The Sole F80 faces a lot of competition in one of the most crowded price ranges, but most reviewers say it offers sturdy, proven performance at a good price. They like its long, spacious belt, stable construction and powerful motor, although it does adjust speed relatively slowly.
It suits runners. Owners and experts describe the Sole F80 as a strong, durable treadmill. Fred Waters at Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com says the unit's 3.0 continuous horsepower motor "has sufficient torque to run smoothly and quietly at high speeds and steep inclines." Owners are split on just how quiet this unit really is, but most agree that the noise level is reasonable for a residential machine.
Even reviewers at TreadmillDoctor.com, who are notoriously hard to please, describe the Sole F80 as having a "good-quality drive system." Waters concurs, "the F80 will adequately accommodate both joggers and runners," although he thinks serious runners might want to upgrade to a beefier model. The motor has a maximum speed of 12 mph and a max incline of 15 percent. User reviews say 6-foot-tall owners can run on the 20-by-60-inch belt with no problem; one even calls the belt wide and long enough for his dog to run with him on rainy days.
Some owners' biggest complaint is how long it takes this machine to speed up and slow down. They say adjustments take a little longer than on more expensive models, which can make interval training tricky.
Intuitive console design. Most Amazon.com reviewers agree with Waters that the F80's console's layout is intuitive. He also calls the unit's backlit LCD "visually appealing," with all readout information displayed simultaneously so you don't have to scroll for information. Quickset keys allow you to go to your desired speed or incline with the press of a button instead of pressing and holding arrow keys, and controls mounted in the handrails make it easy to fine-tune your pace without interrupting your run.
The two customizable programs are a big hit with users, who like that you can program your own workout and use it at your convenience. When it comes to assembly, most report that the F80 comes together with little fuss in an hour or less. They say it folds easily for storage and transport, but is extremely heavy.
Although the F80 has built-in speakers, most say they're barely adequate, and almost everyone agrees that the built-in cooling fans do little to nothing.
Sole has a good track record. Both owners and Waters at Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews.com say the Sole F80 has "quality components at a moderate price." "Had it already for a year and no problems. Recommended," reports an Amazon.com reviewer who uses the F80 daily. "Relatively quiet with minimal vibrations," says another, who runs four to five times a week at 7.5 mph for 25 minutes.
Backed by a solid warranty. Most users call Sole's customer service friendly and effective. As one Amazon.com owner writes, "[they offer] excellent customer service! I had an issue with my treadmill and the customer service team was very prompt on responding and helping me out." That said, several owners recommend purchasing directly from Sole to avoid issues with retailers, implying that some brick-and-mortar stores might honor the parts and labor warranty only if it can be tied to a manufacturing problem or defect.
1. Treadmill-Ratings- Reviews.com
Review Credibility: Very Good Fred Waters, a former executive with Smooth Fitness, names the Sole F80 one of two Best Buys in its price range for 2012, calling it "a solid performer with an impressive service record." In this review, he expands on his assessment of the F80's features.
Review: Sole F80 Treadmill Rating & Review, Fred Waters, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Good More than 95 owners review the 2011 version of the Sole F80 at Amazon.com, giving it 3.9 stars out of 5. This is a noticeable decrease from the 4.5-star average score the 2009-2010 model received.
Review: Sole F80 Treadmill, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012
Review Credibility: Good In TreadmillDoctor.com's 2012 rankings, the Sole F80 places third in its price range. Last year it was designated a Best Buy. Editors rate the treadmill in eight categories including power, reliability and noise level, but provide only brief ratings details.
Review: Sole F80 Treadmill Review, Editors of TreadmillDoctor.com, As of October 2012