Rowing Machine Reviews – Find the Right One

Welcome to PerfectRower.co.uk where we aim to help you find the perfect rowing machine for you, by evaluating rowing machines revealing their pros and cons allowing you to make an informed decision. Among the team here at perfectrower.co.uk we have over 40 years of experience within the fitness industry and know what it takes to get into the shape of your life.

OUR TOP 3 ROWING MACHINES

We offer trust worthy reviews of rowing machines of all different prices and specifications, but we do not sell any rowing machines.

Buyers Guide, What to look for?

You’ve decided to buy a rowing machine. Congratulations! You’ve just taken a major step in improving your health and fitness level. Now comes the most difficult part: finding the best rowing machine for you. If you’ve never owned a rower, you may not know exactly what to look for. This guide will give you some insight into which features are most important, so you can choose a rowing machine that will help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals.

Resistance Type

One of the first and most important things you need to consider is resistance type. There are four main types to choose from: air, water, hydraulic and magnetic. Each resistance type comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Our rowing machine reviews have also been split up into different resistance types, enabling you to see all the machines available for that particular type.

Air

Air rowing machines are one of the more common types, and they generate resistance through a flywheel. Some machines allow you to adjust the resistance level using a notch on the side of the wheel. Aside from this adjustment (if available), your rowing pace will generate resistance.

With an air-based machine, the harder and faster you row, the higher the resistance will be. Because workouts intensify as your effort intensifies, air rowers ensure that you maintain a higher level of expended effort.

Perhaps the only drawback to an air rowing machine is that it produces noise as the wheel turns. That being said, the flywheel also produces a nice breeze as you exercise.

Water

A water rowing machine is designed to mimic the experience of real rowing, and are intended for serious users. Most of the high end rowers on the market use water resistance.

As you may have guessed, these rower machines use water to generate resistance. They come equipped with large water-filled tanks that create resistance as you row.

Like the air rowing machine, the harder and faster you row, the greater the resistance will be. Each time you row, the paddles in the water tank revolve. The moving water drags against the paddles to create resistance.

A water rowing machine tends to be quieter than air rowing machines, although you can still hear the sound of the water moving in the tank. Many users find the “whooshing” sound of the water in the tank to be relaxing and soothing.

These rowers require little maintenance, but because the tank needs to be filled with water, they can be very heavy and larger than most other rowers.

Hydraulic

Hydraulic rowers are inexpensive, smaller in size, and quieter than other rower types. That being said, they’re not the best choice for intermediate or advanced users.

To generate resistance, hydraulic machines use pistons. You won’t get the same smooth rowing feel that you would get with an air or water rowing machine, but it will offer a challenge that will help you improve your fitness level. Therefore if you are looking for a cheap rowing machine to have at home then a piston rowing machine may be the one for you.

Magnetic

One of the most popular resistance types for home users, is the magnetic rowing machine. One of its major benefits is that it’s very quiet, but its compact design is also a crowd-pleaser.

These machines use magnets and a flywheel to adjust the resistance levels. You can increase or decrease the resistance either by adjusting a slider or through a digital console.

Unlike hydraulic rowers, a magnetic rowing machine is capable of providing that smooth rowing feel that users are looking for.

If you are looking for a folding rowing machine, then chances are it will be a magnetic rowing machine, as the compact design allows for easy storage and makes it a great choice for people with smaller homes or flats. One of the top selling magnetic rowing machines on the market is the York R700 rowing machine, therefore have a look if you are interested in a magnetic rower.

Display

Another important thing to consider when choosing a rowing machine is its display. Does it offer a digital display of any kind? It may seem trivial, but a digital display will allow you to track your workouts and progress.

Most machines will come with a built-in display – even cheap rowing machines. Look for machines that will tell you:

  • Calories burned
  • Workout time
  • Strokes per minute
  • Distance
  • Heart rate

These are just the basic stats that you want to be able to track. Advanced displays may offer other stats as well. The Concept 2 rowing machine’s display, for example, allows you to race against a targeted pace to help you reach your goals and is considered the best rowing machine available on the market.

While advanced features aren’t necessary, you do want to ensure that you can at least track the basic stats listed above.

Folding

Some users may be looking for a folding rowing machine, as this may be an important feature if you are looking for a home rowing machine. If space is a concern, a large water rower may not be the best option as these models typically do not offer foldable features.

Magnetic, hydraulic and some air rowers will offer a foldable design that allows you to save space in your home. Some also feature wheels that allow you to easily move the rower to the corner of a room or a closet when it’s not in use.

All of our rowing machine reviews will indicate whether the machine is foldable.

Seat Rail Length & Weight Capacity

Seat rail length is a concern for taller users. Before buying any rowing machine, be sure to look at the length of the seat rail to make sure it’s long enough for you or anyone else who will use the rower.

Weight capacity is also important. The rower you choose should be able to easily accommodate your weight and any other person who may use the rowing machine. Hydraulic rowers may not have as high of a weight capacity as an air or water rower, so keep that in mind when choosing a model.

Heart Rate Monitor Compatibility

Most people overlook the importance of being able to use a heart rate monitor during a rowing machine workout. Your heart rate is a good indication of how intense (or easy) your workout is. If you’re trying to improve your fitness level and burn extra calories, you’ll want to make sure that you hit your target heart rate and stay there.

Most machines come with built-in pulse monitoring, but if the machine you’re looking at doesn’t, check to see if it’s compatible with a separate ones.

rowing

Built-In Workouts

Not sure what a rowing machine workout really consists of? Well, some models have built-in workouts which will help to take the stress out of your workout. Depending on your personal goals, this may or may not be important to you.

Built-in workout programs offer the benefit of varying your workouts and providing you with a challenging rowing session. Some machines offer dozens of built-in workouts for all fitness levels, while others offer just a few. If you’re looking for a well-balanced workout, consider a rowing machine that offers built-in programs.

Warranty

One of the final things you need to consider is the rower’s warranty. The vast majority of rowers will come with some type of warranty, but models that offer five-year or longer warranties are a smart choice.

While a warranty will not affect the performance of the rower, it will give you peace of mind in knowing that your investment is protected if something should break or malfunction.

These are the primary things to be on the lookout for when buying a rowing machine. Resistance type will likely be the deciding factor in which type of rower you choose, but be sure to keep all of the other points in mind while looking for your home rowing machine.

Still unsure of which rower to choose? Check out some of our rowing machine reviews and the customer reviews from our best 3 rowing machines below:

Our Top 5 Rowing Machine Picks

We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing rowing machines from the top brands in the industry, but some models offer features that stand out from the competition. Our picks for the top 5 rowing machines of 2017 are:

Best Rowing MachinesPro'sReviews
#1. Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

  • Advanced monitoring with the PM5

  • Exceptional resistance

  • Smooth rowing experience

  • Comfortable

  • Long-lasting

102 Reviews
#2. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

  • Realistic rowing design and experience

  • Resistance is dependent on user

  • Silent rowing with advanced monitoring

  • Exceptional full-body workout

29 Reviews
#3. JTX Freedom Air Rower

  • Sturdy build

  • Advanced monitoring system

  • 16 resistance levels

  • Foldaway design

  • Fast and free delivery

11 Reviews
#4. Marcy Regatta Folding Rowing Machine

  • Exceptional magnetic resistance

  • Easily folds

  • Transport wheels make moving the machine a breeze

  • Computer feedback is accurate

  • Comfortable seat

53 Reviews
#5. York R700 Rowing Machine

  • Multiple (8) resistance levels for challenging workouts

  • Solid construction

  • Retractable seat allows the rower to fold up for easy storage

  • Combination of air and magnetic resistance allows for smooth rowing

  • Quiet while in use

121 Reviews

#1. Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

The Concept 2 Model D is the top rowing machine on our list. Precision rowing and an advanced monitoring system makes the Model D superior to the competition. This model’s 5-year warranty protects against defects, and the unit’s adjustable features allows for a comfortable rowing experience.

This rowing machine is designed to suit you.

And it offers:

  • PM5 monitoring system
  • Low profile design
  • Easy storage options
  • Ergonomic design and adjustable footrests
  • 227 kg maximum user weight

When you sit on the Model D, you’ll be able to adjust the footrests to match your foot size, and the ergonomic handle with a 10-degree bend offers a natural, comfortable rowing experience. Storage and mobility are simple thanks to the folding design and caster wheels that offer easy transport.

A flywheel damper allows you to be in full control while adding resistance as you progress. The PM5, the most advanced monitoring system on the market, offers a backlit display, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and workout metrics: speed, calories, pace and distance.

The Model D is the choice of champions.

Read our detailed review of the Concept 2 Model D

#2. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

If the Concept 2 is used by champions, the WaterRower forges champions. This high-end rower offers a true-to-life rowing experience, and it utilizes water to provide a rowing experience that simulates rowing in a lake.

Users of up to 350 kg can use this model, and it comes equipped with an S4 monitor, heart rate monitoring and a five-year warranty.

This model offers:

  • Natural water resistance
  • 350 kg maximum user weight
  • Folding design for easy storage
  • Advanced monitoring with heart rate

Water resistance is provided through the large water reservoir, which swooshes with easy stroke. Rowing faster and harder provides added resistance so that users can grow and advance their fitness levels indefinitely.

Handcrafted to perfection with Ashwood, this model is backed by a 5-year warranty and has guide wheels for easy transport.

The WaterRower’s monitor displays: distance, intensity, watts, calories per hour, strokes per minute and total strokes. A heart rate strap allows for heart rate monitoring, and the foot height is adjustable for added comfort.

When you’re finished, simply stand the unit upright and place it against the wall.

Read our detailed review of the WaterRower

#3. JTX Freedom Air Rower

JTX Fitness’ Freedom Air rower is a robust air rowing machine that offers gym quality at an affordable price. Offered in silver or black, air and electromagnetic resistance offers a smooth workout.

This model offers:

  • 16 resistance levels
  • 8 training programs
  • Maximum weight of 130 kg (20 stones)
  • Folding design
  • Advanced monitoring

Reinforced aluminum allows the unit to be sturdy yet lightweight. A 2-year in-home repair warranty offers peace of mind to buyers, and the unit’s small footprint is ideal for smaller homes or flats. Users can fold the unit up and place it against the wall when it’s not in use to save space.

The backlit monitoring system tracks: speed, stroke, distance, time, revolutions, heart rate and more. If you’re new to rowing, you can start your routine at a low resistance level or work through one of the easier training programs to enhance your fitness level.

This is a great, affordable rowing machine for users of all fitness levels.

Read our detailed review of the JTX Freedom Air Rower

#4. Marcy Regatta Folding Rowing Machine

The Marcy RM413 is a magnetic, foldable rowing machine that’s affordable and durable. The unit offers a 4kg flywheel and eight magnetic resistance levels controlled via the tension dial in the middle of the unit.

The RM413 offers:

  • 8 magnetic resistance levels
  • 1-year warranty
  • 110 kg (17.3) maximum user weight
  • Quick fold design
  • Swivel petals
  • On-board monitor

A large ergonomic seat allows for added comfort, while the swivel pedals with security straps keep the user’s feet in place during use. The foam handle with included strap are comfortable even after hours of use, and the resistance levels go from easy to intermediate.

The frame is made from solid steel, and the seat rail is made of aluminum.

The deep dive console allows users to track: time, count, calories, distance and strokes per minute. The monitor requires batteries to operate, and the unit comes with batteries for your convenience.

Read our detailed review of the Marcy Regatta Folding Rowing Machine

#5. York R700 Rowing Machine

York’s R700 is a platinum rowing machine that offers magnetic and air resistance. The unit’s minimalistic design allows for a lightweight, compact machine that still offers the industry’s best features:

  • 8 resistance levels
  • Onboard monitor
  • Adjustable footplates, handles and padded seat
  • Maximum user weight of 110 kg
  • Folds upright for compact storage

The monitoring system is impressive, and displays the metrics you need to lose weight and stay fit: time per 500m, distance, strokes per minute and calories. A center dial allows for resistance adjustments, and the footrests pivot and adjust to fit each user with precision.

The handle height is also adjustable to allow for a comfortable, natural feel.

Smooth and quiet, this model is designed to offer a robust cardiovascular workout. With an affordable price and folding design, the R700 can fit into any budget and into most homes with ease.

Read our detailed review of the York R700 Rowing Machine