NordicTrack RW900 Rower Review
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Our generation is particularly lucky when it comes to at-home fitness gear. We have companies like NordicTrack coming out with some of the best, highest quality, commercial standard machines going, all for a relatively… sometimes…) affordable price.
OK, so NordicTrack are not that affordable. Their machines are pricey as hell, but you definitely get what you pay for. Take the NordicTrack RW900 Rower, for instance.
It’s expensive, almost gym-expensive, and there will definitely be cheaper options out there. It’s low four figures from most vendors, where you can get away with spending a few hundred.
But – and I cannot emphasise this enough – you absolutely do get what you pay for. In fact, the RW900 can go toe to toe with much more expensive rivals, models that you would only usually get in proper gyms, and more than hold its own.
It has high-end specs, some decent gadgets, a lovely rowing motion, great usability… and we managed to get our hands on one to give our NordicTrack RW900 Rower review.
Here’s what we thought.
Unboxing The NordicTrack RW900
One of the first things you notice about the RW900 is how lovely it is to look at – monochrome design, all elegant, sophisticated lines, and incredible smoothness underlined by fantastic craftsmanship. This is evident from the moment you first open the box.
Everything about the RW900 seems to have been held to this standard in its design and manufacture.
From the reassuringly weighty flywheel, through the frame itself, all the way up to the handles and the colour touch screen, everything seems purposeful, well cared for and nurtured.
There is a little techiness to get your head round as you unbox and set up the RW900. Fair enough – if you want a decent training system built into your monitor, you will have to set it up. This isn’t actually that hard (even for a techno-novice like me).
Getting started is easy. You will have to set up and register for iFit Live, will have to link up to your Wi-Fi, and will need to go through a couple of permissions.
Then you will have a fully functioning, ready-to-go rowing machine of the highest calibre, as evidenced by its laundry list of impressive specs.
NordicTrack RW900 Specs
This is where the RW900 really shines. It is amongst the highest spec home rowing machines I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.
For starters, you get a 22-inch touch screen display, all in colour. You get a full 26 levels of fluid resistance, nicely scaled so that transitions are small and smooth, as well as 10 levels of air resistance, similarly scaled.
The tilting footpads are built with comfort and utility in mind, so that you can really drive your leg power through every stroke.
There is also a good folding mechanism for ease of storage, which is fantastic for a piece of home gym equipment – many models are complete right-offs because you would need to dedicate half your garage or box room to them. At 218 x 55 x 125 cm when in use, this would very much be the case with the RW900.
However, collapse it down and it comes in at 113 x 55 x 73 cm. It has wheels to make it easy to transport. When you’re not using it, simply fold it up and trundle it into the nearest cupboard until you next need it.
These wheels are very much needed – the RW900 is no waif. In fact, it weighs in at 49 kg, which is the same weight as a small adult woman. However, this means that it is sturdy when in use, as evidenced by its impressive top user weight of 130 kg.
Even the heaviest of athletes should be able to use it comfortably, which is fantastic as rowing is one of the best forms of exercise going for those looking to lose a lot of weight.
The seat is large and ergonomically designed, once more catering to larger athletes, and is comfortable (not always a sure thing with any rower).
You get a 12-month family membership of iFit Live with your purchase – this comes as standard, so you needn’t worry about any kinds of hidden costs. This will give you access to thousands of different training routines, as well as live sessions, so you should never get bored or find yourself growing unmotivated whilst using the RW900.
The RW900 comes with a ten-year frame warranty, 2 years on parts and 1 on labour, which you probably won’t need as it’s so well put together that I doubt anything will ever go wrong. It’s just nice to know that NordicTrack have your back.
Using The RW900 Rower
The NordicTrack RW900 is a joy to use.
There are a good few reasons for this. First up, everything is adjustable. Everything. The large, 22-inch touchscreen can be tilted.
Static consoles can be an issue for taller athletes who would otherwise struggle to see it, especially without any kind of glare.
The foot pads are also adjustable, so that you can perfect your power output in comfort. The air resistance is manually controlled, whilst pretty much everything else is controlled electronically, at the touch of a button.
You really can customise it to your own needs.
You can also put it away again when you’re done with it, as mentioned above. This isn’t just a technicality – plenty of machines can be technically stored, if you have a massive cupboard or storage unit and don’t sweat at the idea of manhandling a massive chunk of steel.
The RW900 really is easy to fold up and put away (though you have to unplug the console, as it doesn’t have an off-switch, which is a little odd).
As also mentioned above, it’s easy to get started with the RW900. It’s also a very pleasant experience – you will find the heavy steel frame and industrial grade ball bearings, with inertia powered flywheel, incredibly sturdy and smooth, so that you can glide and feel grounded all at once.
The colour screen is decent too (though I generally find consoles a little uninspiring, this one did make me happy). It gives you all the training data you need in real time – calories burned, speed, strokes per minute, total strokes, 500 m split times, distance travelled and so forth.
It comes with a few pre-set workouts (more are apparently in the works), which are easy to select. You can also manually select everything using the touch screen, changing up the fluid resistance as needed.
The resistance levels are well spaced so that you won’t jump too far with each increase, further facilitating a smooth rowing action.
The RW900 uses SMR technology (silent magnetic resistance) so that it is surprisingly quiet – far more so than most rowing machines. This is always vital for at-home gym equipment.
There is no point investing in a piece of kit that you can never use because your family or neighbours can’t bear it. The SMR facility also gives the above-mentioned fluid motion to your row, with none of the jankiness or sharpness that a lot of cheaper options give.
The built in speakers are good quality, if you like to listen to things out loud, though headphone options are always there (again, let’s not upset the neighbours!).
Then there is the RW900’s iFit Live compatibility, which comes complimentary with the machine. This will give you access to thousands of both pre-recorded classes on demand and live sessions.
If you tend to get bored doing the same thing all the time, this will be perfect for you. Similarly, if you struggle to motivate yourself to really go for it, or if you like a bit of friendly competition, you will thrive on the RW900.
Pit yourself against other users around the world, against the computer, or against your own personal bests, and always rest assured that there is a different session out there for you to try every time if you want it.
- The SMR, near silent rowing mechanism
- The iFit Live capability
- The overall sense of security, whilst still giving you a good, smooth, gliding motion
- The ease of storage
The RW900 is perfect for all-comers. The iFit programmes and classes will contain something for everyone, with many sessions aimed at complete beginners, many aimed at advanced athletes, and everything in-between. The wide range of resistance levels will make sure that you can always find your groove.
The NordicTrack RW900 is a masterpiece in engineering and intelligent design. Now, don’t get me wrong, you absolutely pay for this – it is good value for money, but it’s no bargain.
However, if you have the cash to spend, and want something that will last you for years, keep you motivated, and that will be easy to live with, the RW900 is well worth looking into.
James is a full time personal trainer and an award winning writer with over 10 years of experience behind him. So far, he has helped hundreds of people with their health and fitness through his career.