Woman on rowing machine

Top 5 Best budget rowing machine


Best affordable rowing machines

A budget rowing machine is a good investment that will save you money and help you stay in shape.


While finding a good rower for less than $500 might have seemed almost impossible years ago.  You might find yourself spoilt for choice with the many options available today.


However, just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s a great investment and vice versa. Some budget rowing machines are quite frankly not worth your money or time.


The prices of rowing machines vary greatly depending on many factors. Factors such as brand name, features, type of resistance, convenience, and complexity of the machine.


A budget rower won’t have the same features as a high-end Concept2 rowing machine, but a good one should meet all your needs.


The best way to save on cost is to determine which features you need and those you can do without.  Remember, some styles are often cheaper than others


Hydraulic rowers are considered the cheapest with air rowers being the most expensive.


In this article, we help you choose the best budget rowing machine.


These are all great machines that will give you a full-body workout at half the cost.  They’re durable and make for a  great investment worth every penny.


Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.


If you’re curious or in a hurry:


Best budget rowing machine


MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine

Want to burn some serious calories for weight loss or are you an avid rower looking for a basic budget machine that you won’t outgrow? The MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine is the rower for you.


Fully assembled, this rower measures about 76.4in”L X 18.9″W x 10.2’H and weighs 64 lbs. Its heavy-duty alloy steel frame keeps it stable and prevents rocking during exercise.


Besides, the frame supports user weights of up to 250 lbs. With an extra-long slide rail, it accommodates users of all heights up to 6’5″. Another key feature that makes this rower stand out among competitors.


It comes with 16-levels of magnetic resistance.


Even avid rowers will find it challenging to exercise using this rowing machine. Besides, level 7 should be pretty challenging for most users to get past.


To get the most out of this rower, you have to learn and maintain the right posture. Make sure that your catch, drive, finish, and recovery are all always proper.


The only downside to its performance is that it can only withstand 30-minutes of exercise. It might not be suitable for rowers who would like to exercise for 60-minutes or more.


The grip handlebars are padded and the seat cushioned to keep you comfortable.


A multi-functional LCD monitor is available to keep track of your workout progress. Track your time, calories, reps/minute, count, and total count. Information you need for effective training.


With its space-saving design, all you have to do is fold the steel rail after use and store it in an upright position. In case you need to move the MaxKare magnetic rowing machine around, use the transportation wheels.


Key features;

  • 16 levels of magnetic resistance.
  • Grip handlebars.
  • Large seat cushion.
  • Non-slip foot pedals.
  • Large LCD console.
  • Foldable design.
  • Transportation wheels.
  • 250 lbs weight limit.
  • Recommend for heights of up to 6’5.



  • Cannot withstand long continuous.
  • Very long.
  • The monitor doesn’t track distance.


Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rower

Having been in the business of fitness for over 18 years, you can trust that the Sunny Health and Fitness team knows what they’re doing when it comes to their equipment.


With the SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine, you get a top-quality rower to use to get in shape. The current model has been updated to ensure that you get a smooth and quiet workout session.


Fully assembled this magnetic rowing machine measures about 78″L x 19.1″W x 23.2″H in. However with the steel rail folded, it measures 37.4″L X 19.1″W X 53.5″H.


An alloy steel frame keeps this rowing machine sturdy and allows it to support user weights of up to 250 lbs. Slide rail is made extra-long to accommodate all users with a 48-inches length with a 44-inch inseam.


Even though 8-levels of resistance might not seem like a challenge, you will feel the difference at just level 4. Increase or decrease the difficulty of your workout using the tension knob.


Track your progress on the battery-powered digital monitor.  Check on metrics such as your time, distance, count, calories, total account, and scan. However, distance is not monitored on the LCD.


The SF-RW5515 rowing machine comes with a padded seat cushion for extra comfort. Workout for longer without any discomfort. Also included are non-slip pedals.


The pedals are designed with a textured surface to keep your feet firmly in place at all times.


No matter the surface you choose to use your rower on, it remains stable thanks to the floor stabilizer. Be it on bare surfaces, carpets, or hardwood floors.


Transportation wheels are also included to help you move the rower from room to room.


Key features;

  • 8 levels of magnetic resistance.
  • Grip handlebars.
  • Large foot pedals.
  • LCD console.
  • Foldable design.
  • Floor stabilizers.
  • Transportation wheels.
  • 250 lbs weight capacity.



  • Doesn’t track meters covered.
  • Basic monitor.
  • Poor quality foot straps


Stamina Body Trac Rowing Machine

The Stamina Body Trac Rowing machine is designed for those with limited workout spaces. Its unique space-saving design makes it a great addition to any home gym as it folds up pretty nicely for storage.


Fully assembled, this rowing machine measures about 58.25″ x 42.5″ x 18.13″. However, for storage, it folds to almost half its size at 49.5 inches x 11.3 inches x 9 inches.


Despite its lightweight look, it’s made of a tough steel frame. With a user weight limit of 250 lbs. You can be sure that this rower is just as durable as it looks.


Unlike all other rowers on this list, the Stamina rowing machine does not use a flywheel for resistance. Instead, it uses hydraulic-piston resistance.


The amount of air/fluid in the cylinder is what determines the resistance. Increase or decrease it to match your workout intensity.


Another unique feature is that this rower uses full-motion swing arms. A great way to simulate real outdoor rowing by pulling the handles outwards and inwards.


The seat is molded to offer your maximum support as you exercise. Large pedals are made non-slip with a texturized surface.


A simple LCD monitor is available to monitor workout metrics such as your time, calories, strokes, and total strokes.


Once you’re done with your exercise, fold the arms in for easy storage. It folds so perfectly you can store it in the closet.


Key features;

  • Hydraulic-piston resistance.
  • Full motion rowing arms.
  • LCD monitor.
  • Pivoting footplates.
  • Foldable arms.
  • Molded seat.
  • Foldable design.
  • 250 lbs weight capacity


  • Poor quality foot straps.
  • Doesn’t track meters covered.
  • Hydraulic piston runs hot.


Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Magnetic Rowing Machine

FitnessReality 1000 plus rower offers more than just full-body cardio workouts. Its patent-pending stabilizer pads are multi-functional and can be used for strength training.


Fully assembled this rower measures about 88.5″ L x 21.5″ W x 21.5″ H.However when folded for storage, it only measures 39.5” L x 21.5” W x 53.5” H.


Weighing in at only 64 lbs, it might look lightweight but it will get the job done.


Its alloy frame supports user weights of up to 250 lb. Thanks to its extra-long slide rail, users of all heights from  4’9” to 6’6” can use this machine.


To create resistance, this machine comes with a flywheel surrounded by powerful magnets. The closer the magnets are to each other the higher the resistance.


With this rowing machine, you get 14-levels of resistance. Just enough for both beginners and seasoned rowers to make their workouts challenging.


Ball-bearing rollers ensure sure that you get a smooth and whisper-quiet experience. You can even watch TV as you exercise.


Multi-functional stabilizer pads do more than just keeping the rower steady. Use them for some upper body exercises such as front raises, bent-over rows, side curls, and many more.


The contoured seat is well-designed for comfort to ensure that you can exercise for longer without strain. Anti-slip pedals are large enough to accommodate different users.


Track your progress on the LCD monitor as it records your time, distance, count, total count, and strokes.


With add-on features such as Bluetooth connectivity. Connect to apps such as Myfitnesscoud that keep your workouts engaging. Stream-on-demand classes and train with professionals.


A big plus for beginners as you don’t have to second guess if you’re form is correct.


Transportation wheels are also included so you can easily move this Fitness 1000 rowing machine after your workouts.


Key features;

  • 14-levels of magnetic resistance.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Large LCD.
  • Large seat cushion.
  • Stabilizer footpads.
  • 250 lbs weight capacity.
  • Recommended user height – 4’9” to 6’6”.
  • MyCloudFItness App.


  • Poorly designed pedals.
  • Long folding process.
  • Inaccurate tracking data.


SH & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rower

With the Obsidian Surge 500 water rowing machine, you get a rower that is guaranteed to elevate your workouts. If you find yourself outgrowing resistance often, then this machine is for you.


It requires a good amount of space but it’s well worth it. Fully assembled, it measures 80″L x 22″W x 34″H. Weighing in at 92-pounds due to its heavy-duty steel frame.


This heavy-duty construction is what enables the Obsidian Surge 500 to support user weights of up 300 lbs. Besides, it can also withstand tough workouts.


For resistance, what you get is a flywheel with 16-fan blades. A winning combination that creates an infinite amount of resistance.


High-density hydro blades rotate and push against the water for resistance. The faster the blades spin, the higher the resistance created. A perfect simulation of real-life rowing.


To increase the resistance you can increase the water in the tank. However be warned, water rowers are dynamic and the amount of effort you put in each stroke will also determine your difficulty.


R2 fitness monitor tracks your workouts with all the essential data you need. This includes metrics such as time/500M, total strokes, calories, and total time. You can also link it to your heart rate belt.


The seat is designed wide enough and fully padded to help you maintain the right posture. Pedals are non-slip with velcro straps that keep your feet secure at all times.


When you’re done with your workout, use the transportation wheels to move the Obsidian Surge 500 rower. No heavy lifting is required, just tilt and roll.


Key features;

  • Water resistance.
  • R2 Fitness Meter.
  • High-density hydro blades.
  • Non-slip footpads.
  • Foldable design.
  • Transporttaion wheels
  • Floor stabilizers.
  • 300 lbs weight capacity.


  • Footplates swivel.
  • Inaccurate tracking information.


MaxKare Water Rowing Machine

This water rower is one of the newest budget additions to a long list of high-quality fitness equipment from MaxKare. It’s designed to mimic real-life rowing but in the comfort of your own home.


Fully assembled, this rower measures about 78.0″L x 20.0″W x 30.0″H and 30.0″L x 20.0″W x 80.0″H when folded.


Its alloy steel frame is built to withstand vigorous use. It also supports user weights of up to 264 lbs. Users of heights up to 6’3” can comfortably use this rowing machine.


As a water rowing machine, resistance is created by the fan blades submerged in the water tank. As you row, each stroke displaces the water creating resistance just like in real-life rowing.


A good tip when using water resistance is to always fill the tank. This will save you time and you don’t have to cut short your exercise to make adjustments.


However, keep in mind that water rowers are dynamic. The faster you pull, the faster the blades spin and the higher the resistance.


The LCD monitor is not the most advanced but it works just as well. Use it to keep track of your time, stroke/minute, time/500M, and calories.


The seat is cushioned to keep you comfortable. Footplates are adjustable and can accommodate different foot sizes. Accessories such as bottle holders are also included to ensure you stay hydrated.


Built-in transportation wheels allow you to move the MaxKare water rowing machine easily after use.


Key features;

  • Water resistance.
  • Padded handles.
  • Large cushioned seat.
  • Large LCD monitor.
  • Adjustable footplates.
  • Bottle holder.
  • Foldable design.
  • Transportation wheels.
  • Recommended heights up to 6’3″.
  • 264 lbs weight capacity.


  • The monitor is not backlit.
  • The folding process is tedious.


SNODE Water Rowing Machine

This WR100 rower is the rowing machine you need to take your fitness to the next level. Keeping with its less is more principle, SNODE delivers a high-quality water rowing machine that will meet and exceed all your expectations.


Fully assembled, this rower measures about 79″L x 20″W x 36″H. Even with a lightweight design, its alloy steel frame support high weight capacity users of up to 333lbs.


Water is used to create resistance on this rowing machine. As you row, the 16 hydro-blades push against the water for resistance. The faster you pull the harder the resistance you work against.


The blades are made rust-resistance and durable to withstand the most vigorous of workouts.


Its ergonomic seat ensures you can exercise for long without any discomfort. In addition, it’s designed to perfectly fit your natural hip curve for maximum support.


Adjustable pedals accommodate different sizes well. Even at the highest resistance levels, your feet remain firmly secured.


A large multi-feature LCD helps track the intensity of your workout time, distance, calories, and speed.


To save space after use, simply fold in the slide rail. Better yet, use the transportation wheels to move the rowing machine.


Key features;

  • Water resistance.
  • Adjustable pedal.
  • Large LCD monitor.
  • Padded seat cushion.
  • Floor stabilizers.
  • 331 lbs weight capacity.


  • Poor quality pedal straps.
  • Basic monitor.


How to choose a good rowing machine

These are the factors you should consider when buying a rower;

  • Size.
  • Frequency of use.
  • Cost.
  • Noise level.
  • Type of resistance.


How much space are you working with? Measure out the available space and use this information as a guide when shopping. If it’s enough to fit a love sofa, it should be enough for your rowing machine.


Air rowers require the least amount of space with magnetic and water rowers requiring the most space.


Frequency of use

How often do you intend to use the machine? Are you buying it for your family or yourself?


Some rowing machines are not designed to withstand vigorous use.


Many budget options are best used a few times every week and not daily. In addition, some rowing machines cannot withstand prolonged continuous use.


Noise level

Magnetic rowing machines are considered the quietest. They’re often the safest choice, especially for those living in top-floor apartments. While water rowers don’t make as much noise, they do produce a whooshing sound.



How much do you want to invest in your rowing machine? While you couldn’t get a good rowing machine under $500 years ago, right now you might be spoilt for choice.


Even though cost doesn’t determine quality, most high-end rowers will often include add-on features to make your workouts more engaging. A cost of $700 is considered high-end.


Resistance options

There are four different resistance types when it comes to rowing machines. This includes;

  1. Magnetic
  2. Water
  3. Air
  4. Hydraulic-piston


With magnetic rowers, resistance is created due to the distance between the magnets surrounding the flywheel. The closer the magnets to each other, the higher the resistance. These are often the quietest but can be quite pricey.


Next are water rowing machines. With these, the flywheel is submerged in water, with each stroke, the fan blades push against the water to create resistance. They’re more realistic but they do take up a good amount of space and are very expensive.


With hydraulic piston rowers, resistance is created with the use of pistons or cylinders. The amount of resistance depends on how much air/fluid is inside the piston/cylinder. They’re often the cheapest of all rowing machines.


Air resistance rowers. With this model, resistance is created as air is sucked into the flywheel. The more air is sucked in the harder the resistance. They’re the most popular and are very lightweight.


Best budget rowing machines