The Best Rowers for 2018

Hi folks, and welcome to our Best Rowers for 2018 Buyer’s Guide. This is the fourth instalment in our Buyer’s Guide series, and if you haven’t had the chance, make sure to check out the rest of our Buyer’s Guides in the navigation menu above under “Buyer’s Guides”!

The last one we wrote was for Exercise Bikes which can be found here.

As always, we’re very excited you found us here and we’re going to dive in deep today with what is likely going to be one of our most in-depth and comprehensive guides thus far.

We’re very excited to offer up suggestions for a variety of rowers across 3 different price tiers. Under $500 will get you some entry-level gear; $500-$1000 will get you some great mid-range units and for above $1000 you will find the highest-quality, real-life simulating rowers on the market today.

For your viewing pleasure, you might also be interested in any one of our following other Buyer’s guides:

Let’s get started!

When it comes to rowing machines, unlike other types of fitness gear, there are way more options for resistance types than found for example on treadmills.

There are Four Main Types of Resistance:

    1. Hydraulic Piston Resistance
  1. Air Resistance
  2. Magnetic Resistance
  3. Water Resistance

It’s very important to determine what you will be doing with your rower, how intense your workouts will be and how much experience you have rowing.

For the beginner and home user, chances are you might want a magnetic flywheel design as you won’t need anything professional and you might be looking to keep the noise low. Air resistance also works great for this and generally adapts to your workout’s intensity.

Hydraulic piston type resistance is generally the most budget-conscious option out there and is somewhat similar to magnetic in that if offers low-noise operation.

For the more advanced user and the user looking to get the most rowing-like feel, water resistance offers just that – albeit at a significant price-premium.

In addition to this, you have to determine whether you are specifically training for rowing or if you’re just looking to get a rower for basic cardio training for Abs. Whatever the case, there’s an option for you.

You’ll also have to determine how much space you are working with and whether or not you are buying a rowing machine for home or commercial (club or gym) use.

Of course, cheaper rowers will not serve you if you’re a commercial gym owner and conversely, if you’re an in-home beginner user, buying a really expensive machine is almost a waste of money – unless you’re a professional or advanced rower.

The good news is that for beginner rowers looking to simply get a good workout, a rower in the under-$500 category will get you something really nice and functional for your purposes.

Some other, yet less important features to look out for would be:

  • Levels of resistance depending on skill/experience level
  • The size of the unit if you’re using it at home
  • Whether the seats are padded for added comfort
  • LCD consoles indicating important information
  • Noise – do you wish for your rower to be very quiet or you don’t care?
  • How far back does the seat travel – for the most part, you will be ok unless you’re literally seven feet tall

Part I: Best Rowers Under $500

Before we begin this section we want to briefly mention that there are numerous guides and reviews out there for most of the products we list below (in Part I) that somewhat have mixed reviews.

What these reviewers are failing to realise, however, is that most of the options below are very well-suited for the space-limited, budget-conscious and beginner rower user.

The reviewers are mostly comparing “cheaper” models to higher-end models which, in my mind, is not a fair comparison. Taking into consideration the price to performance ratio and “cheaper” models start becoming a whole not more interesting and desirable.

We never want you to spend more money than you have to on anything which is why we make these guides for you in the first place!

You really can’t beat the ability to fold up the device (in some cases) and the small footprint necessary for home usage (unless you have more space to spare).

We did our very best to only offer you what we believe are the very best options – but keep in mind that you will most certainly want to do a little bit more research on your own if you are unsure about any aspect of this article.

We want you to make the best decision for yourself – and we certainly won’t attempt to convince you to buy anything we don’t 100% stand behind!

With the disclaimer out of the way, why don’t we jump right in to explore our first price-range: Rowing Machines Under 500 dollars.

Stamina ATS Air Rower

Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
  • EFFECTIVE CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE: Rowing on the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 helps burn calories, build total body strength and improve your hearth health.
  • DYNAMIC AIR RESISTANCE: One of the main benefits of air resistance is that it always matches your pace. Row harder if you desire more resistance and ease off if you want less.
  • LCD WORKOUT MONITOR: During your routine, track speed, distance, time and calories burned with the large, easy-to-read LCD display.
  • UPGRADED FEATURES: The upholstered, padded seat, adjustable footplates and padded rowing handle help keep you relaxed during your workouts. Built-in wheels and a folding frame make storage a breeze.
  • EASY ASSEMBLY: Once assembled, the rower is 77" long x 18" wide x 22" tall. Comes with three-year frame warranty and 90-day parts warranty.

As you will see, this price-range is pretty much dominated by two manufacturers: Sunny Health & Fitness and Stamina.

Both these manufacturers bring some awesome devices to the table and we’re mainly going to be focusing on these two makers considering the immense customer feedback and outrageous customer reviews.

As always, if you are confused about any aspect of this information or if you want to personally contact one of our editors for further information about the exact differences or which one we would recommend, you can always use our Contact Form below and we’d be more than happy to help out.

Alright so here we go – let’s get Part I started.

#1: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rower

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor by SF-RW5515
  • DIGITAL MONITOR - The large LCD console displays time, count, calories, total count, Scan. The convenient scan mode displays your progress to assist you in tracking all your fitness goals
  • FOAM GRIP HANDLEBARS - Help prevent calluses with the improved Sunny Health & Fitness Handle Bars. Non-Slip foam grip handlebars offer comfort while enduring those long rides. Slide rail inseam: 44 inch
  • NON-SLIP FOOT PEDALS - Textured non-slip foot pedals will ensure safe footing during the most demanding and vigorous workouts! Foot straps keep your feet saddled in so you can focus on the workout without feeling unbalanced
  • TRANSPORTATION WHEELS - Built in transportation wheels for easy portability. Simply tilt and roll out for use or away for storage, no need for heavy lifting or muscle strain. Folded Dimensions: 37L X 19W X 53. 5H inches
  • ADJUSTABLE RESISTANCE - With a simple twist, you can increase or decrease resistance, so your workout can remain challenging and effective throughout your fitness journey. 8 Resistance levels

The Sunny Health & Fitness  SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rower is currently Amazon’s Choice with over 600 very positive user reviews and is probably one of our favorite machines in this price range. We think you’ll like it too so check out the details below!

The SF-RW5515 features a magnetic flywheel resistance system making it more reliable and sturdy to use than any hydraulic-powered machine as described in the article introduction. You’ll be getting 8 resistance levels to keep your workouts challenging.

The large LCD console ensures you can monitor vital information regarding your calories and counts; the large padded seat and cushioned handlebars will ensure continued comfort and the transportation wheels will allow you to easily move and store the machine for a hassle-free experience.

Key Features:

  • Offers a bit of a step up from the SF-RW1205 featured below using magnetic resistance
  • The flywheel system adds a degree of reliability over the hydraulic system found in the RW1205
  • 8 levels of resistance control
  • Large LCD console shows time, calories burned, count, total count and scan
  • Padded seat and comfortable, non-slipping hand grips ensure continued comfort
  • Large, adjustable foot pedals with straps to keep you comfortable and safe
  • Transportation wheels included for easy moving and storage
  • Full-body movements ensures multiple muscle groups get hit equally including legs, glutes, arms, back and core
  • Resistance Type: Magnetic
  • Dimensions: 82L x 19W x 23H
  • Weight Capacity: 250lbs
  • Warranty: 3-Year Structural and Frame, 90-Day Other Parts and Components


#2: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Hydraulic Rower

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 12 Adjustable Resistance Rowing Machine Rower w/ Digital Monitor
  • 12 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Comfortable, smooth running seat
  • Pivoting foot plates for added comfort
  • Adjustable foot straps. Not foldable
  • Electronic monitor displays time, count, total count, calories burned, scan


The Sunny Health & Fitness  SF-RW1205 Hydraulic Rower gets our highly prestigious 5-Star Rating because of its status as not only the cheapest piece of equipment in this whole article (averaging well under $100), but it is also one of the highest-reviewed products and offers, by far, the best bang-for-your-buck this year! Check it out below.

Offering up thousands of positive user reviews, 12 adjustable resistance levels, adjustable foot straps, ergonomically designed features and an electronic display, we think you will love using this machine – especially for the price.

You will also get a 220lbs weight capacity, a hydraulic cylinder powered resistance system (which is the cheapest you can get) and a pretty solid 3-Year Warranty on the frame and 90-Days on everything else. Check out the full feature-set below!


  • Cheapest rower you can find pretty much anywhere
  • A lot of bang for your buck
  • Extremely high number of positive user reviews on Amazon and all other retailers
  • Other professional critics also love this machine
  • Consistently Amazon’s Choice for best price to value ratio
  • 12 Adjustable resistance levels
  • Adjustable foot straps
  • Foot pedals can pivot for added comfort
  • Electronic display shows you your time, count, total count, calories and scan
  • Cushioned, non-slip handlebars for great comfort
  • Biomechanically and ergonomically engineered seat
  • You can target multiple muscle groups such as your legs, glutes, back, core and arms
  • Resistance Type: Hydraulic Cylinder
  • Dimensions: 53L x 20W x 22H
  • Weight Capacity: 220lbs
  • Warranty: 3-Year Structural and Frame, 90-Day Other Parts and Components


#3: Stamina 1205 Precision Rower

Stamina 1205 Precision Rower
  • Precision rowing machine with deluxe ball-bearing rolling system
  • Smooth hydraulic cylinder action with adjustable tension controls
  • Multifunction fitness monitor tracks speed, distance, strokes, and more
  • Thick padded seat and pivoting footplates for maximum comfort
  • Measures 32.5 x 27.75 x 48 inches (W x H x D); weighs 47 pounds. Weight Capacity: Less than 250 pounds

Stamina continues to enjoy some of the highest-rated products in the Rower category, and the Stamina 1205 Precision Rower is another one of their highly-reviewed products. Thousands of happy customers and very high professional critical reviews make this a great choice for your next home rower purchase!

Although this is one of our favorite products in this price-range we have to point out a couple of things. As this is a hydraulic cylinder powered machine, we’re slightly disappointed with the higher-than-necessary price point – however, we wish to point out that this machine has one of the best warranties in this price range meaning that Stamina really stands behind their products!

We love the padded seat, the great quality ball-bearings and the fitness monitor to showcase your most important fitness tracking information. We also love that this is one of the smallest machines in this price range and we’re certain you will love owning this machine for years to come!

Key Features:

  • Precision rower with superb ball-bearing system
  • Hydraulic cylinder controlled resistance with adjustable resistance controls
  • Monitor will indicate fitness information such as calories, distance, speed, strokes and more
  • Padded seat, pivoting food pedals and comfortable handlebars ensure continued maximal comfort
  • One of the smallest machines in this price-range
  • Resistance Type: Hydraulic Cylinder
  • Dimensions: 48L x 33W x 28H
  • Weight Capacity: 250lbs
  • Warranty: 5-Year Frame, 90-Day Parts


#4: LifeSpan RW1000

LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine
  • Features a smooth and quiet eddy current drive system with a 16.5-pound flywheel
  • Solid steel frame; assembled dimensions measure 90 x 18.5 x 23 inches (L x W x H)
  • Folds to 34 by 19 by 64 inches (L x W x H) for easy storage
  • Three-LCD console provides distance, calories, time, strokes, and strokes per minute workout feedback
  • 300-pound maximum user weight; five-year frame warranty, two-year parts warranty, and one-year labor warranty

The LifeSpan RW1000 Magnetic Rower offers up an impressive set of features along with a price-range leading warranty, excellent comfort and thousands of positive reviews. Let’s dive in so you can learn more.

In 2008, this machine was awarded with the Gear Awards Seal of Excellence award and has consistently been a top-awarded machine for the past decade since then. It’s still one of the top contenders in 2018 with over a decade of engineering having gone in to this product. We simply love that!

Along with its ability to be folded, the 2-AAA battery powered triple LCD console, its solid steel frame and 5 resistance levels, the RW1000 is powered by an Eddy Current magnetic resistance system which is patented and renowned for its reliability.

Key Features:

  • Smooth, quiet and maintenance-free eddy current magnetic flywheel resistance system with a 16.5lbs flywheel
  • 5 levels of resistance controlled by a conveniently placed knob
  • Solid steel frame for extreme durability and sturdiness
  • Folds up for very convenient and effortless storage
  • As this machine has been around for nearly a decade, it has really been refined and received the Gear Awards Seal of Excellence award in 2008
  • This product is still one of our top contenders in 2018!
  • Tripe LCD console provides feedback on distance, strokes, strokes per minute, calories, time and more
  • LCD console is powered by 2 AAA batteries meaning you don’t have to plug it in anywhere
  • Injected foam seat and padded hand grips allow for the most comfortable experience
  • Pivoting foot pedals and straps ensure stability and safety
  • Resistance Type: Magnetic Flywheel
  • Dimensions: 90L x 19W x 23H
  • Weight Capacity: 300lbs
  • Warranty: 5-Year Frame, 2-Year Parts, 1-Year Labour


#5: Stamina ATS Air Rower

Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
  • EFFECTIVE CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE: Rowing on the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 helps burn calories, build total body strength and improve your hearth health.
  • DYNAMIC AIR RESISTANCE: One of the main benefits of air resistance is that it always matches your pace. Row harder if you desire more resistance and ease off if you want less.
  • LCD WORKOUT MONITOR: During your routine, track speed, distance, time and calories burned with the large, easy-to-read LCD display.
  • UPGRADED FEATURES: The upholstered, padded seat, adjustable footplates and padded rowing handle help keep you relaxed during your workouts. Built-in wheels and a folding frame make storage a breeze.
  • EASY ASSEMBLY: Once assembled, the rower is 77" long x 18" wide x 22" tall. Comes with three-year frame warranty and 90-day parts warranty.

With thousands of extremely happy customers, the Stamina ATS Air Rower enjoys an average of about an 80% score, or 4/5 stars across all major retailer websites. This machine is one of our favorite machines, and that’s the exact reason we’ve awarded it with our prestigious Editor’s Top Pick Award! We think you will love it so check it out below.

The air-resistance system ensures you’re getting as demanding a workout as you desire. By simply moving faster the resistance increases giving you virtually limitless resistance to keep your workouts fun and engaging.

The seat and handlebars are ergonomically designed and offer padding to keep you as comfortable as possible while you work out. This machine can easily fold and includes built-in wheels for effortless storage.

Key Features:

  • Our 2018 Editor’s Top Pick Award Winner in the price-range
  • Thousands of reviews over 4/5 stars
  • Critically-acclaimed machine with the census being at least an 80% rating
  • Offers a wind-resistance mechanism allowing the machine to adjust to your intensity levels automatically
  • The ATS Air Rower can fold and easily be stored anywhere you wish
  • Also includes built-in wheels for easy transport to its storage location
  • Multi-function performance monitor to keep track of your calories, count, total count and more
  • Seat and handlebars are padded for comfort and durability
  • Large foot pedals with straps for added safety
  • Resistance Type: Air
  • Dimensions: 77L x 18W x 22H
  • Weight Capacity: 250lbs
  • Warranty: 3-Year Frame, 90-Day Parts


#6: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 Air Rower

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 Air Rowing Machine Rower w/ LCD Monitor
  • Belt tension system with 8 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Air rower provides additional resistance from the integrated fan creating a dynamic response with every pull
  • Fully padded seat and non-slip grip handlebars provide optimal comfort and support
  • Large anti-slip foot pedals with adjustable foot straps for secure footing
  • Digital computer displays: time, count, calories, total count, and scan

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 offers up an extremely compelling option as a rower when considering that it’s powered by air resistance that adjusts to your needs automatically. We also love the padded seat and adjustable foot pedals and we think you will love it as well – especially considering its price-point.

With a price-point smack in the middle of this price range, the SF-RW5623 is yet another one of our favorite Sunny Health & Fitness rowers in this price range. 

Your digital display will offer readouts for all vital information including time, calories burned, count, total count, scan and more and the 3-Year Frame Warranty will ensure you get to enjoy this machine for years to come.

Key Features:

  • Belt-driven air resistance with 8 levels of resistance
  • The air resistance provides additional resistance from the integrated fan adjusting to your intensity level automatically
  • Padded seat and non-slip hand grips ensure comfort and safety
  • Large foot pedals are pivoting and feature adjustable foot straps
  • Digital display offers readouts for time, calories burned, count, total count and scan
  • Slide rail is made out of durable aluminium for continued reliability and durability
  • Resistance Type: Air
  • Dimensions: 86L x 19W x 28H
  • Weight Capacity: 300lbs
  • Warranty: 3-Year Structural and Frame, 90-Day Other Parts and Components


So we’ve wrapped up Part I: Best Rowers Under $500 and, as you can see, there’s no compelling reason to spend more than this price-range if you’re just starting out. 

Although reliability and durability is questionable for heavy-use, beginners will be able to enjoy an awesome rowing experience for at least a few years. If you’re more advanced, the next two price ranges will definitely be more suitable for you.

Physique Authority’s mantra is to spend as much as your budget allows, within reason – meaning that you should always buy what you need. However, you should never spend more than you need to!

If you’re somebody that requires more power and durability, buying something cheaper than you need will just leave you more frustrated.

Let’s jump right in to Part II so you can get started checking that out.

Related: Best Ellipticals – 2018 buyer’s guide

Part II: Best Rowers From $500 – $1000

As mentioned above, spending a little bit more will get you a product of higher quality, durability and feature-sets. This might be important to you if you’re a more advanced athlete requiring a bit more power and regular, heavy usage.

Rowers in the $500-$1000 price range will offer you far superior qualities over their cheaper counterparts including a longer warranty generally, more adjustability and a more rich feature list.

Let’s jump in and get Part II started!

Before we get rolling here, we wanted to point out the machine below real quick. It’s our Editor’s Top Pick Award Winner and has been the highest-rated rowing machine in the world for a long time. 

Check out the Concept2 Model D below for more informaiton.


Concept2 Model D
“Highest-Rated Rower in the World”

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
  • Low impact workout that engages all major muscle groups; work legs, core and arms with a smooth, high calorie-burning motion.
  • Track your progress with real-time reliable data; the Performance Monitor 5 (included) self-calibrates for comparable results; connect wirelessly to heart rate belts and apps (not included).
  • Designed to fit most users: 14-inch seat height, adjustable footrests and ergonomic handle.
  • Separates easily into two pieces for storage; caster wheels make it mobile; easy to assemble with only eight screws.
  • Space recommended for use is 9 x 4 feet; 500-pound user capacity; 5-year frame warranty included.
from $945.00

Since Part I has already set the expectations pretty high for what you will want to pay attention to, we’re going to waste no time and get rolling with the features that make rowers in this price range stand out from the cheaper competition.

A little bit further down into this section we’re featuring a great introduction to water resistance which really adds the feeling of a real-life rowing experience.

The hydraulic resistance systems have gone away in this price-range, and these machines come equipped mainly with magnetic and water resistance designs which we feel provides a more reliable and quality experience over hydraulic resistance.

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#1: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Velocity Exercise Black Magnetic Rower
  • Resistance: DMC System (drum magnetic control)
  • Electronic tension control
  • Large PU molded saddle & foldable and space saving
  • The machine Comes equipped with a heart RATE monitor chest strap to monitor your heart RATE for intense cardio training
  • Beam: anodized aluminum profile + rectangular tubing support.The maximum weight capacity for the rower is 275lbs

The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower is one of the highest-rated rowers in this price-range, however, we had to knock off one full star off of our rating because the warranty that Velocity Exercise provides is only applicable to U.S. residents and we really dislike that. 

However, with that said, this machine is still a fantastic value and, if taken care of, will never need to be claimed under warranty anyway.

What you’re getting here is an awesome magnetic resistance system that will provide ample resistance as you become better at rowing and get into better shape.

The moulded and contoured padded seat adds a high level of comfort to your experience and the foldable design along with the built-in wheels will allow for seamless and easy storage and transport.

Learn more about the full feature-set below.

Key Features:

  • Offers up a fantastic magnetic resistance system
  • Electronic resistance control for convenience
  • Foldable design for easy storage and space-saving
  • Built-in transport wheels allow for easy moving
  • Moulded and padded seat for continued comfort
  • Features a large and easy-to-read LCD monitor so you can view your workout information such as time, heart rate and more
  • Comes with heart rate monitoring chest strap to review critical heart rate
  • Anodised aluminium frame construction offers up supreme reliability and durability
  • Resistance Type: Magnetic
  • Dimensions: 81L x 21W x 25H
  • Weight Capacity: 275lbs
  • Warranty: [U.S. Residents Only] 5-Year Frame, 90-Day LCD Monitor, 30-Day All Other Parts


#2: Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower

Avari A350-700 Stamina Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower, 81" L x 20" W x 24.5" H, Black/Silver
  • 12 workout programs including 6 cardio Profiles, 1 Manual, 4 Custom user programs and 1 Heart rate program
  • Fitness monitor keeps you motivated by tracking time, count, distance, calories, strokes per minute, pulse and watt
  • Use the up and down arrows on the In Touch Fitness Monitor to adjust workout time and resistance on the fly
  • LCD backlit fitness monitor
  • Extruded aluminum rowing beam
from $698.99

The Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower offers up a laundry-list of features sure to leave you with nothing left to desire in your next home rowing machine. The folding design lets you easily store it away when not in use and the included transport wheels make it easy to move it to its storage location.

Keep your workouts as difficult as you want them to be with the Avari’s ability to match your workout to your target heart rate via the heart rate chest strap. 

What we don’t like very much

  • Folding the machine is not tool-less. It requires a bolt to be unscrewed which is not that inconvenient – but other machines do offer a tool-less folding design.
  • It’s kind of plain and ugly.

Key Features:

  • Magnetic resistance allows for very smooth and quiet operation
  • Foldable for easy and effortless storage
  • Heavy-duty steel frame for extreme reliability and durability
  • This machine offers a feature-rich experience
  • Its programmable design offers up 12 different workout programs: 6 cardio, 1 manual, 4 custom user programs and 1 heart rate program which adjusts the resistance based on your heart rate target
  • Includes wireless chest strap to easily monitor your heart rate
  • Padded seat and handles offers up a very comfortable rowing experience
  • Pivoting foot pedals with adjustable safety straps
  • Resistance Type: Magnetic
  • Dimensions: 81L x 20W x 25H
  • Weight Capacity: 275lbs
  • Warranty: 3-Year Frame, 90-Day Parts

Related: The benefits of renegade rolls for your back, core and entire body

#3: HCI Fitness Prorower RX-750

3G Cardio 80i Fold Flat Treadmill
  • It is the only Fold FlatTM Treadmill on the market built exclusively for runners.
  • It can fold flat to a height of just 9.75 inches and easily be rolled under the bed for storage.
  • It also can be folded vertically, and another set of wheels allows it to easily be pushed out of the way when not in use. Whether you're just trying to save space in your house, or really have very little room in your condo, this treadmill will go where no running treadmill has gone before.... under your bed! In addition to the convenience, the 3G Cardio 80i Fold FlatTM Treadmill also has a top quality design.
  • Fold Flat Dimensions: 74"x33"x9.75"
  • Fold Up Dimensions: 39"L x 33"W x 70"H

Get the most realistic experience in this price-range with the HCI Fitness Prorower RX-750 providing an affordable water resistance rowing machine you can use in your own home. The 2.5 – 4.5 gallon tank ensures maximal realism when it comes to water-powered indoor rowers.

The large LCD display will make viewing your vital fitness tracking a breeze so you can focus on the details while you exercise. A built-in heart rate monitor is included as well.

Warranty is quite standard at 3-Year Frame and 1-Year on pretty much everything else. We think you will love this machine because we sure do!

Key Features:

  • Awesome introduction to water-rowing at an affordable price for a more realistic rowing experience
  • 2.5 – 4.5 gallon water capacity
  • The hydro-power drive system is very smooth, quiet and provides an “on the water” experience
  • Very large, easy to read LCD display shows exercise time, distance, split time, calories and heart rate
  • Includes a built-in heart rate monitor
  • Resistance Type: Water
  • Dimensions: 78L x 22W x 20H
  • Weight Capacity: 350lbs
  • Warranty: 3-Year Frame, 1-Year Tank & Seals, 1-Year Non-Wear Mechanical Parts, 1-Year Non-Wearing Components


#4: First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower

No products found.

This is our favorite rowing machine when it comes to the visual appeal. Initially, we were only going to award it 4 out of 5 stars, but based on user reviews, features and the looks, we gave it the extra half-star. We love it – and we’re sure you will as well!

Learn more below.

As with the HCI above, this water-based rower offers up an impressive feature list. What we love even more about this machine is the generally lower price to performance ratio to other similar machines.

Having consulted with rowing professionals, First Degree has been able to create and deliver one of the most impressive and realistic rowing experiences ever with their Newport AR water rower. Full feature-list below.

Key Features:

  • The water-based resistance system is slightly pricier than the unit above, but it seems to hold slightly more fluid
  • One of the most realistic water-resistance rowing experiences around in this price range
  • The harder you work out, the harder the workout gets with this water resistance design
  • Professional rowers have been consulted in the manufacturing of this machine to give you the most realistic experience
  • Critics and reviewers have had nothing but praise for this rower
  • Belt-driven mechanism offers a maintenance-free and noiseless design
  • Tank shell is made from durable polycarbonate with a triple bladed stainless steel paddle
  • Handy LCD display indicates time, distance, split timing, strokes per minute, calories burned and optional heart rate
  • The ergonomically designed handle and seat are made with maximal comfort in mind
  • Resistance Type: Water
  • Dimensions: 78L x 21W x 21H
  • Weight Capacity: 300lbs
  • Warranty: 5-Year Frame, 3-Year Tank & Seals, 2-Year Limited on Mechanical Components (non-wearing), 1-Year Limited on Wearing Parts

Related: Best home execrise equipment for weight loss

#5: Concept2 Model D

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
  • Low impact workout that engages all major muscle groups; work legs, core and arms with a smooth, high calorie-burning motion.
  • Track your progress with real-time reliable data; the Performance Monitor 5 (included) self-calibrates for comparable results; connect wirelessly to heart rate belts and apps (not included).
  • Designed to fit most users: 14-inch seat height, adjustable footrests and ergonomic handle.
  • Separates easily into two pieces for storage; caster wheels make it mobile; easy to assemble with only eight screws.
  • Space recommended for use is 9 x 4 feet; 500-pound user capacity; 5-year frame warranty included.
from $945.00

Not only is this our Editor’s Top Pick Award Winner in this price-range, the Concept2 Model D is overall our Best Rower to Buy in 2018! The highest-rated and best-selling rowing machine in the world, this unit is endorsed by rowing professionals as their Gold-Standard for indoor rowing training. We love it – and so will you!

The Model D will blow your socks off with its price range, feature set and warranty periods – all while providing the ability to get a world-class rowing machine workout for under $1000. That’s just phenomenal in our minds.

You will be getting a magnetic flywheel resistance design allowing for silent and maintenance-free operation, the ability to be folded and stored away, built-in wheels for easy transport, and one of the industry’s leading LCD screens – Concept2’s very own Performance Monitor so you can track all of the most vital information.

Key Features:

  • Highest-rated rowing machine in the world
  • 5-Star Rating with over 1,550 reviews on many retailer websites
  • Recognised by professional competitive rowers as the Gold-Standard for indoor rowing training
  • Coming in at just under $1000, this machine is probably our top-pick for this entire article
  • Features a magnetic flywheel resistance controlled by the spiral damper
  • Minimal noise with supremely smooth feel
  • Can easily be folded for effortless storage
  • Built-in wheels allow for easy transport
  • Adjustable foot pedals and ergonomic handles ensure continued comfort
  • Features Concept2’s Performance Monitor 5 providing accurate, comparable data for every rowing session
  • Backlight increases visibility
  • You can plug in a USB thumb drive to store your data easily
  • Monitor your heart rate wirelessly for convenience
  • LCD panel can be adjusted to suit your height preferences
  • Resistance Type: Magnetic
  • Dimensions: 96L x 24W
  • Weight Capacity: 500lbs
  • Warranty: 5-Year Frame, 2-Year Electronics & Moving Parts

We really love all of the machines offered in Part II, especially the Newport AR Water Rower and the Concept2 Model D.

Offering up what are probably the best features that you will get in the $500-$1000 price-category, we really see little point in spending any more money on an indoor rowing machine.

Part III: Best Rowers Over $1000

We always want to make sure our readers and/or shoppers get the most out of their money which is why we would never recommend the most expensive rowing machine right out of the gate.

However, for the more advanced and professional users, there are some incredible machines for you below, most of which feature a water-based resistance design.

Why don’t we get started so you can learn more about Part III, and the next price-bracket. In case you aren’t interested, you can always jump back to the previous section using the quick navigation button below! We won’t be offended 🙂


First Degree Fitness E-520 Water Rower

First Degree Fitness Fluid Rower with Heart Rate Reception, E520 - Silver Bronze - Evolution Series
  • Height adjustable footplates
  • 6 pre-set workout programs
  • Water resistance
  • 20 fluid resistance levels
  • Weight capacity: 330 lbs.

When it comes to resistance type, water is by-far our favorite type for the professional rower looking to get an amazing, life-like experience in their home.

When you think about it, a rower would absolutely prefer to be, well, rowing… but come winter (especially in southwestern Ontario!) that will be impossible outdoors. We therefore like to stick to water-based resistance for the professional rower looking to train when they can’t get out on the water.

You’ll see machines from the likes of WaterRower, Concept2, BodyCraft and First Degree Fitness – and we think that you’ll love all of these machines!

Lastly, we had a really tough time deciding on “the best” in this price-range as these are more than likely going to be specific user-preference, and the reviews speak for themselves.

As always, we strongly urge you to do as much research as you can and read individual reviews so you can get a better idea of the best one for you. We did our best to curate what we believe to be the very best of the best, and without further ado, let’s begin.

#1: WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor
  • Handcrafted rowing machine with "water flywheel" that replicates actual rowing feel
  • Flywheel sits in enclosed water tank to provide smooth, quiet, self-regulated resistance
  • Series 4 performance monitor tracks workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, and more
  • Solid ash and stained honey oak construction absorbs sound and vibration
  • Stores upright; measures 84 x 21 x 22 inches (W x H x D) and weighs 117 pounds

Made from absolutely stunning and treated wood, and featuring a second-to-none water resistance system, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is the ultimate water rower for the rowing enthusiast or professional rower – all while being perfectly suitable for in-home use. We love it – and guarantee you will as well.

What sets this thing apart from any other rowing machine (with the exception of the other WaterRower below) is its gorgeously crafted wooden design. Speaking of the ultimate realistic rowing experience, the wood is sure to give you that extra bit of realism.

The Natural Rower has been handcrafted with solid ash and Honey Oak stain finished in Danish oil. Wood is known to be a fantastic sound-absorber, and for this reason this is probably also one of our top-recommended products. Choosing a Top Pick Award Winner was really challenging for this category to say the least.

Key Features:

  • Ash is an incredibly versatile and durable wood which means this machine will last you a long time
  • The wood has been sourced from ecologically sustainable wood sources only where tree growth exceeds removal by at least 200% so you can feel good about your purchase
  • With the maintenance-free and moving part-less design, this machine provides a zero-hassle guarantee
  • Paddles attached to a flywheel offer up a life-like experience
  • The home training DVD will offer up some excellent rowing resources for your exercise routine
  • Absolutely astonishing user reviews have offered this machine a 4.5 star rating across a variety of retailers from thousands of satisfied customers
  • The Series 4 Performance Monitor tracks your stroke rate, heart rate and much more
  • Can be set upright for easy and effortless storage
  • Resistance Type: Water
  • Dimensions: 84L x 21W x 22H
  • Weight Capacity: 1000lbs
  • Warranty: 5-Year Frame, 3-Year Components (with registration form only)


#2: WaterRower Oxbridge

WaterRower Oxbridge Rowing Machine in Cherry with S4 Monitor
  • Handcrafted rowing machine with "water flywheel" that replicates actual rowing feel
  • Flywheel sits in enclosed water tank to provide smooth, quiet, self-regulated resistance
  • Series 4 performance monitor tracks workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, and more
  • Solid cherry wood construction absorbs sound and vibration; hand finished in Danish oil
  • Stores upright; measures 84 x 21 x 22 inches (W x H x D) and weighs 117 pounds

Building on the quality of the Natural Rower above, the WaterRower Oxbridge offers a similar set of features, albeit with a few key differentiating factors aside from the slightly different price-point. Dive in below to learn more.

In contrast to the Ash manufactured rower above, the Oxbridge features a beautifully hand-crafted cherry wood design also sourced from ecologically sustainable sources.

Everything else stays consistent with the WaterRower Natural Above and you are welcome to check out all of the features again above!

The only differentiating factor is the cherry wood used instead of ash – everything else is the exact same and we think that this piece of equipment deserved to be featured here as well. The Oxbridge and the Natural are two of our all-time favorite rowing machines in the $1000+ category – and we think you will absolutely love them both!

Key Features:

  • See the WaterRower Natural above
  • Cherry instead of Ash on the Oxbridge


#3: BodyCraft VR500

BodyCraft VR500 Commercial Rower
  • Easy to Read Black Mask LCD w/LED Backlit Display and Keys.
  • Electronically Controlled Air and Eddy Current Magnetic Resistance with 32 levels.
  • Ergonomically Correct Comfort Grip Aluminum Handlebar with 4 Button IR Remote Resistance Controls.
  • Deluxe Adjustable Heel Rest with Quick Adjust Foot Straps. Heavy Duty I-Beam Mono-Rail made with High Strength T13 Aluminum.
  • Easy Fold and Roll System with child safety lock. Folds for storage in less than 3 seconds.

It was a very tough decision to not feature the BodyCraft VR500 Commercial Rower as our Top Pick Award Winner for this price range. The Lifetime Frame Warranty and 7-Year Parts Warranty really separates this from the pack – albeit at a slight price-premium over the competitors above and below. We really do love this machine for everything it offers, however.

BodyCraft is known to make some of the best exercise equipment in the industry, and their VR500 rower is no different. Powered by Eddy Current magnetic resistance with up to 32 levels of resistance, this is a true enthusiast’s dream come true.

This is by far one of the most gorgeous machines in our list this year, and we think it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. The backlit LCD display really makes it a breeze to see where your workout is at and the comfortable seat padding and wireless handlebar resistance adjustment buttons make this a true winner for home use and commercial use.

Key Features:

  • One of the only commercial-grade rowers in this price-range
  • Electronically-controlled eddy current magnetic resistance
  • 32 levels of electronically controlled resistance
  • High-grade T13 aluminium construction for supreme durability and build-quality
  • Offers an easy-fold and roll system for effortless storage when not in use
  • One of the most visually beautiful machines aside from the WaterRower machines
  • Backlit LCD display with keys offers a great way to view your exercise information on-the-go
  • Adjustable food pedals with straps for comfort and safety
  • One of the most reliable units in our guide for this year
  • Resistance Type: Eddy Current Magnetic
  • Dimensions: 99L x 20W x 39H
  • Weight Capacity: 350lbs
  • Warranty: 2 Types: Residential: Lifetime Frame, 7-Year Parts, 1-Year Wear Items, 2-Year Labour. Commercial: 10-Year Frame, 3-Year Parts, 1-Year Wear Items & Labour


#4: First Degree Fitness E-520 Water Rower

First Degree Fitness Fluid Rower with Heart Rate Reception, E520 - Silver Bronze - Evolution Series
  • Height adjustable footplates
  • 6 pre-set workout programs
  • Water resistance
  • 20 fluid resistance levels
  • Weight capacity: 330 lbs.

First Degree Fitness E-520 offers up one of the most compelling rowers for enthusiasts and professionals alike. Crafted from only the highest-grade and most durable materials, offering up a second-to-none water resistance design, and the absolutely stunning blue, silver and black design will make sure that this machine will be a category favorite.

What you get here that’s different from anything else in this price-tier is the water resistance which enables you to get a near life-like rowing experience in your home. 

In addition, you get an industry-leading warranty with 10-Years on the frame, 20 levels of fluid resistance and a very comfortable and high-sitting “office-chair” type of seat that adds a great level of comfort and ease of use.

Key Features:

  • Patented, 20-level Variable Fluid Resistance to suit your fitness abilities
  • Resistance can be adjusted with a handle on the tank mid-stroke so you don’t have to stop your workout to adjust it
  • Belt-drive system ensures a smooth, quiet and maintenance-free experience
  • Performance LCD monitor ensures you can view all important information such as heart rate, distance, time and much more
  • The USB port allows you to transfer fitness data for later comparisons
  • USB compatibility with WebRanking, Fluid-Coach, WebRacing and much more
  • Heart rate receiver is standard and is compatible with all heart rate monitoring belts
  • Adjustable foot pedals allow for the most comfortable positioning and straps ensure your safety
  • Optional back-rest is also available for added comfort
  • All components are ergonomically and biomechanically engineered: seat, pedals and handle
  • Feet are rubberised for adhesion to smooth surfaces for a non-slip experience
  • Transport wheels allow for simple transport and storage
  • Resistance Type: Water
  • Dimensions: 78L x 21W
  • Weight Capacity: 330lbs
  • Warranty: 10-Year Frame, 3-Year Tank & Seals, 2-Year Monitor & Wear Items


#5: Concept2 Model E

Concept2 Model E really builds on the quality of the Model D, however, we definitely still recommend the Model D as our #1 rated rower ever made. You can learn more above. However, we believe that the Model E brings some more functionality to the table and you’ll find out exactly why below.

Featuring Concept2’s acclaimed Performance Monitor you can easily log and track all of your workout data, and even transfer the data to a USB thumb drive for later review. 

What we think you’ll love most about this machine, however, is the ability for it to be taken apart into two pieces of extremely effortless and easy storage when you don’t want to have it out. The ergonomically designed seat, foot pedals and handles will make this an even sweeter deal!

Key Features:

  • Features a chain-driven magnetic resistance design
  • Beautifully powder-coated to protect from dirt, dust, sweat and rust
  • The higher design allows those with poor mobility to step in and out of the machine much easier
  • Performance Monitor is what sets Concept2 rowers apart from the increasing competition
  • The most current Performance Monitor is the PM5 which is offered on the Model E
  • Its backlit design ensures easy readability and the PM5 itself offers the ability to compare data at a later date from different rowing sessions
  • USB compatibility ensures that you can store your workout data with ease
  • Wireless heart rate monitoring is also available
  • It can be easily taken apart into two pieces so you can store it when you don’t need it – no tools are required!
  • The adjustable foot pedals and ergonomic seat and handlebar will ensure that you continue to receive a comfortable experience
  • Resistance Type: Chain driven magnetic resistance
  • Dimensions: 96L x 24W
  • Weight Capacity: 500lbs
  • Warranty: 2-and-5-Year Limited Warranty (Click for detailed warranty information)


Well folks, this wraps up our best rowers for 2018 and we want to extend a huge thank-you for enduring our long winded Buyer’s Guides.

We make them for you, with our readers in mind and we genuinely do our best to only bring you what we believe are the best machines in each price-range.

However, we understand that there will be differences of opinion, as with anything, but we try to keep our own opinion out of the equation and take into consideration user and critic reviews for all of our exercise gear.

As you can see, there are many different rowers available on the market today, and we’re going to quickly skim over the most important takeaways down below. And, make sure to stay tuned for 2019 as well as we will be updating our guides ever year with the latest and greatest machines.

Some key takeaways for this article will be the following:

  • Rowers have 4 main resistance types: Hydraulic Cylinder, Water, Air and Magnetic
  • Water and magnetic offer the most reliable ad life-like rowing experience
  • For home use, water and Magnetic resistance types generally offer a noiseless experience for a more enjoyable row
  • You do not need to spend more than $500-$1000 on a quality machine unless you’re a skilled and experienced rowing professional or enthusiast
  • However, as with anything, spending slightly more on a machine will net you a higher quality machine with more features and better warranty periods.

Final Note:

If you have any questions regarding any of the information we have presented you with here or if you have discovered any errors, rowers that are discontinued or you wish to share your thoughts, opinions or if you have any other questions, please use our contact form and we will be happy to answer anything you have to say!

And, make sure to check out our other Buyer’s Guides:

Thank you so much for tuning in and we hope to see you again soon.