The HCI Fitness Sprint Outrigger immediately stands out from the other rowing machines around today - but mainly for the wrong reasons. It just looks so outdated! Almost an antique even - although some might be more complimentary and say retro :0)
Let's start with the all important ease of use and comfort issue. First thoughts when sitting on the machine is that the seat is not good. Some may find it okay, but if you're just slightly above average size you'll most likely find the moulded shape uncomfortable - see photo on the right.
The footrests are a little to close to the display unit and some reviewers commented that their legs brushed against it when rowing. We also think the velcro straps may need replacing on a regular basis because they don't look up to the job of holding your feet securely - essential for a good workout.
Onto the resistance - if you're not sure what we mean by this, please see our guide here.
The HCI Fitness sprint is a hydraulic rowing machine. Resistance levels are selected by turning a collar on the end of each piston. There are 12 to choose from which at least offers some variation to your workouts, but... an exact, matching resistance cannot be achieved on both sides due to the nature of this sort of piston. However, it's close enough for most not to notice the difference and is a feature of all piston rowing machines.
One disadvantage of hydraulic pistons is that they can be noisy for the first 15 to 20 minutes until the fluid inside heats up. But once this happens you may find the resistance drops, but usually not by the same amount on each side. So this can be annoying as you'll have to stop and adjust the settings to find an even match. If you don't intend to do workouts over 20 minutes this won't be a problem for you.
So now to something many reviewers have mentioned, and that is faulty parts. A number came with broken parts or cracked housings. Some may have been due to poor packaging or transit, but you just don;t hear about this sort of thing with the quality rowing machines. HCI FItness do have a good reputation for customer service and are in the main quick at replacing them, but again it's a hassle you could do without.
And if parts break after you've started to use it, waiting for even only a few days for replacements will mean you're not able to train - not why you bought one eh!
The decision to buy this type of rower comes down to whether you want to row with this type of action. Yes it does replicate the action of using a real scull - although pistons won't give the same feel as an oar through the water. But you don't need to row like the real thing to get fit. If you're more than average height, well-built or are looking for a challenging workout (or all three) this one isn't suitable.
And we'd also question the build quality as a number of users reported problems with the pistons and other parts coming loose.