The Sole SB700 is a commercial quality spin bike that is made for use in the home as well as the gym. In our review we look at all the qualities and features of the bike to see how it lives up to the promise of a quality spin bike and how it might rate differently for the home than it does for the gym.
It comes with a heavy flywheel with continuous manual tension to provide smooth rides and varying resistance to push against as you do your workout. The bike overall is heavy which has its advantages and disadvantages when using it at home.
Unusually for a indoor cycle/spin bike it comes with a console that provides feedback on your ride and can be used to monitor your heart rate while training to help you to keep it in your training zone.
The seat and handlebars can be adjusted so it can fit many different heights of users making it great when more than one person wants to use the bike.
The bike frame is made of oval steel tubing which is robust enough to stand up to tough spin workouts and cycle training rides as well as any other day to day cycling exercises.
When going from sitting to standing the bike it is steady and there is no movement from side to side from the bike including the handlebars. When pushing hard on high resistance and/or RPM the bike handles it without any vibration, it stays straight and true. You do need to make sure you have put the handlebars and seat on tight to avoid them moving about when you are cycling hard.
The maintenance on the bike is minimal with it involving lubricating the resistance pads and checking that everything is in good working order. People report using the bike for more than 2 years without having problems with it.
If you have an uneven floor you are going to need to find something to place under the bike to prevent it from rocking when your ride it. It doesn’t have levellers in the feet unlike other spin bikes which seems a bit of an oversight on Sole’s part.
The seat and handlebars can be adjusted horizontally and vertically. This gives you good scope to fit the bike for your height so as to avoid any stretching or being cramped up you can get when the bike doesn’t fit you properly. The bike appears to be fine for people between 4 foot 10 inches and 6 foot 4 inches. If you are outside this range it is good idea to check with the company.
It is straightforward and fast to adjust the bike. It uses a cam lever and lock system to tighten the adjustment poles in place. These are simple to use and are less fiddly than the usual knobs used for adjusting. You only need a quick turn and to push the lever down to tighten or up to release the pole.
The cam levers lock the handlebars and seat tightly in place using friction. It doesn’t use the pre-set holes and pin you see on most spin bikes. This gives you the freedom to adjust the bike to more closely fit you as you are not restricted by the holes that are drilled 0.5 to 1 inch apart.
The adjustment system means the bike can be used by more than one person as it only takes a few seconds to adjust the bike to fit someone. There are markings on the poles to make it easy to remember the level to set the bike up to again after someone else has used it.
The Sole SB700 tension is increased and decreased by turning the knob at the front of the bike. You need only turn it slightly to make a noticeable adjustment in hardness of the tension on the wheel. It might take a little getting used to if the ones you have used at the gym require more turning. However, the turning for resistance is constant and the tension applied is consistent if a little quick from easy to impossible.
The resistance is applied by a pad that sits on top of the flywheel. It is made from kevlar – this is a hard wearing man made material that should last at least 1 year and up to 5 years if you follow the instructions in the manual to keep it lubricated. When you need a replacement you have to contact Sole.
The adjustment to resistance is incremental and continuous so you can’t set it to a level – you have to remember it was a quarter turn or half a turn or whatever to give you an estiamte of the resistance you were using. It can make it difficult to get back to level when someone else has used the bike since your last workout. But this arrangement is common for spin bikes.
The drive is very quiet on the bike as it uses a belt drive to turn the flywheel. A belt drive requires little maintenance to keep it on tight to keep the flywheel turning. It is made from kevlar which is new hard wearing material that should give many years of service before needing to be replaced. All belt drives eventually stretch and require replacing but in the meantime there is none of the ongoing maintenance you get with a chain drive or noise.
Sole Fitness states you should get 5 to 10 years use from the belt provided you maintain and use the bike as per manual. There is no specific maintenance for the belt itself.
The bike use is for a maximum of 5 hours a day.
You slip you shoes into the toe cages and then tighten the strap as required to fit the pedals. The large pedals do not take cleats or spin shoes. If that is something you want you can change the pedals for other bike pedals designed for cleats etc.
The bike’s q factor is wider than that of outside bikes and you may notice this when you start riding if you are a keen cyclist. This is normal for most spin bikes due to their design. (I’m disappointed to say i haven’t been able to confirm with Sole the distance – I have asked them a couple of times.)
The bike has a fixed gear so you can’t coast. This means when the flywheel is moving the pedals move too – the only way to stop it is to let it come to a stop is for the flywheel to stop naturally or to apply the brake. It is advised not to use your feet to stop the pedals by pushing back as this can cause unnecessary stress on the joints.
Seat. This is a standard bike seat with all the issues that come with bike seats as regards being comfortable on your sit bones. The seat isn’t particularly uncomfortable in this respect but some people do find it too much for them. You can change out the seat for any other standard bike fitting seat if you want a more comfortable seat. As with bikes you can also try a gel seat cover or padded bike shorts to get some relief.
Noise. This is a quiet bike with a belt drive that makes little noise as you turn the pedals. You will hear some noise from the resistance pads on the flywheel but that is more like a quiet shushing sound. It isn’t silent but you should be able to watch your favorite shows on TV without turning it up, hold a conversation at normal speaking levels and you shouldn’t wake up anyone in sleeping in the next room. The loudest noise is likely to be heard is from the deep breathing caused by your exertions.
Flywheel. The heavy flywheel gives a good riding experience. It smoothes out the choppiness and up and down feeling you can get with lighter flywheels which as well as feeling more natural can help prevent joint injuries. It takes more effort to get the flywheel started at low resistance levels and then takes longer to stop because of the momentum built up like you experience when riding an outdoor bike.
Dust And Dirt. When you are working out on the bike you’ll find that it gives off some dust and drop lubricant too, and you may drop some sweat too. For these reasons it is a good idea to put the bike on a rubber mat to protect your floor from being damaged or becoming dirty.
The bike is compact so doesn’t require too much room to be stored.
However, the bike is heavy and the transport wheels at the front are small making it difficult to move the bike around especially on any type of carpet no matter how short the pile. The wheels work fine on tiles. They will also work on wood floors but you may find they mark or scratch it.
The best idea for this bike is to find somewhere you can use it and leave it there when not in use.
If you want a bike but don’t have much room and want to move it to store it out the way when not being used the Sunny Health & Fitness Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike has better wheels for moving the bike around and it has a 49 lb flywheel. Read my review here. If you live in an apartment I looked in detail at and compared the best spin bikes for an apartment here.
The spin bike comes partly assembled with only a few parts needed to be added. The hardest parts of the assembly are getting it out of the box and moving it around. With the bike having a shipping weight of 149 lbs and an assembled weight of 140 lbs is what makes this difficult so it is advised that 2 people are needed to do this.
You only need to add the stabilizer tubes to the front and back of the bike, the console, the handlebars and the pedals to the crankshaft and you are ready to go. The tools needed for this are included in the box. The manual is brief but covers the assembly, there is also a video on Sole’s site that demonstrates the assembly. It should take around 30 to 60 minutes from start to finish.
Sole SB700 Console
The console that comes with the bike is basic. The LCD screen size is 3 inches by 4 inches. It is backlit with large numbers making it easy to read. You can monitor RPM, calories burned, heart rate (with heart strap but not included), speed, distance, time elapsed and the time.
The console and the speed transmitter (installed near the flywheel for recording spins and tramitting to console) are battery powered. They both use 2 AAA batteries and are easy to instal with instructios included in the manual. When the batteries need replacing the Low Battery Indicator will display on the console
The speed, distance, time elapsed and the clock don’t all show at the same time and need to be cycled through by pushing the buttons at the bottom of the screen. The other 3 measurements are on constantly. To get heart rate you need to provide your own heart rate strap – the console should be compatible with any ANT+ strap (but not bluetooth). The calories burned, speed and distance are estimates only and appear to be overstated. Distance is based on a bicycle having the same size wheel and how far that would have traveled based on how many times the wheel has turned.
The heart rate monitor is based on the heart rate detected from your heart chest strap. You can set your upper and lower limit manually or have the system calculate based on your weight, sex and age. The system will beep when you are outside the heart rate zone which can be a big help when you want to optimize your training by heart rate.
The RPM counter is great for when you are following a workout program that wants you to keep your cadence at a certain level.
If you stop pedaling for 3 seconds the workout timer stops. You restart it by pedaling again.
It doesn’t have the ability to upload your information to your internet accounts. To keep a record of your workouts and progress you are going to need to record them in a journal or spreadsheet manually.
The dimensions and weight are:
Width – 21 inches
Height – 42 inches
Depth (Length) – 40 inches
Pedal Thread size – fits standard bike pedals
Q Factor – standard for spin bikes/indoor cycles
Maximum User Weight – 300 lbs
Weight 140 lbs (Gross weight with packaging 149 lbs)
Flywheel weight – 48 lbs
There is a water bottle holder for 2 bottles at the front of the bike, they’re easy to reach and out of the sweat zone which makes it easy to stay hydrated when you are working out.
And that’s the lot as regards accessories. This is the way with most spin bikes. They keep it to a minimum to give less distraction while working out. Also, it helps to keep the cost down and there are less things to go wrong.
Some people have found placing their MP3 player in one the water bottle holders keeps it safe but it may slide out when you are pedaling hard.
- Heavy flywheel ensures a fluid pedaling experience
- Solid bike doesn’t move around when standing or sprinting
- Quiet bike so you can do workouts without disturbing others in your home and watch TV without having to turn up the volume
- Assembly is quick and easy and should take less than 30 minutes
- You can use a heart rate strap with the console to see your heart rate easily while riding to help to keep you in the training zone
- Little maintenance required other than lubricating brake pads and checking everything is tightened properly and in good working order
- Company give a long warranty of Frame – Lifetime, Parts/Electronic – 3 Years, Labor – 1 Year
- Can adjust seat and handlebars horizontally and vertically making it easy to fit it for your height. These adjustments can be done quickly so it can be used by more than one person
- Should get plenty of years of trouble free workouts from the bike
- Console gives you information to monitor performance during your workout. It can help to keep you in your heart rate zone and keep your cadence or RPM at the rate required by the workout you are following along to
- Bike is heavy and the transport wheels are too small which make it difficult to move it around on carpet
- The feet do not have levelers so you can’t level out the bike to prevent it from rocking if your floor is uneven
- No MP3 or book holder included
- You can’t upload data from the computer to your account on the internet
- No levels marked on the resistance so you can’t easily get back to a previous level
Sole SB700 Consumer Ratings
The issue that does come through in some of the reviews is to do with the delivery company not looking after the product and it arriving damaged.
Some of that is to do with the weight of the product. some to do with packaging and some to do with the delivery process. It also seems that in some instances Sole have not been as responsive as they should have been.
Having said that most people don’t have an issue with delivery and those that do find Sole respond well in sorting the issue out.
They talk about how great the ride is and the reliability of the bike over a number of years.
Sole SB700 Price
This mid level priced bike is priced below many bikes with less features. It has a strong construction, has a console and heavy flywheel which does increase the price but gives a better riding experience. The brakes and belt drive are made of kevlar which is a very hard wearing material that is used in car brakes so you should get more use out of it than you get from wool pads used by other bikes.
When I checked Amazon had the bike at good price but that is not always the case.
This is a well constructed bike made of tough material which is reflected in the weight of the product. It gives a good quiet workout for a number of years.
The heavy flywheel makes it suitable for beginners and more experienced riders. The flywheel may seem a little tough to get started if you are not used to it but once you get started it the weight won’t be that noticeable and you will be thankful for the natural feeling ride you get and that it helps to protect your joints from impact injuries.
It could do with levelers on its feet to counter any floor unevenness, the delivery company could do better and it could do with better transport wheels to make it easier to move in a home setting. Having said all that, where it matters it does a great job – you can get a good quality workout in your home for many years and as hard as you want it.