Water-resistance rowing machines or ‘aqua rowers’ provide an experience that literally cannot be found anywhere else; the feel of blades driving through real, actual water. As well as the beautiful aesthetics these machines boast, there’s also a bloody good full-body workout to be had with them.
In this guide, we’re taking a look at the best budget water rowing machines on the market in the UK today. Thankfully, now more than ever, we’ve got a great choice of alternatives to the Waterrower brand. We’ll cover the very best water-based machines you can buy online today.
Top Budget Water Rowing Machines UK
Topiom rowing machines are made of ash and walnut woods, both prized by woodworkers for their immense strength, durability, grain, and versatile colour[/caption]
From the gorgeous traditional wooden design to the performance out of the box, this rower is the closest on this list to an actual WaterRower rower.
It certainly looks the part, with a wooden frame, made from ash and walnut, which means that it’s absolutely stunning, and will take pride of place in any home. To keep weight down, the rail is aluminium, but the overall design is ironclad strong, with a ridiculous weight limit of 400lb (180kg.)
Controls are relatively simplistic, as you’d expect on a cheap water rowing machine, delivered through a side-mounted LCD display, with options to also link a phone or tablet in, sat comfortably in the provided holder. This lets you use the Kinomap app as part of your workouts, the advantage of which you can find here. (Kinomap is a feature you’ll find repeated across many of the better rowers on the market.)
Assembly is also surprisingly simple, arriving in two boxes and coming together in around an hour, though we’d recommend a second pair of hands. And despite the hefty size, the transport wheels and end-standing storage mean that this is simple to be put away at the end of the day.
Verdict: In short, this is incredibly close to the WaterRower, except you’ve cut a third off of the price tag. What does it lose doing so? We genuinely struggled to find any real downsides, and if we were considering buying a water rower, would be looking long and hard at this model first.
German-made, with the exceptional construction that generally brings, and a few smart touches that aren’t available on any other rower we’ve seen, this rower by Sportstech is probably the best pure rower on the list, pound for pound.
The build is fantastic, with an aluminium rail that, unlike almost every other rower, is inclined slightly downwards. This means that you’re working slightly harder than other rowers on the backstroke, without it being overly noticeable. This helps to push your workouts to a higher level without impacting performance, in the same way, that a tiny incline hugely increases calories burned on a treadmill.
Comfort across the board is also good, with oversize, comfortable footwells, an easy to hold set of handlebars, and a seat that slides easily on a ball bearing system.
You’ll quickly notice that there are no included controls. That’s because this rower is designed with modern tech in mind, so you can either seat a phone or tablet in the tablet holder, or use in-app controls on any smartphone. The app also gives you another option for workouts. Kinomap; which we’ve already touched on, and gives you a huge amount of workout options and training plans.
Unlike a lot of water rowers, when this isn’t in use, it doesn’t stand on end. Instead, the rail folds to vertical, sitting above the rower, cutting the footprint in half. Also, a nice touch is the included starter kit, a heart rate pulse belt, a water pump to fill the tank, and chlorine pills to keep everything clean.
Verdict: It’s solid, it’s relatively cheap and it gets the job done in style. This is a fantastic budget-priced water rower that’s got Sportstech’s trademark quality in spades.
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Compatible with ANT+ heart rate technology, like heart rate belts or watches, so you can measure an accurate pulse when transmitted to the advanced digital monitor[/caption]
Sunny fitness gear pops up again and again in best-of lists, with their good balance between price, features and quality. Their water rower finds itself here because of a few smart design choices that make this rower almost unique not in performance, but in comfort.
Construction quality is exactly where it should be, built around an aluminium frame and centre rail that supports a reasonable user weight of 250lbs (115kg) and a good inseam length of 49 inches, enough for users over 6ft. Both foot positioning and the HD non-slip handlebars are high quality and comfortable in use, but where this rower excels is the seat.
The seat itself is incredibly comfortable, with moulding and padding that cushions perfectly in use, and one-touch we love is the ergonomic seat positioning; this means the seat sits artificially higher than you’d expect it to and makes it much easier to get on and off of the rower, cutting out a lot of the bending, perfect for older users or people with mobility issues.
The controls are a standard LCD on Sunny’s R2 fitness meter mount, giving you all of the standard metrics, including sprint timing. There conspicuously isn’t a tech mount on this, but honestly, if you’re buying this, it’s probably not because you want to put up world record-shattering performances across all of your socials.
Verdict: While it’s not as good as our top picks, if you want the performance of a water rower with maximum comfort, we’d definitely recommend the Obsidian Surge rowing machine. It’s a good cheaper water rower and has a lot to offer for home rowers.
JLL’s first home water rower is a budget-friendly alternative to the bigger models on this list, and while it doesn’t have quite the same level of build or creature comforts on offer, it’s a cheap and cheerful way to do that same style of training.
The rowing machine water tank is discreetly lower down on this budget-friendly machine but still has that beautiful SWOOSH! sound when you pull back and perform your stroke.
Construction is fantastic throughout the entire rower, though we’d expect that from JLL systems, which consistently perform in our reviews. The frame and rail is alloy steel, offering a solid 330lb weight limit. Fittings are adequate, if basic. The seat is comfortable enough, with an easy action and no real impediment to the slideway, which is long enough to easily accommodate people of 6ft and up.
The handlebars are equally decent, though we do question the fact that there’s added levels of elastic resistance (5) on top of the liquid resistance from the water tank. This makes little sense to us, as the draw of a water rower is the self-adjusting resistance of water. We’d also like JLL to take a look at the footwells when they bring out the inevitable Aqua 2, as they’re a little more basic than we’d like to see.
Controls are a very simple LCD centre panel and tablet holder, which is to be expected. Everything is also covered by a basic 1-year warranty.
What am I missing out on buying a cheaper water rower?
You might be wondering what the cheaper rowers are lacking in. Machines like the Topiom rower listed above come reasonably close to what you could expect from a WaterRower.
Obviously, there are some limitations. The performance monitor for one is not as advanced as the original brand is. But we’d have to say they’re a similar and decent alternative to the more expensive model.
What’s the difference between water and magnetic rowing machines?
One of the best features with water-based rowing is to do with the resistance. Apart from having that all-natural feel (regardless of whether you’re buying a cheaper water rower, or a more expensive one) what you’ll get is a really good, hard workout.
The harder you pull back on a water rower, the harder the blades will fight against you. Which is a good thing!
One problem with magnetic rowers is that they have an upper limit on the resistance and some users will quickly outgrow them. That’s not possible with any of the budget water rowers listed above.
It’s surprisingly hard to differentiate water rowers on performance, as they all work on a similar tank and blade formation, and it’s hard to get that wrong.
However, when considering everything around the tank, build quality, comfort, and extras, the best rower on the list, and one of the best rowers we’ve considered total is the Water Rower by TOPIUM. Why? It’s essentially a carbon copy of one of the best rowers on the market, with everything that that means.
Happy rowing and let us know if you find any cheap water rowers you think should be on this list.