Consoles are a feature that Sole Fitness takes a lot of care over and as such they're pretty much got it perfected. The E98 has a large 9 inch blue LCD screen. This has so many dials and readings it's like something out of an aeroplane. It really gives you the impression that your workout is really making a difference as every reading and "speedo" changes as you ride.
Changes you need to make like resistance, the incline ramp, start, stop and any programs you want to choose are all well placed around the console. You're told exactly what settings you're currently on. This is all you really need from a console but I also like to see a fan and in built speakers with an ipod dock. You pay a lot of money for this elliptical so I like to see it there.
The E98 has 10 programs, this isn't too bad it is about average which is why it get's 3 stars. I just think if you're paying this much for an elliptical you would expect more programs. This is the aspect that let's all Sole Fitness ellipticals down because they all contain just the 10 programs. They are 6 preset, 2 custom and 2 heart rate.
The 6 presets will do exactly what the program is called, so for the fat burn program you'll be going through a routine that's designed to burn the most fat. How long you choose to do the routine is up to you but with a fat burn program you want to do it as long as possible to get the most benefit. As long as you can do at least 30 minutes or more everyday (with one rest day per week) you'll be doing good.
A lot of other ellipticals you'll be looking at 12 to 15 programs at least. Like I said I don't necessarily dislike the actual programs on the E98 it's just the lack of them. For example you do have 2 heart rate programs and I think these are essential and all ellipticals should have them. The E98 comes with a heart rate chest strap which is essential if you want to use these programs.
It's always best to get the longest stride length you can. The E98 comes with a 20" stride length. On some ellipticals you can adjust the length but not here. A long stride length means the lower body has to go the full range of motion. This makes for a better workout as you have to use more of the muscle. Some ellipticals have a short stride and the workout is not as effective.
You get a water bottle holder and this is important. If you workout for 10 minutes or longer you should have a sip of water or isotonic liquid every 10 minutes to keep you hydrated. The last thing you want to do is actually stop your workout to get your drink. So a water bottle holder is handy. There are also handlebars to hold onto the E98 without working out the upper body. I always like to see these.
There are handlebars which have a pulse sensor on them however, these are never very accurate on any piece of workout equipment. You can only really get an accurate reading on a chest strap. Fortunately the E98 has a heart rate chest strap included and the elliptical will pick up the signals it sends and will tell you your heart rate on the console. This gives a very accurate way of telling how hard you're pushing and if you're over doing it.
The maximum user weight is 400 lbs or 181 kg. This is what you'd expect with something that's labeled as a light commercial elliptical. It has to be able to withstand constant use from people of varying weights. Or if used in the home less people using it but a strong machine that's capable of many years of use. 400 lbs is the highest I've seen and the highest on this site.
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The warranty for home use is lifetime for the frame, 5 years parts and electronics, and 2 years labor. The warranty for light commercial use is lifetime for the frame, 3 years parts and electronics and 1 years labor. This is good and what you'd expect for the money you're paying. Always read the fine print for the light commercial warranty to ensure your use is allowed.
At the time of writing the E98 is $1,999.99. This is a high price to pay for an elliptical and with what you get with this one I felt it was a 3 star average score. That doesn't mean the price is ok because you do get overall higher scores on cheaper ellipticals. I think with the E98 you are paying for a light commercial elliptical so you would expect the price to reflect that.
Despite costing the most this isn't the best Sole Fitness elliptical in my opinion. The E95 has everything the E98 has except for the light commercial warranty, otherwise it's exactly the same. I gave the E95 83% and it's cheaper: $1,699 (review). It's because of the better value that it scores slightly higher. If you're buying for the home then seriously consider the E95 over this one.
So overall if you need a commercial elliptical for a new premises and you know the use will fit in to the light commercial warranty then go for it. The E98 is a lot cheaper than other commercial ellipticals certainly ones that you'd find in your local gyms. If you want this one then I would say as with all the Sole Fitness ellipticals the programs are a little bit of a let down but that's all really.
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