BodyCraft VR500 Rower Review
The VR500 is BodyCraft’s top-of-the-line indoor rowing machine. It fuses essentially unlimited air resistance with 32 levels of magnetic resistance. Highlights include a smooth aluminum track, 12 preset workouts and wireless heart-rate control. The VR500’s 19″ seat level makes it easier to access than low profile rowing machines, so it can accommodate a wider variety of trainees. And with 38.5″ of seat travel, the VR500 can accommodate users up to 6’8″. Although it has a relatively large footprint when assembled, its easily foldable design makes it suitable for most home gyms as you can pack it away after use.
The VR500 features a combination of air and magnetic resistance. The basically infinite air resistance is combined with 32 levels of electronically controlled magnetic resistance. This combination will provide enough challenge for most users. And as it has 38.5″ of seat travel, the VR500 will work for trainees up to 6’8″. Its sturdy aluminum track makes for a stable ride, and can hold up to 350 lbs.
Although this rower’s LCD display is nothing to rave about, it still displays all your essential rider data. This includes time, distance, calories, pulse, watts, level, strokes per minute, and profile. The console’s workout selection is inclusive. You can add up to 4 user profiles, and bounce between 12 preset programs including race, heart-rate-controlled, interval, custom definable and manual. To use the heart-rate-controlled programs you will have to use your own chest strap. If interactive training is more your style, you can add on an optional tablet holder so you can dock your own device for virtual rowing and coaching videos (for an additional cost).
The VR500 features a nylon belt. This is quieter than a chain drive, though at the cost of overall product longevity. But it delivers a smooth ride, and customer reviews show that it is quiet enough to watch TV or workout without disturbing the household. It’s also comfortable. The aluminum handlebar features 4 buttons for you to adjust your resistance without reaching for the console. The contoured seat features heavy-duty roller bearings allowing for a stable row, and there’s adjustable heel rests and foot straps so you can find your perfect fit before you train. The VR500’s seat level is chair-like at 19″. Being easier to access compared with low profile rowing machines, it can accommodate a wider variety of trainees. At 20″ wide by 98.5″ long, it isn’t a small machine, especially length wise. But it will work in most home gym spaces as it is easily foldable after use. It fold to just 58.5″ long by 20″ wide by 77″ high and has built-in transport wheels for simple storage after workouts.
BodyCraft sells the VR500 Rower with two solid warranties. The residential warranty provides lifetime coverage for the frame, seven years for parts, one year for wear items and two years of free labor. This is an excellent warranty for any price category. The light commercial warranty (up to five hours/day) provides ten years for the frame, three years for parts, and one year for wear items and labor.
- Data: The LCD display provides all your essential rider data.
- User Profiles: Up to four users can save profiles to the rower.
- Program Profiles: Including manual mode this unit has a dozen preset programs. Four are races, four are heart-rate-controlled and two are for interval training. You can also save a custom program.
- Heart-Rate-Controlled Programs: Four heart-rate-controlled programs can be used with your own chest strap. Three are preset to help you work at 55%, 75% and 90% of your maximum heart rate. The fourth HRC program lets you set the target percentage.
- Monitor: The LCD monitor is sleek and easy to read even at night thanks to LED back-lighting. It can be moved and tilted with an adjustable bracket.
- Resistance: The resistance is smooth and easy to adjust. It’s electronically controlled and a hybrid of air and eddy current magnetic force.
- Handlebar: The handlebar is ergonomically smart and has integrated resistance controls.
- Seat: The seat is contoured, sturdy, and can travel 38.5″ to suit users up to 6’8″. The seat height of 19″ is easier to access for many people who have limited movement.
- Folds: To save space you can easily fold the VR500. Its folded dimensions are 58.5″ long by 20″ wide by 77″ high. It has transport wheels for easy storage.
- Energy Saving Mode: The console automatically shuts down after four minutes of inactivity.
- High Capacity: The BodyCraft VR500 has an aluminum frame and steel support legs. Its maximum user weight capacity is 350 pounds.
- Warranty: The residential warranty is exceptional and the light commercial warranty is competitive.
- Nylon Belt: The handle drive uses a nylon belt with the potential to fray. Rowing machines with metal chains have a superior setup, although they require oiling.
- Large Size: At 98.5″ long by 20″ wide, the VR500 is sized to fit almost anyone. The downside is that it requires more space than other indoor rowers do.
The BodyCraft VR500 rower is a durable fitness machine with helpful programming. It’s a solid choice for anyone who wants an effective at-home workout. It’s also a good option for light-commercial spaces because it’s sized to fit virtually all rider heights. It has a high entry point as well, making it relatively easy for physical therapy patients to access.
Just keep in mind that it’s not meant to satisfy serious outdoor rowers. Other brands build rowing machines especially meant for crew team members. If you fall into this category, we recommend comparing the VR500 with the options from WaterRower and Concept2, especially the Concept2 Dynamic rower.
Frequently Asked Questions
98.5" L x 20" W x 38.5" H
Maximum User Weight Capacity