ProForm Hybrid Rower / Recumbent Bike Review

Proform is known for innovating in terms of design and utility, producing rowing machines that can be used for other types of training as well. For instance, the Proform 440R Rowing Machines allows the user to combine strength training and rower. With the Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike, the company goes a step ahead and incorporates one of the most popular exercise machines – the recumbent bike – into a still more popular exercise instrument called the rowing machine. One’s interest is piqued all the more by the sheer excellence that this product boasts of in all departments. While existing users of ProForm might be willing to trust the company, new users may well be suspicious as to whether such a hybrid product can live up to the high credentials claimed by its makers. To verify these credentials, therefore, we have carried out a detailed review, the results of which are listed below.

Technical Specifications

  • Resistance Type: Magnetic
  • Product Dimensions: 48.8 x 36 x 18 inches
  • Product Weight: 150 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
  • Storage: Foldable
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on frame, 1 year on parts and labor

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Ease Of Assembly

It is natural to wonder whether the assembly of a hybrid product such as this would require the help of a qualified mechanic. Thankfully, the Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike uses magnetic resistance, which implies that the magnetic resistance and display unit comes assembled for the most part. Actual assembly involves connecting the rail and seat assembly to it and bolting them in place using the washers and allen wrench that are provided with the product. The user manual, however, has some slightly confusing language, and some users complained of having to depend solely on the diagrams. Even with this minor problem though, most users could single handedly assemble the product within three quarters of an hour.

Structure

As one would expect, the structure is slightly different from that of a simple rowing machine. The difference lies in the downward incline of the shaft, which is necessary because the use of gravity is vital to the use of the recumbent bike. Further, the seat itself has a back cushion that can be used to rest the back during cycling. Finally, there is a paddle protruding out of either side of the machine. This is non detachable but does not interfere in any way with the rowing mechanism.

Coming to the build quality, we find that ProForm has provided the Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike with a sturdy aircraft grade aluminum shaft, while the seat base itself is made of high quality steel. Further, the shaft is lengthier than ordinary rowing machines, being capable of accommodating users with a height of up to 6’2”. This large and sturdy shaft, along with the equally durable dual shaft structure and the heavy duty seat construction ensure that the product can handle users weighing up to 350 pounds, which is remarkable considering the price range in which this product is placed. Indeed, the rare dual shaft structure – with a normal upper shaft and the lower legs replaced by a single lower shaft, is both convenient (see below) and also offers improved stability to the product.

Last but not least, the manufacturer provides you with complete peace of mind through a lifetime warranty on frame and a 1 year warranty on parts and labor.

Ease of Use

The Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike does not discriminate in terms of ease of usage when it comes to its two exercise modes. The seat, with or without the back rest, is comfortable when used with either type of exercise. Though it is not advised as part of the procedure for using a rowing machine, you can row with the back rest still attached, should you have any issues with your back that may require frequent rest against a soft cushioning surface.

The magnetic eddy current resistance is extremely smooth. Coupled with the ergonomically designed handle and the highly responsive cord attached to it, this ensures an extremely smooth rowing experience. Adding stability to this smoothness is the fact that the product is well balanced on its sturdy metal legs, producing absolutely no creaking or breaking sounds even when the person is working out at a fast pace for an extended period of time.

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Operation

Rowing on the Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike involves simply seating oneself on the seat, placing the legs in the footboards and taking up the handle. Since this product uses magnetic resistance, the adherence of the unit to the specified resistance is highly accurate, thus making it fit for use by both children and elders. Further, ProForm has provided this product with SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance, which is even quieter than the average magnetic resistance rowing machine.

The seat backrest attachment can be fixed without moving out of the seat, and then one is ready to start cycling. Though it is beyond the scope of this site to discuss the cycling procedure in detail, it may be added that users who have used high end commercial recumbent cycles were not disappointed with this product.

Parts

The Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike offers 20 magnetic resistance levels, which is better than what is available on some of the best rowing machines in the $1,000+ segment. Further, shifting from one resistance level to another is equally smooth. However, a few users complained that due to the downward slope of the shaft, the second part of the rowing procedure involved rowing against both the resistance as well as gravity, which forced them to lower the resistance somewhat.

Like the seat, the handle is well designed and is covered with Soft Touch rubber coating that allows even a hard grip to be a comfortable one. Further, the handle can be detached and stored along the lower shaft so that it does not get in the way of the user.

Further, the seat is connected to the shaft through a special carriage that runs on sealed and well oiled ball bearings. This ensures that the seat works perfectly for long periods of time without there being any need for oiling or any other maintenance of the product.

Finally, the product comes with large footrests that have a pivoting mechanism to allow for natural movement of the feet. The durable nylon straps on the footrests are highly adjustable to offer a wide range of people the flexibility of such movement without causing the feet to become dislodged from the footrest.

Display

The Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike comes with a LCD display of decent size that shows multiple rows of statistics without causing one to squint, even when one is at the farthest point from the display. Below the display are six simple but highly responsive push buttons that cater to most functions, thus ensuring functionality without clutter.

The statistics shown by this display include RPM, calories burnt, speed, distance and target distance. There is a blinking LED function that tells you when to speed up or slow down. This, as many users noted, is not available in even the best rowing machines in the market today. There is however no heart rate monitor option available.

There are 24 workouts available, 12 of which are for the rowing machine. Interestingly, the workouts for both the rowing and biking modes cater to two performance categories – calorie burning and performance training. In the former, you will be given calorie burning targets, which can be monitored using the display. In performance mode, you are asked to reach a certain distance in a certain time, with the blinking LED light telling you whether you are racing ahead or falling behind your target stroke or distance count.

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Ease of Storage

To store away the product, one has to remove a small pin that holds the shaft at a horizontal angle to the magnetic assembly, and allows the latter to be raised into a position perpendicular to the latter. The pin can then be reinserted to lock the product in this state. This, coupled with the Space Saver design of the product, ensure that the product does not consume as much space as would be expected of a rower-bike hybrid. Further, there are wheels attached to the base that allow it to be moved easily to a wall or cupboard and stored there till further use.

Advantages

  • Sturdy aluminum two level frame for improved balance and durability
  • Excellent user height and weight capacity for the price bracket
  • Comfortable seat with detachable backrest
  • Detachable soft touch handle for easy rowing, shifting between two exercise modes
  • Excellent Display with two training options
  • Space Saver design for small storage footprint
  • Lifetime warranty on frame

Disadvantages

  • Slight downward slope can make rowing at usual resistance slightly difficult
  • No heart rate monitor

Conclusion

While rowing machine manufacturers jostle to provide old wine in new and newer bottles, ProForm has come out with a product that combines two truly useful exercise machines without compromising on the functionality of either. From the sturdy frame and large display to the highly adjustable seat and the wide range of resistance, the Proform Hybrid Rower/Recumbent Bike is a rowing machine par excellence. Add to it the more than decent recumbent cycle, and you have a product that should not disappoint those who are interested in a varied product but don’t have the budget or the space to include two exercise machines.

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