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First Degree Fitness Viking 2 AR Rower Review

Quick Take

The First Degree Fitness Viking 2 AR rower is one of a handful of high-spec offerings from one of the two biggest names in water rower manufacturing. While it’s a slightly older model—going back to when not all FDF rowing machines had adjustable resistance (AR in the product name)—it’s built to the same spec as many current offerings from the brand. At just shy of $1,600 it’s not an entry-level buy, but rather a sturdy piece of equipment that has overall longevity in mind. Most who use a water rower will say that once they’ve gotten used to their equipment they will seldom adjust their resistance settings, making the adjustable resistance more of a consideration for those who have multiple users in the household of different levels of strength or capability.

Pros

Water Resistance
Easy Storage
Higher Seat

Cons

Slow Response
Bungee

Our Review

The First Degree Fitness Viking 2 AR Rower is built to complement home gyms and light commercial centers. Its frame is a hybrid of sturdy ash hardwood and dual steel rails, and its water resistance system is easily adjusted with a dial mid-workout. This water rower is low maintenance, and is under warranty for up to 25 hours/week of use.

 

A main selling point is the smooth, complete stroke cycle that this particular model provides. Additionally this rower provides guidance with the standard First Degree fitness computer monitor, which shows time, distance, strokes per minute, pulse, interval training and more. While it does have a USB port in order to be able to export your performance stats, it’s another rower that does not have any means of connecting to interactive training. Again, this isn’t the end of the world for many, and not something we hold against it. Generally speaking, a water rower is all about the smooth glide and soothing sound that comes with its operation when compared to the more mechanical pull of an air or magnetic resistance rower.

 

Unlike some water rowers, the Viking 2 AR has a raised seat, which is an important selling feature for those with any sort of mobility issues. Even if that’s not a key issue for you, not having to hoist yourself up and off the ground after rowing is a plus in my books—at 6’1″ tall, I’m not a big fan of rowing from a position only a few inches off of the floor. This rower measures approximately 84” long x 22” wide and has a maximum user weight capacity of 330 pounds. Rather than folding, the unit stands up in order to limit its footprint when not in use.

 

Positives

  • Variable water resistance: Many rowing enthusiasts prefer water rowers over the other indoor rower alternatives. Water resistance rowers can not only support a smooth stroke cycle, but also bring the sight and sound of splashing water for a more complete sensory experience. On the Viking 2 AR Rower the resistance level can be adjusted with a dial. Unlike other water rowers, you don’t have to adjust the level of water in the tank in order to adjust resistance—the machine does the rest.
  • Higher seat: The Viking 2 AR’s sliding seat is at office chair height (21”) for easy entry and exit.
  • Adjustable footplates: The footplates are adjustable with six sizes to choose from.
  • Data: An LCD monitor shows time, distance, 500 meter split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts, interval training and heart rate. It’s not a ton of built in programming when compared to other models on the market, but this is one of the trades you make when opting for a water resistance rower.
  • Wireless heart rate: The Viking 2 AR is equipped to work with a Polar-compatible heart rate transmitter, sold separately.
  • Hardwood: The wooden frames for Viking rowers are made from sustainably sourced American ash. The lacquered hardwood can add a warmer look to a workout room compared with all-metal alternatives.
  • Easy to store: This rowing machine can easily be turned upright for storage, then measuring just 22” wide x 21” deep. It is 84” long.
  • High capacity: The First Degree Fitness Viking 2 AR has a maximum user weight capacity of 330 pounds.
  • Good warranty: Competitive warranties are included for home use and light commercial use. Light commercial use if for up to 25 hours/week. For heavier duty commercial use, First Degree Fitness makes the Viking PRO.

 

Negatives

  • Slow response: When a rider sets a new water resistance level, it doesn’t take effect until another 10 strokes have been taken. With other resistance systems the change is instantaneous.
  • Bungee: The Viking 2 is low maintenance overall, but its bungee might sometimes need tightening by the owner. This process is outlined in the owner’s manual.

 

Our Conclusion

The quiet and low maintenance overall, Viking 2 AR Rower is recommended for families and for light commercial fitness centers who are in the market for a bit of a showpiece, so to speak. It comes at a premium, but with water rowers in general you’re paying for a particular aesthetic and sound. If you’re just looking for an overall quality rower, things like the Concept2 Model D or Stamina X rower make more sense. It’s ready to support whole body workouts for up to 25 hours/week, and the data monitor provides a reasonable amount of guidance and feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How large is the Viking 2 AR Indoor Rower?
A: The Viking 2 AR is 84" long by 22" wide by 21" high.
Q: Does the Viking 2 AR rowing machine fold?
A: The Viking 2 AR does not fold, but it can be stored upright when not in use.
Q: What are the upright dimensions of the Viking 2 AR rowing machine?
A: Upright, the Viking 2 AR is 22" x 21".

Rating: 90%

Resistance Type

Water

Dimensions (inches)

84" L x 22" W x 21" H

Maximum User Weight Capacity

330 lbs

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