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Hydrow vs. Echelon Smart Rower: Which is the Best Rowing Machine?

Hydrow vs. Echelon Row


Interactive training has touched every corner of the fitness industry, and indoor rowers are no exception. The indoor rowing machine space has been slower to adopt immersive training than other parts of the industry such as indoor cycling. This is all changing, however. There’s now a variety of interactive rowers on the market at various price points. It’s no longer reserved for the elite models such as the Hydrow.


You may have heard the Hydrow being compared to the Peloton for the elite workout experience it provides. As you may also know, however, both top-spec models come at a price. This is where the Echelon Smart Rower comes in. More and more brands like Echelon are designing rowers that mirror the Hydrow experience, but without the premium price tag. The Echelon Row is just $999, and has an impressive range of features to complement this enticing budget. But is it worth spending the extra cash for the undeniably premium Hydrow experience? Here we’ll compare the Hydrow to the Echelon rower to see how they stack up.

Hydrow vs. Echelon Comparison Table



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Echelon Smart Rower

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  • Hydrow = $2,199
  • Hydrow + monthly Hydrow membership + free standard shipping = $2,237
  • Hydrow + yearly Hydrow membership + free standard shipping = $2,655
  • Rower = $999.99
  • Rower + monthly Echelon Fit subscription + shipping = $1,239.97
  • Rower + 1 year Echelon Fit subscription + shipping = $1,499.97 (financing available)
  • Rower + 2 year Echelon Fit subscription = $1,599.98 (free shipping & financing available)



  • 6 years on structural frame and upright storage kit
  • 2 years on the screen, other electronics
  • 2 years on wear items (handle, strap, seat assembly, and hinge on screen carriage)
  • 18 months on labor

12-month limited parts and labor warranty




86″ L x 25″ W x 47″ H (from the floor to the top of the screen)



83.5” L x 20.5” W x 41.75 H (+/- 0.25”)



145 lbs.108 lbs.



Aluminum & Steel


Aluminum & Steel


Weight Capacity


375 lbs.


300 lbs.




300 levels of electromagnetic resistance (set to 104)



32 levels of electromagnetic resistance


StorageCan be stored vertically with the upright storage kit (sold separately)

Vertical Dimensions: 25″ W x 33″ D x 86″ H


Folded Dimensions: 39.5” L x 20.5” W x 60.25” H (+/- 0.25”)




22” HD touchscreen


No screen, it’s a bring-your-own-tech model


Interactive Training


Via Hydrow Membership


Via Echelon Fit


Heart-Rate Monitor


Wireless heart-rate monitoring via Bluetooth


Wireless heart-rate monitoring via Bluetooth








Transport Wheels







Hydrow Rowing Machine

The Hydrow is a premium indoor rower built for immersive indoor rowing. It’s the only rower on the market offering a Live Outdoor Reality™ experience. The Hydrow scores major points for its unique interactive training consisting of live and on-demand rowing workouts delivered by world-renowned athletes on the water. At $2,199 (without subscription costs), the Hydrow isn’t cheap. That said, as is usually the case, you get what you pay for. Expect club-quality components and impressive software all packaged into a futuristic, chic design that would complement any home workout space.


Highlights include:

  • Interactive Training: Huge library of on-demand workouts and scenic rows, as well as an impressive live rowing schedule and team rowing.
  • Screen: 22” HD touchscreen immerses you in Hydrow routines.
  • Resistance: 300 levels of electromagnetic resistance to personalize your experience so you find exactly the right challenge for you.
  • Quiet: The electromagnetic resistance and belt drive make for a smooth and quiet row.
  • High Quality: The Hydrow is made from commercial-grade components.
  • Sleek Design: It’s a standout indoor rower design that will complement any home gym.
  • Philanthropy: Hydrow is committed to giving back. When you row for 60 days they donate to in your name.

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Echelon Smart Rower

Much like their Connect bikes, the Echelon Smart rower is a tech-savvy but affordable machine that will cater to virtually any trainee. 32 levels of electromagnetic resistance, a belt drive, and a sturdy aluminum and steel frame create a smooth and quiet rowing experience. Quick resistance controls on the handlebar and an affordable $999 price tag help the Echelon rower stand out from the crowd. The Echelon rower is a bring-your-own-tech machine, but this brings the costs down significantly. Just pop your own tablet onto the holder, connect to Echelon Fit, and get to work. It’s also easily foldable. If you want to train interactively on an indoor rower but don’t want to break the bank, then the Echelon Row is a stellar choice.


Highlights include:

  • Price: It’s affordable for a quality rower that supports interactive streaming.
  • Workout Variety: Live and on-demand workouts via Echelon Fit.
  • Foldable: Folded, the Echelon Row is just 39.5″ L x 20.5″ W x 60.25″ H (dimensions are +/- 0.25″).
  • Resistance: 32 levels of electromagnetic resistance allow for a smooth and quiet row.
  • Handlebar Controls: Quick controls allow you to change resistance on the fly.
  • Bring Your Own Tech: This helps to keep costs down.

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So which one is best for you?

 Hydrow ProsEchelon Rower Pros


  • Warranty outshines the Echelon rower
  • Sleek, futuristic design
  • Unique interactive training with impressive live rowing schedule and team rowing
  • 300 electromagnetic resistance levels & belt drive for quiet row
  • Commercial-grade components
  • Aluminum and steel construction can hold up to 375 pounds
  • Fitness data sharing
  • Bluetooth heart-rate monitoring
  • Vertical storage
  • Philanthropy
  • Significantly more affordable than the Hydrow
  • Easily foldable
  • Modern design
  • 32 levels of quiet electromagnetic resistance and belt drive for quiet row
  • Quick handlebar controls
  • Aluminum and steel construction can hold up to 300 pounds
  • Bluetooth heart-rate monitoring
  • Savings on subscription and shipping fees when you opt for 1-year or 2-year Echelon Fit subscription rather than monthly

Hydrow Cons



Echelon Rower Cons


  • Price point is higher than Echelon
  • Subscription fees cost $38/month (although this is on par with other subscriptions on market)
  • Costs extra for the vertical storage (via the upright storage kit) and we would have liked to see this thrown in for the price
  • No preset workouts
  • Short 1-year warranty 
  • Subscription fees cost $39.99/month (although this is on par with other subscriptions on market)
  • Echelon Fit doesn’t offer as impressive interactive training as Hydrow (but it’s continuously improving)
  • Bring-your-own-tech model (but this also brings costs down)
  • There are different shipping costs depending on which Echelon Fit membership you choose (monthly, one year, or two year)
  • No preset workouts

My Experience

  • The Hydrow scores major points for its built-in 22” HD display, making it feel more complete than the Echelon rower. If you already have your own tablet to dock on the Echelon rower, however, the Hydrow’s screen may not justify the price hike. It won’t be the same experience, but it is a lot more affordable.
  • Although the Hydrow feels more premium than the Echelon Row, it’s harder to move around due to the weight difference. Saying that, the Hydrow feels sturdier due to its heavier overall weight, so you feel a little more at ease when you are pushing through high-intensity rows on the Hydrow. It can hold 75 pounds more than the Echelon rower.
  • The Hydrow rower is slightly larger than the Echelon rower (about 3 inches longer and 5 inches wider), and it doesn’t fold like the Echelon model. The folding feature is a great addition to the Echelon Row; it will suit most home gym spaces as you can easily fold it away after use. We have a slight issue with the fact that you have to pay $70 extra for the Hydrow’s upright storage kit in order to store it vertically. We’re happy that there is this option, but would have liked to see this thrown in for the price to begin with.
  • There’s no denying that the Echelon Row is more affordable. If cost is your main concern then this is probably your best bet.
  • The resistance/drag options on the Hydrow are really impressive. It’s not just about the numbers (the Hydrow has 300 levels of electromagnetic resistance as opposed to the Echelon rower’s 32): it’s about personalization. Although there are technically 300 levels on the Hydrow (set to 104 by default), we love this wide selection more for the fact that you can precisely fine-tune the level of challenge and feel of the rower as you progress. In this way, it feels much like a water or air rower.
  • Hydrow wins when it comes to interactive training for indoor rowing, but Echelon Fit is only going to grow as their fitness community continues to grow. Hydrow stands out for its impressive live daily rowing schedule and rowing community. Team rowing competitions, leaderboards, and more help to keep you motivated. It mirrors the elite Peloton experience.
  • If you have your eye on the Echelon, keep in mind there are different shipping prices with each Echelon membership option (monthly, one year, two year). If you think you will use the app in the long term and can afford to pay more upfront, it’s a better deal to opt for one of the yearly memberships as then shipping is either halved or free. You can also choose financing if you opt for one of these.
  • When comparing the warranties, the Hydrow far outshines the Echelon Row. This is perhaps expected for the price difference, but the difference in warranties is vast.

In Conclusion…

Overall, the Hydrow is a more premium indoor rower. Its club-quality components in combination with its stellar interactive training and team rowing opportunities and leaderboards make for a really immersive, motivating fitness experience. However, this does come at a price. The Echelon Smart rower is a really impressive machine for the price. It’s still high quality, durable, and offers a motivating interactive training experience via Echelon Fit. Not to mention the fact that the app and all its software is only set to improve further as the Echelon fitness community grows. When deciding which of these rowing machines is best for you I would recommend zooming in on the quality of the apps (and how much you think they would help you stay motivated), storage options, and price. It all comes down to your own workout needs, home gym space, and budget.


If you want an easily foldable machine and have a smaller budget, the Echelon row is a fantastic option for you. It’s compact in more ways than one; if you’re tight on cash and space, this rower will cater to both of those needs. However, if you want the best of the best, the Hydrow is the top-spec choice that will keep you entertained and motivated to exercise for years to come. We aren’t saying that the Echelon rower cannot do this. We’re just saying that the Hydrow delivers a unique indoor rowing experience that echoes many experiences you would get on water such as team rowing, live on-the-water rows with world-class athletes, healthy competition and much more. A rower that inspires you to keep going back for more is the best value option. Both of these rowers will offer you this, so really, it may just come down to the best price point for you.

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