What are the Best Budget Rowing Machines?

Updated: Oct 2

In this article you will discover four excellent budget rowers that will make for the perfect addition to your home gym.


Today you don’t have to relinquish equity in order to finance a home gym. You can have yourself some pretty decent exercise kit without maxing out the credit card or running the risk of bankruptcy. In another Hungry4Fitness article – Best Indoor Bikes – I reviewed 5 incredibly well rated budget bikes the most expensive of which costs less than £300.



Yeah, if you’ve got the green you can have a right fancy set-up and from your £1200 Concept 2 Rower you could climb on to your £1500 Watt Bike Atom and from there finish up with a set of bicep curls on a pair of gold-plated dumbbells.



But as people are starting to realise, expensive is not a guaranteed corollary of quality. They are not inextricably linked and you could pay through the nose for that ‘top of the range’ piece of exercise equipment only for it to breakdown as soon you leave the showroom.



I’m not going to name names but the owner of a gym I used to PT out of purchased a super-expensive scientific stationary bike. Two grand the thing cost. Yet after only a week the computer broke; then the resistance went; then a peddle snapped off. From the day we had it until the day we wheeled it into a skip that bike was trouble.



Lesson? Expensive isn’t always best and it doesn’t guarantee good company customer service either. The gym owner literally had to threaten the manufacturers to send out an engineer to fix their faulty product.



In this article I have reviewed 4 budget rowers that would make a perfect and relatively inexpensive edition to your home gym. Like with all Hungry4Fitness exercise equipment reviews, the rowers featured in this article have had to meet three requirements. They are:



- Received over 100 customer reviews
- Rated 4 stars or above
- Cost under £400

Before we enter the product reviews, it might be worth me pointing out that these are budget rowers. Thus they are not made from the same high-grade materials and to the exacting standards as is, say, a Concept 2 rower.



But then Concept 2s are designed to withstand the daily grind of Olympic athletes; such as Matthew Pinsent, 6 foot 5” 17 stone man mountain and 4 X Olympic gold medallist (for some rowing inspiration follow the link and watch Pinsent compete against Cracknell over 2000m during the indoor championships).



The rowers that feature in this article are designed for home use and were manufactured for those people who are doing their best to stick to the government exercise guidelines; that is, 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise 3 to 4 times per week.


On with the product review!



1: JLL® R200 Home Rowing Machine, 2020 Model (£229)


Product Specifications

  • 10 levels of magnetic resistance.

  • LCD monitor displays total calorie count, pace, distance and time.

  • Advanced belt driving system provides rapid engagement for an excellent training result.

  • Compact and foldable. Maximum User Weight is 100kg.


Click on the image for availability



I don’t care what anyone says, £230 for a rowing machine is pretty incredible; especially one that retains 4.5 stars after receiving over 500 reviews. Back when I first started getting into exercise if you wanted to row you first needed a gym membership; either that or be fortunate enough to live near a rowing club (and you don't find them ten to the penny).



Kit like that just wasn’t readily accessible to the masses. However, now you can pop on Amazon and after a couple of clicks and the cost of a yearly gym membership have delivered to your door (for free!) a piece of exercise equipment that works the whole body including, and most importantly, your heart and lungs. Welcome to the 21st Century!


What customers are saying about JLL's home rower

Favourable

- 11 months daily use and still no problems

- Got to be the bargain of the year

- Sturdy and comfortable


Unfavourable

- Quality could be better

- Can be noisy

- User instructions unclear



2: Hop-Sport Home Rowing Machine (£269.88)


Product Specifications

  • The 10-step resistance range adjustment allows you to choose the level of training difficulty to your individual preferences and training goals.

  • The rowing machine is equipped with a computer with an LCD display, which allows you to set session times whilst counting calories and distances.

  • Dimensions LxWxH: 177x52x46 cm; weight: 26.1 kg.

Click on the image for availability



Surprising as it is I actually struggled to find unfavourable reviews for the Hop-Sport’s home rower. The few complaints I did uncover usually went something like this: Can be noisy . . . but it’s still a good bit of kit to keep fit on.



In my opinion that’s hardly a negative review (and it certainly doesn’t warrant a 2 star rating - some people want the world for nickel). That said, other than a couple of moans about the instruction manual, the vast majority of reviews were very positive and with 111 comments this rower retains 4.5 stars.



What customers are saying about Hop-Sport's home rower

Favourable

- Top!!!

- Solid workmanship

- Easy to assemble


Unfavourable

- Can be noisy

- Instructions confusing



3: WeRSports Premium Rowing Machine (£299.00)


Product Specifications

  • LDC display with time, distance and speed settings.

  • Adjustable foot straps.

  • Elastic cord resistance with 4 levels of adjustable tension.

  • Foldable for easy storage.

  • Foam padded seat.


Click on the image for availability


The WeRSports premium rower has considerably more customer feedback than the previous product yet, even after 259 reviews, still retains 4 stars. Much of what’s been said of this rower is that it’s well built, sturdy and makes for a great indoor trainer.



As you’d expect it comes with the usual features: LDC display, distance, speed. However, the one limitation of this rower is that it only has 4 resistance settings as opposed to the usual 10. Therefore I advise, before purchasing this product, to consider your training aims and objectives.



If you’re only looking to use it for light to moderate cardio sessions it’ll more than serve that purpose. But if you want a rower on which you can work to higher intensities maybe consider Fitness Reality’s magnetic rower (below).



What customers are saying about WeRSport's 'premium' home rower

Favourable

- Good value for money

- Sturdy rowing machine

- Well constructed


Unfavourable

- Display can be a bit dodgy

- The tension settings could be better

- The pulley could be more durable



4: Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine (£399.99)


Product Specifications

  • Bluetooth Smart fitness with free My Cloud Fitness app available on iOS and Android for tracking your workout results.

  • Additional exercises: patent pending front stabilizer foot pads allows for additional exercises such as curls, upright rows, bent over rows

  • Large 3. 5” LCD displays distance, time, total count, calories burned, Stokes/min and scan.


Click on the mage for availability



Going off the customer feedback this a solid piece of kit that will make for a faithful fitness friend. With over 800 reviews the magnetic rower from Fitness Reality still retains 4.5 stars.



For a penny shy of four hundred quid you’ll not only get one of the best cardiovascular machines on the market but also one that comes with an in-built Bluetooth that links to a fitness app which records and tracks your sessions and progress.



This is a bit more than a rower. At the front of the machine a separate pair of footplates enable you to stand up to perform bicep curls, bent-over rows, up-right rows and lateral raises. That’s a pretty cool feature if I do say so myself.


What customers are saying about Fitness Reality's home rower

Favourable

- Great rower

- Durable

- Decent and affordable

Unfavourable

- Bluetooth can be fussy

- Console can be temperamental

- Footplate came loose



Conclusion

I hope this review has been of use to you and that through it you’ve found a rower that meets your fitness needs and expectations. One thing has come clear to me in researching the products featured above, and that is you can get a hell of a lot for your money nowadays.


(As we are very interested in user feedback at Hungry4Fitness, I would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)

Blog Author

Adam Priest is a former Royal Marines Commando, professional personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast