best rowing machine for under $500A lot of visitors ask me “What is the best rowing machine under $500?” The old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, and this cliché applies to everything from houses and cars to kitchen appliances and rowing machines.  This saying is true most of the time because the higher priced products tend to have the highest quality, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t good quality products in the low-to-mid end price ranges.  Unfortunately, to find the “diamonds in the rough” you have to spend more time doing research and most of us don’t have the necessary time.

If you look at rowing machines, there are plenty of solid high-end options, but not everyone has the budget for these rowers or need all the features these machines offer at this price range.  For the more budget-conscious or for someone looking for a full-body workout machine that is half the price of an elliptical or treadmill, a low-to-mid end rowing machine under $500 would be perfect for your needs.  If you looked at how many rowers there are in this price range there are still plenty to choose from (which is a good thing) but which one is the best rowing machine under $500?

Important Criteria 

The listed criteria below were considered when determining the best rowing machine under $500: 

  • Resistance-type
    • Most of the rowers in this price range are hydraulic piston resistance machines but there are a few air and magnetic resistance machines too.  All resistance-types aren’t created equal and each have their pros and cons.  The desired resistance-type should have the option for the user to adjust the resistance level.
  • Monitor/ Control Panel
    • Performance monitors in this price range aren’t expected to do anything extraordinary but at the very least should record workout data such as workout time, number of rowing strokes, and distance rowed.
  • Build Quality
    • The rower is expected to last for years and is assumed to be used regularly so it’s important to pick one that has a durable frame and is built with quality materials.
  • Comfort
    • Rowing is a repetitive motion so it’s important that the parts of the rower that are involved in the process are comfortable to use/ hold.  The seat should be comfortable to sit on, the handle shouldn’t hurt your hands when you’re gripping it, the footrests should comfortably secure your feet, and the overall rowing motion should feel natural to complete.
  • Storage options
    • Generally speaking, rowers typically have fairly large footprints so it’s a bonus to find one that has the option to be folded up and stored away when not in use to save floor space.
  • User capacity
    • Machines have different weight and leg length (often referred to as height capacity), but most machines accommodate the general population.
  • Dimensions
    • Rowers have different dimensions so make sure you have enough space to comfortably use it.
  • Assembly
    • Some rowers can take as little as 15 minutes to put together while others can take a few hours.  Obviously, the easier to put together the better.
  • Warranty
    • The longer the warranty, the better (generally speaking) but it’s important to read the fine print.   Does the stated warranty cover just the frame or other moving parts, too?
  • Price
    • Besides being under $500, it has to be valued correctly.  The price tag only reveals one small part of the story and has to be factored in with everything else listed above.

Recommended Rowing Machine

Best rowing machine under $500The best rowing machine under $500 is the Stamina Air Rower 1399.  With a durable frame backed by a generous warranty, the 1399 offers a solid rowing experience often found on machines that cost 3X more.  It’s an air-resistance rower that has adjustable resistance determined by the rowing intensity of the user so workouts can be adjusted on the fly.  It offers portability that allows the footprint to be reduced by half when not in use and has caster wheels that make it easy to move around when needed.   

Why this Machine was Chosen

This was a tough decision to make because there are so many good rowers in this price-range, but the deciding factor that led me to choose the Stamina Air Rower 1399 is it’s an air-resistance rowing machine while the other top candidates are hydraulic piston rowers.  I favor air-resistance rowers because they provide on-the-fly adjustable resistance, have a smoother rowing motion, and typically last longer compared to piston resistance machines.  Click here to see a summary of the 4 different resistance-types.  The 1399 also costs ~66% less than the higher-end air rowers so to find one that’s comparable in this price range is pretty rare.

To see a thorough review going over the ‘important criteria’ listed above in greater detail click here.

When it comes to products, the more you pay usually means you’re getting higher quality but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something comparable for a lower price.  The Stamina Air Rower offers a solid rowing experience that’s similar to rowers priced much higher and is the best in the under $500 price-range so if you’re looking for a high-quality full-body workout machine without the expensive price tag, look no further than the Stamina Air Rower 1399.



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