Which Is the Best Choice For You?
Wondering which is the best brand for you?
First of all, you’re not alone – these are two very popular – and well made – elliptical brands on the market.
They both produce a range of starter to commercial-grade home elliptical trainers.
And they’ve both won numerous “Best Buy” awards over the years from consumer magazines and authority websites.
But there are some differences between them that you should know.
So how do you choose?
This post will show you 5 key differences between the Nordictrack vs Sole elliptical brands to help you compare.
Plus you’ll learn some of the most popular elliptical models in each brand. So you can find the best elliptical trainer for your home.
Nordictrack vs Sole – General Overview
First of all, let’s take a look at the big picture behind these two brands. Nordictrack is manufactured and backed by one of the largest fitness equipment manufacturer in the world – ICON Health and Fitness.
Icon owns lots of other names like Proform, Freemotion, Gold’s Gym, Healthrider and more. They even bought out Smoothfitness a couple of years ago. They’re basically the giant in the industry.
What Does That Mean For You?
Firstly, it means that they have the engineers and money to develop the best in fitness technology for home equipment.
You see this in things like Nordictrack Consoles – which are some of the most advanced in the home market with touch-screen, HD, full-color consoles, iPod docks, multi-speed fans, pivoting tablet holders above the console and more.
It also means that even in tough times – this company isn’t going anywhere. They’re large enough to weather any financial downturn and be around to service your elliptical should you need it – which is reassuring.
So What About Sole?
Sole is a much smaller fitness manufacturer (the only name they own and produce is Sole). Sole started out in the Commercial hotel market, making treadmills and ellipticals for in-room fitness for hotels like Omni and Hilton.
They then moved into selling their equipment direct to the home market and benefitted greatly from the direct-to-consumer market that the Internet offered.
They’ve since branched out into bikes and rowers.
What does that mean to you?
Well, it may mean that if we hit hard times, the company is not as stable as ICON. And they don’t have as much to spend on research and design – which ultimately may mean less advanced features on their machines.
Then again, it’s nice to know that they have years of experience in the commercial market making commercial-grade machines.
Nordictrack vs Sole Elliptical – Consoles and Entertainment
While there are a range of different consoles, in general, Nordictrack outshines Sole when it comes to console design and entertainment.
You can find Nordictrack elliptical trainers with everything from full-color, HD consoles to pivoting tablet holders to one-touch incline/resistance buttons and more.
And these consoles also come iFit-ready (more on iFit below), which Sole ellipticals don’t have. They also tend to have a lot more built-in workouts than Sole trainers.
Sole elliptical consoles by comparison are a little…..dull. They give you the basic feedback stats that you need. And they are backlit – so they’re easy to read.
But they don’t really stand out. They do however have iPod docks, fans and several built-in workouts included. And they’re well laid out.
But overall, Nordictrack consoles just give you more ways to entertain and challenge yourself while working out.
Nordictrack or Sole Elliptical? Design Differences
This is a bit of a mixed bag as each brand has its benefits. Sole tends to stick with one design – the front drive elliptical trainer.
Nordictrack gives you more options – from front drive to rear drive to center drive and even folding ellipticals. You get a lot more choices.
For example, some people really love the center drive Nordictrack Freestrider machines (seen below) since they’re more compact than a regular elliptical and let you set your own stride (instead of locking you into a fixed stride like most crosstrainers).
Other people feel a rear drive trainer like the Spacesaver SE9i (with a flatter running path) is more comfortable for them.
Both brands give you medium to heavy flywheels in their machines (a heavier flywheel helps to give you a more stable and smooth-feeling machines). They both also give you adjustable pedals – so you can adjust the fit and find the most comfortable one for you.
One thing that makes Sole popular is that all of their ellipticals are built with a two degree inward angle slope that (they claim) puts your body in a more neutral alignment. This can help reduce stress and strain especially over long workouts.
I’ve tried a lot of different models of both Nordictrack and Sole trainers over the years. And I will say that Sole trainers do feel extremely comfortable.
But do they feel more comfortable than a Nordictrack?
I can’t really feel the difference. Although maybe I would if I did several hour-long workouts every day, I’m not sure.
So which is better in the Nordictrack vs Sole elliptical design debate?
Well, Nordictrack gives you a lot more choices. And if you really prefer a center drive or rear-drive machine, Nordictrack is your brand.
But Sole does have front drive trainers and the inner angle design that many people find comfortable as well. So it’s kind of a draw here.
If I had to choose one top pick for Sole however it would be the Sole E95S – which is a true beast of a machine. While it is pricey at over $2000, it’s also built like a tank and is the only Sole elliptical that gives you an adjustable stride.
Nordictrack Elliptical vs Sole – Stride
Stride is the furthest distance between the elliptical pedals. A longer stride helps you to more fully work your leg muscles and get a more comfortable workout overall. Many people feel most comfortable with an 18 – 20 inch stride.
The majority of Sole elliptical trainers come with a 20 inch stride. The longer 20 inch stride is excellent and was one of the features that really set Sole elliptical trainers apart – but that was around 8 years ago.
And many brands, including Nordictrack, now offer an 18 – 20 inch stride on their trainers as well. So the advantage Sole used to have is really no longer there.
There are several Nordictrack models however that do give you an advantage in this area. Some ellipticals give you adjustable stride lengths (which Sole does not – except for the E95S above).
For example the Nordictrack Freestrider is a brand new type of trainer that gives you a completely adjustable stride of up to 32 inches. This is an incredible advantage since you’re not locked into one set stride. Your body can’t adapt – and you end up burning more calories.
There are also a few other Nordictrack front-drive elliptical trainers that have strides that adjust from 18 – 20 inches depending on the incline settings you’r using.
Online Tracking and Entertainment
Nordictrack was the first ICON brand to add something called iFit to their trainers.
iFit takes your trainer online and tracks your workouts, graphs them, helps you set new fitness goals and more.
You can also run famous trails from all over the world – from Paris to Hawaii – and watch the scenery pass you by in the console (or your tablet) screen. This adds a little virtual reality fun to your workouts.
You can also take Livestream fitness classes right from your console – everything from stretching to HIIT workouts to Yoga or weight training.
There are also thousands of new video workouts where you can run the Boston Marathon, hike through Machu Piccu, taking a walking tour of Florence and more. The list is endless.
So iFit is extremely cool and can really motivate you to workout and go to the next level.
The one downside is that iFit is a subscription-based service. There is a small monthly fee.
However as of this writing, most of the higher end Nordictrack ellipticals (and a few of the starter models) will give you a Free 1 year membership to iFit Coach. So you can try it out for a full year to see if you like it.
That is a very cool deal. If you don’t like iFit after the first year, you can just cancel your subscription and use your elliptical like a normal trainer.
Sole elliptical trainer options are much more limited. They actually didn’t have any online tracking options for years.
However a couple of years back, they did add Bluetooth tracking capability to most of their models.
You can track and transfer your workout data from your trainer to your smart device using the free Sole app or other compatible fitness apps.
However this is about all you can do – compared to iFit, it’s a very limited service (then again, it’s also free so…)
What’s the bottom line when it comes to the Nordictrack vs Sole elliptical debate?
Well, they both have their strong points.
Sole is really known for focusing on strong, stable construction like heavy flywheels, steel-gauge frames and ergonomic design.
Nordictrack offers these things as well (especially in their “Commercial” and Freestrider models).
But they also hit a homerun when it comes to entertainment options and different designs. Plus with iFit Coach, you can turn a standard elliptical trainer into your own personal fitness studio.
Regardless of which brand you choose, remember to take your time, educate yourself and go with a trainer that gets you excited about using it. That way you’re guaranteed to get the best trainer and the most value for your money!
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