Fitness Savvy has compiled a list of the best rowing machines for home use in 2022 and sorted them by category.
We also amend this list as we go – so as soon as we come across a better rower than one in this guide, we replace it with the better model – that way you know you really are looking at a current list of the best rowers.
So whether you’re looking for the best rowing machine under £500, the best folding rowing machine, or the best you’ll find the winners here.
Table of Contents
Overall Rowing Machine Rankings
- 9.9/10: Concept 2 Model D (Best Overall Rowing Machine)
- 9.4/10: JTX Ignite Air Rower (Best Folding Rowing Machine)
- 9.4/10: JTX Ignite Air Rower (Best Air Rowing Machine)
- 9.3/10: DKN Riviera (Best Water Rowing Machine)
- 9.1/10: JLL R200 (Best Rowing Machine on a Budget)
- 9.1/10: JTX Freedom Air Rower (Best Rowing Machine Under £500)
- 8.2/10: NordicTrack RW900 (Best Magnetic Rowing Machine)
Types of Rowing Machine
Rowing machines can be primarily categorised by their resistance type.
When purchasing a rower, they will normally fall into one of these three categories:
- Magnetic Rowers
- Air Rowers
- Water Rowers
Some even utilise a combo of both air and magnets.
Magnetic Rowing Machines
Magnetic rowers use electromagnetic components to change resistance levels.
The feel of magnetic rowers is not as natural as a water or air rower, with the strokes feeling the same intensity throughout.
These are usually cheaper than their air and water resistance siblings, so these kinds of rowers are great for people on a tighter budget.
Magnetic rowing machines also tend to be quieter than air and water rowers.
Air Rowing Machines
The best rowers on the market use air resistance technology.
These machines work by powering air through a flywheel. The user can then use a dampener control to increase or decrease the airflow.
Air rowers are not as quiet as magnetic ones (as you can imagine, the airflow can be noisy) but do offer a more natural rowing feel.
As such you can expect to pay more for an air rowing machine.
Water Rowing Machines
Water rowers provide resistance with actual water.
The feel of these is as close to real rowing as you can get.
The major drawback is that to increase or decrease the resistance, you must physically add or remove water.
With stylish wooden finishes and a soothing water sound, water-based rowers are popular for those who want a nice looking machine to complement their living room or home gym.
Again, they are more expensive than magnetic rowers – and can even be more expensive than air rowers, too.
What To Look For When Buying a Rower
If you’re new to buying a rowing machine we’re going to keep this super simple. Here are things you should consider before you buy a rower for your home.
Is it the right tool for the job?
Firstly, you should ask yourself this: Is a rowing machine the right cardio machine for me?
While all cardio machines help improve our cardiovascular well-being, they all affect our bodies in different ways.
At a basic level, rowing machines are best suited to those who want more of a full-body workout and have a tighter budget. They are cheaper than treadmills and also take up less space. They are also a great option if you have knee problems and need something of a low-impact nature.
If building muscle is your goal, then a rowing machine won’t do that. You will need to invest in free weights and other stuff like adjustable dumbbells and power racks so you can stimulate your muscles to a greater degree.
As discussed earlier, you should consider which resistance type is right for you. Professional rowers tend to opt for air rowers, however, if you need a quiet machine you might opt for a magnetic rower. This is likely the first main feature to consider.
Is it foldable?
When choosing a rowing machine for home, you should check if it is foldable. To be fair, nearly all rowers nowadays are foldable – nevertheless, you should still double-check.
Rowers can take up a lot of space, so the machine weight is important – whether you have a folding rower or not. Lightweight machines will be easy to move around and store when not in use.
Display Type & Interactivity Options
When rowing, you’ll want to see key stats like strokes and calories burned. If this is all you need, then rowing machines with a basic LCD display monitor will suffice.
However, if you want interactive workouts, HD global locations and deeper insights, then you’ll need a better console. Brands such as NordicTrack and ProForm Fitness offer great interactivity options with their iFit app – but remember that iFit is an additional cost on top of the rowing machine price.
With that said, sometimes NordicTrack and ProForm sell their rowers with an entire year of iFit included – something to certainly keep an eye out for.
Maximum user weight
It’s important to choose a rowing machine that can accommodate your weight. Most machines can take up to 115 kg (250 lbs) but some go much higher. The Concept 2 Model D, for example, has a high maximum user weight of 227 kg (500 lbs).
Good quality home gym equipment tends to be supported with generous warranties. Manufacturers who are confident in their product’s quality often offer lifetime warranties on frames and up to 10 years on other components.
Overall Best Home Rowing Machine 2022
Concept 2 Model D
Those who’ve done any kind of rowing machine research will have heard of the Concept 2 Model D.
For years, this rowing machine has been highly regarded as the best rower money can buy.
With an incredible Savvy Score of 9.9 out of 10, the Concept 2 Model D is still head and shoulders above the competition.
It’s lightweight, well-built, sturdy, uses air resistance and is foldable.
The only real negative is that the console is not as good as the HD touchscreen monitors found on the NordicTrack RW900. It’s also not as interactive as these smart rowers. With that said, it is considerably cheaper than the RW900 (about £600 cheaper at the time of writing).
- A sturdy machine – it is easy to understand why this is used in so many commercial gyms across the globe.
- Fantastic connectivity and options to save workout data.
- Customers were pleased with the simple and straightforward assembly
- Lots of helpful videos on YouTube and Fitness Savvy
- The heavy 4.3 kg flywheel means you get quiet and smooth operation
- A wide range of workouts – from beginner to advanced; light workout to intense
- Spare parts readily available
- Easy to maintain
- One user found it uncomfortable
- The chain was not on properly, as one customer reported. They believed better quality control was needed and gave it only 2 stars for this
- A minor drawback is that black marks can appear on the rail where the seat rollers contact it
Compare Prices for the Concept 2 Model D Rower
Best Folding Rowing Machine/Best Air Rowing Machine
JTX Ignite Air Rower
The best folding rower on our list also happens to be the best air rower, too (excluding the Concept 2 Model D).
The JTX Ignite Air Rower scored an awesome 9.4 out of 10.
JTX Fitness is a UK-based equipment manufacturer that is staking a claim as the best around.
With incredible customer service, generous product warranties, and a range of gear to suit all budgets and needs, JTX Fitness is raising the bar.
The JTX Ignite Air Rower highlights are a 9-point damper control, 3 year home warranty and self-powered design.
We looked at over 100 customer reviews for this rower, and nearly all users praised this rower. The only gripes were minor, as covered in the pros and cons below.
- Set up and assembly is quick and easy, according to most customers
- A large number of reviewers said that this rower was as good as the Concept 2 – or even better
- We noticed a lot of people describing this machine as “robust”
- Operation is smooth and quiet, according to lots of users
- People, in general, believe that this rowing machine is good value and worth the price tag. It should fit within most people’s budget, too
- As we’ve said before, JTX Fitness’s customer care and customer service is exceptional
- The display monitor is limited in comparison to others such as the Concept 2 and NordicTrack RW900
- One customer complained that the support brackets were rough which made assembly difficult
- Another buyer said they would prefer a more comfortable seat
Compare Prices for the JTX Ignite Air Rower
Best Water Rowing Machine
DKN Riviera Rowing Machine
Water rowers are a great choice for those seeking a natural rowing feel.
The best water rower around today is the DKN Riviera Rowing Machine.
We awarded this particular rower a Savvy Score of 9.3 out of 10.
This rower features a clear LCD monitor, large footplates and, of course, a water tank. It is also foldable, surprisingly.
It ticks all the boxes we expect from a water rower. The only negative is one we’ve already spoken about – the fact that resistance can only be adjusted by adding or removing water from the 17-litre water tank.
- Sturdy, solidly built
- Smooth operation
- Very compact
- Provides real-life rowing experience
- Great for keeping in shape during the off-season
- Easy to set up
- Can cost twice as much when not on offer (RRP of £999, sometimes on offer as little as £499 at the time of writing) so we advise buying it when it’s between £499 and £599.
Compare Prices for the DKN Riviera Rowing Machine
Best Rowing Machine on a Budget
JLL R200 Rowing Machine
We’ve seen the JLL R200 rower going on eBay for as little as £90. You can’t really get any cheaper than that!
For the price (typically £200 – £250 brand new) you won’t find another rower with this level of features.
With that said, you should also remember that for this price you can’t expect the world. Compromises must be made.
These compromises come in the form of quality – some customers complained about “cheap” components and a few said that even the highest resistance level was not challenging.
All in all, however, this machine will certainly do the job if you only have £100 – £250 to spend. We do recommend that you manage your expectations before committing.
- Sturdy and comfortable
- Great durability
- Good value for money
- Easy assembly
- Some people found the highest resistance too weak
- A number of customers received faulty items
- A few reviewers felt the pedals were rather poor quality
Compare Prices for the JLL R200 Rowing Machine
Here are some discount codes that you might be able to use in conjunction with some of these rowing machines – they are all valid so make use of them!
Best Rowing Machine Under £500
JTX Freedom Air Rower
Here we have the second rowing machine from JTX Fitness.
With a Savvy Score of 9.1 out of 10, the JTX Freedom Air Rower is our highest-scoring rower for under £500.
While the current price makes the Freedom Air Rower one of the best cheap rowing machines on the market, you wouldn’t think so while using it.
Customers praised the rower’s solid and sturdy build quality, smooth rowing action, and value for money.
Like the JLL R200, buyers are better off managing expectations when buying this rower.
You’re not going to get in-depth workout analysis, you won’t achieve super-challenging workouts (only 8 resistance levels) and folding away isn’t as easy as the other options. Nevertheless, for the price, you’ll struggle to find anything with this quality and range of features.
We recommend the JTX Freedom Air Rower for those who really want a rowing machine but cannot stretch their budget beyond £500.
- Solid build quality
- Great range of resistance levels
- Easy to set up
- Smooth rowing action
- Powerful fan
- Detailed and clear instructions
- Chain drive makes it a little louder than other rowers
- Seat rollers leave black marks on the first few uses – but wipes clean
- Folding away can be “a faff” according to a couple of reviewers
- The 8 resistance levels might not be enough for experienced or advanced rowers.
Compare Prices for the JTX Freedom Air Rower
Best Magnetic Rowing Machine
The NordicTrack RW900 is not only the best magnetic rowing machine on our site, but one of the best rowers, overall – technically speaking.
The savvy score of 8.2 out of 10 is mainly dragged down by two factors: Firstly, some customers have rated this machine negatively. We combine customer ratings with our own analysis to get the overall Savvy Score.
Secondly, at £1,499 at the time of writing, this rower is too expensive. We account for price in the Savvy Score. So, if this particular rower was under £1000 it would have scored far more favourably.
Most of the extra cost associated with this rower is down to the display monitor.
Unlike other rowers in this list, the RW900 has a ludicrously large 22″ HD display that connects to various apps including iFit. This means that you can take part in interactive workouts across a range of global locations.
The rower’s resistance levels can also be changed automatically by your trainer.
We recommend this rowing machine for people who have a higher budget and really want advanced of interactivity and workout stats. You can also opt for the NordicTrack RW600 which is basically the same but with a smaller HD monitor.
- It’s easy to put together – even with one person, you should be up and running (or rowing haha) in less than an hour
- When connecting with iFit, you can stream live personal training sessions where the resistance level of your rower will change automatically in line with the live workout!
- The RW900 is a well-built piece of equipment
- The machine is quiet and smooth when in operation. One user said that even if you have someone sleeping in the next room, they won’t hear it – and anything they do hear is more like “white noise”
- The display screen is huge, easy to use, and bright – so easy to see and operate while rowing
- A professional rower said that the feel of this machine is comparable with real rowing which he was pleased with
- Comparable to the Concept 2 Model D, according to some people.
- One reviewer said that the flywheel did not seem balanced and seemed to be rubbing against something
- A couple of US customers reported having issues with NordicTrack’s customer service who seemed to take a long time to resolve technical issues
- There isn’t a power button for the console so you must unplug it when not in use to save wear on the electrics
Compare Prices for the NordicTrack RW900
Best of the Rest
We haven’t had the time to review every single rowing machine on the market. However, we have had a quick look and found about 10 more options.
These home rowing machines all look great on initial inspection, so using what you’ve learned in this guide, perhaps one of these might better suit your needs?
If you do find one you think should have made our list, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments and we’ll do an in-depth review for it.
Fitness Savvy YouTube Channel
This best home rowing machine article was written by Fitness Savvy CEO, Robin Young. You can check out the Fitness Savvy YouTube channel for new and innovative ways of building muscle and losing weight.
Below is the most popular video on the channel where Robin talks about Body Recomposition.