Sole Fitness LCR Recumbent Exercise Bike Review

The ‘LCR’ stands for Light Commercial Recumbent, and knowing how durable and well built their domestic machines generally are, we were eager to see what Sole had constructed here! Sole state that the LCR is “perfect for… Physical remedy clinics… Health and fitness studios… And even for home use.” With ‘Home use’ in mind let’s take a closer look at how this model would fare in the domestic setting and whether it’s worth around £1200 for the luxury of having it there!…

The first task is assembling the bike out of the box. It comes with all the tools, hardware pack and manual to get the job done fairly comfortably, with care and patience. The instructions talk you through a 4-step assembly process, which sounds very quick but they seem to have packed in a fair number of procedures within each step! The key is to take your time and religiously adhere to each sentence (in other words, don’t try and ‘wing it’!).

When it’s all put together, the LCR is a good-looking machine with simple styling, that looks in keeping with a machine built to withstand rigorous use.  It’s built to cope with heavy workloads as well as fairly heavy bodyweights of just over 23 stone. Plus Sole offer total peace of mind with an unequalled Residential Warranty: Lifetime frame, magnetic braking and parts, 3 years on-site labour.

The design of the frame and plastic cover allows easy accessibility when climbing aboard. There’s plenty of space (nearly 9″ at the narrowest point) to put a leg through between the flywheel casing and the seat rail. It also has a very low 4″ step over height (from the floor to the top of the base frame) which is an important consideration for users with limited mobility. Plus the casing on the base felt tough enough to be stood upon if needed (depending on the user’s weight of course!). The pedals have an adjustable strap to keep the feet secure and their self-leveling so always flip to be the right way up.

Many people are drawn towards a recumbent cycle because of the comfort offered by the back support. The LCR has a large, well-contoured seat that goes high up the back to provide fantastic lumbar support as well as gel cushioning to prevent a ‘numb bum’ during longer sessions!

When it comes to obtaining the correct riding position the seat can be locked into any one of 12 positions along the aluminium seat rail offering 11″ of travel to suit users of all leg lengths with 12 adjustable positions.

Once aboard and ready for action, you are all set for a real treat when you start to pedal! The LCR has a hefty 14 kg flywheel and you can feel the quality! That flywheel spec alone places it among the beefiest on the market, however, when combined with the commercial standard components used in the LCR’s construction, you get one of the smoothest pedal actions we have ever had the pleasure of experiencing with cycles at this price point and beyond!

Whatever resistance setting was selected, the cycling experience was beautifully fluid and consistent… And as we upped the levels, the resistance just kept going up and up! Whether you are a novice or hardcore cyclist,  we are confident that you will never out-grow this bike! Perhaps our reviewer hadn’t had this porridge on the morning of the test, but even level 20 felt as tough as many bikes we have tested at their top settings… And this has 40 levels! In fact, at the maximum level, the resistance was so hard that our reviewer couldn’t turn the pedals quickly enough to generate enough power to keep the screen illuminated! This is without question, one of the toughest magnetic resistance systems we have ever tested – advanced cyclist are going to love challenging their legs with the LCR!

As you may have guessed from the last paragraph, this model is self-generating which is another great selling point. Requiring no mains power, the LCR can be positioned anywhere in the home with no messy cables running to it. You could theoretically sit in front of the TV and when you’ve finished your workout, there is a big welded ‘D-shaped’ handle at the rear of the base frame which allows you to lift and wheel it around the home for storage, fairly comfortably.

The console on the LCR was a pleasure to use. It can be tilted to ensure the right angle to your eye line or to avoid screen glare from overhead lighting. Plus the 7.5″ x 4.25″ blue backlit screen is big and vivid enough to be easily read at a glance. As well as being easy on the eyes, it’s exceptionally well-laid out and user-friendly. The big 9″ screen is segmented into different areas with a combination of a ¼ mile track, a dot matrix profile display, Pulse level gauge as well as a novel design inspired by  ‘car dashboard’ style gauges to show resistance levels and RPM. This console is Sole’s latest design for 2013/14 and it shows real thought and careful consideration to a users needs.

There are 10 programs offered and each has a dedicated button in a line beneath the display screen. Program setting is child’s play thanks to clear instructions that scroll across a message window at the bottom of the screen. Only when you select a program do you begin to realize that your choice of options are far more diverse than the slightly meagre 10 programs first suggest – each can be user-defined to personally tweak times and maximum resistance levels.

As part of the 10, there are 2 completely customizable user-defined sessions, which gives the user the options of creating their very own bespoke workouts, which can be saved under the user’s name.

We were pleased to see 2 buttons for heart rate controlled programs (where the cycle automatically adjusts the resistance to keep you within a pre-set heart rate zone). Better yet, Sole have bunged in a free wireless chest strap monitor in with the deal. A chest strap is essential for the HR programs, but also just as important for users demanding  highly accurate readings that the pulse grip sensors on the handlebars just can’t guarantee. The ‘HR1’ program has a default setting of 60% of the target heart rate which is ideal for far-burning, and ‘HR2’ has the default value of 80% to improve cardio fitness. These Heart Rate Controlled programs (and all the other programs on offer) can be used on their default settings for the ‘quick start’ option if you don’t which to alter the values. That said, if you are training for weight-loss, we would recommend inputting your Age and weight before each program to give the computer a better chance at giving more accurate calorie figures. During your workout, the current resistance level and maximum level in any program can be adjusted on the fly so you are not stuck at at an unsuitable intensity if you need to tweak it.

Adjusting between the 40 levels of resistance is (thankfully) made possible with a single touch of a button using the 6 ‘quick key’ buttons either side of the screen.

There are a handful of ‘extras’ to provide extra entertainment or comfort when using the LCR.  There is slightly underpowered ‘cooling fan’ at the top of the console which does just enough to earn it’s space by blowing a small amount of air at your face while pedalling.  Either side of it are some little speakers which can connect to your iPod/Mp3 player and provide an adequate sound. So as not to disturb anyone else, there is also a headphone jack too. The central storage compartment is well positioned to hold your Mp3 player (and perhaps your phone), but due to the angle of it (and electrical safety reasons) we would suggest keeping fluids away! Fortunately there are spacious storage holders either side of the seat which are better suited at being ‘bottle holders’.

So what’s the verdict overall?

We can really think of only one limitation of the LCR, and that is that it won’t appeal to those people who want Internet connectivity or downloadable software compatibility (such as iFit to extend program options). For those looking for a bike which is comfortable, durable, challenging and benefits from superb build quality with a warranty to cover it for a lifetime – the LCR will serve you VERY well indeed!

Best Price

The Sole LCR 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

You can certainly buy a pretty decent recumbent bike for less than half the price of a Sole Fitness LCR. But, if you can afford to invest in this recumbent, you can be sure that you're buying a piece of kit that'll last for years and not only that, every exercise session on it will be a better experience in comparison with lesser machines out there!

Sole LCR Specifications

    • 14kg (31lbs) flywheel weight
    • 40 levels of computer controlled magnetic resistance
    • Console with 9″ 3-colour LCD display
    • Feedback:  time, speed, distance, resistance, calories, program, pulse
    • 10 workout programmes  (manual, fit-test, 2 HRC, 5 pre-set, fat burn, cardio, strength and interval, custom)
    • Heart rate measurement via pulse grips + wireless receiver
    • Conveniences: transportation wheels, adjustable seat and handlebars, self-levelling pedals with adjustable straps, cottle holder, speakers, cooling fan
    • Size (L x W x H): 144cm (56.7”) x 74cm (29.1”) x 128cm (50.4”)
    • Weight of the product: 65kg (143.3lbs)
    • 147kg (325lbs) maxiumum user weight
    • Warranty: Lifetime frame, brakes and parts; 3 years labour

Sole LCR Recumbent Bike - Console / Display Unit

Sole LCR Recumbent Bike - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Light commercial durability
  • Over 23 stone Max. user capacity
  • Lifetime RESIDENTIAL warranty on frame & 3 years parts & labour
  • Superb, well-laid out console with big 9” display
  • The whopping 14kg flywheel is SUPER smooth!
  • 40 Levels of resistance! - It’s literally Unbeatable!
  • Chest Belt Transmitter Included

The Cons

  • Fans of ‘bells & whistles’ gadgetry should look elsewhere
  • Ineffective fan
Sole LCR Recumbent Bike Reviewer Ratings

 

Appearance - 8.5
Smoothness - 9.5
Comfort - 9
Programmes - 7.5
Ease Of Use - 8
Warranty - 9.5
Value for Money - 7
Best Price

The Sole LCR 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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