Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Exercise Bikes

Sole Fitness LCR Recumbent Exercise Bike Review

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The Sole Fitness LCR is the recumbent version of their popular LCB upright bike design, with a 30 lb flywheel and ECB resistance system creating quiet yet challenging workouts.

In this recumbent bike review, we take a closer look at the design features that make the Sole LCR stand out. That’s in addition to the display console functions, workout programs, and built-in fitness test.

We’ll also make comparisons with some of its competitors at a similar price level, to help you decide if this is the best exercise bike for your own home gym.

Design features

A narrow Q factor and subtle 2 degree pedal tilt create a more efficient cycling motion

With its low profile frame, walk-through design, and impressive 350 lb weight capacity, the Sole LCR is living up to its name of being a Light Commercial model.

The back support and seat have also been angled in such a way that reduces the stress on your joints and minimizes the strain on your lower back.

Extra-wide, ergonomically contoured cushioning adds some much needed lumbar support while still allowing complete freedom of movement in your legs for a more efficient cycling motion.

As well as ensuring you’re comfortable throughout your workout, there are a number of more subtle features that Sole have added to help make each session more enjoyable and effective.

The seat itself can slide along the main rail to cater for different user heights to 6ft+, with 12 positions available.

Although you can’t adjust the angle of the seat the same way you can with the LifeCORE LC1050RBS, we’ve found no research to suggest that subtle adjustments like these have any beneficial impact on results.

If you’ve read our guide to indoor cycling bikes, you might remember us talking about something called the Q factor.

Based on research performed by leading sports scientists, Sole have narrowed the Q Factor and added a two degree inward tilt to the pedals, creating a biomechanically neutral alignment of feet, ankles, knees, and hips. This adds to the cushioning and reclined position to create a much more comfortable workout than most upright bikes can provide.

But while the ergonomic design promotes a more efficient and comfortable body position, it takes nothing away from the challenge provided by the 40 levels of Eddy Current Brake (ECB) resistance.

When you combine this ECB resistance with the 30 lb flywheel – amongst the heaviest in its class – the effect is a smooth, quiet cycle, that’s ideal for home workouts.

Pulse grip heart rate monitoring is also available via the touch sensors built into the handles on either side of the seat, and a water bottle holder helps keep you hydrated to prevent a drop in performance.

Sole Fitness LCR Recumbent Exercise Bike

Sole Fitness LCR – Features Summary

  • Semi-recumbent platform and adjustable seat and handlebars
  • Six standard programs, two custom programs, and two heart rate programs
  • Nine-inch LCD console and built-in fan
  • Pulse grip heart rate monitoring and chest strap heart rate monitoring compatible (strap included)
  • Custom, oversized pedals
  • ECB resistance
  • MP3 compatible sound system
  • Water bottle holder

Display console design

The blue backlight of the console screen makes feedback much easier to read mid-workout

If you like to watch TV or listen to music while you cycle, you’ll be pleased to know that in addition to the quiet resistance system, the Sole Fitness LCR also features speakers and MP3 connectivity.

Being able to listen to your favorite music directly through the built-in speakers isn’t just a great entertainment feature, it also helps motivate you during longer workouts.

In fact, the performance improvements that listening to music while you workout can bring include being able to run further, cycle longer, and lift heavier than normal.

It’s thought that this is due to the music distracting your body away from physical fatigue, and is particularly effective for low to moderate intensity workouts.

A recent study examined the impact of motivational music on endurance during a treadmill workout, where two groups were allowed to listen to different types of music, and a third control group was not.

Time to exhaustion data was then measured, and the results found that endurance was increased in both groups that listened to music, with motivational music producing the highest improvements over the control group.

As well as the speakers and MP3 compatible sound system, the console for the LCR features a large, nine-inch LCD screen.

The blue backlight also helps to improve readability of the various workout feedback, which includes time, program name, distance, calories burned, laps, and heart rate. There’s even a dot matrix display for monitoring your progress through a preset program, and for setting up your custom workouts.

Preset workout programs

Just because you’re considering buying a recumbent bike to use at home, doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your favorite workout programs that you might be used to using at the gym.

Regular variation of your routine is also important to help avoid a plateau in your training results, and minimize the process known as muscle adaptation.

That’s why Sole have developed such a varied selection of preset workout programs, each being assigned a category, and with three main categories to choose from. This includes five standard, two custom, and two heart rate control (HRC) programs.

10 Preset workout programs:

  • Standard (5) – Choose from Hill, Fat Burn, Cardio, Strength, and Interval training options, depending on your personal fitness goals.While the Hill Climb and Strength programs will increase strength in your lower body muscle groups, Cardio and Fat Burn are designed specifically to assist with weight loss.Interval is a mix of high and low intensity cycles, designed to improve cardiovascular efficiency by repeatedly diminishing and replenishing your oxygen stores.
  • Custom (2) – These two programs offer you complete control over the resistance and duration profile you follow as part of your workout.Before creating a program that’s tailored towards your specific fitness goals, you can actually input your age and weight – two factors that influence the accuracy of feedback via the console)
  • Heart Rate Control (2) – Two heart rate control programs are available with the LCR, one at 60% and one at 80% of your maximum heart rate.Once you start to pedal, the resistance will automatically adjust to ensure you stay at your chosen level. This requires either a chest strap to be worn or for you to hold onto the touch sensors to transmit your pulse rate to the receiver in the console.

Comparison with the LifeCORE LC1050RBS
When comparing recumbent bikes at a similar price point to the Sole LCR, Lifecore Fitness are a company you’ll probably see quite often. But even when we checked their LC1050RBS model, which is usually around $300 more than the LCR, you’re still only getting an extra two workout programs (4 Heart Rate programs instead of 2).

Despite the gain in workout programs, you actually sacrifice weight capacity (300 lbs vs. 350 lbs for the LCR), and don’t benefit from the same walk-through frame design.

Testing your physical fitness

Whether you’re looking to maintain your current fitness level, lose weight, train for an event, or improve your fitness as part of an overall health plan, it’s important to set measurable goals.

This is one of the reasons we look at the console feedback for each recumbent bike we review, as each measurement can be used as a comparison between workouts.

Although the Sole LCR isn’t compatible with iFit Live, you can still monitor improvements in your fitness level using the built-in fitness test program.

Based on the YMCA protocol and with a duration of no more than 15 minutes, the program automatically adjusts the resistance level until your heart rate reaches 85% for two consecutive stages.

A score will then be calculated based on how much oxygen you need to perform a known amount of work (VO2 max). Throughout the test you’re encouraged to maintain a pedal speed of 50 RPM (clearly displayed on the screen), and once it’s complete you can record your score for future comparison.

Whereas most fitness tests work on a scale of 1 to 6, the VO2max score can be anything up to 60+, with your age being a factor in assessing your fitness level (options range from excellent through to very poor).

Ease of assembly / Maintenance required

A technical drawing from the assembly instructions in the user manual

An unfortunate requirement of any new piece of fitness equipment is its assembly. That being said, Sole have gone to great lengths to simplify the process, even including the tools you need alongside the bolts and washers inside the box.

As you start to unpack the parts you’ll notice that much of the assembly has already been done for you. The entire base frame, pedal crank system, ECB resistance system, and seat mounting arrive as a single item.

Once you have the base stabilizers attached, this creates a stable frame with a low center of gravity that’s easy to build upon as you complete the remaining assembly described in the owner’s manual.

Simple steps such as attaching the pedals and storage compartments won’t take very long, but the construction of the handlebar unit and front console mast can be a little more time consuming.

If you’re looking to get the bike up and running in a single sitting, it shouldn’t take much more than 60 minutes before everything’s attached and you’re ready to start your first workout.

Transport and storage
With a product weight of 157 lbs, it’s just 5 lb heavier than the Diamondback 910SR, but more than twice the weight of the entry level Exerpeutic 4000 model (71 lbs).

It’s worth bearing this in mind if you’re upgrading from an existing recumbent, or will need to move the bike between rooms without assistance on a regular basis.

That’s why we recommend carrying all the boxes and tools you need for assembly into the room where it will actually be used. It’s self-powered so you don’t need to worry about being near a power outlet, but finding the bike a permanent home means you don’t have to worry about issues that can arise when moving.

This includes the stabilizer covers catching on any carpet or raised flooring, which was a concern we came across in a number of customer reviews.

Maintenance required
Although we’ve reviewed a wide variety of recumbent, upright, and indoor cycling bikes in the past, the Sole Fitness LCR is one of the only models we’ve seen that offers testing of its console software.

The same advice for wiping down the bike after each use is still included in the manual, but the console also gives you the option to test its keys, the display, and even the internal brake function.

When you combine this level of self-testing and low ongoing maintenance with the comprehensive level of warranty cover Sole have become famous for, the result is a bike that’s going to last you a very long time.

Customer reviews

As the most popular recumbent bike available from Sole Fitness, we couldn’t end our review without first taking a look at the customer ratings awarded to the LCR.

As with each of our reviews, we aim to provide you with all the technical information and comparisons you need to help decide whether the equipment you’re thinking of buying really represents the best option for your goals and budget.

That’s why we’ve collected the customer reviews we found on ecommerce sites, aggregated the feedback, and provided you with the unique pros and cons that were mentioned most frequently.


  • Clear feedback via the backlit display
  • No external power needed for the screen
  • Cut down on optional extras like virtual cycling races to improve the value for money aspect
  • Custom workout programs available
  • Comfortable seat
  • Solid and stable frame design
  • Tools needed for assembly are provided, together with clear instructions
  • Smooth and quiet riding experience
  • Challenging range of resistance levels
  • Self-powered for complete control over its position


  • Some assembly steps were more difficult to complete than similar bikes (attaching the cover for the rear feet)
  • Front plastic wheel cover has been known to drag on carpet. Unless you have smooth, flat floors, it’s recommended you assemble the bike in the room you intend to use it
  • Tablet shelf isn’t as wide or supportive as models like the Precor RBK, meaning it can support smartphones but has a hard time with tablets
  • Not compatible with iFit Live

What’s covered by the warranty?

Providing two levels of warranty coverage based on expected use is something we’ve seen before from a number of companies, including when we recently reviewed the VR500 Rowing Machine from BodyCraft.

In comparison, Sole actually fare slightly better than BodyCraft in this respect, where a lifetime warranty is provided on the frame and minimum of 5 years on brake regardless of its location and level of use.

Something we want to make clear is that the Sole LCR is supplied with a warranty registration card. It’s the sort of thing that can easily get misplaced or thrown away with the packaging material during assembly, but unless it’s returned to the address listed within 10 days then neither of the warranty options below will be validated.

Light Commercial Warranty*
  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Brake: 5 years
  • Parts: 3 years
  • Labor: 1 year

Residential Warranty
  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Brake: Lifetime
  • Parts: 5 years
  • Labor: 2 years

* Used for 5 hours per day or less

Sole Fitness Exercise Bike Guide

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4.5 / 5

The clear, intuitive console design and high weight capacity created by the commercial grade steel frame are two of the most attractive features of the Sole LCB, and set it apart from other recumbent bikes at this price level.

If you're looking for a bike that offers similar features and are on a stricter budget, we would also recommend taking a look at the Diamondback 910SR.

The 910SR has better support for tablets and a larger collection of workout programs (35), with a similarly quiet ECB resistance system.

However, this does mean that you sacrifice much of the warranty coverage offered by the Sole, together with a reduction in resistance levels and less intuitive console design.

Overall, unless you're fortunate enough to have the Precor RBK bikes in your price range, the Sole Fitness LCB is the most comfortable and ergonomically efficient bikes available, with a challenging collection of workout programs and useful feedback metrics for goal setting and performance monitoring.

Designed for light commercial use, it's also ideal for apartment complexes, physical therapy clinics, fitness studios, and school weight rooms.

Product dimensions: 30" (W) x 50" (H) x 57" (L) Product weight: 157 lbs Weight capacity: 350 lbs

Related articles:

Best Recumbent Bikes Overview and Buying Guide
Exerpeutic 900XL Recumbent Bike Review
Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike Review

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