The Sole SB900 is a popular bike that is rated for light commercial and home use. You would therefore expect it to be able to stand up to all of the workouts that someone can do in their home. In my review I look at how it performs in giving a great workout in your own home including the durability.
It does come with some great features that could make it a great choice for intense workouts. It is a fully adjustable spin bike that has dual SPD pedals, heavy flywheel, magnetic resistance, a console and belt-drive. These should all result in a great experience.
However, at home there are other considerations for a spin bike then at the gym such as the noise, dirt, space needed, how many people can it be set up for and can it be easily moved as space can be at a premium in homes and apartments.
This is in addition to whether it is safe, comfortable and sturdy so you can workout at the level of intensity you want.
The bike is constructed from heavy oval steel pipe tubing to give a solid base for a stable riding experience. You won’t be worried about it wobbling or tipping over when riding the bike hard or when transitioning from seated to standing and back down again. Experience to date shows that it can stand up to rigors of tough frequent workouts at home.
The maintenance on the bike is minimal. It does require you to check that everything is tight and in place, like you would with any piece of exercise equipment and this is all covered fully in the manual.
For best results the bike needs to be placed on a level surface to prevent any side to side rocking as the feet can’t be adjusted to take into account any unevenness of the floor.
Sole SB900 Adjustability
Ensuring that a spin bike fits you properly is important for a comfortable and efficient workout at any level of intensity. When it is correctly set up you get a better workout and are less likely to suffer any overuse injuries or strains especially when you are training or spinning for long periods of time.
This bike caters well for a range of heights and body shapes between 5 ft and 6 ft 2 inches from user experience. You can adjust the seat handlebars and seat vertically and horizontally so as to cover leg length and torso length.
There are instructions included in the manual on how to set the bike up correctly.
The fact the handlebars can be moved horizontally is a big plus for the bike as often on indoor cycles these can only be adjusted up or down. This additional level of adjustment makes it much easier to get the bike sized properly to prevent you from being a little cramped or overstretching when cycling.
Making these adjustments is quick and easy. You loosen the cam levers on the adjustment poles and slide them into the position you want and then tighten them up. Once tightened up fully they hold the seat and handlebars firmly in place so there is no wriggling around when you are riding the bike.
The quick adjustment for size means it can be used by more than one person without much fussing before a workout to get the positioning right. Everyone can just get on quickly with their workout.
The bike uses magnets to provide the resistance on the flywheel. There is a red knob at the top of the frame that you turn to increase or decrease the amount of resistance you want. The resistance goes up slowly as you turn the knob so you can set it to the amount you want for your workouts from easy to hard.
The bike also has a felt wool pad but this is for stopping the flywheel quickly when you need to stop it in a hurry to get off safely. You do this by pushing down on the lever next to the tension knob.
The magnetic resistance works using the eddy current system with the flywheel working as the conductor. Turning the tension knob clockwise moves the magnets closer to the flywheel increasing resistance (creating a stronger magnetic field the flywheel passes though) and counter-clockwise reduces the resistance as the magnets move further away. At no time do the magnets actually touch the flywheel they just move closer.
Although it gets very hard at the toughest setting you can still push against it and turn the wheel – if you are a very strong rider you may find that it is not tough enough for you but this will only be for a small minority.
The thing that does surprise me for a bike with magnetic resistance is that there are no levels of resistance shown on the console as many other magnetic resistance bikes have this. It is similar to the friction resistance bikes in this respect. See Keiser M3 Plus bike here for a bike with magnetic resistance and levels.
The lack of marked levels can make it difficult to return to a previous resistance setting from workout to workout when the resistance has been adjusted in between. It can only be found by estimation and feel. However, most spin bikes and indoor cycles work this way.
The Sole SB900 drive is a belt drive. This gives a smooth and quiet riding experience that you may find doesn’t replicate the experience of riding an outdoor bike that you get with chain drive bikes.
There is also not the level of maintenance required you get with a chain drive. It will give many years of cycling and spinning workouts before it needs replacing. Sole Fitness says that you should get 5 to 10 years of use provided you follow the maintenance instructions provided in the manual (which are not onerous)
The belt drive will eventually loosen and the riding will become choppy as it starts to slip. The belt will need replacing when this happens and this normally needs to be done by a bike repair shop that has the proper tools to do the job.
The pedals are dual pedals. On one side of the pedals you get plastic toe cups with an adjustable strap on one side for sliding your shoes in and then tightening the strap to get a good grip.
On the other side they are SPD pedals for use with specialist clipless shoes. This is great if you have these shoes and then there is no need to replace the pedals.
If you want you can change the pedals for other standard size bike pedals you can do thisin just the same way you can with outdoor bikes.
The q factor, the horizontal distance between the pedals, is wider than that found on outdoor bikes so you may find it uncomfortable when you first use it to train if you ride an outdoor bike. This is usual for spin bikes due to the design of them. Unfortunately, I’ve been able to obtain the measurement from Sole.
Noise. As this bike has a belt drive and magnetic resistance it is a very quiet. You’ll be able to ride it in the middle of the night and it is unlikely to disturb anyone sleeping, the loudest sound is likely to be your breathing
Seat. As with all spin bikes and indoor cycles not everyone is going to find the seat provided to be right for their sit bones. This is all up to individual preference. So it is with this bike, many people will find it uncomfortable. The seat can be swapped out for any standard size bike seat or padded bike shorts or a gel cover can be tried to make the seat bearable if you find it too hard.
Handlebars. These are covered with rubber material to make them easy to grip and prevent blisters forming especially when your hands get sweaty. They are designed to accommodate sitting down and standing out of the seat with the ability to rest hands in the middle of handlebars. For more leverage when in the saddle or for standing you can brace yourself by placing hands at shoulder width or when really pushing hard you can grip the ends of the handlebars.
Riding Motion. This bike comes with a heavy flywheel weighing in at 48 lbs. It is going to take some effort to get started and build momentum similar to what you’d find on an outdoor bike. It will be less than you’d use on outdoor bike. A heavy flywheel is best to get a fluid natural feeling cycling action. It prevents any choppiness when pedaling as there is no slowing down at the top and bottom of the pedal motion.
Riding Position. You sit in a similar position to that of an outdoor bike which is upright but leaning forward onto the handlebars. It is a comfortable position for most people but it you have an issues with your back you might find it hurts your back. If you do have back issues and want a low impact cardio workout that you can get using exercise bikes you may be best to look at other types of bikes – you can read more about them here.
Dust and Dirt. The bike doesn’t drop too much dust and lubricant but some will drop onto the floor along with sweat which may damage your floor. An exercise rubber mat can help in protecting your floor from getting dirty or damaged.
The bike is 40 inches in length by 21 inches wide so doesn’t take up too much room and can be stored in a large cupboard or under the stairs when you want to move it out of the way after you’ve completed your workout.
It is a very heavy bike weighing in at 160 lbs. To assist with moving the bike it has 2 transport wheels on the front stabilizer bar. They are recessed which does help with tipping the bike on to them.
The way the bike is weighted means that tipping it forward doesn’t take too much effort. The wheels take most of the weight of the bike and it becomes a much easier job to roll the bike on hard surfaces but it can get stuck on carpet due to the pile of the carpet clogging up the wheels. You may need to find a way to slide it if you have this issue. It is probably best to be able to have it stay in one location without having to move it.
On wooden floors you may want to check that it doesn’t scratch or dent them when you move the bike over them.
There is some assembly required when the bike arrives. It takes 30 to 60 minutes to put it together. The biggest issue is the weight of the bike which is 160 lbs so it is recommended that 2 people put the bike together especially for attaching the stabilizer bars.
The tools needed to put it together are included with the bike. You just need to put on the stabilizer bars, pedals handlebars, seat, adjustment poles, console and transmitter and then it is a matter of sizing it for your first workout – there are instructions included for doing this which explain the process well.
The console included is basic but gives you information needed to help you to keep you on track during your workout and also get an idea of progress. If you want to track progress this does need to be done manually as the console does not store the information nor can it be uploaded to an account online.
The data it displays are RPM, calories burned, heart rate (if heart strap purchased separately), speed, distance, time elapsed and clock. The RPM, calories burned and heart rate are on the display constantly but the other information needs to be cycled through by using the buttons at the bottom of the console.
The display screen is 3 by 4 inches in size. The numbers displayed are clear enough to be seen while cycling and are backlit to help with viewing.
The calories burned, speed and distance traveled are estimates only with distance traveled based on how far a bike would travel with the same size wheel as the flywheel. Calories burned does not take into account your weight or how much resistance you are pushing against in your workout. Having said that they do appear to overstate the distance and calories burned.
The ability to monitor your heart rate is a great feature for making sure you exercise within your targeted zone for best results. You need to buy a separate heart rate strap separately and pair it with the console which fairly straightforward.
It works with any ANT+ strap but not bluetooth. I think the heart strap works better than the bikes that have a monitor built into the handlebars because you have to keep your hands in a certain position the whole time otherwise the connection is lost. It would have been good if they’d included a heart rate strap in the price but I guess many people have their own strap these days.
When using the heart rate strap you can set up your zones by entering your weight, age and sex. The console will beep when you are outside your zone.
The console and the transmitter each require 2 AAA batteries for power (these are provided). These are easy to replace when required and the console indicates when the battery is low.
The console does not have any workout programs that you can follow along to or customize. Most people have their own programs they follow along or use a DVD or video on YouTube to get a good cardio workout. If you want a built-in program then the Diamondback 510Ic is worth checking out – it has a lighter flywheel, needs to be plugged into the house power supply and has only toe clip pedals but costs less. You can read my review of it here if that is something you are interested in.
The weight and dimensions of the bike are:
Height 42 inches
Width 21 inches
Length 40 inches
Bike Weight 160 lbs
Flywheel weight 48 lbs
Max User Weight 300 lbs
The bike comes with a water bottle holder that holds 2 water bottles so you won’t have to get of the bike to get a refill! They are on the handlebars and sit either side of the console. They are angled so you just place the bottle in them and gravity holds them in place which makes it easy to grab the bottle when you need it and put it back when you’ve finished.
There is nowhere to plug in your MP3 player or anywhere to rest a book or tablet to read while you exercise. These bikes are there to help you get a cardio workout that really works you hard and this is why it is usual to find that they do not have much in the way of accessories. You can use them for moderate levels of exercise if you want they just don’t cater for it in the same way other bikes. It helps to keep the cost down and there is less to go wrong.
You could try using one of the water bottle holders as somewhere to put your MP3 player but you may need to use a elastic band or strap to ensure it doesn’t slip out.
- Heavy flywheel provides a consistent riding motion
- Able to adjust the bike to fit different sizes of users quickly
- Console for feedback to help to keep you motivated and on track with your workouts
- Robust and durable bike for many years of workouts
- Belt drive gives a quiet smooth ride
- Magnetic resistance is quiet that increases incrementally and smoothly
- Ability to monitor your heart rate when you have a heart rate strap (to be bought separately)
- Company give a long warranty of Frame – Lifetime, Parts/Electronic – 3 Years, Labor – 1 Year
- There are levelers on the feet to prevent rocking on uneven floors
- Transport wheels likely to get stuck in carpet making it difficult to move.
- You need to record workout numbers manually if you want to see how you are tracking from one workout to the next
- There are no workout programs included
- There is nowhere to plug in your MP3 player or rest a book or tablet
- You have to buy a heart strap if you want to monitor your heart rate
Sole SB900 Consumer Ratings
There a very few reviews of the bike at this stage. So far they are positive.
They like the quality feel of the ride and they compare it favorably with the bikes you find in the gym.
They mention that the bike is durable and tough for standing up to many tough workouts and training.
The only issue that has come up in one or two reviews is with the delivery but it has only happened the once so far.
From what I’ve seen is that this doesn’t happen often and Sole and Amazon respond quickly if there is an issue.
Sole SB900 Price
This bike can be priced in the mid-range of bikes. For that you get a fully adjustable bike that is gym quality with a console, dual SPD pedals, 48 lbs flywheel, belt-drive and magnetic resistance. It provides an excellent ride but these extra features do all add to the cost. They do seem to have done a good job with getting these extras in without over pricing.
It has sold on Amazon qualifies for free shipping. Plus you get the extra customer service of Amazon if anything does go wrong.
This bike does have a lot of great features but they do come at a price. It gives a very good stable workout where you can just concentrate on getting the best workout you want. The only thing that may cause some concern is the weight and the recessed transport wheels making it difficult to move around on carpet.
It can be used by beginners but if you are new to spinning and indoor cycle training you may want to look at something more affordable until you are ready to take it more seriously. For those that are certain they want to have intense cardio workouts and more experienced users this makes for a good bike that is durable and gives a smooth riding experience with many different levels of intensity.