What do you get when you combine an outrigger-style rowing machine and German engineering?
You get one of the best rowers in its class, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine.
Users rave that all you have to do is “close your eyes” and you will feel like you’re rowing on water!
It comes fully equipped with a multifunctional performance monitor with a built-in pulse rate monitor. Best of all, it has a rock solid build quality and comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame.
When it comes to hydraulic piston rowers, the Kettler Kadett rowing machine is one of the best and most expensive but it does have its downsides.
The Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine is a hydraulic piston rower that uses hydraulic cylinders to provide resistance to the user.
It uses two pistons, one attached to each rowing arm, which allows the user to adjust the resistance on each arm. This comes in handy if you have one arm that’s weaker than the other.
For example, if your left arm is weaker than your right arm, you can make the resistance level on the left rowing arm to be lower than the resistance level on the right rowing arm.
To find out more about the hydraulic piston resistance type, click here.
The Kadett has 12 different levels of adjustable resistance that can be easily adjusted by turning the collar on the piston. The wide range of resistance levels make this rower ideal for people of all fitness levels, from beginner to a elite athletes.
One thing to note, the resistance levels descend with level 12 being the lowest resistance and level 1 being the highest resistance.
A few users commented that when the rowing arms were set to the same resistance that one arm felt stronger than the other.
For example, when the resistance level is set to ‘7’ on the left and right rowing arms, the resistance in the right rowing arm feels more difficult when compared to the left rowing arm.
Here are various causes for the issue:
This is an “issue” with all hydraulic piston rowers and how they function rather than a Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine problem.
Hydraulic pistons sometimes wear out unevenly or require more time for the oil inside to heat up and reach the same viscosity (thickness).
As some users pointed out, another reason for the unequal resistance is it’s tricky aligning the pistons on both rowing arms.
If they’re misaligned, a ‘7’ resistance on the left rowing arm might be equal to a ‘4’ resistance on the right rowing arm.
One user commented that the reason some people are experiencing unexpected resistance inequity is they’re choosing the desired resistance level wrong and they need to line up the chosen resistance level with the “triangle sticker” on the piston.
Most users of the Kadett did not experience uneven resistance. For the few that did, it wasn’t a huge problem and most users still gave the Kadett rowing machine a high rating.
I have reviewed several hydraulic piston rowing machines and each one gets their fair share of comments/ complaints from users about the pistons.
I always expect to bump into piston-related comments because they naturally have a few issues. However, out of all the piston-resistance rowers I’ve reviewed, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine had the least amount of comments/ complaints about their pistons and I don’t think it’s by accident.
Yes, the Kadett is one of the most expensive piston-resistance rowers on the market, but with a higher price-tag you’re getting a machine with higher-quality parts. This includes what appears to be higher quality hydraulic pistons, hence fewer piston-related comments/ complaints.
Here is a video I suggest you watch that will help you get a better understanding of the rest of the review:
- Workout time
- Number of oar strokes
- Speed of strokes
- Distance rowed during rowing session
- Total distance
- Energy consumption
- Pulse rate
Another neat feature is before and after a workout, the room temperature is displayed on the monitor.
All of the tracked data is displayed on the monitor simultaneously with one of the metrics displayed in large text at the top of the screen.
By default, the monitor scans through all metric data and rotates them in large text at the top of the display every five seconds. You can stop the ‘scan’ feature anytime you choose.
A few users commented that is was odd the fitness monitor was labeled in German. However, the fitness data is labeled in its designated area on the display and once you translate the few words to english (by reading the instruction manual) it’s very easy to read and remember.
I wouldn’t let the monitor being labeled in German deter you in any way but I just figured I would mention it so you weren’t surprised!
Another thing to note, the data is measured using the metric system.
The performance monitor can track your pulse by the following methods:
- Included earlobe clip (a clip that attaches from your ear to the monitor)
- Optional Polar T34 chest strap heart rate monitor
In addition to tracking your pulse rate, the monitor can also measure your recovery pulse rate after a workout.
According to the Kettler representative I spoke to on the phone, an external heart rate monitor may be more accurate at tracking your pulse than the included earlobe clip, but the earlobe clip works fine.
I didn’t read any negative complaints about the earlobe clip from users so unless you already have a compatible heart rate monitor, you will be fine using the included earlobe clip.
Like most rowing machine performance monitors, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine keeps its monitor near the user’s feet. The large display makes reading the workout data easy to read, but if you’re rowing in the dark you will need some light to see the monitor since it’s not backlit.
It automatically turns on when the rower is in use and automatically shuts off after a few minutes of inactivity. It doesn’t require outlet power to run the monitor, just two AA batteries which are included.
With the Kadett, you have three options when working out with the monitor:
- Just start rowing and the performance monitor will start recording your workout data
- Set predetermined workout goals and keep rowing until you hit your target
- Row in your preferred “aerobic zone” as determined by the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine (zone is determined by age)
- When you hit your goals you will receive visual and audible confirmation
- This is convenient, especially the audible confirmation since I seldom look at the performance monitor when I’m rowing
The monitor on the Kettler Kadett doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of top end rowing monitors but overall it will give you all the data you need to get a great workout.
If you like tanks, you will love the Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine!
Users praised the solid build quality of the rower with its powder coated high carbon steel frame and injection molded resin housing.
Kettler must know they have a solid rower on their hands because they offer a lifetime warranty on the frame against breakage. This is very uncommon in the industry.
In addition to the solid frame, the ancillary parts are also made of high quality materials. The padded seat rollers have high end ball bearings to ensure a smooth gliding motion for many years. I bring this up specifically because the cheaper rowing machines have seat rollers that become warped over time, which makes the seat gliding motion wobbly and uncomfortable. This is something you won’t have to worry about with the Kettler Kadett rowing machine.
The manufacturer also provides a 3-year warranty on the parts which is also above industry standards.
Users loved that the Kadett is quiet and some use it while watching TV at a normal level.
You won’t hear any unpleasant noises such as creaking and squeaking that you occasionally hear on cheaper rowers.
Comfort is key when it comes to rowing and the Kettler Kadett doesn’t lack in this department.
The seat has thick padding and is comfortable to sit on during long rowing sessions. Users enjoyed the seat and liked the sturdiness, as it doesn’t wobble.
The seat has heavy duty rollers that don’t break down easily like ones found on cheaper rowers and the sealed balled bearings eliminate the need for lubrication.
The handles are made of plastic so you will most likely need to wear gloves while rowing, or at least when you first start rowing until your hands get used to the handles.
Besides wearing gloves, users suggested buying cheap rubber handlebar grips to put over the stock handlebar rests.
The footplates allow the users’ feet to pivot naturally during their rowing motion. The footplates pull forward from the seat track or “telescopes” out to adjust to your leg length. ( See how to use in the video above )
The footplates are the feature users commented/ complained about the most. Users complained they are flimsy, the foot straps are too big, and they and move around while you’re rowing.
Although the footplates may be a nuisance for some, users have found many ways to get around the issue such as not using the foot straps while rowing or using bungee cords instead of the provided foot straps to secure your feet.
The foot strap issue isn’t a deal breaker as it’s not really a huge problem. Most users didn’t mention it as an issue but I just wanted to inform you and know it’s a fixable problem.
Users raved about the overall rowing motion, describing the experience as “smooth and fluid” and “feels like I’m rowing in a boat on water”.
The comfort and smoothness of the rowing stroke is one of the strongest selling points of the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine.
You can see how fast and easy storage is in the video above.
The ‘outrigger’ design makes it wider than most hydraulic piston rowers but still fairly compact.
It doesn’t have wheels so moving it long distances can be difficult.
According to Amazon, the maximum user weight is 250 pounds (113 kg), but Kettler’s website says it’s 285 (129 kg) pounds. I confirmed the maximum user weight with a representative from Kettler so it appears Amazon’s information is incorrect, it’s really 285 pounds (129 kg) .
The telescopic design of the footplates makes it easy to adjust the rower for your leg length and can fit almost any user.
Shorter rowers don’t have to worry about being too short for the Kadett, especially with the adjustable footplate option.
The same can be said for most tall rowers. Users as tall as 6’6” (201 cm) were able to use the machine with no issues and had a few inches to spare on the seat track.
If you’re taller than 6’6” (201 cm), I would go to your local gym or fitness equipment retailer and row on the Kadett to make sure you can row with a full range of motion.
- 59.0″ x 67.0″ x 18.0″ (150 cm x 170 cm x 46 cm) (L x W x H)
- Folded/ Storage:
- 59.0″ x 20.0″ x 18.0″ (150 cm x 51 cm x 46 cm) (L x W x H)
- 66 pounds (30 kg)
NOTE: A user commented that you will need a fairly large space to use the Kadett without any issues due to the wide outrigger design of the rowing arms. The user suggested 6 square feet (.56 square meters) to be on the safe side.
The Kadett is delivered with most of the unit disassembled so it will take some time to assemble the rower.
Kettler estimates about 45 minutes with 2 people, but most users were able to put it together on their own in about 1 to 2 hours depending on their ‘handyman’ experience.
Some users had difficulty with the assembly because they claimed the instructions were all in German. However, they just didn’t look hard enough to find the english section.
I took a look at the instructions and I was able to find English quickly under the “GB” (Great Britain) section. The instructions are mostly pictures anyways, so just follow them closely and you will be fine.
Pros and Cons
- Solid build quality
- Outrigger design provides realistic sculling motion
- 12 levels of adjustable resistance
- Long seat track to accommodate tall rowers
- Versatile multifunctional monitor with built-in pulse rate monitor
- Quiet operation
- Manufacturer provides great customer service
- Lifetime warranty on frame
- Comfortable seat
- No wheels for transporting
- Might be difficult to assemble for some people
- Footrest design not up to par with rest of rower
- Performance monitor can come loose
Users raved about the solid build of the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine and about the realistic sculling motion they feel.
They weren’t too fond of the footrest and its difficulty to assemble, but overall users are very pleased with this rowing machine.
A few users mentioned they had issues with the rower arriving with parts missing or some slight damages. However, they did mention Kettler quickly resolved the issues and I can confirm they have excellent customer service.
I spoke to them several times over the phone and they took care of me each and every time. They even offered me 10% off my entire order! I wouldn’t be worried about the shipment being messed up but if it is, Kettler will take good care of you.
Read the full Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine review here.
Average Rating: 4.1
- Frame: Lifetime warranty
- Parts: 3 Years
Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine Price
The Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine is a high end hydraulic piston rower that is made to recreate the feeling of rowing on water. With it’s great build quality and extended warranty, I feel it is very competitively priced.
The price of the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine varies depending where you buy it from, but based on my research it tends to be lowest on Amazon.