Xterra ERG650W Water Rower Review

xterra erg650w water rower reviewThe Xterra ERG650W Water Rower is one of the higher-end models offered by Xterra Fitness – but is it worth the cost?

You can typically find good-quality water rowers in the mid-price range, with a sturdy build, solid functionality, and comfortable design. 

You’ll find these rowers do an amazing job of giving you a great workout using water resistance.

But sometimes it’s worth paying a little more and getting a top-of-the-line machine – one with a few extra “bells and whistles”.

The question I always ask myself is, “are the extra “bells and whistles” worth the higher price?”

In my Xterra ERG650W Water Rower review, I’ll take a closer look at this rower and see if the features it offers are worth the higher price – or if you’re better off with a lower-cost model.

By the end of this review, you’ll know exactly whether or not the Xterra ERG650W Water Rowing Machine is the choice for you!


Resistance Type

As the name suggests, the Xterra ERG650W is a water resistance rowing machine. Meaning, it creates resistance using paddles suspended in a tank of water.

When you pull the handle to begin the stroke, the gears cause the paddles in the tank to spin, displacing the water. The harder you pull, the more water is displaced and the harder it becomes to row.

This creates both variable resistance (which I explain in this article) and a nice natural feel. It’ll feel like you’re actually rowing on water (lake, river, etc.) because you’ll hear the swishing sound of the water.

Water rowers like the Xterra ERG650W tend to have a quiet, smooth, and strong resistance, which increases the harder and faster you row.

xterra erg650w water rowing machine

If you want to do a gentle, low-intensity workout, you can just row slower. But if you’re looking to maximize intensity, pull harder and faster, and you’ll get one heck of a workout.

Also, adjusting the level of water in the tank will raise/lower the difficulty.

To put it simply, adding more water will feel like you’re rowing a heavier boat (one filled with more people). While less water will feel like you’re rowing a lighter boat (a 1- or 2-passenger vessel).

Magnetic rowers have little dials or knobs that you adjust to increase the difficulty. With water rowers, you add/remove water and pull slower/faster to vary the challenge level of the workout.

The Xterra ERG650W water rower comes with a tank tilted to a 45-degree angle, which adds a level of difficulty to the rowing motion. You can read this article where I explain the differences between vertical vs. angled vs. horizontal tanks.

Resistance Benefits

One of the great things about water rowers vs. air rowers is the noise level.

Water rowers tend to be significantly quieter than air rowers. You’ll hear the soothing, gentle sound of water sloshing in the tank, but it will be quiet enough that you can watch TV, listen to music, or carry on a conversation.

Compare that to the loud whirring of an air rower, and it’s definitely one “pro” that makes water rowers a great choice.

If you’re a stay-at-home parent wanting to take advantage of your child’s nap time to get in a workout, or you just don’t want to make too much noise, using water rowers is a great way to keep things quiet while still getting in a proper training session.

Resistance Levels

The Xterra ERG650W comes with six levels of resistance—sort of.

As I mentioned above, the resistance is based on the amount of water in the tank. The more water you add, the higher the resistance level.

ERG650W Rower Resistance Levels

The Xterra ERG650W water rowing machine’s tank comes with six markers indicating the fill levels for the six “levels of resistance”.

You can start off with the lower levels, but work your way up to the higher levels of resistance as you grow accustomed to the intensity of the workout. It’s a good option to give you a varied workout, but, unlike air rowers, it’s an adjustment you have to make manually—literally pouring water into the tank by hand.

Resistance Overall

Overall, there were very few (if any) complaints about the resistance on the ERG650W.

It’s quiet, strong, and smooth. Plus, it’s great for beginner or advanced athletes!

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Monitor/Control Panel

Here we get to one of the “bells & whistles” that come with the Xterra ERG650W Water Rowing Machine.

Let’s start with the basics…

The Xterra ERG650W Water Rower has a 5.6-inch LCD screen with an adjustable angle to allow you to raise/lower the screen according to your height and position.

The monitor tracks workout data, including:

  • Total Time
  • Time/500M
  • Calories
  • Distance
  • Strokes
  • Strokes/Min (SPM)
  • Room Temp
  • Clock
  • Drag Force
  • Watts

That’s a lot of data tracked, and displayed on a nicely sized LCD screen.

XTERRA Fitness ERG650W Rower Monitor

The built-in buttons make it easy to scroll through the data and access the various programs, which include:

  • Race Against Computer
  • Time Countdown
  • Distance Countdown
  • Strokes Countdown
  • Calories Countdown

Additional Programs & Features

Here we get to the Xterra ERG650W’s additional workout modes.

The 5 programs above are “standard” and typically come with most mid and high-range water rowers. But the Xterra ERG650W water rowing machine takes it a step farther and adds:

  • 4 Target Goals (distance, speed, SPM, etc.)
  • 3 Work/Rest Modes
  • 4 Custom Work/Rest Modes
  • Repeats

These additional programs add a lot more versatility to your workouts and give you plenty of options. Whether you want to increase the intensity, extend your rowing time, or challenge your fitness overall, the integrated programs make it easy to do so.

Once you finish with the workout, press the “Recovery” button to watch your heart rate return to normal (a good metric for tracking your general fitness).

Thanks to the built-in receiver, the Xterra ERG650W Water Rower is compatible with heart rate monitors (sold separately), and you can pair it easily with a 5.3 kHz chest strap monitor. One of the models that I particularly like is the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor.

The Xterra ERG650W water rower comes with 2 AA batteries included, making it easy for you to set up the water rower and get working as soon as you unpack it.

One more useful feature: the Xterra ERG650W comes with a tablet holder incorporated into the monitor’s casing, great if you want to watch TV/movie on your personal device while rowing.

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Build Quality

At the end of the day, all the fancy “bells & whistles” aren’t going to be worth much if the machine itself isn’t built to last. Obviously, the build quality is one of the most important things to evaluate when considering a new rowing machine.

The Xterra ERG650W’s high price tag reflects the quality of the materials used. The frame itself is made from solid steel, with dual aluminum slide rails. User reviews praise the sturdiness of the frame, especially for larger and heavier users.

XTERRA Fitness ERG650W Water Rowing Machine

The tank is made from polycarbonate (a highly durable plastic) and undergoes pressure-testing to ensure there are no leaks.

One or two reviews did mention that the tank leaks, but that could be the result of damage during shipping or incorrect assembly. The majority of user reviews stated clearly that their tanks had no leaks or cracks and were easily installed.

A review on the Xterra ERG650W’s page did mention squeaking at the seat and main console. This could be a problem solvable by WD40/lubricant, or merely an issue unique to their machine. No other reviewers found an issue with the seat or the rowing action itself. Most agreed that the seat slid very smoothly on the aluminum railing, making for a more effective workout. One even called it “rock solid”.

Quality & Design Issues

One of the complaints that arose in a couple of reviews was regarding the placement of the Xterra ERG650W water rowing machine’s footrests. Specifically, they’re placed too close together.

This isn’t a problem for most people but larger, heavier users and some men do not like rowing with their feet so close together. The reason the feet are so close together is due to the ‘dual-rail’ design and needing to put the footrests in between the rails. On ‘mono-rail’ designs, the footrests are slightly wider due to being on the outside of the rail.

erg650w Footrests

I will say that in a rowing scull (boat), your feet are very close together so this placement is realistic!

A few users commented on the plastic housing protecting the monitor, saying it felt “cheap” or “flimsy” compared to the rest of the sturdily-built machine.

Build Quality Overall

Aside from a couple of minor complaints, the quality of the Xterra ERG650W water rower appears to live up to the high price tag. The majority of user reviews online—on the Xterra Fitness website, Amazon, and other third-party sellers—are overwhelmingly positive.

Solid materials, user-friendly design, and smooth rowing action make it a good option to consider if you’re looking for a higher-end water rower.

Check out their promo video below:

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Comfort is a crucial factor to consider when researching a rowing machine. After all, if the machine is uncomfortable, you’ll have a hard time using it for long training sessions.

You’ll be glad to know the Xterra ERG650W water rower is one of the most comfortable machines on the market. User reviews praised the smoothness of the stroke and the seat’s sliding action. Thanks to the high-quality steel and aluminum used for the frame, as well as the integrated ball rollers, the seat will always glide smoothly back and forth as you row.

Users like the multi-bladed impellers inside the tank, stating that they provided excellent resistance with no “lag”. The low noise level and soothing sounds of water were other “pros” that came up in many reviews.

ERG650W Water Rowing Machine Comfort

The contoured seat is one of the things that drew my attention to the Xterra ERG650W right off the bat. Not only is the seat larger than average, but it’s raised (15” high) to make it easier to get on and off the machine.

The padding is soft and won’t sag or compress even after a long, hardcore training session. Thanks to the ergonomic contours, it encourages better posture and spinal alignment during workouts.

As mentioned previously, there is an issue with the foot-pedals being too close together. However, the adjustable pedals do allow you a bit of flexibility in customizing your foot position, so you may be able to find a placement that reduces this potential problem.

The ergonomic handle was one point that got a lot of high praise in the user reviews. Not only is the handle padded, but it is ergonomically contoured to encourage a more natural grip that will be less stressful for your wrist and hand joints.

Comfort Overall

Overall, the Xterra ERG650W water rowing machine scores high marks in the comfort department.

With a smooth gliding action and well-designed seat and handle that will make your rowing session just that much more comfortable.

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Storing the Xterra ERG650W is incredibly easy!

Just slide the seat forward, grab the handle built into the rear of the frame, and lift.

ERG650W Rower Storage

The water rower machine is designed to stand, and it comes with built-in transportation wheels that make it easy to slide around your garage, home gym, or living room.

When stored, the rower occupies just 20.7″ by 26.5″ of storage space. If you need a machine that will fit into a compact area or be easy to tuck out of the way in a corner of your workout room, the Xterra ERG650W is a good option.

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The manufacturer suggested weight limit is 350 pounds, which is actually higher than the average for most water rowers.

The Xterra Fitness website states that the Xterra ERG650W is suitable for rowers up to 6’4” tall, and user reviews agree that even taller rowers find it comfortable.

For shorter rowers, it’s sized for anyone over 5’1”, making it compatible with the vast majority of rowing trainees. I really don’t see any issues with some under 5’0″ using this rower.

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  • Assembled Dimensions (L x W x H):
    • 79.5″ x 20.7″ x 33.9″
  • Storage Dimensions (L x W x H):
    • 20.7″ x 26.5″ x 79.5″
  • Assembled Weight:
    • 76 lbs

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Assembling most rowing machines is typically a complex, multi-step process that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your level of experience.

Which makes it so surprising that a number of reviewers were able to set the Xterra ERG650W up in 15-20 minutes.

Yes, you read that right: more than a few of the users posting their thoughts about the Xterra ERG650W water rower on Amazon mentioned that they completed the setup in 15-20 minutes.

That’s unheard of for most rowing machines, even water rowers.

Reading through all the reviews and even watching a few unboxing videos on YouTube, it quickly became clear that the assembly of the Xterra ERG650W water rowing machine is easier-than-average. Xterra Fitness designed a machine that incorporates fewer moving parts and a more intuitive, user-friendly design.

The result is faster assembly time, even for those who claimed they were “less than handy with tools and instructions”.

The assembly manual has 5 main steps to putting the rower together.

  1. Connect the rear stabilizer to the seat rail
  2. Connect the front stabilizer to the frame with end-caps
  3. Assembly the seat onto the seat rail and connect the rail to the main frame
  4. Attach the console
  5. Fill the water tank

And, of course, as with all water rowers, you need to add in a water purification tablet when you fill it. These tablets help to keep the water in the tank clean for longer.

For more advice on maintenance and regular cleaning of your water tank, read my complete WaterRower Tank Cleaning Guide here.

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Pros and Cons


  • Sturdy frame
  • Silky smooth gliding action
  • 15 different training programs
  • Complete workout data displayed on screen
  • Incorporated tablet holder
  • 6 levels to adjust the water tank
  • Angled tank for increased resistance
  • 15” seat height
  • Incredibly easy assembly


  • Pedals placed uncomfortably close together
  • Plastic shell protecting the display feels flimsy

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Consumer Reviews

The vast majority of the Xterra ERG650W user reviews are positive. Most users like how well-built and comfortable this model is, how smooth the rowing action feels, and how varied the pre-programmed workout options were.

Even the reviewers with a few negative things to say went out of their way to extoll the positives of the Xterra ERG650W.

Overall, users felt that the higher-than-average price tag was well worth the expense, as they ended up with a rowing machine that delivered on quality, comfort, and reliability.

Check out more Xterra ERG650W reviews here.

Average Rating: 4.7

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  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 2 years
  • Labor: 1-year in-home
  • Model Number: ERG650W

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Xterra ERG650W Water Rower Price

The Xterra ERG650W Water Rowing Machine typically retails at the higher end of the price range. However, as I discovered when investigating the rower for this review, it’s worth the price.

I’ve found Amazon to have great pricing for this model and other Xterra Fitness products. You get great consumer protection, plus, free shipping on qualified orders.

Overall Review

After all the research I did, I’m convinced the Xterra ERG650W is a solid choice for a higher-end water rowing machine. The user reviews made it clear that the machine is built well, designed to be sturdy, and comes with all the nice little bells and whistles that will make for more versatile, customizable workouts.

The complaints were few, the praise was glowing, and the price tag is well worth it.

If you’re looking for a lower-cost model, check out my review of the budget-priced XTERRA Fitness ERG600W.

If you like the angled water tank and want a lower-cost model – check out the Sunny Health & Fitness Phantom Hydro Rower.

I hope you enjoyed my Xterra ERG650W water rower review! If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

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