Overview of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
There is a reason we featured the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in our review of the best rowing machines. It’s a top quality piece of exercise equipment. In fact in my opinion, it is the top water rower available for purchase in the UK. This article will review the details behind what makes this such a great piece of kit.
This a a beautiful looking rower, the wooden frame, available in Ash or Honey Oak, is far easier on the eye than metal equivalents. It’s something that you may not even wish to store away after every use. The wood also provides a very robust frame, while at the same time having enough flexibility to absorb the vibrations from the rowing action.
The S4 Performance Monitor provides all of the metrics you could wish for from a rowing machine. There is also a heart rate monitor available as an extra. This makes tracking your performance straight forward. Key to understanding your progress.
It’s also very comfortable, the cushioned seat sliding gracefully along the rail, and the pedals being fully adjustable. The water flywheel is quiet but still makes a satisfying swoosh as the “fan” cuts through the water. The resistance is variable, so suitable for all levels of rower, from beginner to advanced. This makes the machine accessible for anyone to experience the benefits of a rowing machine workout.
To check the latest price on Amazon click here.
Rowing is a great way to work on your fitness levels. It is a full body workout, engaging all major muscles groups in both the legs and upper body. Rowers are amongst the fittest of athletes. A rowing machine will work on cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and power. It’s a functional movement, meaning it engages a chain of muscles rather than isolating a certain muscle or muscle group. This makes rowing a great way to burn calories. Therefore a number of people use the rowing machine as a way to lose weight, while still benefiting from all of the other fitness gains.
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine – Specifications
Now for the boring practical details! Specifications of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine below:
|Monitor||S4 Performance Monitor|
|Power Requirement||Battery powered monitor - 4 AA batteries|
|Maximum User Weight||350kg|
|Finish||Ash or Honey Oak|
|Machine Weight (No Water)||30kg|
|Machine Weight With Water||47kg|
|Warranty||3 year parts / 5 year frame|
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine – Features
Time to cover the features in detail that making this such a good rowing machine option.
A water rower (unsurprisingly from the name!), is a rowing machine that uses water to create the resistance on a rowing stroke.
It does this by suspending a water flywheel (similar to a fan placed on its side) in a tank of water. As the rower pulls the handle it spins the “fan” through the water. It is this “fan” displacing the water than provides the resistance.
As you row faster a greater volume of water needs to be displaced. It is this that causes resistance to be increased. It is described as variable as you need to vary the speed that you row to alter the resistance. However it is possible to manage resistance levels but altering the amount of water in the tank. Less water in the tank means less needs to be displaced, making the resistance lower.
Water rowers are popular because they provide a very smooth motion. Often considered to be the closest resemblance to rowing on the water. Which makes sense as it uses water to provide resistance!
The “fan” cutting through the water does not make a lot of noise, in fact its quieter than many air flywheel machines. The sound is actually quite pleasant, similar to splashing water. Many users describe this noise as being relaxing, allowing their mind to drift as they row.
To sum up, the water flywheel is smooth, relatively quiet, resembles rowing on the water and adjustable. What more could you need?
To get a feel for water the water displacement looks/sounds like, take a look at the video below:
Monitor / Control Panel
The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine features the S4 Performance Monitor. This is one of the most advanced and user friendly monitors/displays available on a water rower.
It is powered by 4 AA batteries (included).
If we could find any fault with this monitor, it would be that the display is not well lit. There is no back light, so you will need to row in a lit area to read it well.
It is a multi-functional fitness monitor, and has the following displays:
- Intensity window – speed (metres per second and miles per hour), 500 metre split (mins/secs), and minutes per 2 km
- Stroke rate window – strokes per minute
- Duration – time elapsed in hours, minutes, seconds and workout time remaining if pre-determined at start of workout
- Distance – distance rower so far in metres, miles, kilometres or strokes and workout distance remaining if pre-determined at start of workout
- Heart rate – beats per minute, although heart rate monitor needs to be purchased as an extra
- Target zone – displaying target zone readings for heart rate, stroke rate and intensity
- Program – navigation window
The S4 monitor can be linked to a computer to keep record of your progress. A cable is not included but they are easily available. We-row is WaterRowers own software, it enables you to store data and even race against other rowers when you connect your P.C. and row. It is supported by a number of operating platforms. Including Windows, Mac, OS and Linnux.
It should be said that water rowers do not record data as accurately as air or magnetic rowing machines. This is due to water splashing within the tank, and small variation of the volume that is displaced on every stroke. This is not significant to discount the data provided. However bear in mind if you are 100% accurate info then a air or magnetic rower will provide this more accurately. However this a consideration for elite level competition rowers. Not a consideration for a home rowing enthusiast.
Do not let the fact that data is not 100% accurate put you off. This is still a good quality monitor, and ample for the home rowing enthusiast.
Take a glance at the video below for a great guide on the S4 Performance Monitor:
This is a very well made piece of equipment. The frame is made from solid hardwood, either Ash or Honey Oak. This makes it very durable while at the same time able to absorb sound and vibration due to the flexible nature of the wood. Do not worry it’s not flexible to a level where you will feel it warp as you row. It feels solid, but the nature of wood means it absorbs more than metal.
It is built to last, reflected in the max user weight of 350 kg. That is far in excess of the limits on metal constructed machines, where even the most robust models top out at 150 kg max user weight. The length of the seat track is 109 cm. This makes the upper limit for inside leg measurement 38 inches before someone is unable to fully extend on this rowing machine. That would typically be some one of plus 2 metres or 6 ft 8 in. It is possible to purchase and extension to the rails to cater for those of this height.
The water tank is made of an extremely strong form of plastic named polycarbonate. It is one of the strongest plastics in existence and will more than stand up to everyday home use. To stop the water going “off-colour” there are chlorine tablets to be dropped into the tank periodically. This keeps the water looking clear and free of algae or anything else that could dis-colour it.
The seat is very comfortable and glides seamlessly over the rail tracks on the sides of the frame. It is ergonomically designed with additional padding, customer feedback suggests it has few rivals in terms of comfort.
The handlebar is made from aluminium, making it both light and durable. There is soft padding for comfort, it is shaped so there is an oval cross-section. This provides minimal wrist torque, meaning chances of any wrist aggravation such as tendinitis are vastly reduced.
The foot panel has heel rests at the base to prevent feet slipping too low on the board. The pedals can be adjusted up or down to cater for different shoes sizes. The foot straps are made of nylon, making them very durable. They adjust to fit all shapes and sizes, taking only seconds to release and tighten.
As mentioned earlier the rowing action is very smooth. The seat glides nicely along the track on heavy duty wheels. There is a clutch on the rowing mechanism that prevents any jerkiness on the pull section of the stroke. Overall the comfort levels of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine are very high. This is one of the factors that sets this apart, making it a top class water rower.
This is an easy machine to store should you decide you do not wish it to be laid out horizontal when not in use. It can be pushed 90 degrees so that it stands upright on one end. This vastly reduces the footprint to 51cm L x 57cm W x 209cm H, and can be pushed up against a wall.
The machine weight is 30kg without water and 47kg with water. This is heavier than some other rowing machines but the wheels on the front make it easy to move. Plus when you store it you do not need to lift it. Instead you pivot it on its front, which makes it feel much lighter. There are very few customer reviews that say anything negative about the weight and storage potential of this machine.
Warranty, assembly and delivery
The warranty on the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine should provide you with comfort. In fact it should also demonstrate how robust and well constructed it is.
At 3 years for parts and 5 years for frame it is a market leading warranty. However you do need to register the warranty after purchase otherwise it’s 1 year. But 10 mins filling out a form is a small price to pay for this level of protection/comfort.
This is a very straight forward machine to assemble. It comes with detailed instructions, the only tool that is required is an allen key, which is provided. There are a number of simple steps which involve placing segments together and tightening screws.
Take a look at the video below which demonstrates how to assemble a dual rail WaterRower and you will see how straight forward it is:
Delivery is free as standard. It takes between 3 – 5 business days. It would be sensible to ensure there are two people at home to receive the item as it is reasonably heavy. However one person of average size/strength could handle it. Options are available to have it assembled for you at an additional cost.
Customer feedback on the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Customer feedback on Amazon is positive with 70% of people giving it 5/5 and an average score of 4/5. There are some dissatisfied customers that bring the average down. The complaints centre around issues with assembly more than anything else. However there are many customers that compliment the ease and simplicity of assembly, and the positive outweigh the negative. This demonstrates that the poor reviews relate to isolated incidents rather than a consistent defect.
Much of the positive feedback revolves around the good looks of this machine. The wooden frame is more attractive than it’s metal counterparts. There are also a number of customers that comment of the robustness of the rower. With a number of people stating theirs has lasted long after the 5 year warranty. The rowing motion is often described as quiet and smooth, some people actually described rowing while watching TV it is so quiet.
Pros and cons
To summarise everything we have covered so far here is a quick table of the pros and cons of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine:
|Solid build quality||Expensive end of the scale|
|Attractive looks||Heart rate monitor not standard|
|Adequate performance monitor functions||Performance tracking not as accurate as air or magnetic machines|
|Smooth rowing action|
|Can vary resitance|
|Practical storage solution|
Final thoughts on our Review of the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
As mentioned in the introductory overview, this is in my opinion the best water rowing machine available on the market. This is reflected in the customer reviews that it has received on Amazon. In fact it is one of their best selling rowing machines despite the huge competition at lower price points.
The positives, build quality, smooth motion, attractive looks and comfort justify the price point.
To check latest price on Amazon click here. There is more than one seller on Amazon, at the time of writing all retailed the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine for the same price, with the same delivery options.
p.s. I hope you found this useful in your search for a rowing machine. If you did, please like or share this review, it makes it easier for others to find. Thanks!