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Best Rowing Machines Under $1,500

As we ratchet another notch up the pricing food chain in the rowing category from $1,000 t0 $1,500, the differences are less dramatic than they were in the lower categories, however they’re still worth pointing out. Once you get up to this level, the improvements in the best rowing machines under $1,500 come in the form of improved materials and general construction/engineering of the machine first, as well as the occasional increase in functionality.

 

All told this is another narrow operating window that’s mostly dominated by the water rowers, though Concept2 still holds rank as one of the best in this price category, the same they do in our list of best rowing machines under $1,000.

Best Overall

Concept2 Model E

Rating: 92%

Best Rowing Machines Under $1,500

Model

Rating

Resistance Type

Weight Capacity

Folding

Resistance Levels

Pricing

Reviews

Industry Leader
Concept2 Model E Rower
Concept2 Model E
Sleek Design
WaterRower Natural Rower
WaterRower Natural
Variable Water Resistance
Life Fitness Row HX Trainer Rower
Life Fitness Row HX Trainer Rower

92%

Air

500 Lbs

Yes

10

85%

Water

700 Lbs

Yes

0

83%

Water

300 Lbs

Yes

4

Rowing Machines Under $1,500 — What To Expect

Now that we’ve reached the best rowing machines under $1,500, the landscape is once again changing, but not as dramatically as you’d think. We have some new players in the field, including Life Fitness—a name that’s no doubt familiar if you’ve spent much time in commercial gyms over the years. Overall, warranty terms are improving, and we’re starting to see build quality that’s more aligned with commercial fitness equipment rather than basic residential pieces. From an aesthetic standpoint we’re also starting to see the use of solid wood frames. This is unheard of in any other workout category, but there’s something about the aesthetics of a wood framed rowing machine that seems to have immense appeal. Thankfully form follows function, and these wood rowers are of equal if not higher quality than their steel counterparts at an operational level.

 

Machine Types

As of the $1,000 mark water rowers are vastly more prevalent in the category, though these quality machines still aren’t the range-topping models; those will come in the best rowing machines over $1,500 category. Concept2 sticks to air resistance, which remains preferred by many, and as you’ll see in the next price bracket there are a few other brands that also stick with this method.

 

Features and Specs

Really here the biggest differences in most cases pertain to materials. We’re seeing some increases in number of resistance levels or training programs available in each rower’s consoles, though the big jump in water resistance hasn’t reached this price bracket yet.

 

On the other hand, we’re seeing some big gains in terms of weigh capacity and warranty terms, as we’ve come to expect from more commercially-focused pieces of fitness equipment. WaterRower is the leading brand on the weigh capacity side, as their ‘entry models’ still have weight capacities north of 300 lbs, with the bulk of their machines being able to hold up to 600 lbs or more. At 400+ pounds it’s unlikely that many people are plopping down on a water rower—the mechanics of rowing aren’t really suited to people at that weight level—but that rating is more a testament to the overall construction/durability of the equipment. If they can maintain a warranty for a user at that mass, the wear and tear on the machine with a 200 lb rower should be minimal.

What to Watch Out For

At this price category you’re welcome to be a bit more picky in terms of what you prefer in functions, features, and even finishes, so the decision making is less about ‘what’s a good machine’, and more about ‘which machine suits my wants and needs best’.

 

Pros

Longer warranty terms
More programming
More resistance levels

Cons

Wood frames require minor upkeep
Low seat height on many wood framed water rowers

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What's the difference between a $1,000 rowing machine and a $1,500 one?
A: Well, in some respects not very much, but it depends on the model. Water rowers tend to have nicer and more robust wood frames, as well as greater adjustability in their resistance levels.

1. Concept2 Model E

The Concept2 Model E is effectively a beefed-up version of the brand’s more affordable Model D. It sits higher off the ground than its sibling, and its frame is a touch more rigid. The arm holding its PM5 console is also longer, allowing a closer view of your stats if you’re a taller rower. If your intent is occasional use the Model D will do the job just fine (it’s the winner in our best rowing machines under $1,000 list), but if you’re looking to train long and hard, then there’s value in spending the extra couple hundred bucks. The taller seat height is also hugely beneficial for those with mobility issues, or whose knees are less cooperative than they used to be.

Read the Full Concept2 Model E Review

2. WaterRower Natural

One of the industry standards when it comes to water rowers, in this price point we finally get into the full wood-framed rowing machines that started becoming popular a handful of years back. Aside from the obviously enjoyable sound they produce, and the feel of their resistance compared to air or magnetic rowers, the look of a wooden water rower is what often wins people over. Their low-to-ground design and twin rail seat setup also adds a level of rigidity to the machine, even when rowing at a serious pace. This unit doesn’t have adjustable resistance, however its console comes loaded with a handful of training programs, which is a nice bonus. You’ll note that we list this unit as folding; the rower can easily be stood up to clear some floor space when not in use.

Read the Full WaterRower Natural Review

3. Life Fitness Row HX Trainer Rower

A close competitor to the WaterRower listed above, the Life Fitness Row HX Trainer is another solid wood-framed offering from a brand more well known for their commercial grade gym equipment. The rig has four variable resistance levels, adjustable via a control knob located on the top of its tank. Its console displays the usual set of performance metrics, and can be connected to a wireless heart rate monitor (sold separately). It’s also worth noting that this unit is backed by a very solid warranty—5 years on its frame, 3 on its tank and seals, 2 years on mechanical parts, 1 year on its console, and 1 year on labor.

Read the Full Life Fitness Row HX Trainer Rower Review