Reader Mailbag – Sole E55 Elliptical vs the Spirit XE550

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Continuing my recent flurry of activity on this site, I wanted to answer a question sent in tonight by a reader out in South Carolina. He is checking out the Sole E55 Elliptical and the Spirit XE550 Elliptical. Let’s see what he has to say:

I have enjoyed reading your website and appreciate the information you have to offer. I have been looking at purchasing an elliptical trainer for my home. I am a big guy and need a sturdy piece of equipment. I live in Charleston, SC and have been looking at the Sole E55 Elliptical $1499 and the Spirit XE550 Elliptical $1599. I know that they are essentially very similar machines and shouldn’t feel very different but at least in the stores, they do. The Spirit feels more solid that the Sole. This may be due to the Sole being in a higher traffic store but I think that there is more to it. I noticed afterwards that the shipping weights of comparable models of Spirit weigh more than Sole’s. On the other hand, the motion of the Sole felt more natural to me. The Spirit felt like it was short on leg flexion and long on extension. It gave it a feeling like you were stepping up. This doesn’t make sense but I went back twice. This might have been due to the Sole not being plugged in and the Spirit being fully operational. What do you think here? Does this make sense to you? Thanks for your thoughts. -Ben


Thanks for your note. Actually, I think I know what the problems were with the units you looked at. First off, the Sole E55 Elliptical is actually the Spirit XE350 Elliptical, and the Sole E95 is the Spirit XE550 Elliptical. So, the XE550 should feel a lot more solid than the E55…it’s a slightly beefier unit. The equivalent units should be the exact same weight.

Now, the reason the Sole E55 Elliptical felt a little more natural to you is because someone had changed the adjustable foot pedals on the Spirit XE550 Elliptical. I actually come across this happening on the units every week. If you’d looked down under the pedals you would have seen a little adjustment pin which would have allowed you to put the pedals into a more comfortable and more natural position for your stride.

It’s a bit hard to compare the two units because they aren’t quite equal. The Spirit XE550 Elliptical is going to be a bit more solid and heavy duty than the Sole E55 Elliptical, but you save around $100 on the Sole E55. It does sound like you’re getting a great deal on the unit as Spirit is generally very strict about dealers dropping their prices below their MAP (minimum advertised price) on the X series units. Make sure your warranty is still going to be valid on a unit where the retailer is breaking the rules a bit (you should be able to confirm it with a quick call to Spirit Fitness itself).

If you like the Sole E55 Elliptical then check out the Spirit XE350 Elliptical on which you can usually save an additional $100 off of the E55 cost.

A final thing I want to mention on Spirit product is that I’ve been getting a number of reader email saying the Spirit QC (quality control) has been dropping these past few months. A lot of faulty treadmills are going out (not so much on the ellipticals). The units I’ve heard complaints on are the Spirit Z9, Spirit Z700, Spirit XT200 and LW539 treadmills. I’ll be posting reader comments on the treadmills and updating the reviews in the upcoming weeks.

-The Treadmill Sensei

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About Treadmill Sensei

Treadmill SenseiThe Treadmill Sensei has been in the fitness industry for several years. He is familiar with several brands of fitness equipment and has written several reviews of many different treadmills and elliptical machines. You can see what he thinks are the best treadmills or you can get help choosing a treadmill.

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About My Treadmill Reviews

TreadmillMy treadmill reviews are both subjective and objective. They are objective in the sense that I will provide you with information about each machine, such as motor, weight capacity and other features. But they are subjective in the sense that I am really giving my opinion of each treadmill. You may agree or disagree with my opinion, but my hope is that my elliptical and treadmill reviews can be helpful to you in making a decision on what to buy. Remember that each review is just what I think. You can always check out Treadmill Doctor, Treadmill Review Guru or these other treadmill reviews if you want another opinion.