Sole E35 vs. ProForm 12.9 – Which Is the Better Front-Wheel Elliptical?

Sole E35 vs ProForm 12.9 ellipticals

Designed to mimic walking, running, or climbing the stairs without putting extreme pressure on the joints, an elliptical is a great cardiovascular machine for achieving a high-intensity but low-impact holistic workout.

Ellipticals are growing in popularity, and if you’re a fitness buff who’s building a home gym or a person seeking convenient and safe solutions for regular exercise, purchasing your own elliptical trainer might be an investment worth making.

When it comes to mid-range (between $1000 to $2000) ellipticals, two models stand out: the Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine and the ProForm SMART Pro 12.9 Elliptical Trainer. Both are respectably powerful machines with a comparable variety of adjustable features, customizable performance options, and value-adding components.

But while they share several similarities, a close comparison of the Sole Fitness E35 and ProForm 12.9 shows that the E35 is the more practical option for pragmatic buyers. The iFit-enabled ProForm 12.9 seems more technologically advanced and has more built-in programs. However, the Sole Fitness E35, despite its simplicity, has a higher incline level and a more natural step position.

Here’s our side by side assessment of the two machines.

SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON

Sole E35

ProForm 12.9

Sole E35 Elliptical
ProForm Pro 12.9 Elliptical

Resistant levels:

20

Resistant levels:

24

Maximum incline:

30°

Maximum incline:

20°

Flywheel:

25 lbs

Flywheel:

32 lbs

Inward foot pedal slope:

yes

Inward foot pedal slope:

no

Adjusting buttons on handlebars:

yes

Adjusting buttons on handlebars:

no

Screen:

7 1/2" white backlit LCD

Screen:

7” HD touchscreen

 Built in programs:

10

 Built in programs:

35

Sole Fitness enabled

iFIT enabled

Warranty:

Frame - lifetime 

parts and electronics - 5 years 

labor - 2 years

Warranty:

Frame - 10 years 

parts and electronics - 2 years 

labor - 1 year

Dimensions:

W 31" x H 67" x L 82"

Dimensions:

W 25 3/4" x H 66 1/4" x L 79 3/4"

Weight:

231 lbs

Weight:

225 lbs

Maximum weight capacity:

375 lbs

Maximum weight capacity:

350 lbs

Size, Weight, and Capacity

The Sole Fitness E35 and the ProForm 12.9 have little difference in size and weight. The 231-pound Sole E35 is 31 inches wide, 67 inches high, and 82 inches long. Meanwhile, the 225-pound ProForm 12.9 measures 25.75 inches wide, 66.25 inches high, and 79.75 inches long.

The Sole machine has a bigger weight capacity. It can support a maximum weight of 375 lbs., while the ProForm trainer can only support users weighing up to 350 lbs.

Assembly and Portability

Assembly of either machine is generally quick and can be done by one person, but there have been reports that the ProForm 12.9 is easier to put together.

And although neither can be folded up, both machines are easy to store and move around because they’re equipped with transport wheels.

Smoothness and Noise

Both front-wheel-drive machines feature sufficiently heavy flywheels. The flywheel of the Sole Fitness E35 weighs 25 lbs., while that of the ProForm 12.9 weighs 32 lbs. Flywheels that weigh below 22 lbs. often cause jerky, uncomfortable movement.

Both machines operate using magnetic resistance and are hence noise-free.

Comfort and Flexibility

As they have been designed with user comfort in mind, both feature adjustable resistance levels, inclines, and stride lengths.

Even if it has fewer resistance levels—20, compared to the ProForm 12.9’s 24—the Sole E35’s incline can be raised up to 30 degrees high. The ProForm 12.9’s incline can be adjusted only up to a maximum of 20 degrees. The higher incline advantage not only matches high resistance levels for greater caloric burning, but it also allows more targeted muscle-toning.

Both machines are equipped with large cushioned pedals that allow angle and foot position adjustments. These pedals can conform to your stride and minimize any strain that your joints may experience.

However, the Sole E35 has a unique two-degree inward foot pedal slope. This innovation would allow your body to keep a neutral position while exercising and, hence, prevent you from experiencing back, knee, ankle, or hip pain during a workout.

Moreover, the handlebars in this particular Sole elliptical have buttons for adjusting resistance and incline. By no longer having to fumble with the control pad in front, you would be able to make workout adjustments without interrupting your stride.

Tech and Programs

When it comes to tech, the ProForm Pro 12.9 seems to have the upper hand. Equipped with a 7” HD touchscreen, this elliptical trainer has 35 built-in workouts and is iFit-enabled. Through iFit, it can allow users to record their performance and to access online programs and live training sessions.

Meanwhile, the Sole Fitness E35, while also equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, still has a 7.5” white backlit LCD display, only includes 10 built-in programs, and simply uses the Sole Fitness app. The app controls workout settings, tracks fitness stats, and sends records to other fitness applications.

However, the Sole E35 features a USB charging port and is Bluetooth compatible, so it still allows you to send your exercise stats to your smart device or to your favorite fitness apps (such as Fitbit or Apple Health).

Additional Components

Both machines come with a built-in fan, water bottle and tablet holders, and a sound system with an audio port for headphones or music players. Both ellipticals have sensor-equipped handlebars and wireless chest straps for monitoring heart rate.

Price

Sole E35 and ProForm 12.9 prices can range from $1300 to $2000.

Build Quality and Warranty

The two products boast high-quality frames that are made of strong, solid steel. The Sole E35 has especially established a good reputation for durability.

Sole Fitness offers a lifetime warranty on the frame of the elliptical machine, five years on parts and electronics, and two years on labor.

Meanwhile, ProForm offers a warranty of 10 years on the frame, two years on parts, and one year on labor.

FAQ:

Are ellipticals comfortable and safe to use?

Relative to the treadmill, an elliptical is a low-impact piece of cardiovascular equipment and is, therefore, the more ideal machine for individuals suffering from hip, knee, or lower back pains, from bone-related conditions, or from physical fatigue. It may also be used by people recovering from an injury.

What are front-drive ellipticals?

Ellipticals with a front-wheel-drive have flywheels that are located at the front of the machine. A lot of users who prefer front-drive machines claim that, compared to rear-drive trainers, this type of elliptical provides more stability.

What are flywheels?

Flywheels are the mechanism that controls the machine’s resistance levels. It is what moves when you step on the elliptical’s pedals.

Are the machines’ stride lengths adjustable?

Both the Sole E35 and the ProForm 12.9 feature adjustable stride lengths, with a maximum of 20 inches.

What is iFit? Does it come free with a ProForm purchase?

iFit is a membership-based interactive online platform that allows you to automatically record your exercises and check your progress, stream studio classes or scenic cities and trails, and be led by trainers who can have remote control over your machine’s resistance and incline.

A purchase of ProForm 12.9 comes with a 1-year iFit membership (at the time this article was written).

Final Thoughts:

The ProForm SMART Pro 12.9 Elliptical trainer is impressive, especially for its price class. However, you’ll only be able to maximize its potential if you subscribe to an iFit membership, and this may only be relevant to people in need of coach-led programs and are willing to pay for the subscription, although at the time of this writing you do get 1 year of iFit membership included with purchase.

Users who don’t subscribe to iFit find the machine difficult to use as most of its features seem to depend on the app’s operability. There have been complaints about struggles in running basic programs or adjusting the equipment’s resistance and incline.

The only universal edge that the ProForm 12.9 has is that’s it’s relatively quicker and easier to assemble.

Meanwhile, albeit its preset workout and program limits, Sole Fitness E35 users have praised the machine for its reliability, smoothness, and durability. And although most of them have shared that machine assembly takes a lot of time and effort, they’ve also emphasized how the assembled treadmill is worth the time and energy.

So if an iFit subscription doesn’t appeal to you, and you prefer a more frills-free workout, a more practical choice with capacity, comfort, flexibility, and longevity advantages might suit you better.

With its sturdy build and fantastic warranty, the Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine would definitely be a better long-term exercise partner.

    Kevin Lee

    Health and fitness have always been a passion for me; whether its being in the weight room, going for a run before work or even participating in a half iron man triathlon. ShapeJunkie was created to share to knowledge and love of fitness with others.

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