com, Nov. 28, 2011
Review Credibility: Fair Lao outlines the features of the E35, and provides a chart of pros and cons. His review is detailed, but it lacks any notes after use and we can't tell whether he actually tested the machine. Here the E35 is ranked sixth out of 21 similarly priced elliptical trainers.
Review: Sole E35 Elliptical, Gerard Lao, Nov. 30, 2011