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Fortunately for us, the times have changed considerably. Today you can score a pretty decent rig on a budget. In this guide we are going to show you our picks for the top 7 best budget rowing machines under $300.
These models may seem simple compared to top tier rowers, but some of them are among the best rowing machines on the market. Lets jump right into it.
Shopping for an affordable rower isn’t easy but it is made so much easier thanks to brands like Goplus. Their designs have been the backbone of the affordable fitness segment for almost a decade now. Goplus Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine is a perfect example of what you can expect to see in a segment of the market which where low prices are expected but so is decent performance.
The frame on this machine is a very simple one and features an upright stand at the very front. This way, when you are done working out, you can simply put the machine in its upright position and store it away more easily. The magnetic resistance drive offers 8 levels of magnetic resistance which you can select using the resistance selection knob.
Overall, the ride is pretty smooth even when you go hard at it for a while. The seat, although very simple is sufficiently comfortable all things considered. Last but not least, there is the LCD display mounted above the resistance selection knob which is great for tracking your progress. It shows calories, total rows, rows per minute and a few more useful parameters. It’s simple but it works just fine.
Much like Goplus, Merax is another brand that has always been present in the entry level segment. However, that is not the only thing they are known for. They also have a pretty distinct aesthetic which they run on most of their machines. Merax likes to use a lot of very dark gray tones with blue accents here and there. That is exactly what we see on the Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower.
From a design point of view, you have a fairly light but ultimately robust frame which is more than capable of supporting you as you work out. The somewhat lightweight rail is there because this is a folding rower. Once you are done working out, all you have to do is pull a pin at the very end of the rail and the whole thing will pivot upwards.
As expected, this is another magnetic rower which means that you have a manual resistance selection knob with its 8 levels of resistance. The foot pedals are a rotary type with some 30 degrees of movement, which is more than enough for the full range of motion. Lastly, there is a very simple LCD computer module installed on it too.
EFITMENT rowers are the most robust machines you can find once you start tightening your budget. This brand may not offer anything revolutionary in terms of design or function, but in all honesty no one really expects that from them. On the contrary, at these prices, all you really want is good core performance.
Fortunately for us, good core performance is exactly what EFITMENT RW-02 is all about. This rower features a very simple yet robust frame which is made of quality tubing. This is a folding model with a push pin at the front of the rail. Folding it and storing it is super easy and convenient. One thing that really struck as awesome on this rower is the seat. Most other brands in this price range offer hard contoured seats which may not be comfortable for everyone. EFITMENT went with a padded seat.
This almost guarantees that you’ll have a comfortable workout, even if you like to spend hours rowing. RW-02 is a magnetic resistance machine and offers some 8 levels of tension. Its large flywheel enclosure houses a simple yet very legible LCD display you can use to track various parameters and stats as you work out.
It comes as no surprise that Sunny Health & Fitness offers what is probably the most trusted budget rower on the market. They are known for designing and producing quality equipment at reasonable prices but it is arguable that Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 simply pushes those boundaries even further. At its core, it is a very lightweight machine with a simple, light but definitely robust frame.
The seat is a contoured padded design which slides very smoothly over the main rail. On the other end, you have a set of rotating foot pedals with retention straps, which are both comfortable and offer plenty of grip. This rower is a standard magnetic type with 8 levels of magnetic resistance. The resistance selection knob is located at a very predictable place, it is easy to reach and quite tactile.
Right above it you will find a simple LCD display unit with a fairly basic screen on it. It is definitely not as advanced as some other models out there, but it sure works fine. You can easily read the info, cycle through different stats and so on. At this price, there is not much we can complain about. It is a proper workhorse.
Speaking of minimalist workhorses, Marcy makes one that is really pushing the boundaries of affordable as we know them. Their Marcy NS-40503RW magnetic rower is all about getting you that core performance on a budget. At least that is what their policy states. If you ask us, it offers much more than that. Where most other brands are doing very little in terms of additional features in this price range, Marcy does.
More on that later. Starting from the frame, we see a very robust setup with a sturdy rail and leveling feet in the back. This is a folding rower which relies on a push pin to retain the rail in the upward position. Due to its fairly light weight, you won’t have trouble getting this rower in and out of storage.
On the contrary, it will quite easy. When it comes to hardware, Marcy has used the standard magnetic resistance setup like we are used to seeing on this list by now. You get 8 levels of tension which you can choose by selecting different values on the selection knob. Here’s the best part. This rower comes with a media shelf you can use to mount a tablet.
The next model we want to show you also comes from Sunny Health & Fitness. This time around, it is a slightly different type of rower than we are used to seeing on this list. Most of the models we have shown you so far rely on magnets to create resistance. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606 we are looking at here uses something completely different.
Elastic cord rowing machines aren’t that numerous on the market these days, at least not in the mid range segment. However, if you are looking for an entry level budget build, these tend to work just fine. There are also a few tangible benefits to this design. For starters, the fact that you are pulling on an elastic cord means that you have resistance on the pull but also on the release.
As you might already know, slow and controlled release is one of the best ways to build muscle. Aside from its unique resistance system, this rower sits on a fairly standard frame. It is robust, durable and offers plenty of support. You can also track your progress thanks to the built in display unit which features two rows of information and pretty simple controls.
Continuing the line of unorthodox rowing machines from Sunny Health & Fitness, we ran into their SF-RW1406 hybrid rower. Compared to the rest of the machines on this list, this one is definitely the most unusual one. For starters, it is a hydraulic piston setup which relies on two pistons on each side of the machine to provide resistance.
This type of rower offers a more controlled experience since you aren’t pulling on a cord and a handlebar but rather a set of metal bars. The hybrid designation comes from the fact that this rower sports an unusual frame. It doesn’t have a sliding sit mounted on a rail. Instead, you have a situp bench. This has two main implications. First, you will be working your lower back and abdomen in order to retain good form.
Secondly, the range of motion of the handles is different and has you pulling them out and next to your shoulders instead of close into your chest. However, this still qualifies as a rowing machine and is a perfect choice for those who need a simple, compact machine. Also, it is one of the cheapest ways to get into this activity at the current moment.
Just like it is the case with most other fitness machines, the affordable segment is going to bring a few limitations, tradeoffs and compromises. However, none of these affect the core performance too much. Affordable rowers are a very viable option for a cardio exercise when you are on a budget.
This is partially due to their fairly simple design and the fact they are inherently straightforward. When we say that the core performance isn’t affected, that doesn’t mean that there is no merit to $1000 rowing machines. On the contrary, but it would be responsible to claim that a budget rig isn’t going to give you everything necessary to get a good workout on a daily basis.
The key to finding a good inexpensive rowing machine is to know exactly what you need it to do. There are several types of affordable rowers out there and you need to know which one is the one you need.
Do you need a folding one, or is a standard rower going to be enough for you? Knowing these things beforehand can help you save money on features you don’t need and open you up to models where that extra cash might be better spent. With that said, lets discuss the features you can expect to find in this segment of the market.
Almost all inexpensive rowers are going to fall within the magnetic category. There are numerous reasons for that but all comes down to the simplicity of production and the fact that similar solutions have been and are still used in other fitness machines.
One thing to keep in mind with magnetic rowers is that you have to manually set resistance. At least that is the case with the affordable ones. If you were to invest a bit more, you would run int o rowers with computer controlled resistance and pre programmed workout regimens.
Another thing to keep in mid is the seat. Some brands offer their rowers with very comfortable seats, others do not. Since you might spend quite some time on this machine, it would be very advisable to find a model that best suits your comfort needs.
In our experience, most affordable rowers come with decent seats. That is definitely the case with the ones we have chosen for this list.
Affordable rowers are a great way to get into this activity without committing too much money. These are perfect as test models or beginner models. If you decide that rowing is something you want to do long term, that is when you might want to invest into a better rig.
The models we’ve listed above are great for an umber of applications. Some are perfect beginner models while others have everything it takes for more applications.
All you have to do is find the model which brings all the features you want. Fortunately for us, there are plenty of options.