Nowadays you can purchase a rowing machine online and have it sent straight to your front door. But finding a model that best fits both you and your budget is the hardest part. Aside from the price, you should consider the product’s dimensions, the weight, the ergonomic design, the number of reviews (positive and negative) and, most importantly, the warranty!
Bellow, we’ve put together some short – but essential – reviews of the top 5 best-rated rowing machines under $500. Stamina seems to be the most popular manufacturer in this category, but it still has 2 other close competitors:
1. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
With a list price of $229.99 on the official website, this rowing machine is available on Amazon for only $114.99. It weighs 37 pounds and measures 58.2 x 42.5 x 18.1 inches, it has a unique and full range of rowing motion, and it comes with a steel frame and gas shock resistance. All these bring its weight limit up to 250 pounds. Easy to assemble but compact at storage (only 46 inches length and 23.5 inches width the footprint), it even includes an electronic, multi-function monitor.
Users appreciate it not just for the low price, but also for being a smaller, compact machine while providing the same power as twice-bigger rowing machines. The 90 days parts / 1 year frame guarantee is, again, reassuring when considering this product.
2. Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine
This one is a rowing machine manufactured by Sunny Health & Fitness, available for $78.84 on Amazon – 28% less than the official list price. It is even lighter (23 pounds) and smaller (53 x 20 x 22 inches) than the Stamina Body Trac Glider – it has a weight limit of 220 pounds, but it also comes with an electronic monitor. It has adjustable foot straps and pivoting footplates, the seat is smooth and comfortable and it can take you through 12 different levels of resistance.
Users appreciate it for the lightweight and sturdy construction, for how easy you assemble it and for how easy you fold it and store it in tight places. But they have also reported a relatively limited range of motion and the fact that the resistance cylinder can get very hot during usage, therefore the resistance of the machine can go down.
3. Stamina Air Rower 1399
This one is a pricier option, again from Stamina, that you can buy for $299 on Amazon instead of the $399 list price of the manufacturer. It’s a bit harder (55 pounds) and bigger (77 x 18 x 22 inches) than the Body Trac Glider, yet it has the same maximum user weight allowed – 250 pounds. While it has a similar structure with the previous models (sturdy but foldable steel frame, padded seat, and large footplates), it also comes with built-in wheels, textured handgrips, nylon rowing strap and it utilizes wind resistance to provide a smooth rowing stroke.
Aside from all these, the 90 days parts / 3 years frame guarantee is even more interesting, but reviews indicate that this machine is more suitable for beginners. Advanced users might be upset by the fact that resistance kicks in on the last part of the stroke, working a lot more the arms than the legs.
4. Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
We continue this series with another Stamina rowing machine that you can buy for $234.95 instead of the initial $400 cost. This one weights the most so far – 67 pounds – and at 48 x 32.5 x 27.8 inches, it is less tall but rather wider. A bit bulkier – it takes a little more to assemble, but it comes with 90 days parts / 5 years frame warranty!
Some of the key features are the adjustable tension controls and the beam incline for workout intensity control, the foldable rowing arms, the smooth resistance of the hydraulic cylinder and the pivoting footplates. It’s all about extra comfort, just make sure you pick the 1215 model because older versions received lots of complaints regarding the plastic linkage parts breaking. The new model has been significantly improved and reinforced with steel in the most tensioned parts.
5. Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine
We end this top 5 best rowing machines under $500 with the Favorit model from Kettler, which also happens to be the most expensive: $399. It weighs 52 pounds and measures 49 x 31 x 24 inches, with a 250 pounds weight capacity. It has not one, but 2 hydraulic cylinders that pose continuous resistance, a training computer with lots of useful information and even program for your preferred stroke speed and covered distance, accompanied by visual and audio signals.
If you buy this one, you will probably like its construction, the heart rate clip that comes with it, the decent display, the 3 years guarantee on parts and electronics and the lifetime guarantee on frame! However, you might notice that if you’re very tall the machine might not be very comfortable for you, the hydraulic resistance mechanism tends to soften within 15 minutes of use, and it is not very comfortable when you’re trying to switch the levels of resistance. That’s about it.