Want the best rowing machine under 200 bucks? Go for the Maxkare Magnetic Rower. It has 16 levels of magnetic resistance, enough for an intense workout.
Even in this price range, you can everything in a rower.
Surprised? Check our top picks below to find out more!
Best Rowing Machines Under 200
Maxkare Magnetic Rower
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205
Stamina 1205 Precision Rower
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1410
Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine
1. MaxKare Magnetic Rower 16 Resistance Levels
The Maxkare magnetic rowing machine is one of the best rowing machines you can buy. It doesn’t exactly cost $200. But for the kind of value it provides, you would thank yourself for stretching your budget by a few bucks.
This rower is an excellent machine – it has 16 levels of magnetic resistance. Even rowers twice as expensive don’t have so many resistance levels. With such a broad range, you can always increase the resistance by a slight margin to get more out of each rowing session. Magnetic resistance also happens to be dead quiet. So you can work out without waking your neighbors up.
Magnetic resistance is a fixed type of resistance – it doesn’t increase when you row harder or decrease when you row slower. This is great for measuring performance as you can work out for a set time and measure your performance easily.
While there are 16 resistance levels, this rower isn’t suited for professional athletes or people with a strong physique. This is meant to be an entry-level rower and doesn’t have enough tension/resistance that professional athletes need.
A crucial thing to look out for when you’re targeting this price segment is the build quality. Fortunately, the build quality of the MaxKare rower is excellent. You can buy it with confidence knowing that it will last many years. It is made of a steel frame and beams with four rubber floor protectors on its legs. There is a central pillar that makes this rower extremely stable even when rowing at high intensity. The weight capacity of this rower is 243 lbs.
The seat is comfortable but its height is a bit low. So people with back or knee problems may find it uncomfortable to get on and off the rower. The seat rail is long enough to accommodate people as tall as 6’6”.
This machine is made to be user-friendly. It can fold easily to save space for storage. Folding is easy – there is a locking knob that you have to unscrew. Once it is out, you can fold the seat rail toward the flywheel part. When folded, the rower measures 37.4” x 19.7” x 42.3”.
The MaxKare Magnetic Rower has an efficient performance monitor. It can measure time, stroke count per minute, total strokes and calories. The display is easy to read unlike some other rowers. It also has a scan mode that toggles between various metrics after every few seconds so that you don’t have to search for them manually.
The display worked for some users, for others it causes technical issues such as not turning on or being shipped without display. For the few who had complaints, the company helped them immediately, which is a good sign of reliability.
Since this comes at a low price, the performance tracking technology isn’t high-tech. All metrics except calories burnt and distance are accurate. However, this issue – inaccurate reporting of calories and distance – is even seen on more expensive rowers and not a manufacturing fault. So not a deal breaker at all.
The MaxKare magnetic rower is the best rowing machine under 200. It offers enormous value for the price and has everything you need – performance, comfort, compact storage and durability.
- Solid quality
- 14 adjustable resistance levels
- Long inseam
- Efficient performance monitor
- Easy to assemble and fold
- Wheels for moving
- No backlight on display
- Resistance not for athletes/stronger people
- Small wheels
2. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is not only our #2 top pick, it is also an Amazon bestseller. This is for many reasons.
It is a hydraulic rower with 12 levels of adjustable resistance. It is compact in size, like all hydraulic rowers, and has the unique ‘free arms’ design that gives a fuller range of motion than the T-bar handle you see on most rowers. To adjust the resistance, you don’t even have to get off the rower. There is a knob right underneath the seat for that. But as with all hydraulic rowers, the piston tends to get hot and may leak oil after some usage.
Although the Stamina 1050 is one of the best rowing machines under 200, it still has the limitations of a hydraulic rower. Hydraulic rowers don’t have a strong enough resistance for rowing experts, athletes or people who are very strong or big.
The Stamina 1050 has a steel frame and an aluminum center beam. It is highly durable and lightweight, weighing just 40 pounds. The seat may produce a squeaky noise in some cases. If it happens, you can use the WD40 lubricant to fix this quickly.
The rower is small, but durable. It can last a long time. Its weight capacity is 250 pounds – which is excellent for its size and price range.
The LCD monitor is basic and made of cheap plastic, but it does the job. It can track time, stroke count, total count and calories. However, the calorie count is just an estimate. Most rowers have an inaccurate calorie count because they calculate it on the basis of an average user’s height/weight. Apart from that, it has the SCAN mode that toggles through various metrics every few seconds.
The seat on the Stamina 1050 is a bit hard and a seat pad may be needed. Foot plates are sufficient in size and feel comfortable, but the velcro straps can’t prevent feet from slipping. So you’d have to buy new straps.
When it comes to its inseam, people with height up to 6’4” have used it easily. On the other end, it can work for people as short as 5 feet. When it comes to weight, try to stay under the mentioned capacity of 250 lbs. If you are too heavy, it may not work for you.
Its compact size is one reason why it is among the best on our list. It can be folded for storage which brings its size down to 49 ½” x 11 ¾” x 9 ½” (source: Sears). Folding it is easy – just undo the two knobs, fold the arms, put the knobs back in and make the rower stand vertically.
The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is a quality hydraulic rower that is compact yet powerful. Unless you are an athlete or physically very strong or heavy, it will give you a challenging and tiring workout every time you use it. Its free arm design allows you to fully enjoy each rowing stroke.
- Solid build
- 12 resistance levels
- Easy to fold/store
- Fits taller people
- Full range of motion with free arms
- Decent performance monitor
- Typical drawback of hydraulic pistons – they got hot
and tend to leak after some time
- Velcro straps aren’t effective
- Resistance not enough for athletes/very strong people
3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205
The SF-RW1205 is another amazon bestseller worth a mention here. It is a compact hydraulic rower, so great for small apartments.
Not all budget rowers are well made. But the 1205 is a solid rower with a durable steel frame. It will surprise with its quality at its price.
There are rubber floor protectors on the legs that make it stable and protect your floor. It can support up to 220 lbs. of weight. But people with up to 250 lbs. of weight could use it without any issues.
The rower has 12 levels of hydraulic resistance. There is a piston under the seat along with a knob that allows you to change the resistance. However, hydraulic pistons tend to get hot and may even leak after continuous usage over many months.
Some users reported this issue and mentioned how the company replaced the pistons immediately. Some users even set up a fan that blows air on the piston while in use to enhance its durability.
The good thing is that the resistance is of good magnitude, enough for you to have a tiring workout within 20-30 minutes. However, it is common knowledge that hydraulic rowers aren’t suited for stronger people. They don’t have a strong enough resistance.
Assembling the rower is easy. It just requires you to put in three bolts. You won’t need instructions to assemble this rower.
Seat and Handle
The seat is comfortable and has sufficient padding. However, to maintain stability, you have to sit at the center. If your weight is uneven, the rower may start to wag. The handle is soft-touch with enough padding to keep your hands comfortable.
Foot plates are large and accommodate all sizes. They have a pivoting motion which takes the extra pressure off your ankles, which helps people with weak ankle flexibility or ankle issues.
The performance monitor shows a range of workout data including time, stroke count, total count and calories burned. As with all budget or mid-range rowers, the calorie counter isn’t accurate since it doesn’t take into account your weight.
It also has the SCAN mode that toggles and shows a different workout metric every few seconds so that you don’t have to search for it manually.
Hydraulic rowers are easy to store. The RW1205 rower can be folded flat and stored under the bed. But to fold it flat, the rowing handle bolts have to be taken out and the knob on the rear has to be undone as well.
It takes some work initially, but can be done quickly once you get used to it. If you want a quicker way, you can make it stand vertically.
Hydraulic rowers are compact, so they aren’t suited for taller people. If you have a stronger and heavier physique than most people, this rower would be too lightweight for you. It won’t support your weight.
If you are 6’2” or taller, you won’t be able to extend yourself fully on the rower to enjoy a full range of motion.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF RW-1205 is a solid product for those who have an average physique and want a comfortable rower capable of challenging them every day.
- Easy to store
- 12 resistance levels
- Good resistance strength
- Easy to assemble
- Responsive customer service
- Not for taller or stronger people
- Hydraulic pistons tend to get hot quickly and wear out in a couple months
4. Stamina 1205 Precision Rower with 5 Resistance Levels
Stamina 1205 Precision Rower is a solid contender. Here is why:
It is a hydraulic rower with two pistons. So both arms of the rower can work independently, allowing you to ‘mix it up’ when you get bored of the same rowing motion. Stamina is known for producing solid quality budget rowers and this is one of their finest.
The Stamina 1205 rower has solid build quality. Reviews indicate that people were surprised by the quality of this rower. It is made of a steel frame with an aluminum beam. Although it is solid, it is still lightweight – weighing just 50 lbs.
The rower uses two pistons for resistance. The resistance is adjustable with five levels to choose from. Level 1 is the toughest, 5 is the lowest. In most hydraulic rowers, resistance is adjusted by turning a knob that is located under the seat.
But in this one, there are adjusters fitted on the arms themselves. To change the resistance level, you have to unlock the tension adjusters on either side and lock it to the level you want.
In hydraulic rowers, the piston tends to get hot after 15-20 minutes of workout. So one has to be careful not to touch the piston, because it can literally burn your hands. The pistons can also leak oil, although rarely, so it is better to keep a mat under the rower.
Hydraulic rowers are quiet and so is this one. You can enjoy an early morning or even a late-night workout without disturbing anybody. The only sound you will hear is that coming from the gliding of the seat.
After a certain period of use, you may start hearing squeaks from the joints or other parts. The WD-40 lubricant spray will solve the issue immediately.
The seat is super comfortable and remarkably so. It is one of the most comfortable seats on any rower. The handle has a soft-touch, foam padding for comfort. Even the handle on Concept2 rower (the gold standard in rowers) is hard for some people. But the Stamina 1205 has taken care of this aspect.
The monitor can track time, stroke count, speed, distance and calories burned. There is a single button on the monitor that turns it on and helps you use the different functions. There is a scan mode that displays different metrics every few seconds so that you don’t have to do it manually.
However, it is not backlit and the calorie count isn’t exactly accurate since it is based on the height and weight of an ‘average user’. Don’t count this rower out yet, the calorie counter is just an estimate on most rowers and is still useful for comparing two workouts.
The Stamina 1205 rower is compact, but it doesn’t fold up for storage. The seat, however, can be removed, if you want to tuck it in a small space. For storing it under your bed, it needs to be at least 7.5 inches high. Since it is small and lightweight, moving it is easy. However, it has no built-in caster wheels like other rowers.
The Stamina 1205 will surprise you with its build quality, keep your workouts interesting with its independent arms and keep you going with its comfort levels. It is an all-rounder with a hint of innovation. Its drawbacks are those typical of hydraulic rowers – pistons getting hot and needing maintenance.
- Impressive build quality
- Two hydraulic pistons
- 5 resistance levels
- Super comfy seat
- Soft-touch handle
- Arms can move independently
- Can be tucked under a bed or in a closet
- Monitor with scan mode
- Hydraulic pistons tend to get hot and leak (happens in all hydraulic rowers)
- No caster wheels
- May develop squeaking noises after some use
- Assembly takes 1 hr if done by a single person
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1410
Sunny Health & Fitness 1410 is one the best rowing machines under 200 bucks. It has garnered a lot of positive reviews. A certified fitness expert with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) gave it five stars and mentioned how it was working smoothly even after two years of use.
It is made with a durable steel frame. It feels very high-quality for the price.
Some users mentioned how the unit broke at the weld where the arms attach after 6-12 months of use. However, for those who experienced this issue, the company issued a replacement without asking any questions. Of course, not every unit breaks like this. But if this worries you, you should buy one of the Stamina rowers mentioned above.
The rower operates on hydraulic resistance for which a piston is located under the seat. Because of its hydraulic resistance, the rower is quiet and allows you to watch TV or listen to a podcast without getting disturbed.
The resistance is good enough unless you have a strong or athletic physique. However, if you are looking for a rower with high resistance, you should go for the MaxKare magnetic rower. The RW1410 has a moderate level of resistance at best. You can increase the number of your strokes or your speed to make it intense, but it doesn’t get better beyond that.
Some users also found that the resistance was too weak to work their legs. However, others were satisfied with it and mentioned how it worked their arms, shoulders, upper back, and legs. A user even added a 9-inch platform under the rear foot to increase the resistance for their legs.
Another common flaw with hydraulic rowers like the SF-RW1410 is that their piston tends to get burning hot after 10-15 minutes of workout. You have to let it sit for a minute or two before you can start working out again. Hydraulic pistons can also leak sometimes. But there was no such complaint about the SF-RW1410 rower.
Overall, the rower provides moderate levels of resistance like most hydraulic rowers.
The performance monitor on the RW1410 is basic but helps you track time, stroke count, total count and calories burnt. It also has a SCAN mode that shuffles through these metrics so that you don’t have to search a particular metric manually. Despite being basic, the monitor is easy to read, more so than many expensive rowers.
The seat is padded for comfort and most users found it comfortable. However, it can get uncomfortable a few minutes into the workout. The foot plates are comfortable and you can even row barefooted if you want. The handles have a soft-touch grip and the unique design allows you to enjoy the actual rowing motion rather than the back-and-forth motion of a t-bar handle.
The rowing motion is smooth and one can work out for over an hour without any hassles. Unlike many other rowers, the foot straps on this rower are sturdy and keep your feet secured in place.
Height and Inseam
Since this is a compact rower, you won’t expect it catering to taller people. But many users who are 6’ to 6’3” mentioned using the rower without any problems. On the other hand, shorter people, with height about 4’11” won’t have any problems either. This is great since shorter and taller people tend to struggle with hydraulic rowers.
The rower only weighs 34 lbs, so it is easy to move around or store. For compact storage, the pin from the rear support can be removed and it can be folded down. Then it can stand vertically taking little space.
If you want to stow it away for a long time, there’s another way. Undo the two screws to take out the monitor arm and then re-inserting the pin. This will allow you to store it in a closet or small space.
The Sunny Health & Fitness 1401 has a little bit of everything. It is perfect for beginners with its moderately strong resistance and smooth rowing motion. It is more comfortable than many of its counterparts, perfect for those long and sweaty workout sessions.
- Folds for storage
- Easy to set up
- Decent monitor
- Decent build quality
- Long enough for taller people
- 12 resistance levels
- Resistance isn’t strong
- Hydraulic pistons come with issues
Bonus Rowing Machine Under 200
Harvil Hydraulic Rower
The Harvil Hydraulic Rower has a solid build quality, folds for compact storage and makes zero noise. You can choose to do only an upper body workout or a full-body workout with its large free motion arms.
For more details, check the full review on this page.
What to Look for in Rowing Machines Under 200
- Check whether the resistance is strong or weak. You don’t want a rower that can’t tire you out or give you that burn after each workout. In this list, the MaxKare magnetic rower is the winner in terms of resistance. It has 16 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance.
- Check the type of resistance. Most rowing machines under 200 run on hydraulic resistance. You should know the limitations of hydraulic resistance – piston getting hot after a few minutes and piston leaking oil after consistent use, in some cases.
- Check whether there is a handy knob to adjust the resistance.
Finding a solid rower under the $200 budget is hard. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Stamina makes some of the best quality budget rowers. The MaxKare magnetic rower is also an unbeatable rower in the $200 range.
You can’t have a long and tiring workout if the seat is uncomfortable due to lack of padding or if the handle is hard and hurting your hands. The foot pedals should also secure your feet in place and the gliding motion of the seat should be stable and smooth.
After checking the three main features, the next step is to look for the functionalities of the performance monitor. Budget rowers usually have basic monitors that can track time, stroke count, total count and a rough estimate of calories.
Most sub-$200 rowers are compact and easy to store. Still, you should check whether it is foldable. The hydraulic rowers usually don’t come with transportation wheels. But the MaxKare magnetic rower, which is our top pick, has built-in wheels.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.What is the best rowing machine for home use?
There are many high-quality rowers for home use:
- Concept2 Model D
This is considered the gold standard by Olympians and professionals. It has air resistance and damper setting that lets you row at a precise level of resistance.
- Fitness Reality 1000 Plus
This is the perfect mid-range rower with 14 levels of magnetic resistance and a Bluetooth app for performance tracking.
- Waterrower Natural
This is a quality rower from the renowned brand, Waterrower. It provides a tranquil rowing experience that mimics the feeling of rowing on water. Here is a full guide to water rowing machines for home use.
- Stamina ATS Air
The Stamina ATS air rower is known for a solid build quality. Its resistance simulates rowing on water and is strong enough for getting a strenuous workout. With an air rower, the harder you row, the more resistance you get. So it gives the control in your hands.
2.What resistance should you row at?
It depends on the resistance strength available to you. The best way is to tweak the resistance up and find a suitable level with trial and error. If your rower doesn’t have adjustable resistance, you can row harder to get an intense workout.
3. Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?
Yes, rowing works 86% of the muscles in your body. However, rowing for losing belly fat shouldn’t be used in isolation. If you use it in isolation, it would take a long time to lose belly fat. You should combine it with other exercises such as cycling, crunches and running.
4. Is rowing the best exercise?
Yes, rowing is the best exercise since it activates 86% of muscles and nine muscle groups. It burns more calories than running and doesn’t put stress on your joints like running. Competitive rowers burn twice the number of calories in a 2000-meter course as a runner in a 3000-meter steeplechase.
Even on a $200 budget, you can buy a quality rower that can last for many years.
Our top pick is the MaxKare magnetic rower with 16-resistance levels. It has everything you need – performance, comfort and reliability.
If you can stretch your budget, check our guide to the best rowing machines under $300.