Friday, 19 April 2024


Sole Fitness TT8 Non-Folding Treadmill Review

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The Sole Fitness TT8 is their top-of-the-line, non-folding treadmill in a collection that also includes the bestselling F80 design.

But are the upgrades enough to warrant the price difference between this model and their top folding treadmill – the Sole F85.

In this review we’ll be taking a closer look at the design features, console functions, workout programs, and more, to help you decide if this is the best choice of treadmill for your fitness goals and budget.

We’ll also be making comparisons with similarly priced treadmills from NordicTrack and Yowza Fitness to help you find the best combination of features and entertainment options in your price range.

Design and safety features

Sole Fitness have been creating treadmills for home and commercial locations around the world for more than 20 years, with the TT8 as the most feature-packed of their collection.

The running deck uses their Cushion Flex technology to reduce the impact of your stride by up to 40%, which helps to cushion your joints and protect your lower back. This deck is also reversible, meaning you can distribute wear on the belt more evenly and reduce the level of maintenance required.

When you combine this style of cushioning with Sole’s large diameter, zinc-coated flywheels in the motor, the result is a smoother, quieter running experience. Although this doesn’t do quite the same job as the internal cooling fans on NordicTrack’s machines, it does help lower the temperature of the motor and prolong its lifespan.

This is also improved by the 3″ rollers that the belt wraps around, which are the largest of any Sole treadmill, and serve to create less friction as the wax lubricated, 2-ply tread belt passes over them.

In terms of the running area, measuring 22″ (W) x 60″ (L) is certainly impressive, but it is certainly nothing extraordinary in the home treadmill industry.

NordicTrack, Yowza Fitness, ProForm, and LifeSpan Fitness all offer similarly priced machines with belt dimensions that either match or exceed the length of the belt on the TT8. Most only offer a 20″ width, so having this extra couple of inches will offer an extra level of freedom for your footfall. But whether this is enough of a factor to influence your buying decision is very much a personal choice.

Moving on to the motor, and the Sole TT8 uses a 4.0 CHP DC type design, which is their most powerful, but equal to the motor on their F80 and S77 treadmills.

As you might expect, equal motor power means all three of these treadmills share the same 12 mph maximum belt speed, 15 levels of incline, and 400 lb weight capacity.

Unfortunately none of Sole’s treadmills feature any decline settings. If this is something that’s important to you, we would highly recommend taking a look at NordicTrack’s Commercial treadmill collection, which offer a few degrees of decline for around the same price as the TT8.

But aesthetics are important to, and the powder-coated, precision-welded frame ensures the TT8 doesn’t look out of place in light commercial or residential settings.

In the next section of our review we’ll be taking a look at the console functions and entertainment functions to see how they measure up to other bestselling home treadmills.

Sole Fitness TT8 – Features Summary

  • 60″ (L) x 22″ (W) running surface
  • 4.0 CHP, DC Type motor
  • 0.5-to-12 MPH speed range
  • 0-to-15% rack-and-pinion gear design incline
  • Two-ply belt
  • Pulse grip and chest strap heart rate monitoring
  • Six standard programs, two custom programs, and two heart programs
  • Cooling fans and MP3-compatible sound system
  • Nine-inch LCD workout display

Console features

The Sole TT8 console is missing the level of entertainment features offered by NordicTrack

The display consoles on the Sole Fitness treadmills and ellipticals are well known for being some of the largest in the industry.

The TT8 console is no different, with dual cooling fans mounted at the top, built-in speakers, and two large storage areas for anything you need during your run, such as your smartphone, water bottle, or MP3 player/iPod.

The 9″ backlit display screen keeps you updated with a variety of useful workout feedback, such as heart rate, incline, calories burned, time, and speed. There’s even a dot matrix display for showing you a profile of your current workout program.

But considering the price difference between the TT8 and earlier S77 treadmill (usually between $600 and $1000), we’re not convinced this is enough of an upgrade.

We agree that the quick-select buttons for the speed and incline are useful features to have, but it’s something we’ve seen throughout the Sole Fitness treadmill collection, even on their entry level F63.

Released in 2013, this is one of Sole’s most recent treadmill designs, but despite being their top-of-the-line model, doesn’t offer anywhere near the same level of entertainment features as NordicTrack’s Commercial collection.

Comparing the Sole TT8 to the NordicTrack 2950
To put things in perspective, the NordicTrack Commercial 2950 is often available for the same price as the Sole TT8 (around $2299), but in terms of console design, they’re worlds apart.

The NordicTrack model offers a 10″ full color touch screen with intuitive menu system for helping you setup user profiles, select a workout program, and even browse the internet (it’s web-enabled).

If this wasn’t enough, the 2950 also includes a 15″ HDTV screen, which means you can catch up on your favorite TV shows while you workout.

Without turning this section of our review into too much of a comparison, the physical features between these models are very similar. Both offer a 22″ (W) x 60″ (L) running area and 12 mph belt speed, so you shouldn’t be worried about sacrificing running quality for entertainment features if you did choose the NordicTrack model.

You can find our full review of the NordicTrack 2950 treadmill here.

Back to the TT8 console, and you also have a set of touch sensors built into the static handles for heart rate monitoring if you choose not to wear a wireless Polar chest strap.

Having two ways to track your heart rate is important. The touch sensors are great for a short period of time where you’re looking for a quick reading, but if you want to use one of the two heart rate control programs, you’ll want to use a chest strap.

When you’re running flat out, the last thing you want to be doing is holding onto stationary handles. They’ll limit your workout intensity, throw you off your natural posture, inhibit your stride, and suck power out of your upper body motion.

Add this to the fact that you’ll probably want to take your hands off the hand sensors to adjust belt speed, incline, or music volume, and the wireless chest strap option suddenly becomes much more accurate in comparison.

So to summarise this section of our review, it’s not that we don’t like the TT8 console, it’s just we feel that technology has moved on and there are other companies who have adapted better at this price point.

Workout programs and user profiles

The Sole TT8 treadmill offers their widest choice of workouts, with one Manual, five preset profiles, two heart rate control, and one custom program to choose from.

But how does this compare to some of the treadmills from NordicTrack, Precor, and Yowza Fitness?

  • Preset programs

    The five preset profiles are designed to support a variety of fitness goals, with each using a combination of speed and incline settings to create a challenging cardio workout.

    Your options include Hill, Fat Burn, Cardio, Strength, and Interval.

    The Interval and Cardio programs follow profiles that help improve your endurance, while Strength is designed to increase strength in your lower body with the use of a steeper incline. In contrast, the fat burn program uses a lower incline profile and moderate speed settings to create a steady state cardio workout that’s optimized for burning fat.

  • Custom program

    The preset programs listed above offer a great way to quickly get started with an effective workout profile. But if you want more freedom over when the intensity level changes and to what degree, the Custom program certainly comes in useful.

    When setting up your Custom program you can define the workout duration, enter your age and bodyweight, and specify an incline and speed setting for each segment highlighted in the dot matrix display.

    By entering your bodyweight the console is able to provide more accurate feedback for the number of calories burned. Likewise, providing your age allows for a more accurate calculation of your maximum heart rate if you want to keep track of your pulse.

    Although the Sole TT8 doesn’t have any user profiles, you can assign a name to the program and store it in memory for use in the future if needed.

  • Heart Rate program

    Something you’ll notice when reading reviews and trying different treadmills is that companies often use different calculations for determining your maximum heart rate (MHR). This calculation is needed to define the optimum range you should be at during your workout based on your fitness goal.

    It’s generally considered that 60%-70% is optimal for fat burn, while a higher percentage of 80% will help strengthen your cardiovascular system.

    Sole Fitness use the formula: 220 – Age, with the HR1 program using a default of 60%, and the HR2 program using a default of 80%. Both of these values can be adjusted, but having them as defaults helps to quickly setup a HRC program using one of the most popular heart rate levels as a target.

  • Manual program

    If you’re not too concerned about setting a calorie burn target or working to a target heart rate range, your best option might be the Manual program.

    This is something you’ll find on almost every treadmill, and follows no preset profile of speed and incline settings. You can simply step on the tread belt and start walking, jogging, or running.

Ease of assembly / Maintenance required

Assembly instructions for the TT8 are accompanied by a video on the Sole website

We’ve said this before in our reviews, but Sole Fitness do an excellent job of creating clear, concise instructions for getting their equipment assembled.

This is probably just as well, because they’re not a company that offers in-home assembly services.

For us this isn’t a particularly big deal. If you have someone that can help you move the boxes to the room where it’s going to be used, the rest is very straightforward.

The entire process is explained in the user manual with just 8 steps, using a combination of exploded drawings and written explanations. There’s even an assembly pack checklist to make sure you have everything before you start, and a list of the tools you’ll need.

If you prefer watching a video to following diagrams, you can also find a collection of useful assembly videos for their ellipticals, treadmills, and exercise bikes on the Sole Fitness website.

Treadmill Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

The majority of the assembly is even done for you, with the pre-assembled running deck taking care of the incline system, motor, transport wheels, and belt. You may need to spend some time aligning this to make sure it’s centered, but the manual contains a full explanation of how to do this as well.

Once you have the running deck positioned, it’s simply a case of bolting the side uprights in place and mounting the console on the support arms.

All things considered, the entire process is possible in less than 60 minutes, including calibration of the console and alignment of the belt.

View the Sole TT8 user manual

Maintenance required
As we mentioned earlier, the tread belt is wax lubricated, creating a smoother movement over the rollers and prolonging the life of the belt and motor.

Sole report that this will usually last for up to 20,000 miles of use on the original side. However, the belt can be flipped over to effectively double this lifespan to 40,000 miles. You just need to contact your local service provider.

The rest of the maintenance is pretty much routine, such as wiping down the equipment after each use, and checking for any damage to external components.

Apart from this you also have the maintenance associated with most treadmills, which is to maintain proper tension and alignment in the belt. The user manual walks you through the steps you need to follow, and it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to fix minor issues using the 6mm Allen wrench that Sole provide.

Transport and storage options
The Sole TT8 is their top-of-the-line non-folding treadmill. But just because it’s non-folding, doesn’t mean it can’t be transported between spaces if needed.

What you’ll need to do is lift the treadmill near the rear roller using the side end caps, then let the front-mounted transport assist with moving the machine. The only issue with this is that you’re dealing with a much larger footprint than if the running deck was folded.

Ideally you won’t need to move the TT8 at all, but this requires a designated workout location, which isn’t always practical. If you’re not sure whether you can lift and move the machine on your own, it might be worth reading our review of the F85 – Sole’s top-of-the-line folding treadmill.

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame and motor: Lifetime
  • Parts: 5 years
  • In-home service: 2 years
Sole Fitness Treadmill Guide

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

3.5 / 5

So, is the Sole TT8 treadmill worth buying?

From a build quality and warranty perspective we would have to say yes. Sole Fitness have built an impressive reputation for delivering commercial quality fitness equipment at a price that's within reach of someone with a home gym.

We also rate the TT8 highly based on its physical design features, where it has one of the largest running areas and most powerful motors in the industry.

But this is no longer a price level where physical design features and impressive build quality is enough, and people are starting to expect more from the technology built into the console.

This is where the TT8 really falls down. We highlighted a few of the differences in our earlier comparison with NordicTrack's 2950 treadmill, but this is far from being an isolated case.

If a company releases a treadmill at this price point ($2000+), you have to expect a certain amount of workout tracking and a certain level of entertainment options that goes beyond simply listening to music.

We're not looking for every company to build their own version of iFit, but it's certainly an impressive model that's put NordicTrack way out in front in terms of home fitness entertainment.

They've even released their own line of wearable tech that lets you build a fitness profile online and monitor progress towards your goals. This is something we would love to see from Sole Fitness.

Unfortunately, while the 10 workout programs offer good variation (heart rate control, interval, custom, endurance, etc.), nothing is personalized to you, and there's no option to track your performance or combine your efforts on the treadmill with any other part of your fitness routine.

Overall, the TT8 is a high quality treadmill with an impressive warranty and challenging workout programs. Unfortunately, based on the limited feature upgrades and lack of entertainment/workout tracking functions, we don't feel that it's worth the price increase from the S77 and F85 models.

Product dimensions: 80" (L) x 33" (W) x 58" (H) Product weight: 265 lbs Weight capacity: 400 lb

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