The XTERRA ERG500 is the only air rowing machine sold by Xterra at the time of writing this review. Many 'real' rowers prefer air machines as it's more like rowing on water, as in the faster you row, the more resistance you feel. But please note, this type of machine are noisier than magnetic, water or hydraulic models.
So on to the rower in question. This is a upper price range of what's considered a budget model, and for the money, we think you get a pretty good deal. Putting this together takes around 30 minutes and is not difficult. There's some features you wouldn't normally expect to see in this range (more later), but there's also an issue that could be a deal-breaker. We'll get straight onto this now.
The rowing position is good as it has a wide, comfortable seat that sits on a high(ish) beam which means you don't have to squat too low to get on. The handle has a good diameter and well-padded so hand blisters shouldn't become a problem. The foot rests are a good width and the straps hold the feet firmly in place, they also pivot - essential for good rowing technique.
Some users report having problems with the resistance mechanism. We had no such issue with our model, but others have contacted us to say the resistance dropped off (some only after a few weeks) making it all but worthless. This sounds like something disconnecting or breaking in the gears, but regardless of whether you can fix it, it's not something you should have to put up with. This will be covered by the warranty, but while you waiting for it to be repaired you can't use it. We hope this may be a fault with earlier models that's now fixed, because apart from this, it's a good machine.
So back to the resistance mechanism. It has 8 levels (or to be technical, damper settings that give the impression of greater resistance). These can be selected by using a lever (see photo to the right circled in red). The yellow lever is much better than many models that use a knob that you have to twist - not easy when you're rowing. The lever is easy to slide up and down even in the middle of a workout.
Note, no mains power is required for this model as it uses 3 x AAA batteries - although it's a pain to change them!
The five-year warranty on the frame is good for the price. It also comes with two years on all parts, and ninety days labor - this means if it breaks within this time the cost of repair is covered. Past the three months, the parts are usually sent but you pay for something to repair if it's beyond your ability. This is a reasonable warranty for a rowing machine costing under $500.
The ERG200 has a good monitor for the price you pay. The LCD screen lets you keep track of your workout with the distance, stroke count and calories etc. It's also compatible with a heart rate monitor so you can see your pulse, but note, this is not included in the price - well it is a budget model after all.
Another bonus is the inclusion of 4 pre-set programs plus recovery. The goal programs allow you set a goal of either time rowed, distance covered, stroke count or calories burned.
Yes you can do this by just watching the screen and stop when done, but the program will count you down and may help with motivation.
Apart from some models which have problems with the resistance mechanism, the ERG500 offers good value for money with features that make it worth a look.
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If noise is an issue where you live, for around the same price the Stamina 1130 magnetic rower is much quieter. Or if you can afford a little more, the water resistance rowers, the Sunny Obsidian or XTERRA ERG600W are very good machines for the price range.
"For two months I thought I had a great machine for a really good price. I used it daily and was losing weight and getting fitter. But one day the resistance dropped right off during a workout and it was a waste of time rowing. To be fair, a new part was sent after two weeks. Once fitted it's been fine since.' Trevor W, user of eight months.