Conquer is not a name that leaps off the page when you're looking for a rowing machine. In fact, none of the reviewers we use had ever heard of it until we received a request about this brand.
But that doesn't mean it's not worth a look - so here we go.
Looks can be deceptive. This has to be one of the 'skinniest' rowers out there and our first worry was this it wouldn't cope with a heavy user at a high strokes rates. But it is in fact quite a sturdy machine and can handle a user of up to 300 pounds - more on this later.
Assembly is quite straightforward and the instructions are good and easy to follow ans shouldn't take longer than 30 minutes.
The rowing position is good with the seat being high enough to save your lower back and knees when getting on and off. The seat itself is wide, supportive and comfortable - even for long workouts. The seat is often overlooked by brands at the mid to low price range yet it's an important component. If it's uncomfortable you're not going to want to sit on it for long. Yes it is possible to buy seat cushions to fit over, but these can often cost over $50 for a good one, and the lower-priced one can often slip when rowing.
The handle has a good width and thickness, is well-padded and can be used without gloves to prevent blisters. The Conquer uses a strap for pulling and looks tough enough to cope with regular use. Many models in the higher price-bracket use chains, but these do require maintenance and with better materials, the straps last far longer than they used to.
The resistance is a combination of air and magnets. It's quiet for an air rower but this is because the flywheel is quite small and so relies more on magnetic resistance. The air from the flywheel is channelled through an outlet on the central column to help keep you cool when working out. But note, while this also uses magnetic resistance the monitor does not control the resistance level so it has to be selected manually using the knob on the central column - see photo. This means you have to stop rowing and change the level and interval training is not an option.
Some may find the range between the 8 levels of resistance is not wide enough and the fitter, more athletic types will feel it doesn't challenge them.
The large LCD is clear and easy to read. It displays time, meters, strokes, calories, strokes per minute, level, watts (useful for Tabata workouts), and 500 meter split times. It has three programs modes that allow you to set a target or either time, distance or calories. For example, if you want to burn off that Smickers Bar you ate after lunch, you set the target for 300 calories and you row until it beeps :0)
Unfortunately, the Conquer monitor does not have a heart rate receiver so heart rate training programs are not an option. Of course you can always wear one of your own, but the rower will not adjust your target rates to keep you in the optimum fat-burning zone. This sort of feature is available on the LifeCore R100.
This is a 'nice' rowing machine for the price and many will find it's minimalist, sleek looks a good fit for them. However, there's nothing that really makes it stand out from the competition. Yes, it will give you several years of service for a reasonable price to get you fit, but will it inspire you to workout day-in, day-out? We think not - but then again, you do have to pay more something like a Concept2 that has the features to keep you coming back for more.
Also worth a look:
For around $50 less you'll get a comparable machine in the Velocity CHR-2001. Or for $100 extra you can get more features and a slightly better model with LifeCore's R88. If the idea of a water rowing machine appeals, then the Stamina Wave is great value.
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