When the Sole F63 operates properly, owners and experts love its powerful motor, easy-to-use controls and great value. However, the 2011 model suffers from persistent software errors and equipment malfunctions, and it hasn't been updated.
Sturdy, smooth and quiet. Although the Sole F63's 2.5 continuous horsepower motor, 20-by-55-inch belt and maximum speed of 10 mph can stand up to some running, most experts recommend it only for walking and light jogging. In addition, a few owners say it isn't the quietest machine. "If you live in a second floor apartment, you may have issues with your downstairs neighbors," writes Fred Waters of Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com. He adds that runners with a long stride will probably prefer a 60-inch-long running deck.
When the F63 works, owners agree that it's stable, powerful and smooth. It's rated excellent by one expert source for its ability to accommodate users of different sizes, and it gets a perfect 10 out of 10 for value from TreadmillDoctor.com. The problem is the Sole F63 doesn't always function the way it should; numerous owners complain of odd noises and problems with the speed sensor and control board.
In some cases the motor went out completely, and other times it sped up or slowed down on its own. "I got off the treadmill and it then took on a mind of its own. The deck seemed to raise all the way up and there was a sudden bang," writes one user at Amazon.com who otherwise loves the F63. A few report that the incline function broke in less than 30 days; others say the treadmill is "on the slow side" when changing speed, but they don't seem to mind much.
Easy to fold and move. Although one strong, relatively large person could put together the Sole F63 alone, reviewers advise having a helper on hand. They say it takes about an hour to assemble this machine, and the process is usually trouble-free. Once assembled, the 250-plus-pound F63 is easy for one person to fold and move around, except for up or down stairs.
The Sole F63 has an in-console workout fan, which draws criticisms common to any treadmill fan. Owners say it moves the air, but that's about it. Built-in speakers mean you can plug your MP3 player right into the treadmill console. Using the programs and entering personal data is easy and straightforward, according to reviewers. The F63 has two custom programs and six standard preset workouts, but no heart-rate control programs.
Motor has a mind of its own. While the Sole F63 earns very good ratings for construction from a leading consumer research organization, we found many user complaints about its motor and incline controls failing or taking on a mind of their own. A few owners say their treadmill lasted a couple of years before giving out.
One Amazon.com poster had service people out six times in as many months, just trying to get the treadmill up and running consistently, and writes: "They replaced everything but the frame and it still does not work." Others comment on squealing and clunking noises from the motor. These issues seem to predominantly affect the 2011 model, which is slated to be replaced in 2013. The previous 2009-2010 model received high praise from reviewers.
Mixed reviews. Sole's customer service department draws conflicting feedback. One consumer reports prompt, helpful service: "When I called, they offered to send a replacement treadmill and arrange for someone to pick up the defective one." Others waited more than a week for an unhelpful emailed response, or had to try multiple times to get persistent software and motor errors fixed. However, the Sole F63 does have a good warranty: lifetime coverage for the frame and motor, three years for the deck and electronics, and one year of labor.
Review Credibility: Excellent ConsumerReports.org subjects nearly 50 treadmills, including the Sole F63, to a mechanical test designed to simulate a year of use. Human testers also rate factors such as comfort and usability. Several treadmills are singled out for Recommended or Best Buy status, but only brief ratings are disclosed for each model.
Review: Treadmill Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of October 2012
2. Treadmill-Ratings- Reviews.com
Review Credibility: Very Good Waters, a former executive with Smooth Fitness, says Sole treadmills have a reputation for quality. However, he recommends the F63 only for "walking and light jogging."
Review: Sole Fitness F63 Treadmill Review, Fred Waters, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good The 2009-2010 Sole F63 received a rating of 4 stars out of 5 from more than 50 Amazon.com reviewers, but the 2011 model gets only 3.5 stars out of 5. The consensus is that the F63 is a good value, but a few owners experience problems right out of the box. The most common complaint is a software error that renders the treadmill completely unusable, and reviewers say the replacement and repair process can be lengthy.
Review: Sole F63 Treadmill, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Good The editors of TreadmillDoctor.com name the Sole F63 first runner-up in its price range and give it a perfect 10 out of 10 for value.
Review: Sole F63 Treadmill Review, Editors of TreadmillDoctor.com, As of October 2012