Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine Review

Coming from the industry leaders in piston resistance rowing machines, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine, like the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is the product of solid German engineering, which results in a tough frame, excellent motion and equally good control panel. However, since this an outrigger type rowing machine, it does have some significant differences with the more standard Favorit Rowing Machine, along with some small shortcomings which you need to note before you purchase this machine. These will be elucidated in the detailed review below.

Technical Specifications

  • Resistance Type: Hydraulic Piston
  • Dimensions:  49 x 31 x 10 inches
  • Machine Weight:  66 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds
  • Storage:  Handles fold down (can slide under bed)
  • Warranty : Lifetime on frame/ 3-year on Parts

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Ease of Assembly

Like most piston resistance rowing machines, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine comes with most of its parts unassembled. This means that you will have to spend about 45 minutes assembling it if you’re working with another person or over two hours, if you’re working alone. Some users complained that the user guide is in German, but the problem apparently lies in the English section being labeled “GB” for Great Britain, rather than the US most users expect. Even if you have trouble finding the right section, you can still count on the pictures, which are clear and self explanatory.


Kettler is perhaps the only company which devotes so much attention to the build quality, and this is seen in the rock-solid frame. Kettler claims it is made of powder coated high carbon steel, and uses injection molded resin housing. Even though we’re not sure how the latter contributes to the strength of the frame, the fact that Kettler offers the extremely rare lifetime warranty on the frame should put your doubts to rest. Indeed, users have used the device intensively for years without encountering any problems.


The handles and seat are equally well built. The seat has sealed ball bearings, which preclude the need for regular oiling of the wheels running on the monorail. They are overall smooth, and prevent the seat from becoming wobbly over time. However, one problem, common to virtually all piston resistance machines, is that the pistons may wear out over time, and that too unevenly. This not only prevents you from reaping the full rewards of rowing, but can lead to sprains from an uneven exercise.

Thankfully, Kettler’s pistons are of better quality than the competition, and users commented that they generally wear out later. When they do wear out, Kettler offers to replace them at not too exorbitant a price, and no one complained about customer service.


The resistance itself is smooth, ensuring that the rowing motion is as fluid as possible. The seat moves equally well on the monorail thanks to the sealed ball bearings on the wheels, and the machine is steady throughout the workout. There are no unpleasant noises (apart from the piston’s motion itself), and together, these ensure an excellent rowing experience every time.

Like all Kettler devices, the seat is thickly padded and comes with pivoting footrests. However, some users complained that the motion wasn’t as smooth as they expected it to be, and had to use the footrests without the straps, or used bungee cords instead of the default nylon straps. Further, the handles are covered with plastic and are therefore hard. However, you can use cheap rubber handle covers, or wear gloves to mitigate this shortcoming.

Ease of Use

Unlike the Favorit Rowing Machine, this machine is an outrigger type rowing machine, which provides the benefit of the sculling action required during actual rowing. Hence, this rowing machine affords a realistic rowing experience even though it is not a water resistance type rowing machine. Each arm of the rowing machine has 12 levels of resistance, and these can be independently adjusted to ensure that those with different strength levels on the two arms can still use the rowing machine with ease.

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Like the Favorit Rowing Machine, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine comes with a control panel that is placed between  the footrests such that it is not obscured in any rowing position. Apart from the usual statistics like number of strokes, distance covered and calories burned, the monitor also shows target distance (which it can set based upon your age), and your pulse rate. The pulse rate is measured using an ear clip (included in the pack) or an external heart monitor. Finally, it can measure the room temperature at the start and at the end of the workout.

Ease of Storage

The arms of the machine fold inwards, reducing the otherwise large footprint of the machine. There are no roller wheels for towing the machine, but it is light, so they probably will not be needed. In folded position, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine can be tucked away under the bed or placed against the wall.


  • Outrigger style rower simulates actual water rowing.
  • Excellent build quality, with lifetime warranty on the frame.
  • Multifunctional monitor, with support for pulse rate measurement.
  • Light and simple to store away, with little maintenance required.


  • Hard handles, which need use of rubber handle covers or gloves.
  • Pistons wear out unevenly ( a generic problem with all piston resistance rowing machines).
  • Information on  the monitor is in German only.

Who is the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine best for?

According to the company, the weight limit is 250 pounds, which appears to be a conservative  estimate given the massive strength of the frame. Users of all heights could use the machine with ease, though users taller than 6’3” might be well advised to try out the machine before buying it.


As the above review shows, the Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine has some features which are different from the Favorit, and also some shortcomings not found in the latter. However, the shortcomings are not serious enough for the rowing machine to be considered inferior to the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine, or the other popular rowing machines. Indeed, for those seeking an outrigger style rowing machine that offers the best of German engineering at a decent price, this rowing machine can be a great choice.

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