Sole Fitness B94 (2014) Upright Bike Review

As Sole Fitness launch their newest ranges for 2014, we decided to take a spin on the ‘new’ B94 exercise cycle… But what ‘new spin’ have Sole put on this old faithful? Let’s find out!…

There are really only 2 discernible improvements that we noted in comparison to the original 2011 model. The greatest of which, is the new LCD display screen and console features (more about that later!) and the inclusion of a d-shaped handle at the rear of the base frame which allows for easier lifting and transportation of the bike around the home when pivoted on the front rollers.

But before we get ahead of ourselves and talk about the new bits, we should point out that we were not disappointed to see that little has changed with the B94. There’s an old saying of “if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it!”… And, if we take that literally, then with such ‘bomb-proof’ build quality it’s not likely to ever get broken! If on the off chance it does, there’s a lifetime warranty on the frame, magnetic brake, electronics and parts and 3 years labour cover.

This is a bike built to take some punishment AND over 23 stone of weight if necessary, so this is an ideal choice for heavier users.

Cosmetically, the main shell of the bike is rather uninspiring and boxy but does have a look of ‘commercial-style’ , over-engineered chunkiness! Although perhaps the B94’s appearance conveys rock-solid substance rather than cutting-edge styling, in our view, any machine that looks like it costs more than it does with a design that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, may well be a big plus point for the home environment.

One of the most important features of any exercise cycle is comfort and the B94 has all the necessary boxes ticked! The ergonomically designed pedals are fractionally angled with a 2 degree slope to give the most natural foot positioning. The rest of the rider’s position has been carefully considered too. When the seat stem was extended out to its maximum length, it measured a whopping 44” from the floor to the top of the saddle – ideal for the longest of limbs!

The seat can also be adjusted forwards or backwards by about 2.5” to ensure the rider’s back and arms are not overstretched. Then there’s the saddle itself, which is fairly large with a contoured gel covering offering an adequate level of comfort.

The handlebars aren’t adjustable but being so perfectly angled in the first place means they don’t really need to be altered anyway! Plus the way they have been designed offers plenty of options for different grips and riding styles.

So how does the B94 feel to ride? There are 20 levels of resistance and even cranked up to level 20 the feeling is beautifully smooth yet brutally challenging!

Now we come to one of the best improvements to this new 2014 model – it now has resistance quick keys at either side of the display screen. There are 6 each side, so making instant changes to the resistance is now possible with one touch of the buttons.

To see Sole’s next new trick, just take a look at the snazzy new LCD screen display! There’s still the whopping 9 inch screen that we loved on the last model, but it now features a dial gauge style design rather like a car dash board! Part of this new layout are dials that show the resistance level, the RPM, plus there is still a ¼ mile track further down the screen for manual mode as well as serving to frame round the current course profile. Although the console does not tilt, unless there is glaring over head light, the bright, blue backlit screen with white digits should be easily read . The vibrant LCD combines with a superbly laid out display, which, with the generous dimensions of the screen, make this one of the best consoles we have seen on any bike of this price (and more!)

The arrangement of the buttons beneath the screen has been slightly altered in their formation on the new B94, however, it’s every bit as user-friendly as it’s predecessor. There is a similar strip of buttons spanning the width of the console and each one is labelled with the title of a program. Every one of them is there for quick set up : Manual, Hill, Fatburn, Cardio, Strength, Interval, User 1, User 2, HR 1 and HR 2. In idle mode the screen scrolls through all of these programs giving you insight into what’s in store, but what is only revealed once a selection is made, is just how adjustable the settings are for each program. You can skip straight through and use the computers default settings but these 10 programs can be hugely varied by entering in user-defined settings such as Age, weight, maximum resistance levels, and time. The computer will also factor in the users personal details to give more accurate calorie consumption figures – great motivation for those fat-burning sessions!

In addition, there are the 2 custom user-defined programs which allow the user to build sessions from scratch and save them under the user’s name. These 2 sessions can be repeated in future or you can overwrite any of them when it’s time for a change.

Unlike in years gone by, Sole have kindly thrown in a free chest strap transmitter with this model. With that included, we’d personally steer you away from the inaccurate pulse readings achievable on the handlebar sensors and instead enjoy highly accurate and wireless monitoring between the computers inbuilt receiver and the chest strap. Plus once you slip it on under your training top, you can utilise the two Heart rate controlled programs, whereby the resistance is automatically adjusted to keep you within a pre-set heart rate zone. If you choose not to adjust the default settings you have them pre-set at 60% (which is aimed at fat burning) and the other keeps you in the 80% zone for effective cardio fitness training.

During our time of testing Sole products, we have seen patterns form across the ranges – you can generally expect two things –  The build quality will be high and the number of inbuilt ‘extras’ is rather low. Their machines are aimed to appeal to ‘training’ not ‘technological’ enthusiasts. As such the B94 has some basic ‘creature comforts’ such as a cooling fan (rather weak but has tilting vents)…There is an MP3/iPod input…a headphones jack plug…and some small inbuilt speakers (which throw out a respectable sound given their size).  There is also a water bottle holder which can double up to store your phone or keys. Certainly there isn’t the motivational technology of Internet interactivity like DKN iWorld or downloadable software like iFit live, but there should still be plenty to keep your workouts comfortable and challenging.

 

Best Price

The Sole B94 (2013/2014) is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Review Summary - In Brief

Overall the B94 bike is rather like an ol’faithful workhorse of a cycle – it was never designed to entertain you, it was built to deliver the performance and comfort that makes consistent training enjoyable and effective. Yet, we don't see the point of buying it when currently for £100 less you can buy the DKN EB-2100i which is a rock solid piece of kit suitable for families and also those who plan to train seriously. Check it out here and to see for yourself why we like it.

Sole B94 (2013/2014) Specifications

    • Flywheel Size: 14lbs/6.5kg flywheel
    • Resistance Mechanism: Electromagnetic
    • Resistance Levels: 1-20 levels
    • Seat: Commercial grade gel, horizontal and vertical adjustment
    • Programs: 10 – Manual, 5 preset training programs, 2 user-defined programmes & 2 heart rate control (requires optional chest strap)
    • Console Features: 9″ Vibrant blue backlit LCD with integrated speakers for MP3/ipod connectivity. Cooling fan for added comfort. Console quick program keys.
    • Console Feedback Time, Speed, Distance, Resistance, Calories, Program, Pulse
    • Heart Rate Measurement: Hand Pulse Grips & Receiver
    • Product Dimensions: (L x W x H) 112 x 58.4 x 140cm
    • Maximum User Weight: 147kg / 325lbs / 23.5 Stone
    • Product Warranty: Lifetime frame, magnetic braking & parts guarantee & 3 years on-site labour

Sole Fitness B94 (2014) Upright Bike - Console / Display Unit

Sole Fitness B94 (2014) Upright Bike - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Club-style build quality
  • Over 23 stone Max. user capacity
  • Lifetime warranty on frame & 3 years parts & labour
  • Superb, well-laid out console with big 9” display
  • Fairly compact footprint and easy to move
  • Smooth ride and loads of resistance
  • Chest Belt Transmitter Included

The Cons

  • Fans of ‘bells & whistles’ gadgetry should look elsewhere
  • Ineffective fan
Sole Fitness B94 (2014) Upright Bike Reviewer Ratings

 

Appearance - 8
Smoothness - 8.5
Comfort - 8
Programmes - 8
Ease Of Use - 8.5
Warranty - 8.5
Value for Money - 7
Best Price

The Sole B94 (2013/2014) is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Also see our Exercise Bike Comparison Table

Whilst every effort is made to give you accurate information we cannot guarantee the technical specification. Models change on a regular basis and may differ slightly from the above review. We recommend you contact the retailer if you have a question regarding technical data. Please read our Legal Disclaimer

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