Best Rowing Machine Reviews And Comparisons | 2017

Since the past 2 years, rowing has been the most important part of my daily workout. Even on the days when I’m busy, I can easily spare 10 minutes for an HIIT workout using my rower. Specifically, I care about the comfort, smoothness, and the ability to analyze my workout so that I can optimize my efforts. If you too are planning to buy a Rowing Machine for your indoor workouts, here is a list of top 5 rowing machines of 2017 along with their pros and cons.

Concept 2 Model D

Manufacturer Concept2
Price Click here to check the lowest price for Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine
Pros PM5, Build Quality, Close to real rowing, post-purchase services.
Cons Noise
Final Verdict The Concept 2 Model D rowing machine is packed with features like the robust display, great design, resistance with damper settings, and ease of storage. The drawbacks are surely traded off with more stability and durability.
Rating 4.9/5

Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

Why we love the Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine?

#1 BUILD QUALITY

The Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine is one of the strongest rowing machines in the market. It has a strong skeleton that can handle the hardest workouts. The legs, as well as the rails, give a rich and premium feel. The machine stood strong under heavy amounts of loads and intensities in our labs. You can be sure that the machine will never leave you stranded in the middle of a workout.

#2 FEELS LIKE ROWING IN WATER

Because of its closeness to real rowing, its even distribution of resistance, and smoothness of motion, this machine is preferred by the majority of world-class Olympic athletes as it gives them a real feel of the physical environment. There’s a damper setting to control this which can be set between 1-10. A damper setting between 1-4 damper feels like rowing in a small and sleek boat. You will have to make faster and easier strokes to make the boat move faster. The higher damper settings, however, will make the machine feel like rowing a big slow boat. You will need to make slower but longer strokes that need more force.

#3 PERFORMANCE MONITOR/CONTROL PANEL

These are some of the most useful functions of the PM5:

  1. Instantly start your workout without any settings.
  2. Choose a routine from a pre-programmed set of workouts.
  3. Create custom workouts for your needs and/or analysis results.
  4. Play built-in games to make your workouts interesting.
  5. Analyze the data of your workouts and compare it against the ideal data.
  6. Export data via USB and do in-depth analysis.

It gives a performance score on every rowing stroke, which is calculated according to the speed of that stroke. It has a backlit display to view the data in low-light settings, USB compatibility for storing data, wireless compatibility to record your heart rate using ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart technologies.

#4 POST PURCHASE SERVICES

We went through the user reviews and tried to get in touch with the customer service ourselves, and can conclude that concept 2 has a prompt and helpful customer service. They are quick with their replies and try to help you in the best way possible. Concept 2 also has an extensive community of users who regularly keep contributing to the forum with lots of useful concept 2 specific information as well as general fitness tips.

What do we think can be improved?

#1 NOISE

Like all air resistance rowing machines, the model D, too, comes with added noise. After a while, users start loving the sound because the harder the workout, the noisier it becomes. Many reviews state that this noise motivates them to push harder. For others who are like us and don’t enjoy the noise of this machine, you can always use earphones and music as your ally. Also, the isn’t too loud. It does not transcend to other rooms, so you don’t need to worry about waking up your sleeping baby.

Final Verdict

The Concept 2 Model D rowing machine is packed with features like the robust monitor display, great design, resistance with damper settings, and ease of storage. The drawbacks are surely traded off with more stability and durability.

Click here to check the lowest price for Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

Stamina Air Rower ATS 1399

Manufacturer Stamina
Price Click here to check the lowest price for Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
Pros Designed for comfort, Smart display, User capacity, and Easy assembly.
Cons Noise, Inability to change the Resistance.
Final Verdict A smart machine that responds to every stroke, The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 comes with great features. Except for the noise it makes and inability to change resistance (which, by the way, are drawbacks of all rowing machines in this price range), everything about this machine makes for a great value for your money.
Rating 4.2/5

Stamina-ATS-Air-Rower-1399-1

Why we love the Stamina Air Rower ATS 1399?

#1 COMFORTABLE DESIGN

The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 is designed to give you maximum comfort. It has a padded and upholstered seat. The foot straps and foot paddles hold your feet comfortably, preventing them from slipping off the pedal. The grips are textured which enable you to keep your hands stable. The floor protectors add a layer of friction to hold the machine in the same position and avoid shaking and wobbling of the frame.

#2 BUILD QUALITY

The Stamina Air Rower 1399 is built to withstand strenuous rowing. The strong and sturdy steel frame, the wide and high-strength straps, and the super quality of the materials used, all make the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 capable of delivering smooth rowing strokes for years.

#3 SMART DISPLAY

The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 has an attached smart display panel. This panel tracks and monitors several essential factors like Speed (mph), distance (miles), calories burned, and time (mm:ss). The speed function is fixed on the screen while the other 3 can be set according to your needs. Among all other rowing machines within this price range, you won’t find a monitor which is as powerful and smart as this one.

#4 MAXIMUM CAPACITY

The maximum weight capacity of the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 is 250 pounds. Even then, several users weighing 260-280 pounds have reported that they did not have any issues using the machine. In terms of maximum height, the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 has a long seat rail which can accommodate people with longer legs. The foot pedal to seat length at the maximum extension is 45” but even users as tall as 6’4” have reported that they had no issues using the machine.

#5 EASY ASSEMBLY

Assembling the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 out of the box is fairly simple. Highly comprehensive instructions are provided with the package and you can assemble it without any prior experience. It will take you anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to assemble the equipment.

What do we think can be improved?

#1 NOISE

Like all air resistance rowing machines, the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 too comes with added noise. After a while, users start loving the sound because the harder the workout, the noisier it becomes. Many reviews state that this noise motivates them to push harder. For others who are like us and don’t enjoy the noise of this machine, you can always use earphones and music as your ally. Also, the isn’t too loud. It does not transcend to other rooms, so you don’t need to worry about waking up your sleeping baby.

#2 RESISTANCE ADJUSTMENT

You cannot control the resistance of this rower manually using some switch or knob. It’s important to note that this machine costs 1/3rd the price of its Concept2 counterparts. In this price range, there are no other rowing machines that have adjustable resistance and you need to look into other types of resistances in order to get that kind of a control which obviously comes at a higher cost.

Final Verdict

A smart machine that responds to every stroke, The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 comes with great features. Except for the noise it makes and inability to change resistance (which, by the way, are drawbacks of all rowing machines in this price range), everything about this machine makes for a great value for your bucks.

Click here to check the lowest price for Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor

Manufacturer WaterRower
Price Click here to check the lowest price for WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Pros Beautiful Aesthetic, Pleasant Sound, and S4 Performance monitor.
Cons Uncomfortable footrest for rowing barefoot.
Final Verdict With its beautiful aesthetics, great stability, super quiet and pleasing sound, high capacity, and great build quality, this is the best rower available in the market. The only downside being that the footrests feel uncomfortable if you row barefoot.
Rating 4.7/5

Waterrower Natural

Why we love the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine?

#1 Design

The WaterRower Natural is by far the most aesthetically pleasing rowing machine in the market. It’s made out of hardwood and fits perfectly in your living room. Unlike other rowing machines that have a mechanical look, this piece of equipment has a natural and elegant look. So much so that you’ll end up falling in love with it as a beautiful piece of home decor. That said, its elegance has no effect on its strength and durability. This machine is built to last and can withstand a maximum of 1000 lbs of user weight. This weight is more than most of the rowing machines in this price range. Many rowers like the Concept 2 have a slightly tilted rail towards the front, which makes it difficult to be used by rowers with knee problems (A rail is a metallic extension on which the seat rests). WaterRower Natural, on the other hand, has a design which is suitable for people with chronic knee problems as the rail is flat. Also, the seat is extremely comfortable and the handle has a strong grip.

#2 Sound

Rowing machines with air resistance systems tend to make a lot of noise that some users don’t like. WaterRower Natural, on the other hand, uses a water resistance which is in itself more silent than air resistance. Additionally, it makes use of ashwood to absorb the vibrations. The only sound this machine makes is the sloshing of the water which is really pleasant and soothing. You get a feeling of being on a beach and the sloshing sounds similar to the waves hitting the shore. The sawing sounds that other air rowing machines make are very unnatural, however, the “swoosh woosh” of this rower makes you feel closest to a real boat, rowing in a real environment. Hence, the name “Natural”.

#3 S4 Performance Monitor

The WaterRower Natural boasts a fantastic S4 performance monitor. This monitor is your best friend that helps you track your data which can be uploaded to a PC and analyzed. You can then optimize your workout according to the conclusions from your analysis. The data parameters provided by this monitor include

  1. Calories per hour
  2. Speed in meters per second and miles per hour
  3. Time per 500m and 2km
  4. Total Distance traveled (Internally saved)
  5. Heart rate (External attachment required)

The S4 performance monitor can also be connected to your laptop or PC and you can observe yourself rowing on a virtual boat. You can compete online with other rowers as well as compete with your previous scores.

#4 Build Quality

The WaterRower Natural is built using high-quality materials and is very strong. It comes with a 3-year warranty on the parts and 5-year warranty on the frame.

#5 Preset Programs

The WaterRower Natural has 6 preset routines which remove the guesswork out of your workout. With varying durations and intensities, these routines help you progress in improving your rowing game gradually.

#6 Hardwood

The frame of this rower is made from ecologically sustained hardwood. For every the harvest, they plant 2.2 trees in exchange. WaterRower did not make the same mistake of using premium wood just for aesthetic purposes, like in the WaterRower Classic. The vibrations are absorbed by the ash hardwood used in the WaterRower Natural, which makes it extremely stable and noise-free. As mentioned earlier, this rower makes only pleasant sounds.

#7 Maximum User Capacity – 1000 lbs

The WaterRower Natural can handle up to 1000 lbs of user weight which is more than the average user capacity of a typical rowing machine.

#8 Resistance

The resistance of the WaterRower natural is very close to rowing in the river. This is way better than the air resistance system. Naturally, water is 784 times denser than air and hence the need for adding any dampers is eliminated. Thus, the harder you pull, the more resistance is generated. This gives the WaterRower great variability. You can even practice making faster strokes by reducing the water in the tank. The resistance curve during the stroke is a bit complex. It starts off well, reduces in the middle, and comes back to normal again when the stroke is about to finish. This is because of the rising and falling of the water in the tank.

What do we think can be improved?

#1 Plastic footrests

The footrests of the rower are made of plastic. If you are planning to do your rowing workout barefoot then this might get difficult for you. The plastic footrests may hurt your legs if used for a long period of time. I recommend that you wear comfortable shoes while rowing on the WaterRower Natural.

Final Verdict

This machine is the most aesthetically pleasing rower in the market. No wonder the character Frank Underwood chose this machine. With its great stability, super quiet and pleasing sound, high capacity, and great build quality, this is the best rower available in the market and you should definitely go for it if your budget permits. The only downside is that the footrests feel uncomfortable if you row barefoot.

Click here to check the lowest price for WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001

Manufacturer Velocity
Price Click here to check the lowest price for Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001
Pros Quiet operation, Additional heart-rate chest strap, Great build quality, Easy Assembly.
Cons Shorter warranty, and Difficulty of usage for users taller than 6’2”.
Final Verdict This Velocity Magnetic Rower with its great build quality, additional heart rate sensor, lower storage space requirement and a quiet operation is a great choice for any user from beginner to expert. The only thing which might stop you from buying this is its maximum height limit of 6’2”.
Rating 3.9/5

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Why we love the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001?

#1 Quiet Operation

In general, the magnetic resistance system is the quietest resistance system. If you are buying this machine for use at home, then this is great news for you. This machine makes little whispers when in use, unlike other resistance systems which can make annoyingly loud noises.

#2 Performance Monitor With Heart Rate Sensors

The CHR-2001 has a powerful performance monitor. Along with providing the generic data such as distance, strokes per minute, time, and calories, it has a great bonus feature. The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001 comes with an additional heart-rate attachment (chest strap) and a built-in receiver. Many machines just have the heart-rate receiver and not the actual sensor. This lets you monitor your heart rate and also set a target heart rate. The machine automatically adjusts the resistance to match your heart rate. This is a great way to improve your cardio strength as well as burn fat.

#3 Storage

With a storage space of 20″ x 34″ x 54″ (H), this machine is very easy to store, especially for the people with smaller rooms. It also has wheels for moving the machine from one place to the other. All you need to do is remove the knob, fold up the seat, put on the knob again and then move it to the storage area.

#4 Comfort

The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001 has large, non-slip footrests that can accommodate large foot sizes. The handles are padded and save you from the blisters that come after a long period of usage. The seats are upholstered with a nice and thick padding. The sliding of the seat is smooth and doesn’t have any jerks. In short, this machine is built for maximum comfort.

#5 Build Quality

This rower has a great build quality. The anodized aluminum that it’s made up of is extremely durable. Many websites even mention it as being usable for commercial purposes (Health clubs, gyms, etc). It also uses double bearings. This increases the lifespan of the bearings because the wear and tear are significantly reduced.

#6 Assembly

The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower does not have many loose parts. It’s extremely simple to assemble and comes with a highly comprehensible user manual. According to user reviews, it takes somewhere between 10 to 30 minutes for assembling this machine. The machine also comes with all the tools necessary for assembling it. This saves a lot of time that gets lost in finding the right tools from the toolbox.

What Do We Think Can Be Improved?

#1 Warranty

The warranty period of this machine is very short when compared to other machines in the mid-range. It has a 5 years’ warranty on the frame while many machines have a lifetime warranty. Warranty on the monitor and the other parts is even less, 90 days and 30 days respectively. Although the users who have been using it for over a year have reported that it works well for them, it would have been great if the company could have given a longer warranty.

#2 Not for Taller People

If you are taller 6’ 2” then you might not experience the most out of this machine. The track is a bit short and works very efficiently only for people shorter than 6’ 2”.

Final Verdict

This Velocity Magnetic Rower with its great build quality, additional heart rate sensor, lower storage space requirement and a quiet operation is a great choice for any user from beginner to expert. The only thing which might stop you from buying this is its maximum height limit of 6’2”.

Click here to check the lowest price for Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001

Lifecore R100 Rowing Machine 

Manufacturer Lifecore
Price Click here to check the lowest price for Lifecore R100 Rowing Machine
Pros Dual resistance, Smooth resistance, Accurate performance monitor, Sturdy build quality.
Cons Not as quiet as expected.
Final Verdict With its dual resistance, highly accurate performance monitor, wireless heart-rate sensor, and sturdy build quality, this machine is a great choice for users who want a smooth resistance curve. But it might not be as quiet as you expect.
Rating 3.9/5

Lifecore R100

Why we love the Lifecore R100 Rowing Machine?

#1 Resistance

The Lifecore R100 uses an innovative combination of air as well as magnetic type resistance. The air resistance type is popular because of the smooth rowing curve which means that the resistance is smooth throughout the stroke. The magnetic resistance, on the other hand, is great in a way that the machine makes no noise at all. The Lifecore R100 combines the best of both worlds. It uses the air resistance at lower intensities and switches on to the magnetic resistance when the intensity gets high, to reduce the noise from the air resistance. Thus, you get a smooth and silent rowing workout with the help of the Lifecore R100. Additionally, because of this resistance, you can easily perform an HIIT workout or a CrossFit workout of the day all by your own with the help of the smart heart rate sensor.

#2 Wireless Heart-Rate Sensor

Again, it must be noted that very few manufacturers give a Heart Rate sensor along with the machine. And above that, Lifecore R100 comes with a wireless HR sensor that gives an additional level of flexibility to the user. Just like the Velocity CHR-2001, you can select a target heart rate and the machine will adjust the resistance accordingly to help you meet your target.

#3 Great Build Quality

This machine is a commercial grade rower which means that it is super strong and can be used for maximum intensity workouts. The strength can be felt right from the moment you sit on this machine. The machine feels super-strong, thanks to the solid steel support and the aluminum frame. This machine can handle a maximum user weight of 600 lbs.

#4 Highly Accurate Monitoring

The Lifecore R100 has dual color (Blue/Green) backlit LCD monitor which is highly accurate and displays the following data:

  • Meters rowed
  • Calories burned
  • Strokes per minute
  • Time/500M
  • Watts
  • Pulse rate
  • Total time
  • Total number of strokes

The monitor can be adjusted to the viewing angle which is most comfortable for the user. The monitor can be reached without unstrapping the footrest.  

#5 Preset Programs

Although the Lifecore R100 has 11 preset programs, the greatest feature of this machine is its automatic heart-rate adjustment mode. In this mode, you can set your target heart-rate percentage and the machine automatically adjusts its resistance to help you maintain the same heart rate throughout the workout.

#6 Warranty

  • Lifetime Warranty on the frame
  • 5-year Warranty on parts
  • 1-year Warranty on labor

As mentioned earlier, the Lifecore R100 is a strongly built machine which is evident by the confidence that the company puts in its products.

What do we think can be improved?

#1 Noise

With the use of magnetic resistance, Lifecore has tried to reduce the noise that a typical air resistance machine makes. However, the noise in the L100 isn’t as low as the pure magnetic or water resistance type rowers. If you are buying this machine just because of lesser noise, then you might as well consider other options like the WaterRower or the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001. But if you are interested in its amazing build quality, its smooth resistance curve, and the wireless heart rate monitoring, then this machine is definitely worth every buck.

Final Verdict

The Lifecore R100 uses an innovative resistance technology that gives the user the best of both worlds. With its dual resistance, highly accurate performance monitor, wireless heart-rate sensor, and sturdy build quality, this machine is a great choice for users who want a smooth resistance curve. But do not expect it to be as quiet as pure magnetic or water resistance type machines.

Click here to check the lowest price for Lifecore R100 Rowing Machine

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