Fitness Savvy has compiled a list of the best rowing machines for home use in 2023 and sorted them by category.
Table of Contents
Overall Rowing Machine Rankings
- Concept 2 RowErg – formally Model D and Model E (Best Overall Rowing Machine)
- JTX Ignite Air Rower (Best Folding Rowing Machine/Best Air Rowing Machine)
- DKN Riviera (Best Water Rowing Machine)
- JLL R200 (Best Budget Rowing Machine)
- JTX Freedom Air Rower (Best Rowing Machine Under £500)
- NordicTrack RW900 (Best Magnetic Rowing Machine)
Concept2 RowErg (formally Model D & E)
Overall Best Home Rowing Machine 2023 – 9.9/10
Those who’ve done any rowing machine research will have heard of the Concept 2 Model D.
For years, this rowing machine has been regarded as the best rower money can buy.
You might have noticed that the name has now changed. Previously, the Concept2 range included two models – Model D and Model E. The only difference was the seat height.
The Model D offered a seat height of 14″, while the Model E provided 20″.
Concept2 states on its website that they have streamlined its product range. By doing so, they have combined the two popular products into one.
When purchasing the RowErg, you will notice two options to choose from – often listed as Standard and Tall. As you might expect, the Tall option is the 20″ seat height version and is a little more expensive.
The final difference is that the taller version is manufactured with larger caster wheels.
You might ask yourself why the different height options if everything else is the same.
Concept2 also answer this on their website. They state the following:
- As a matter of taste, some people prefer the taller machine’s appearance.
- The tall version’s added height might be more accessible for some users to get on and off.
- Some commercial facilities may opt for the taller version for better visibility in the gym.
Anyway, now we’ve covered the name change and what that means, here is the Concept2 RowErg review.
It’s lightweight, well-built, sturdy, uses air resistance, and 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. 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.
- Excellent connectivity and options to save workout data.
- Customers were pleased with the 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 exercises to intense.
- Spare parts are readily available.
- Easy to maintain.
- One user found it uncomfortable.
- The chain was not on correctly, as one customer reported. They believed better quality control was needed and gave it only two stars.
- A minor drawback is that black marks can appear on the rail where the seat rollers contact it.
Key Features of the Concept2 RowErg
- Seat height: 36 cm/14″ (standard); 51 cm/20″ (tall)
- Air resistance: adjustable with a spiral dampener
- Foldable: separates into two for easy storage
- Heart rate monitoring: compatible with popular wireless heart rate monitors (ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart)
- Workouts: includes pre-set workouts so you can start right away
- Adjustable footrests: ensures a comfortable workout for people of all sizes
- Ergonomic handles: 10-degree bend for a natural rowing action
- Accessories: Performance Monitor Quick Start Guide; USD Flash Drive
- Product weight: 26 kg (standard) 31 kg (tall)
- Powder-coated finish
- Nickel-plated chain: low maintenance and more durable
- 4.3kg flywheel
- Max. user weight: 227 kg (500 lbs)
- Dimensions (standard) 244 x 61 x 36 cm (L x W x H)
- Dimensions (tall) 244 x 61 x 51 cm (L x W x H)
- Storage dimensions (standard): 64 x 84 x 138 cm (L x W x H)
- Storage dimensions (tall): 69 x 120 x 138 cm (L x W x H)
- Warranty: This product comes with a 5 year frame warranty and 2 years on the Performance Monitor and moving parts for home and light commercial use.
Compare Prices for the Concept 2 RowErg Rower (Formally Model D & Model E Rower)
JTX Ignite Air Rower
Best Folding Rowing Machine/Best Air Rowing Machine – 9.4/10
The best folding rower on our list also takes the award for the best air rower (excluding the Concept 2 Model D).
The JTX Ignite Air Rower scored a superb 9.4 out of 10.
JTX Fitness is a UK-based equipment manufacturer staking a claim as the best.
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 a self-powered design.
We looked at over 100 customer reviews for this the Ignite Air Rower, and nearly all users praised it. 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.
- Many reviewers said this rower was as good as the Concept2 – 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 believe this rowing machine is good value and worth the price tag. It should fit within most people’s budgets, too.
- As we’ve said before, JTX Fitness’s customer care and customer service are exceptional.
- The display monitor is limited compared 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.
Key Features of the JTX Ignite Air Rower
- Resistance type: Air
- Resistance levels: 9
- Workout programmes: 8
- Console: self-powered, feeds back key data such as strokes, revolutions, time, distance, heart rate
- Adjustable pedals (7-point)
- Separates into two pieces for easy storage
- Product weight: 38 kg
- Max user weight: 150 kg
- Dimensions: 240 x 62 x 107 cm (L x W x H)
- Storage dimensions: 112 x 58 x 160 cm (L x W x H)
- Warranty: 3-year in-home repair
Compare Prices for the JTX Ignite Air Rower
DKN Riviera Rowing Machine
Best Water Rowing Machine – 9.3/10
Water rowers are an excellent 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 that the resistance can only be adjusted by adding or removing water from the 17-litre 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
- It 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.
Key Features of the DKN Riviera Rowing Machine
- 17-litre water tank
- Adjustable water resistance (raises and falls as you paddle)
- LCD monitor
- Large footplates (inc. adjustable straps)
- Ergonomic seat
- Compact – plus, it can be stored upright when not in use!
- Full 135 cm alloy rail
- Effective Rail Distance: 125cm (49.2”)
- Console Feedback: total no. of strokes, stroke rate, distance, time, speed, calories, pulse.
- Wireless receiver plus chest strap (optional)
- Dimensions: 230 x 58 x 62 cm (L x W x H)
- Folded Dimensions: 62 x 58 x 230 cm (L x W x H)
- Maximum user weight: 150 kg (330 lbs)
- Product Weight: 42kg (92.5 lbs)
- Warranty: 2 years home use.
Compare Prices for the DKN Riviera Rowing Machine
JLL R200 Rowing Machine
Best Rowing Machine on a Budget – 9.1/10
We’ve seen the JLL R200 rower going on eBay for as little as £90. You can’t get any cheaper than that!
For the price (typically £250 – £290 brand new), you won’t find another rower with this level of features.
You should remember, however, that you can’t expect the world for this price. 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 enough.
Regardless, this machine will certainly do the job if you only have £200 – £290. We recommend managing your expectations before committing.
- Sturdy and comfortable.
- Great durability.
- Good value for money.
- Easy assembly.
- Some people found the highest resistance too weak.
- Several customers received faulty items.
- A few reviewers felt the pedals were relatively poor quality.
Key Features of the JLL R200 Rowing Machine
- Quiet, thanks to the magnetic resistance
- Foldable for space-saving
- In-built rollers for easy transportation
- LCD monitor: displays total calorie count, minute count, distance count, scan, time
- 10 magnetic resistance levels
- Very lightweight
- Max. user weight: 100 kg
- Product weight: 23 kg
- Dimensions: 180 x 52 x 49 cm (L x W x H)
- Warranty: 12 months
Compare Prices for the JLL R200 Rowing Machine
Best Rowing Machine Brands
When researching rowing machines, you’ll probably encounter a few brand names repeatedly.
A good reason is that they’re all experienced in manufacturing top-quality rowers.
Here are some of the top brand names you’re likely to see:
These are all great brands, but NordicTrack and Concept2 take the crown for the best for 2023.
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!
JTX Freedom Air Rower
Best Rowing Machine Under £500 – 9.1/10
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 eight 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 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.
- The chain drive makes it a little louder than other rowers.
- Seat rollers leave black marks on the first few uses – but wipe clean.
- Folding away can be a faff, according to several reviewers.
- The eight resistance levels might not be enough for experienced or advanced rowers.
Key Features of the JTX Freedom Air Rower
- Resistance – magnetic
- 8 resistance levels
- 8 pre-set workout programmes, including target heart rate, hill profile, and interval training.
- Display console tracks distance, speed, 500m Split Time, strokes per minute, heart rate, stroke revolutions and torque/power
- 6-point adjustable footrest
- Monorail length: 120 cm
- Dimensions: 230 x 55 x 88 cm (L x W x H)
- Folded Dimensions: 130 x 55 x 157 cm (L x W x H)
- Max User Weight: 135 kg
- Product Weight: 40 kg
- Wheels/rollers for easy transportation
- Warranty: 2 year in-home repair warranty with all parts and labour included. Warranties are registered automatically when you buy direct from JTX Fitness
Compare Prices for the JTX Freedom Air Rower
Best Magnetic Rowing Machine – 8.2/10
Not only is The NordicTrack RW900 the best magnetic rowing machine for 2023, but also one of the best rowers overall – technically speaking.
Two factors mainly drag down the savvy score to 8.2 out of 10: Firstly, some customers have rated this machine negatively – mostly criticising NordicTrack’s customer service. We achieve our Savvy Score by combining customer ratings with our analysis – so we cannot ignore these facts.
Secondly, at £1,799 at the time of writing, this rower is too expensive. We account for price in the Savvy Score. The RW900 would have scored far more favourably if priced under £1000.
Most of the extra cost associated with this rower is down to the display monitor.
Unlike other options in our list, the RW900 has a ludicrously large 22″ HD display that connects to various apps, including iFit. This means you can participate in interactive workouts across different global locations.
The rower’s resistance levels can also be changed automatically by your trainer.
We recommend this rowing machine for people with a higher budget who want advanced interactivity and workout stats. You can also opt for the NordicTrack RW600, which is essentially 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 should we say rowing) in less than an hour.
- When connecting with iFit, you can stream live personal training sessions. During these sessions, the resistance level of your rower changes 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 massive, 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 actual rowing, which he was pleased with.
- Comparable to the Concept2 RowErg, 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, which took a long time to resolve the technical problems.
- There isn’t a power button for the console, so you must unplug it when not in use to save wear on the electrics.
Key Features of the NordicTrack RW900
- 22″ Smart HD Touchscreen – this console is also adjustable so you can get it to the right height and angle to see it clearly and operate it easily
- Inertia-enhanced flywheel
- Oversized, pivoting pedals for extra comfort and confidence
- Ergonomic moulded seat
- 26 levels of digital resistance- a mixture of magnets and air make for a realistic rowing experience – and all can be changed automatically by your trainer during interactive live-stream workouts
- 2 x 2″ digitally amplified speakers
- 30 onboard workout apps
- Transport wheels
- Max user weight: 115 kg
- Product weight: 59 kg
- Dimensions: 219 x 55 x 128 cm (L x W x H)
- Warranty: comes with 5 year frame warranty, 12 months parts and labour warranty, extended to 24 months upon registering with ICON Health and Fitness within 28 days of purchase
Compare Prices for the NordicTrack RW900
Best of the Rest
We haven’t had the time to review every rowing machine on the market. However, we discovered a few more great options for your consideration.
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 find one you think should have made our list, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll review it in-depth.
What To Look For When Buying a Rower
Here is a simple list of things to 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 a suitable cardio machine for me?
While all cardio machines help improve our cardiovascular well-being, they affect our bodies differently.
In short, rowers are best suited to those on a tight budget who want a full-body workout. They are cheaper than treadmills and take up less space. Those with knee problems might also prefer a rowing machine due to its 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 to stimulate your muscles to a greater degree.
Types of Rowing Machine
Rowing machines can be primarily categorised by their resistance type.
When purchasing a rower, they will generally 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 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 offer a more natural rowing feel.
As such, you can expect to pay more for an air rowing machine.
Water Rowing Machines
As the name suggests, water rowers utilise water instead of magnets to add resistance.
These provide a realistic feel – perhaps as close to actual rowing as you get.
The major drawback is that you must physically add or remove water to increase or decrease the resistance.
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 costly than air rowers.
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 essential – whether you have a folding rower. Lightweight machines will quickly move around and store when not in use.
Display Type & Interactivity Options
When rowing, you’ll want to see critical stats like strokes and calories burned. If this is all you need, rowing machines with a basic LCD monitor will suffice.
However, if you want interactive workouts, HD global locations and deeper insights, 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 essential to choose a rowing machine that can accommodate your weight. Most devices can take up to 115 kg (250 lbs), but some go much higher. For example, the Concept 2 Model D has a high maximum user weight of 227 kg (500 lbs).
Good quality home gym equipment tends to be supported with generous warranties. Manufacturers confident in their product’s quality often offer lifetime warranties on frames and up to 10 years on other components.