Reader Mailbag: The Sole F63 Motor vs an ICON Fitness Motor


I have been a bad Treadmill Sensei these past two weeks and haven’t posted in far too long. I inted to fix that this week. Look for a post a day! WE’re going to get started today with a reader asking about a Sole F63 (a popular unit these days) versus a View 550 from Icon Health and Fitness. This letter is from Kerry:

Good Afternoon, My question is concerning the purchase of my first home treadmill. I’m leaning towards the Sole F63 per your recommendations, but I am concerned. At 6ft+ and 245 I want to be sure it’s 2.5HP motor can take it. I hate treadmills that slip and want to avoid it at all cost (well not all costs..My budget is about 1,300).

I know your hatred for all things ICON, but they have a View550 with a 3hp CHP motor and 2.5 rollers at about $1,000. The warranty is not as good (12 years motor, 1 year parts/labor). Will the larger motor make much of a difference.

Thanks for your time. -Kerry


Thanks for your note! You bring up something that comes up quite a bit. The difference between an ICON 3hp motor and one by a more reputable manufacturer. If you were to open up most ICON units (Proform, Image, Weslo and so on) what you’ll find is a fairly small motor — some as small as a soda can! What they do is take a 1.25 or 1.5 horsepower motor and then gear them up to run at 3-4 times their normal RPM. What this does is cause the motor to run faster and hotter in order to get the same kind of power that a larger motor has at lower RPMs. It will wear down much faster and not offer as consistant enough of a run. In other words you’ll quickly find the motor changing speeds suddenly in the middle of a running work out, which can be a bad thing.

For those of you who haven’t read my earlier review of the Sole F63/Spirit Z88, you can check it out here: Sole F63 Review

The Sole F63 should be more than enough even at your height and weight. The machine is very sturdy and solid (it’s got the same deck and motor as the F80 but with a non-commercial console on it), and the motor is a big one. Another option, and treadmill sales people everywhere may kill me for this, is to try and get the price of a Spirit Z100 or Z500 down to your price range. I know the margins on those products are great for retailers and they have a lot of room to play with them. The Spirit Z100/Z500 will have the same deck as the Sole F63 but with a 3.0hp motor. The main difference between the Z100 and the Z500 is the fans. The Z500 has them, the Z100 doesn’t. They’re actually just a little snap on piece at the top of the unit. I know for sure you should be able to get a Z100 around $1300-1400 with a little bit of negotiating. If you want a bigger motor that might be a good alternative.

However, I truly believe, based on having worked on the Sole F63 numerous times over the past few years, that it should work well even for a bigger person. As long as you keep your motor dust free it should serve you and your Sole F63 for many years to come.

Thanks for your note, Kerry, and take care!

click here to purchase the Sole F63/Spirit Z88 for $999 plus a 3% discount using the code TMSENSEI!
Click above to buy the Sole F63/Spirit Z88 for $999. Use the
code TMSENSEI for an addition 3% off!

-The Treadmill Sensei

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