Find the Best Rowing Machine – Reviews & Guides 2014

Choosing the best rowing machine is no easy task. With so many types, models, and brands out there all with their own good and bad points. Then you have the different price ranges to consider; this can make you want to pull your hair out, but don’t stress or give up yet because we have done all the hard work for you.

We have created this resource for people just like you that want to enjoy the amazing benefits of indoor rowing machines from the comfort of their own home. We have rowing machine reviews of all the best models and in depth guides to give you all the information you need to make the right purchase and get the most out of it.

Our Top 10 at a glance

NameTypeCapacityFolds away?Our RatingPrice
Concept2 Model DAir500 lbYes
Concept2 Model EAir500 lbYes
ProRower H2O RX-750 Home SeriesWater350 lbYes
Velocity Exercise Magnetic RowerMagnetic275 lbYes
Kettler Kadett OutriggerHydraulic250 lbYes
Kettler FavoritHydraulic250 lbYes
LifeSpan Fitness RW1000Hydraulic300 lbYes
Stamina 1205 Precision RowerHydraulic250 lbNo
Stamina 1215 OrbitalHydraulic250 lbYes
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050Hydraulic250 lbYes

Things to consider when making a purchase

To help make a good decision, you should first think about the reasons why you want to purchase a rower. Perhaps you are mostly wanting an effective and fun way to lose weight and exercise, then the chances are that you will be pretty satisfied with a lower cost model like the magnetic or hydraulic types. On the other hand maybe you want a realistic way to practice actual rowing, in that case you should look at the premium rowers like the water and air types. Don’t forget that just because one model is cheaper than the rest, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is poor quality, the lower end of the market has a real purpose for those that just need something somewhat reliable to get in shape with.

Machine Types

There are four different types of rowing machines out there, they differ in the way they create resistance and all have their own subtle differences which you have to think about.

Hydraulic: These ones make use of hydraulic cylinders which are connected to the end of the handles. They are a particularly attractive choice for those who do not have much space in their home since they are often a bit smaller than other types. The biggest downside is they aren’t as realistic in their rowing action as a water rower for example. The reason for that is the seat and handles are in a fixed position and only allow a fixed hand movement back and forth, and no leg drive which is an important aspect of rowing.

The higher priced machines use water, magnetic and air resistance. They can offer a more realistic rowing experience as they don’t have fixed handles.

Magnetic: This type of rower is the quietest of the lot since it uses electromagnets to provide resistance. This sounds great but due to the nature of electromagnets the resistance cannot be adjusted. So despite being a bit more realistic, they are not without limitations.

Air: If you are looking for a realistic rowing experience, you should be looking at the air models. They tend to be very authentic which is great for professionals and casual users who need something to practice actual rowing on water. These ones are good enough for world class athletes, so that is a testament to their design.

Water: These are for the purists and seen by them as even more realistic than air since they create their resistance with an actual paddle moving around in a tank of water. They tend to be quite expensive but well worth it, and some of them are beautifully made.

Other things to think about

  • Do you require a sophisticated performance monitor which tracks data such as rowing speed and more?
  • Perhaps you want a rower that folds away in order to save space in your home?
  • Are you planning on doing very intensive training and therefore need something which allows a high level of resistance?
  • Are you more comfortable with an extensive warranty in case there are any issues?

What are the benefits of indoor rowers?

The idea behind rowing machines is of course to mimic actual water rowing, and some models do this better than others. These days though, they are used by many people who are just looking to get into shape so you don’t need to be interested in rowing to benefit. The reason for this is people are beginning to realise what a powerful workout they offer, both in terms of burning calories and for increasing fitness levels. They also cause very little stress for your joints and knees, meaning that you are able to get fit without causing problems for your body and injuring yourself.

So whether you are trying to shed some weight or you are serious about your fitness levels, a rower is a wise investment. You will be able to use it for many years, and keep getting that same powerful workout.

The Top Ten Reviews

Model D by Concept2
Concept2-Model-DThe Model D is most popular indoor rower on the market, many people regard it as the best and it is used by professional rowers as well as fitness enthusiasts alike. Concept2, the manufacturer claims that it has been “engineered to last a lifetime”, whilst they offer a 5 year warranty for peace of mind. This air resistance rower is full of features along with a top quality performance monitor that you can use to track your progress and even play games on. Yes it is quite a big investment but if you want the best and are serious about your fitness then it is more than worth it. If you don’t believe us then you just have to check out Amazon where you can find hundreds of five star ratings.

H2O RX-750 Home Series by ProRower
ProRower-H2O-RX-750-Home-SeriesThe H2O RX-750 is one of the most reasonably priced water resistance machines available on the market. You may be pleasantly surprised by it’s quality considering it is priced at under $700, rival models will go for much more. Those who want to have the feel of rowing on real water will love this one. It is very realistic, and if you want that super intense workout, you will just need to row faster and let the “natural adaptive resistance” of the water give you the challenge you desire. Alternatively if you are just in the mood for a gentle workout or a relaxing paddle then all you need to do is row a bit slower and enjoy the feeling of pushing against the water.

Model E by Concept2
Concept2-Model-EThis is the newest offering from Concept2 and is supposed to be an improved version of the Model D. It includes everything that made it great as well as the PM4 performance monitor as part of the standard package and a variety of other new features. They include a low maintenance chain, upgraded computer, a more comfortable and higher stance with the frame being 6 inches taller than the Concept2 Model D, and the monitor arm has been made longer. You may think these changes are not particularly groundbreaking and you are most likely right on that, but it is a tall order to fill to improve on what is already the most popular rower in the world. If money isn’t an issue for you, and you want the absolute best then you will be very happy Model E.

Kadett Outrigger Style Rower by Kettler
Kettler-Kadett-Outrigger-Style-RowerKettler are a well know name and produce some of the best budget to mid range rowers and the Outrigger happens to be a very nice machine. It has a one of a kind design because it uses a circular movement that tries to mimic the actual rowing motion, something it implements very well. Since it is a piston machine, the resistance level must be set to a suitable setting for the user, like you would on a treadmill for example. Overall, this a very good mid range model that comes at a nice price for those looking to buy their first rowing machine.

Favorit by Kettler
Kettler-FavoritAt just under $400 the Kadett Favorit is a very attractively priced machine. It is pretty simple but well made and sturdy, as you would expect with the manufacturer coming from Germany. This one is a great choice for those who aren’t too serious about rowing in general but want a reliable and effective piece of equipment to get fit. You can also have a pretty relaxing workout since it doesn’t make much noise. Bear in mind though that some owners have had an issue of the resistance level changing in the middle of their workouts which could be a bit of an annoyance.

RW1000 by LifeSpan Fitness
LifeSpan-Fitness-RW1000This rower is in a similar price range to the Kettler Favorit, so you may be left with a choice between these two. They are both very solid machines with the RW1000 winning the 2008 Gear Awards Seal of Excellence. It’s proud boast of being smooth with a quiet system for the resistance is true and it is easy to store with it’s folding ability. Unfortunately, there have been some complains about the strength of the resistance and some tiny problems with the quality of build.

Trac Glider 1050 by Stamina Body
Stamina-Body-Trac-Glider-1050Just because the price of this rower is just over the $100 mark, does it mean that it is a poor quality model? First off, there are some real plus points – it is compact, folds away for easy storage for those who have limited space and has a basic but functional performance monitor. The best feature though, is how it is able to mimic the rowing motion like the more expensive Kettler Kadett Outrigger. Although there have been complaints of feet slipping out of foot straps on the machine and that the resistance was not high enough. The price is a great deal for those who have small budget, and there’s no reason why you can’t upgrade to a more higher end model in the future.

1205 Precision Rower by Stamina
Stamina-1205-Precision-RowerThe 1205 is the big brother of the 1050 both in terms of quality and price, but it remains an affordable machine. Just like it’s predecessor it is highly compact, but it doesn’t fold up for easy storage. The rowing motion uses a traditional hydraulic style which may or may not be good depending on your preferences. There are plenty of good reviews on Amazon although its major drawback seems to be tight hydraulic shocks which do eventually loosen up with frequent use.

1215 Orbital by Stamina
Stamina-1215-OrbitalThe 1215 Oribital is a highly rated but very affordable. It attempts to simulate real water rowing with it’s smooth hydraulic cylinder resistance as well as a full range of motion. There are only a few small complaints about this rower like those who seem to have issues with the general build quality. Though considering the price and what this rower attempts to do, there can be few complaints.

Magnetic Rower by Velocity Exercise
Velocity-Fitness-CHR-2001This rower is very quiet when in use thanks to it’s magnetic resistance, you could even watch TV during your workout. For those who are serious about their training, it comes with heart rate monitor. The anodized aluminium body that you see is very beautiful and will look great sitting at home. It is certainly a solid built machine that allows a fantastic workout. The true show of it’s quality is that some people even mention it as an alternative to the Concept 2 Model D. You could do a lot worse than purchasing this machine and it won’t break the bank either.

Time to Decide

Now that you have read our introduction, it’s time to get stuck in and read the in-depth rowing machine reviews, they will help you with everything you need to make an informed choice about what is the best rowing machine for your needs.

We would love to hear from you, so if you have any feedback or want to ask us a question please don’t be shy. Check out our contact page.

Good luck!

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