WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine

Like all WaterRower rowing machines, the Waterrower A1 Home Rowing Machine makes you feel like you’re really rowing outdoors on the water.  And whether you just want to row casually or get a killer workout, the A1 can easily meet your workout needs.

For those of you that were on the fence for purchasing a WaterRower but felt the price was too high, the A1 has a very attractive price point due to the more “basic” A1 performance monitor and other design modifications so this is a great opportunity to finally get that WaterRower you always wanted!  But how does the lower priced A1 measure up against the other WaterRower rowers and other rowing machines overall?

Table of Contents
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1. Resistance Type
2. Monitor/Control Panel
3. Build Quality
4. Comfort
5. Storage
6. Capacity
7. Dimensions
8. Assembly
9. Pros and Cons
10. Consumer Reviews
11. Warranty
12. Price
13. Overall Review

Resistance Type

The WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine is a water resistance rowing machine that uses paddles (also known as a “water flywheel”) suspended in a tank of water to create resistance for the user of the rowing machine.

The “variability” of resistance on the A1 Home Rowing Machine functions very similarly to how resistance on an air resistance rower works.  The amount of resistance the rower will feel is dependent on the amount of their rowing intensity; if you row with low intensity you will feel low resistance, if you row with high intensity you will feel a lot more resistance.

Because resistance depends on the rower’s rowing intentisty, the resistance offered on the A1 Home Rowing Machine is ideal for users of all fitness levels, from workout beginners to advanced athletes.

The main differences between air and water resistance are:

  • Water is used rather than air on the A1
  • Water resistance makes a lot less noise compared to the air resistance flywheel
  • Water resistance rowers provide an overall smoother rowing motion

To find out more about how water resistance works in addition to the other resistance types, read this article on rowing machine resistance types.

As mentioned in the ‘resistance types’ article above, the rowing experience can be further modified on the WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine by adjusting the level of water in the water tank.  A few users mentioned how cool this feature is on the A1; one user mentioned she was rowing on a near-empty water tank for a few months and when she filled up the water tank slightly she immediately felt the impact and increase in her heart rate.

Although the A1 is audible (makes sounds when rowing – primarily the water tank), the sound is not distracting at all.  Users mentioned that the sound was soothing and enhanced the overall rowing experience.

Users praised how they loved rowing on the A1 and that it didn’t feel like they were working out at times because they enjoyed rowing on it so much.  Users also acknowledged that the workouts they experienced on the A1 were challenging (when they wanted the workouts to be) which is a good thing for those of you that are interested in purchasing the A1 not just for how “fun” it can be but for how much of a workout it can actually provide to you!

Based on user testimony and other research, [when compared to the more expensive WaterRower models] the A1 doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to the type of workout and overall rowing experience users will get on the rower.

Monitor/Control Panel

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The WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine comes with an A1 multifunctional performance monitor that tracks rower fitness data such as:

  • Workout Intensity
  • Stroke Rate
  • Distance
  • Total Strokes
  • Duration

The tracked fitness data are displayed simultaneously on the A1 monitor in separate “windows”.  Here’s a quick overview of the windows on the main screen:

Intensity window:

  • Displays rowing speed in meters per second, miles per hour, minutes per 500 meters, and minutes per 2 kilometers
  • Also displays power and calories burnt per hour

Stroke rate window:

  • Displays number of strokes per minute

Distance window:

  • Displays distance rowed in meters, miles, kilometers, or strokes
  • Can also display distance remaining in current workout (if a predetermined distance for workout has been established)

Time window:

  • Displays time in hours, minutes, and seconds
  • Can also be programmed to display time remaining

WaterRower advertises the A1 monitor is a simpler version of the S4 monitor and that’s reflected in the reduced number of buttons and features.

The A1 monitor has a total of 5 buttons, 2 ‘select’ buttons and 3 ‘navigation’ buttons located directly below the face of the monitor.  Like its S4 counterpart, it’s not backlit so make sure you have some light in the room if you want to read the monitor while working out.  The monitor requires 2 AA batteries to operate, which is provided by WaterRower.

Like I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, one of the reasons the A1 Home Rowing Machine is priced lower than the other WaterRower rowing machines is the A1’s multifunctional performance monitor is missing a few features found on the S4 multifunctional performance monitor, the monitor that is found on the higher-priced WaterRower rowers.

Here’s a table comparing the features on the A1 and S4 performance monitors:

MONITOR DESIGN
A1 MONITOR
S4 MONITOR
Basic Monitor Functions
Intensity Units (m/s, mph, /500km, /2km, watts, cal/hr)YESYES
Average Intensity UnitsNOYES
Distance Units (m/s, mph, /500km, /2km, watts, cal/hrYESYES
Zone Bar/ Settings (Intensity, Heart Rate, Stroke Rate)NOYES
Timed WorkoutsYESYES
Distance WorkoutsYESYES
Interval WorkoutsNOYES
Heart Rate FeaturesNOYES
PC & Software CompatibilityNOYES
Workout Program AutoStoreNOYES
Workout Program AutoPreviewNOYES
Advanced Monitor Functions
Manual Program StorageNOYES
Projected Duration (during distance workouts)NOYES
Projected Distance (during timed workoutsNOYES
Ratio DisplayNOYES
Advanced Heart Rate PrognosticsNOYES
2km Test PrognosticsNOYES
Tank Volume SettingNOYES
Total Distance Rowed/ Machine FirmwareNOYES
Firmware UpgradableNOYES

As the table shows, the A1 monitor is missing quite a few features when compared to the S4 monitor.  Some of the biggest omissions on the A1 monitor include the ‘PC & Software compatibility’, ‘heart rate features’, and ‘interval workouts’.  However, these features are uncommon on most rowing machines so it’s not too much of a surprise that a few features were left out of the A1 monitor.   Also, the missing features are more of a luxury as opposed to a necessity.

Users love the ease of use of the A1 monitor and no one complained about any lack of features.  Although the A1 monitor is not as feature-rich as the S4 monitor, it provides you with more than enough features to track your fitness data and is a good multifunctional performance monitor overall.

Build Quality

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The WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine is handcrafted with Ash wood treated in a clear Danish Oil.  Ash, like all woods used in WaterRower construction, is a premium hardwood that stands the test of time and is extremely durable.  Wood is an ideal design for rowing machines because it’s aesthetically pleasing and it absorbs sound and vibration.

The wood on the WaterRower A1 rower is solid and the frame is super-sturdy.  I have rowed on other WaterRower rowers in the past and I experienced how durable they are so it wasn’t surprising to me that the A1 was just as rock solid as the others.

The maximum weight limit on the A1 is significantly less than the other WaterRowers (275 pounds [125 kg] compared to 1100 pounds [500 kg], respectively), but as long as the rower is under the maximum weight limit, the A1 will definitely hold up against anything the rower will throw at it for sure.

The A1’s water tank is made out of polycarbonate, a [virtually] indestructible plastic so you don’t have to worry about it breaking on you anytime in the near future.

As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, the lower-priced WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine has a few design modifications, which enables this model to be sold for less compared to other WaterRower models.  The modifications include a single monorail (as opposed to a dual monorail) and a rail stability rating of ‘medium’ (as opposed to ‘maximum’).

Although these areas of the WaterRower’s design are considered a downgrade, the overall build quality of the WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine is still excellent.  And users agree with the solid build quality as they commented that they love the overall look and feel of the A1.

Comfort

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WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine ReviewThe WaterRower A1’s molded seat is padded and comfortable to sit on while rowing.   It’s the same seat found on higher-priced WaterRower machines which is extremely comfortable based on personal experience and other user comments I read about while reviewing the other WaterRower rowers.

The handle is durable, easy to grip due to its ergonomic design, and lightweight making it a pleasure to use for short and long periods of rowing workouts.

The heel rests do a good job at securing your heel while rowing and the nylon straps can be quickly adjusted to secure or loosen your feet.

The A1 model doesn’t have the single button adjustment feature that’s used to quickly adjust the footboard size for users’ feet. This feature is found on the pricier WaterRower models.  However, it’s still extremely simple to adjust the footboard size quickly so that missing feature isn’t a big deal at all.

The rowing motion on the WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine is very smooth but this is expected since it’s a WaterRower rower.  The entire rowing motion is a pleasurable experience; from the moment you pull the handle and nylon strap (the “catch”) to when you fully extend your legs and pull the handle to your stomach (the “finish”) – it’s flawless and you constantly feel a good amount of resistance throughout the entire rowing stroke.

The sound of the water splashing in the water tank enhances the experience you feel on the A1 Home Rower.

Storage

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The WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine has a fairly large footprint while in use, but it can be stood up easily in just a few seconds to save plenty of floor space.  A combination of the water flywheel being close to the wheels, the lightweight wooden frame, and some clever engineering make standing up the rower effortless (I can easily stand up the rower with one hand and I’m not the strongest guy in the world by far).  While in “storage mode”, the rower’s footprint is equivalent to a dining room chair!

The dual caster wheels make it simple to move the rower, very similar to pushing a shopping cart or stroller.

Capacity

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According to WaterRower.com, the weight capacity of the rower is 275 pounds (125 kg).  I initially searched Amazon for the maximum weight capacity of the A1 but I couldn’t find one.  Nevertheless, I felt comfortable with the weight provided by the actual manufacturer so I decided to trust their data.

The build and frame of the A1 rower is sturdy and will have no problem supporting rowers’ weight as long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum weight capacity as indicated by WaterRower.

The rower has a fairly long seat track and the seat has a movement length of close to 43 inches (109 cm).  The seat track is similar in length to the other WaterRower models and based on previous research, users have used WaterRower rowing machines with no issues, from pre-teen children to adults as tall as 6’4” (195 cm) (and this is without hitting the stops meaning they could’ve extended their legs a little further without any issues).

Based on the information I’ve gathered and historical data, if you’re taller than 6’4” (195 cm), I would try out a unit at a local fitness machine retailer or gym to make sure it will accommodate your size.  Otherwise, this rower should be fine for everyone else.

Dimensions

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84” X 21” X 22” (213 cm X 53 cm X 56 cm)

22” X 21” X 84” (56 cm X 53 cm X 213 cm) (storage mode; standing up on its base)

Weight:  117 pounds (53 kg) (with full water tank)

Assembly

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Assembly of the A1 is fairly simple.  Even users that aren’t used to putting things together out of a box had an easy time putting the rower together.  There were a few users that were misled a little bit by the instructions.  However, after clearing up the issues with customer service (which users said were extremely friendly and helpful) they were able to put together the rest of the rower in no time.

Users agreed with WaterRower’s estimate that the A1 can be put together in about 30 minutes and the only tool you will need to use for assembly is the provided allen wrench.

Pros and Cons

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Pros:

      • Attractive entry-level price to own a WaterRower
      • Solidly built
      • Smooth and realistic rowing motion
      • Nice Ash wood finish
      • Easy to assemble
      • Dual caster wheels
      • Easy “flip over” storage
      • Comfortable seat
      • Comfortable handle
      • Variable resistance adjustment determined by rowing intensity
      • Can further adjust rowing experience by adding/ subtracting water from the water tank
      • Excellent customer service

Cons:

      • Assembly instructions can be difficult to follow initially
      • Performance monitor lacking advanced features

Consumer Reviews

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Users loved the WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine.  They love the realistic rowing motion, the beautiful aesthetics (one user even commented that he just leaves it on the floor when it’s not in use because it makes his room look better), and the quality of exercise it provides.  A small handful of users had issues with assembly, but they were easily fixed with the help of customer support.  Overall, users just enjoy rowing on the machine and a few even commented on how much they love the sound of water splashing in the water tank during their workout.

Average Rating: 4.9

Warranty

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5 year frame warranty*

3 year parts warranty*

*Requires completion of registration form.  Otherwise, warranty is 1 year.

WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine Price

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The price for the WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine is a great value.  First, it’s a WaterRower and they produce some of the finest rowing machines in the world today so a premium price is to be expected.  The great thing about the A1 rower is it’s a great opportunity to own a WaterRower-branded rowing machine a few hundred dollars less than the other models.

Yes, there are some features on this model that are considered a bit of a ‘downgrade’, but it doesn’t tarnish (not one bit) the overall experience of rowing on a WaterRower.  You have to try it for yourself – it’s a thing of beauty.

I checked various retailers and Amazon has the cheapest price out of all of them.  Plus, I would recommend buying the rower through them based on the very positive shipping experiences I heard/ read about from current owners.

Overall Review

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Before I give my final thoughts on the WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine, I want to briefly compare it to other similar models:

A1 compared to the WaterRower Club Rowing Machine – The Club model is intended for commercial use and accordingly, has a stronger frame and components to support the ‘abuse’ it’s going to get from heavy usage.  The Club model also comes with the S4 performance monitor.

A1 compared to the WaterRower Oxbridge Rowing Machine - The Oxbridge model comes with premium wood and has a stronger frame to support more user weight and an upgrade of various components.  The Oxbridge model also comes with the S4 performance monitor.

A1 compared to the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine - The Natural model comes with a stronger frame to support more user weight and an upgrade of various components.  The Natural model also comes with the S4 performance monitor.

The WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine is a solid rowing machine.  It’s a WaterRower so you can expect a fluid and realistic rowing motion and world class quality.  Although it’s classified as a ‘home rowing machine’ don’t be fooled by that classification – it’s as tough as nails and will stand the test of time.  The ‘downgrades’ when compared to the other pricier models aren’t that big of a deal when you list them out; current owners of the A1 absolutely love the rowing machine.

If you’re looking for a rowing machine that provides a solid workout regardless of your fitness type, provides a realistic rowing motion, and is very durable (not to mention it’s a WaterRower for crying out loud), this is the machine for you. If you’re looking for everything I just mentioned, plus you also want a performance monitor with all the bells and whistles, you might want to pass on this rower.

Overall, the A1 is a solid rowing machine that will leave you satisfied for years to come.

 

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