Best Rowing Machines For Fitness Seekers In 2018 | A Thorough Evaluation

You want to get in your desired shape, right? It is not like moving or scaling a mountain. It does not require you to hit the road frequently either. Only the best rowing machine, if you can really manage to buy one, can help with the most of your tasks.

Rowing machines have become popular for they provide users a solid reason to deny the stressful efforts outside of home just for the sake of fitness. Seeing the rising prominence of the machines, manufacturers are also in a competition to bring about newer models with more sophisticated mechanisms and digital features which are, in turn, making it difficult for buyers to make a choice.

With keen interest in figuring out the right rowing machine, we have made a selection of rowing machines to make sure that every individual has a choice to make to perform targeted and full body workouts.

Best Rowing Machines To Look For In 2018

The following products are some of the most popular rowing machines on the market. We have included each of them in view of their performance, price, durability, ease of use, assembly, and other factors. We hope you will find your desired piece of equipment from the list.

01Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine

Price : $$$
Editor Rating :
Star 4.9 out of 5 star
Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine

Important Highlights

  • Air-resistance flywheel design
  • Extruded aluminum frame
  • Flexfoot adjustable footboard system
  • Self-calibrating electronic monitor
  • Ergonomic handle with molded soft rubber grips and foot pads
  • Anatomically designed seat top
  • Built-in caster wheels

We rely on the craftsmanship and consciousness of Concept2, every time, we receive the question, “What is the perfect rowing machine for rowing indoor?” This is another great piece of work from the manufacturer. This model comes with some similarities and dissimilarities to Model E. however, both of them are reliable only in a different way.

Being a standout choice for many fitness professionals, Model D has proven its all-around effectiveness in boosting cardiovascular exercises and enhancement of the physical tone. For the first time in this article, we are going to admire a product for being cost-effective.

Although we got a problem with the machine’s noise level. We expected it to work almost quietly, but it could not. Also, we do not like the lack of programmability of the digital component. But, we had to undermine these two issues enjoying the flexibility of the ergonomic handle and footrests.

02Concept2 Indoor Rowing Machine

Price : $$$$
Editor Rating :
Star 4.8 out of 5 star
Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine Review – Indoor Rowing Machine

Important Highlights

  • Welded steel construction
  • Flywheel design with spiral damper
  • Nickel-plated steel chain with full housing
  • PM5 Monitor with fixed monitor arm
  • Caster wheels for easy rolling of the machine
  • Quick-release frame lock mechanism
  • Adjustable footrests with one-piece leg design and ergonomic handle

Apart from the usability factor, the one thing that did not escape our glance was the look of Concept2 Indoor Rowing Machine. The 20-inch frame stands bright with its double powder coat, glossy finish. Oh, the nickel-plate chain is just an embellishment to the main frame. With the higher frame, you can go for easy on-and-off, especially if your knees have given up or mobility is restricted for a particular reason.

As per our assessment, Concept2 comes with the right type of engineering that meets all your rowing needs indoor. Make a stroke and see if the machine responds. You will not complain. Take the help of the spiral damper when you feel the necessity of adjusting the flywheel airflow. Won’t you feel happy getting a smooth rowing experience with the noise significantly minimized?

After all these good things, we could not help telling you the limitation of the PM5 monitor that comes with a significant battery issue. But, it should not be the only impediment to your buying decision.

03Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

Price : $$$
Editor Rating :
Star 4.3 out of 5 star
Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

Important Highlights

  • Steel frame
  • 12 Workout programs including six cardio profiles
  • Backlit LCD monitor (For tracking distance, time, calories, count, pulse, watt, and strokes per minute)
  • Arrow buttons for on-the-fly adjustments
  • Foam-padded handle
  • Molded seat
  • Footplates with extruded aluminum rowing beam
  • Built-in wheels
  • Electronic chest strap for monitoring heart rate

The upgraded tech is the first thing that held our attention as we looked at this modern version from the rowing powerhouse, Stamina. You might not be willing to think about it so sincerely because most rowing machines come with the same.

But, this model goes beyond the commonplace of technological gadgetry in rowing machines. You have access to as many as 12 programs, each of which carries out a different function. All these small details work together to help you know when to stop from crossing the limits.

The second notable thing we accepted as a benefit is the comfort derived from the extruded aluminum beam and molded seat. These two components will make you feel their worth as you go for a stroke and try for the recovery of the stroke. However, we recommend you follow caution while adjusting the settings upwards because the resistance may not be felt that much under higher settings.

04Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515

Price : $$
Editor Rating :
Star 4.2 out of 5 star
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515

Important Highlights

  • Heavy-duty steel mainframe
  • Magnetic tension system and eight levels of adjustable resistance
  • LCD console (For displaying count, time, calories, scan, and total count)
  • Cushioned seat and Non-slip grip handlebars
  • Anti-slip pedals with built-in transportation wheels
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.

Do you have any idea how a magnetic rowing machine delivers as the user asks? Whatever you know about a magnetic machine will be enhanced with the information that Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 features a tension knob that works as per your will. A twist, if you make, can either increase or decrease resistance. So, it is completely in your hands whether your workout sessions will be easy and efficient or a little challenging and rigorous.

Although we believe the textured pedals are just a visual element rather than anything that adds to the functionality of the machine, you can still benefit from them if you know how to use this magnetic equipment. Use the user manual as it contains everything you need to learn. The pedals become more useful with the safety straps.

The non-slip surface adds a layer of safety by keeping your feet in place. The design of the machine has been schemed to stand the test of the highest level of rigor a fitness enthusiast can inflict upon.

05Stamina 1110 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Price : $$$
Editor Rating :
Star 3.9 out of 5 star
Stamina 1110 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Important Highlights

  • Aluminum rowing beam
  • Ball-bearing rollers
  • Durable rowing strap
  • Eight levels of magnetic resistance
  • Multi-functional digital monitor (For tracking number of total strokes and strokes per minute, distance, time, and calories burned)
  • Larger range of motion with pivoting footplates
  • Molded, padded seat
  • Foam rowing handle
  • Built-in wheels with floor protectors

Since the resistance ability is one of the primary considerations every buyer should have, we would like to talk about the magnetic resistance of Stamina 1110 Magnetic Rowing Machine. It has eight levels of quiet magnetic resistance that allows you to undertake the workouts without requiring you to cause any disturbance to anybody staying around you.

The next thing we found good about this machine is its molded seat on top of the ball-bearing rollers. The aluminum beam should be sufficient to ensure smooth seat gliding. But, the manufacturer with its big name has attempted to offer users a smoother way to do the job through the ball-bearing rollers. The built-in wheels make the transportation of the rowing machine easier and simpler.

You might have some difficulty due to the footrests being very close to the bar. However, it applies to those who are taller than the common height.

We know it is often an irksome job to find a suitable piece of equipment that works great for you. So, we are going to take some more of your time to help you overcome this unending dilemma. We have brought you a set of factors that you need to consider. We promise the considerations will be worth your time.

Things to consider

There is a misconception surrounding the types of rowing machines. In fact, we classify these workout machines in view of the mechanisms they involve. Read this brief overview of each type of the rowing mechanisms along with their benefits and downsides to help you learn more about the science that works behind the resistance you expect from the machines.

Air Rower

This type of rowing machine yields resistance through airflow over a built-in flywheel. A chain connects the wheel to the handle of the rowing machine. An attempt to pull the handle spins the flywheel. If you row fast, the flywheel spins fast through the air, and the resistance level will be high. The right rowing machine for home comes with additional dampers that can alter the airflow to make changes to the feel of the stroke.


  • Wide range of resistance
  • Automatically adjustable resistance as per the user’s stroke rate.
  • Smooth action
  • Less vulnerability to damage or wear


  • Less than an ideal choice for indoor use

Water Rower

This type uses a water flywheel in the form of paddles, located in an enclosed water tank and connected to handles and a chain. As the user pulls back on the flywheel, it revolves in the water, an action that brings about a frag against the flywheel. Thus, the user gets the resistance. The same rule as that of an air rower applies when you want higher or lower resistance.


  • Quiet operation
  • Smooth resistance on a consistent basis
  • Little to no maintenance required


  • More space required for storage
  • More expensive than air rowers

Magnetic Rower

A chain attaches the flywheel to the handle, and a few magnets are the key parts of the mechanical componentry. The varying distance between a spinning flywheel and strong magnets is what this type of rowers works through. Some models in this category comes with an upgrade like a digital console or mechanical slider to adjust the resistance level.


  • Almost silent operation
  • Wide range of resistance
  • Space-saving design
  • Little to no ‘maintenance’ requirement


  • No simulation as in a water rower

Hydraulic Rower

This type has some pistons connected to the handles that are the pivotal elements to create resistance. The user has to pull against the fluid or air in the cylinder. For adjustments of resistance, the clamps or levels do the trick.


  • Known as the best inexpensive rowing machine
  • Foldable, space-saving models
  • Relatively quiet operation


  • Little to no smoothness in rowing actions
  • Changes noticed in the resistance levels with the heating of oil inside
  • Regular maintenance required

Do not ignore the noise issue

  • If your living place does not allow noise, the best rowing machine for you will be the water or magnetic rowers.
  • If noise matters little, you can pick any of the air or hydraulic models for the distinct benefits they offer.

Think about the floor

  • If you love the wooden floor and want to place your rowing machine on the floor, you need to look for one that produces high resistance but very low vibration.
  • If your floor offers a little space, you may consider buying one of the hydraulic rowers because of their smallest sizes.

Final Verdict

Our final advice is that you try to discover the reasons why you want a rower.

If you are a fitness professional needing to buy a rower for the gym, you should get the models built to serve multiple users. These rowers are often known as the commercial rowing machines. For rowing at home, you can buy models with the less bells and whistles but more rowing benefits to offer.

We have tried to cover as many fundamental factors involved in the search for the best rowing machine. The rest of the matter depends on how much you want to pay for. Now, we hope you have your answers. Happy buying!