The Sole Fitness R92 Recumbent Bike forms part of Sole’s exercise bike collection, which also includes the B94 (upright bike), and SB700 (spinning / studio style bike).
With a considerable price difference between this model and the upgraded LCR design, this review includes some important comparisons between the two, as well as taking a look at the design, workout options, and customer reviews.
One reason to choose a recumbent exercise bike over a standard upright bike is the low impact nature of the exercise. This makes them ideal for anyone going through rehab after an injury, or who has reduced mobility.
Of course, these aren’t the only times when a recumbent provides effective workouts, but there are a number of design features that the Sole Fitness R92 includes which make it well suited to these requirements.
Firstly, the frame is what’s classed as ‘step-through’, meaning there’s no bulky flywheel casing in the way of you taking your seated position.
Also, the seat has been designed with a slight incline that naturally alleviates stress on the joints, as well as providing additional lumbar support.
Even the foot pedals feature a patented two-degree inward slant, intended to prevent aches in your knees and feet by aligning the joints in their correct posture during a workout.
In terms of the frame itself, heavy steel tubing, along with aluminum shroud, makes SOLE bikes practically indestructible, but also light and manageable. The pair of transport wheels and large handle at the back of the bike have also been added to make moving the bike easier and more convenient.
Sole Fitness R92 – Features Summary
- Patented two-degree inward slanted pedals
- Padded seat, and lower back-supporting backrest
- Semi-recumbent platform
- Adjustable seat and handlebars
- Six standard programs
- Two custom programs
- Two heart rate programs
- Nine-inch LCD console
- Built-in fan
- Pulse grip heart rate monitoring
- Chest strap heart rate monitoring compatible (strap included)
- Custom, oversized pedals
- ECB resistance
- MP3 compatible sound system
- Water bottle holder
Display console design
If you’re considering buying a new recumbent bike, the chances are you have a fitness goal in mind that you want this new piece of equipment to help you achieve.
Whether it’s more muscle definition through fat loss, weight loss, rehab work, or simply to improve your cardiovascular fitness, the Sole Fitness R92 has a number of features that can help you reach this goal more quickly.
We all know that exercise is important, but finding the motivation to jump on a recumbent bike and cycle for 30 minutes+ on a regular basis requires the workouts to hold you interest, and not become boring.
Sole achieve this by combining efficient and accurate workout tracking with entertainment options in the form of an audio jack, headphone jack, and speakers.
This lets you listen to your favourite workout music directly from your MP3 player or smartphone, using your headphones or the built in speaker.
You also have a couple of options for improving your overall cycling performance, designed to keep you cool, hydrated, and your energy levels up.
This comes in the form of a water bottle holder positioned within easy reach of your seated position, and the cooling fan at the top of the console.
Unfortunately some reviewers have found the cooling fan to be fairly limited in its effect, which tends to be because of the distance between the console and your body.
It’s also worth quickly mentioning the button functions and display screen feedback, as this can be an important part of measuring your workout results to ensure you are getting closer to achieving your goal.
The LCD screen itself measures an impressive 9 inches (diagonally from corner to corner), and provides feedback on your distance, watts, speed, time, current program name, heart rate, calories burned, and even a dot matrix section for displaying the current workout profile.
All of this information is made even easier to read thanks to the blue backlight, improving the contrast between the background and the text even in low light conditions (e.g. morning and evening workouts). You also have the ability to tilt the console to ensure the screen meets your eye line.
Button functions are fairly standard for a recumbent from Sole Fitness, combining all the basic start / stop and Display options with quick-select buttons for each of the available workout programs.
Greater variety in the range of workout programs is also a bonus for anyone looking to keep their training interesting, with a collection of preset, custom, and heart rate controlled programs.
Preset workout programs
One of the best ways to ensure you stick to any fitness program is frequent variation in your workout routines.
In terms of a recumbent bike workout, this will usually mean variation in pedal speed and resistance, either to follow a preset profile or maintain a certain number of beats per minute for your heart rate.
Fortunately the Sole Fitness R92 includes programs for all of these options, which have been divided up into the following 4 categories; manual, custom, heart rate controlled, and preset profiles.
Manual – If you simply want to sit down and start cycling, this is the program for you. After entering some basic information (age, weight, and desired workout duration) your session will begin.
The resistance can be adjusted electronically at any point during your workout, and doesn’t follow any preset patterns.
Custom – There are 2 custom workouts to choose from, with each being assigned to a specific user profile.
These require all the same steps as the manual program, but you also get to set the resistance for each of the various segments that are displayed in the dot matrix section of the screen.
Heart rate controlled – The R92 actually comes with everything you need to start a heart rate controlled program, including the wireless chest strap transmitter itself.
There are 2 options to choose from, each programmed to keep your heart rate within a specific range. (HR1 is 60%, HR2 is 80%)
The resistance now automatically adjusts to keep you at your chosen level.
Preset profiles – Each of the 5 preset programs has been designed to help you achieve a specific fitness goal, with the names ‘Hill’, ‘Fat Burn’, ‘Cardio’, ‘Strength’, and ‘Interval’.
The profile of each program varies depending on the goal, but can generally be classified as follows:
- Hill: Increases endurance
- Fat Burn: Maximizes the burning of fat by attempting to keep your heart rate at 60% to 70% of maximum
- Cardio: Increases cardiovascular function by strengthening your heart and lungs, boosting lung capacity and increasing blood flow
- Strength: Increases lower body muscular strength by spending more time cycling at higher resistance levels
- Interval: Increases endurance by depleting and replenishing oxygen levels over the course of 4 rounds
One of the main benefits with high-end bikes like the R92 is that the console prompts you to enter your weight and age, with weight being the key piece of information needed to significantly improve the accuracy of the feedback for the number of calories burned.
Ease of assembly
When it comes to the quality of the user manual, we have to agree that t would be better if the instructions for the R92 were supplied on their own.
As it is, even though each page clearly has the name of the bike it refers to at the top, it’s still much easier to separate out the different parts lists and instructions to throw away everything for the B94.
Fortunately there’s really not a lot of assembly required, with the main frame arriving pre-assembled together with the seat carriage.
All that’s required is to construct the console mast, seat, and attach the display console itself, which only requires a handful of bolts and washers.
With such in-depth instructions and limited assembly required, it shouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes before you can start enjoying your first workout.
Sole Fitness R92 Vs. Sole Fitness LCR
As the name suggests, the Sole Fitness LCR (Light Commercial Recumbent) bike is an upgrade over the Sole Fitness R92 model, with an increase in weight capacity up to 350 lbs.
But apart from the difference in weight limit, there actually aren’t too many other differences.
The size of the display console screen is identical at 9 inches, with an equal number of preset, custom, and heart rate controlled workout programs.
After carefully reading through the user manuals for each bike, we were able to find no other differences between the two designs.
This is something worth bearing in mind if you are considering buying the LCR bike but only require a 300 lb capacity. Based on the bike prices at the time of this review, this decision alone could save you around $500.
Unlike their range of high quality treadmills, Sole Fitness tend to have a fairly limited number of reviews for their exercise bikes, with the R92 being no exception.
The best source of reviews that had the largest collection to read through was Amazon, which showed an impressive average review rating and only a couple of reviews rated at anything less than 4 stars.
After reading through each of these reviews ourselves, we’ve been able to put together the following summary of the reasons why reviewers gave the R92 the ratings that they did.
- Wide range of seat positions caters for users to over 6 feet tall. (although some reviewers shorter than 5 feet 2 inches found they couldn’t reach the pedals at the closest setting)
- Variety of resistance levels and workout programs provide challenging workouts for all levels of personal fitness
- Comfortable seat supports your lower back well, with the thick padding providing some much needed cushioning
- Easy to assemble
- The cooling fan isn’t strong enough to provide much of a benefit
- Some reviewers would have preferred the user manual to only contain instructions purely for this bike alone (currently the manual includes instructions for both the R92 and B94 bikes)
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Labor: 1 year
- Frame: Lifetime
- Brake: Lifetime
- Electronics and parts: 3 years
This is the type of warranty coverage you really want to find whenever you’re buying any exercise bike at this price point.
If you were to combine this with the warranty coverage you get with lower priced recumbent bikes, you’ll see how much more Sole Fitness stands behind the quality of its manufacturing.