Best Rowing Machines Under $500

Are there good quality rowing machines that you can buy for less than $500? The answer is a definite YES! Right away we can list at least thirty rowing machines for this price range including reputable brands, like Stamina and Sunny Health. Finding the best rowing machine under 500 dollars requires a bit of researching, and that’s what we did in this article.

We’ll give you the best rowing machine under 500 in three different resistance types. This way you’ll see more variety before you make a choice.

The 3 best rowing machines under 500

Sunny Health & Fitness RW5508 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness’s RW5508 is a competitively priced magnetic rower. It offers great value in terms of quality and adjustability of resistance.

Resistance – RW5508 boasts of strong and fully adjustable magnetic resistance that works both for beginners and advanced rowers. Earlier models of magnetic rowers from Sunny Health & Fitness only have eight levels of resistance. The upgraded tension system of RW5508 clearly surpasses this with its 10 resistance levels.

Note about magnetic resistance: The level or difficulty is adjusted by means of a knob. This characteristic is that you can turn the knob to a high level and work yourself against a constant, challenging resistance. This is true even if you row slowly. You will see how this is different from an air rower, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

Downside: It does not replicate true rowing resistance. You will also have to stop and adjust the resistance knob each time you need to change the intensity of your sprints.

Monitor

Instead of the monitor in earlier models, Sunny Health & Fitness has upgraded RW5508’s LCD monitor. It is bigger and tracks all the important data, such as time, split time, strokes, SPM, distance, calories, and pulse. It integrates a pulse receiver which you can use with a compatible wireless chest strap for heart rate monitoring.

Durability

Its body is made of steel and aluminum. It has a nylon pull. It displays the solid construction that is typical of Sunny Health & Fitness rowing machines.

Capacity

Maximum user weight is 300 pounds. People as tall as 6’5” are able to use it without issues, but the critical measurement is the user’s inseam. If you have an inseam of less than 38”, then there shouldn’t be any problem.

User comfort

The handlebar is slightly angled downward. The grip is made of high-density rubber which is sweat resistant. The monitor can be tilted to an angle most comfortable to you. The seat is good-sized and contoured so it’s easier on the butt. The footrests are over sized to fit large shoe sizes. There are thick straps and heel cups, too, to prevent slippage. If you want a quiet indoor rower, RW5508 will be hard to beat.

Sunny Health & Fitness RW5508 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Summary

4.5/5
  • Resistance
  • Monito
  • Durability
  • Capacity
  • User Comfort
  • Overall

Stamina 35-1402 ATS Air Rower

We’ve voted the Stamina 35-1402 ATS air rower as the best rowing machine under 500 in this resistance category. It is one of the upgraded models of Stamina’s ATS air rowers. If you’ve worked with 35-1399 before, you’ll find 35-1402 basically the same but with some upgraded features.

Resistance

Stamina’s ATS series gives the best value for money for air rowers in the below-$500 range. Like all air resistance indoor rowers, 35-1402 depends on your rowing motion to spin the flywheel and create resistance.

Note on air resistance: The intensity of your strokes or the work that you exert determines the strength of the resistance that you get. Air rowers have what is called dynamically “variable” resistance. This mimics true rowing resistance. For this reason, air rowers are ideal for HIIT workouts. They allow you to alternate between easy and intense sets on the fly. There’s no need to pause or reset between levels or sets.

Important to know: Don’t go looking for a knob to adjust resistance with because there’s none. No air rower operates with a resistance adjusting knob. Many users mistake damper settings, which some high-end air rowers have, as resistance adjustment. This assumption is wrong. A damper adjusts airflow into the flywheel, which changes the feel—not the intensity—of resistance.

Monitor

The LCD monitor is an improved version of the monitor in 35-1399, though still pretty basic. It tracks SPM, strokes, distance, speed, time, and calories. The display is bigger and has three windows for the stats instead of the single window in older models.

Durability

This sturdily built piece of equipment can take some punishment. Its frame is made of steel, while its slide rail is made of aluminum. The pull strap is made of high-grade nylon, which is quieter than a chain pull.

Capacity

Make sure to check the compatibility of this ATS air rower to your weight, height, and inseam. It has a maximum user weight capacity of 250 pounds. It supports users as tall as 6’2” or with inseam measurement of up to 34”. You may note that while 34” is longer than average, it’s still shorter than what RW5508 has to offer.

User comfort

The seat is padded and generously sized. The pivoting footrests are over sized. There are wide straps to keep your feet in place. The seat rail’s downward slope can be a bit too steep for some. Unless you have leg issues, this is good because it provides added work for you. Be forewarned, though, this air rower can be a tad noisy. You must place it where it won’t be too bothersome for others.

Stamina 35-1402 ATS Air Rower

Summary

4.4/5
  • Resistance
  • Monitor
  • Durability
  • Capacity
  • User comfort
  • Overall

Kettler Favorite Hydraulic Piston Rowing Machine

Check Amazon for the best deals on rowing machines now. Kettler Favorite rowing machine is available at 80 bucks less than its original price. We rarely recommend hydraulic-piston type rowing machines because they’re often built with inferior quality. Kettler machines, though, are an exception. We have confidence in their quality and superior engineering.

Resistance

Unlike the two rowers we’ve featured above, Kettler Favorite does not come with a chain pull or nylon strap. Instead, it has two rowing arms (oars) where the resistance mechanisms are attached. Without going too deep into technical details, allow us to say that each arm is connected to a resistance mechanism. Inside are pistons and hydraulic fluid,which create the resistance. And that’s where it gets really exciting. You can increase or decrease resistance to 50 difficulty levels!

Note on hydraulic-piston resistance: The resistance that you get on this type of indoor rower does not mimic true boat rowing. Kettler compensates by providing orbital arms which allow free rowing motions. This mimics the actual rowing styles used in boat rowing. Plus, nothing can beat working out with 50 levels of challenge.

Downside: Its resistance is initially difficult to adjust to a desired level. It’s not as easy as RW5508’s knob turn or 35-1402’s on-demand resistance. You’ll need to figure out and learn the proper way of setting Kettler Favorite’s resistance. That’s only for starters, and it can take a while. Yet, that wide band of available resistance is hard to ignore. That alone should make learning definitely worthwhile.

Monitor

Set between the footrests, the monitor is hard to miss while you row. It keeps track and simultaneously displays time, strokes, SPM, distance in kilometer, energy in kilojoule, and pulse rate.You can monitor your pulse rate with the included infrared earlobe clip sensor.

Durability

As mentioned earlier, Kettler Favorit is solidly built unlike cheaper rowing machines in this category. Its tough frame is made of carbon steel. There are no squeaky sounds when used. In fact, it is one of the quietest indoor rowers you will ever find.

Capacity

Its maximum weight capacity is 285 pounds. With a long rail,it is suitable for people with an inseam of around 40”.

User comfort

The contoured seat is wide and thickly padded. It glides smoothly along the steel rail. The plastic handles are comfortable and don’t get sweaty. As in Stamina 35-1402, the footplates of Kettler Favorite allow for natural pivoting motions.

Kettler Favorit Hydraulic Piston Rowing Machine

Summary

4.4/5
  • Resistance
  • Monitor
  • Durability
  • Capacity
  • User comfort
  • Overall

Conclusion

We’ve rated these rowing machines based on their resistance, monitor’s usefulness, durability, capacity, and user comfort. We’re confident that these are the best rowing machines under 500 in their respective resistance category. We have excluded water-resistance type rowing machines in this article mainly because they’re generally expensive.

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