BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine Review

Most rowing machines depend on one or the other type of resistance, so it naturally piques your interest to see a rowing machine that combines two high end resistance systems – air and magnetic. It makes you wonder whether the rowing machine will be better than high end air resistance rowing machines like the Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine, or some of the good magnetic rowing machines from the likes of Kettler or Stamina. Indeed, the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine has the necessary combination of features to pose as a tough challenger, and becomes an especially powerful challenger when the price is considered. However, the very novelty of the hybrid resistance system means that a more careful analysis is necessary if the true abilities of this product are to be gauged, since the benchmarks will obviously differ from those of a purely air or magnetic resistance rower.

Technical Specifications

  • Resistance Type: Air and Magnetic
  • Product Dimensions: 68 x 17 x 22 inches
  • Product Weight: 70 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
  • Storage: Foldable
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on frame, 1 years on all parts, 90 days on labor

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Ease of Assembly

The BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine comes with most parts pre-assembled, so that one merely has to attach the few remaining parts for the product to be ready for use. Even better, the product manual gives instructions in detail, and the Allen wrench and washers needed for assembly are included in the product package as well.

Structure

Given the hybrid resistance system, the structure of the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine is a matter of especial interest. In general, we expect both magnetic and air resistance assemblies to be large, but BodyCraft has done a wonderful job of engineering a small yet fully functional resistance unit. It is true that the product is slightly heavier still, but the compact resistance assembly surely takes off quite a few pounds from what the weight would have been had a full size resistance unit been used.

The weight thus reduced has partially been added to the frame, which is made of heavy duty aircraft grade aluminum. Furthermore, it is broad, which in turn allows for greater stability and a larger seat size (See below). This sturdy frame naturally allows for good weight capacity, and so we find the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine capable of carrying users weighing up to 250 pounds. Interestingly, while managing all this, the product succeeds in achieving an attractive design that has earned praise from many fitness experts, leading to the product being considered as one of the best rowing machines in terms of functional and aesthetic design.

If these weren’t enough, the product offers peace of mind through a lifetime warranty on the frame, which is a big bonus in any segment. Warranty on parts is a good 1 year, while labor warranty runs for 90 days.

Ease of Use

As one would expect from a product in this price range, the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine is ergonomically designed, with there being no loose or creaking parts that may come loose and cause an injury. The distance between the seat (at its farthest position) and the footrests is a good 44 inches, which ensures that there is never any question of the product being too long or too short for any age or height category.

The combination of air and magnetic resistance works smoothly, which is more than can be said for a number of high end hybrid resistance systems in the market today. Indeed, the combination gives the dual benefit of a cool breeze from the air resistance unit, and the quiet functioning of the powerful magnetic resistance system.

The seat, interestingly, has received special attention from BodyCraft. Placed on a wide shaft, the seat is one of the largest and widest available in any price range. Even better, the seat is molded in a manner that ensures a comfortable yet stable posture, thereby enabling beginners to learn how to use a rowing machine without fearing about any discomfiture during the rowing procedure.

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Operation

Once you are seated in the large and comfortable seat, using the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine becomes child’s play. Some users become confused by the mention of hybrid resistance, but in reality, this is a handle and cord system, which simply needs to be pulled to activate the resistance, and released slowly to reduce it.

Indeed, BodyCraft has gone the extra mile to ensure user comfort by creating a rowing monitor that is well positioned and adjustable according to the height and arm length of the user. Coupled with the comfortable footplates, this makes rowing a highly enjoyable task on the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine.

However, we might add that some users found the handle to be too close to the flywheel of the air resistance unit, causing the handle to collide with the flywheel assembly when released midway through a stroke. However, this should not be a problem if the handle is released only at the end of a stroke.

Parts

As we mentioned in the introduction, the major part that needs analysis is the resistance assembly. Here, we find that the lower resistance level (level 1) is provided by air resistance alone, while the higher resistance levels (2-6) are achieved by a seamless combination of the air and magnetic resistance. Indeed, it is very hard to tell to what extent each is being utilized at a certain resistance level, so well are they integrated in a single unit. However, some users complained that the highest resistance levels (5-6) were too difficult even for professionals, and made it hard to row with a consistent motion.

The other major part, the footrests, contains nylon straps that attach snugly to one’s feet and keep them in a comfortable position for the duration of the rowing. The handle, like the high quality frame, is built of aluminum and has a good rubber coating for simple usage. Coupled with the high quality and highly comfortable seat and well built frame, these allow the user to make maximum use of the capabilities of the hybrid resistance system while rowing.

Display

The display is small but adjustable according to user convenience, making it one of the more customizable of rowing machines available in the market today. The display shows most major parameters – stroke count, distance and speed, in characters that are large enough to be read at the farthest point of the stroke. Further, it is also compatible with a standard heart rate measuring chest strap, and uses the data to display the heart rate on the screen.

However, it has been found that in certain cases, the display is not properly connected to the measurement apparatus, leading to erroneous reportage of statistics. However, this issue has been fixed in the more recent machines, and it is likely that this problem now occurs only in older models of this rower.

Storage

The rowing machine is slightly on the heavier side, but the wheels at the base make it easy to move. There is a screw and knob assembly on the shaft which allows the shaft to be placed in a vertical position. In this position, the machine can be moved to a convenient storage location and kept there till further use.

Advantages

  • Aircraft grade aluminum body with lifetime warranty
  • Large seat with good molding
  • Adequate distance between seat and handle for accommodating most users
  • Convenient and powerful combination of air and magnetic resistance
  • Highly stable structure that has no creaking/loose parts
  • Display is adjustable and shows parameters in large characters
  • High quality aluminum handle and well designed footrests

Disadvantages

  • Higher resistances too difficult
  • Display gives wrong information on older models

Conclusion

Given the tough competition in the rowing machines industry, it is not surprising that the manufacturers are experimenting with hybrid resistance systems. However, while most of the experiments prove to be exercising disasters, the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine proves its mettle not only in terms of the resistance offered, but also through a quality build, comfortable seats and handle and of course, a great warranty offer. The wealth of features and attention to quality of build is nothing short of remarkable. Indeed, this product appears to be a powerful contender that should be considered when shopping for a rowing machine, regardless of the price range being aimed for.

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