Sole Fitness B94 Upright Bike Review

The fact that Sole Fitness equipment has been selected as the official partner of Hilton Hotels for ‘in room’ fitness equipment, suggests that it’s products are good enough to grace the homes of even the most discerning and demanding users! So let’s see how the B94 bike fared in our equally ‘demanding’ tests!…

Sole equipment is inspired by commercial machines in appearance as well as build quality – and the B94 is proof!(Almost bomb–proof !) This machine can cope with users of over 23 stones and there’s a lifetime warranty on all parts and 3 years on-site labour – so that’s certainly ‘proof’ of extreme durability!

Sole have certainly achieved their objective of designing a club-style machine with this model. The rather reserved design and matt dark colouring combine to give the bike a pleasant overall look of understated but 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.

Before checking out its performance, it was time to adjust the riding position. When we extended the seat stem out to its maximum length there was a whopping 44” from the floor to the top of the saddle – ideal for the longest of limbs! For everyone else there’s a series of 12 holes to offer plenty of increments of adjustment. It was slightly disappointing that the seat stem appeared to be sprayed in silver paint rather than chromed. Perhaps this was the reason that it didn’t slide particularly smoothly in its housing. Another area that we considered was a bit thrifty on Sole’s part was the mechanism for adjusting the seat back and forth. The distance it adjusts is a rather meager 2 and a half inches, but our main issue was in the unrefined engineering; we weren’t impressed by their use of a metal ‘U’ channel sliding in a slightly smaller channel. It leaves an exposed bolt thread coming up through the top plate keeping a square washer in place. Being painted in black rather than chromed simply made it look cheaper still – and at this price point, ‘cheap’ is not really acceptable.

Fortunately, the saddle makes up for it! After spending a lot of time sitting on it while testing and note-taking, we can report that it’s thankfully nice and comfortable!

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.

Positioned at the bottom horizontal part of the handlebars are pulse grip sensors for heart rate monitoring. As you’d expect on a bike of this caliber, there is also an inbuilt receiver to ensure improved accuracy of the readings if you use an optional chest belt transmitter.

Our attention was soon drawn to the console and just as quickly, this became our favorite part of the B94 for some good reasons. For us, the controls really ‘pushed the right buttons’ in terms of excellence. Not only is the layout clear and user-friendly, the buttons themselves show exceptional quality. They aren’t your typical plastic overlay type – these are ‘real’ buttons! With a chunky (There’s that word again!..), positive feel that truly appealed to us (“Simple things…” but we like it when manufacturers go the extra mile with little touches that show thought and investment in quality!)

There is a strip of such buttons spanning the width of the console and each one is labeled 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.  Sure, it’s not a huge selection but it still provides adequate variety and it certainly makes setting up programs an absolute doddle. Plus in idle mode the screen scrolls through all of these programs giving you insight into what’s in store.

The screen itself is a BIG (9”) reason as to why we loved this console! Clearly set- out across the top of the bright blue display are the big and bold readouts of level, calories, time, distance, rpm and pulse. Located at the left of the screen is a ‘Display’ button that can alter the view and show some different training data such as speed in mph and watts. Pressing ‘Display’ again puts the computer in ‘scan’ mode which will alternate the display in a loop every 4 seconds.

In the centre of the screen is a large oval race-track and inside its perimeter you can see the whole of your selected program profile made up of a series of white blocks. There is also a rather smart Heart Rate profile gauge to help you monitor your pulse rate percentage. Just as we hoped, the B94 has two Heart rate controlled programs. One is aimed at fat burning by keeping your heart rate at around 60% and the other keeps you in the 80% zone for effective cardio fitness training.

You also have limitless scope for added variety in the form of 2 user defined programs. By creating your own sessions, you can not only ensure they are tailored to your personal needs, but also you will achieve more accurate calorie feedback because the computer will take into account your age and weight. Once built, you can store these programs under your name and make alterations to the workouts as you improve over time. (Made even easier by the computer’s memory which stores new figures as default settings any time you input a new age or weight).

Further praise must be given to the LED display at the bottom of the screen. Whether its simply showing you the name of the Program you’ve selected or assisting set-up with instructions scrolling smoothly across the display, having such a big screen allows the letters to be ¾” tall and boldly visible.

Before we get to the crowning glory of the B94, lets just give a mention to some little ‘extras’. By ‘little’ we are of course referring to the fan. This is small and of ‘little’ use. In fact, it’s one of the most ineffective we have ever seen. And by ‘seen’ we mean that we couldn’t actually FEEL anything!

Fortunately, the water bottle holder has the potential to offer you some refreshment…or at least keep your phone and keys safe! Perhaps it could be used to hold your MP3 player should you wish to connect it to the audio jack. We rather wish that the space given to the fan had been better used for bigger speakers although it must be said that the small ones, integrated into the top of the console, do give out an adequate sound.

Those trivial observations aside, let’s now come to the big question….What’s the B94 like in use? Well, we’ve left the best until last! Sole have fitted a 12kg flywheel that helps in making this bike run super-smoothly. There are 20 levels of resistance and even cranked up to level 20 the feeling is beautifully smooth yet brutally challenging!

Best Price

The Sole B94 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 may not offer much in the way of entertaining ‘toys’ but it has the build quality, warranty and functionality to give you a LIFETIME of consistent service AND change out of £1000! That makes the B94 a very prudent investment.

Sole B94 Specifications

    • Flywheel Size: 26lb/12kg 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 programs & 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) 1118 x 584 x 1397mm
    • Maximum User Weight: 147kg / 325lbs / 23.5 Stone
    • Product Warranty: Lifetime frame, magnetic braking & parts guarantee & 3 years on-site labour

Sole Fitness B94 Upright Bike - Console / Display Unit

Sole Fitness B94 Upright Bike - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Club-style build quality
  • Over 23 stone Max. user capacity
  • Lifetime warranty on parts & 3-year labour
  • Superb, well-laid out console with big display
  • Smooth ride and loads of resistance

The Cons

  • A rather limited selection of programs
  • Ineffective fan
Sole Fitness B94 Upright Bike Reviewer Ratings

 

Appearance - 8
Smoothness - 7.5
Comfort - 9
Programmes - 8
Ease Of Use - 8.5
Warranty - 10
Value for Money - 8.5
Best Price

The Sole B94 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

Exercise Bikes We Like

Under £250

£251 - £500

Over £500