The BodyCraft VR100 looks impressive and for the price tag, you would hope it can deliver on its looks. But unfortunately it doesn't quite life up to expectation. It is a solidly built machine and feels sturdy enough when you sit on it. But you don't buy a rowing machine just to sit on.
The seat is reasonably supportive and one of the widest we've seen on a rowing machine, but the foot braces move and make it difficult to row comfortably. You need a solid base under your feet to push and pull against, but even on the lower resistance levels these proved unfit for the task. The flywheel is very close to the track (the column you slide up and down on) which means you often bump it on the catch at the start and finish of the action (see rowing technique). This can cause you to slide on the seat and slip forward - not the best position to row!
Of the six resistance levels we found only two that replicated anything like a good rowing action. The higher resistance settings are far too tough for even an experienced rower and therefore don't allow you to get into a rhythm necessary for a good workout. Many are tempted to use a high resistance, thinking it will make for a better workout, but better results can be achieved by getting in your heart rate training zone for at least 20 minutes - something you can't do if you're having to pull too hard.The lowest settings really don't offer much resistance at all and give you nothing to pull against.
The Console/ Display
Update: The VR100 now has a new display and monitor (see right). It looks easier to use than the previous version but as yet, we've only had one reviewer try the model with this modification and we're waiting to see if the workout data is more accurate.
The BodyCraft VR100 looks good and is a safe buy if not that exciting. The price looks a little too high in our view for the machine you get. The new display and console is a great improvement on the old and is around what you'd expect for a model in this price range. Yes, it is the entry model in the Bodycraft range but it doesn't inspire you to explore further up their range. This is a shame as BodyCraft do make some great machines - their top of the range model, the VR500 is one of our favorite models, but that's over double the price! Or for a similar price you can choose from a good range of better rowers in our view - see 'also worth a look' below.