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BodyCraft VR500 Commercial Rower
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- Easy to Read Black Mask LCD w/LED Backlit Display and Keys.
- Electronically Controlled Air and Eddy Current Magnetic Resistance with 32 levels.
- Ergonomically Correct Comfort Grip Aluminum Handlebar with 4 Button IR Remote Resistance Controls.
- Deluxe Adjustable Heel Rest with Quick Adjust Foot Straps. Heavy Duty I-Beam Mono-Rail made with High Strength T13 Aluminum.
- Easy Fold and Roll System with child safety lock. Folds for storage in less than 3 seconds.
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The VR500 Pro Air and Magnetic resistance rower represents over a decade of research and development and incorporates all the latest technology and long standing consumer requests resulting in one of the finest rowing machines ever created. Along with the wireless handlebar resistance control, the ultra smooth industrial grade bearings housed inside the friction free rollers combined with the ergonomically designed contoured seat and precision extruded aluminum track provide even the most seasoned professional rowers one of the best “out of water” rowing experiences available.
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We compared this BodyCraft VR500 side-by-side with a Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine. We tried the minimum, medium and nearly the maximum resistance settings on each. We bought the BodyCraft.
- Few reviews for comparison
- Might be hard to use when we don't feel very energetic; might be comparable to the Sole elliptical we just sold because it was too hard to use sometimes
- Resale value might be poor because Concept 2 machines are so much more popular
- Large footprint, just like the Concept2
+ Padded, comfortable seat
+ Programs for when we get bored with it: 4 user profiles, 12 program profiles (4 race; 4 heart rate - 55%, 75%, 90%; custom; 2 interval; 1 custom; and manual/quick start/countdown)
+ The beam is long enough for my legs to fully extend: I have a 36" inseam. When I fully extend my legs, I have 9 1/2" remaining behind me
+ My Polar heart rate monitor works with it, even when my legs are fully extended and I'm leaning back as far as I can (my back is very flexible)
+ Consistent resistance throughout strokes
+ Soft, durable, comfortable handlebar
+ 32 levels of resistance adjustable during rowing from the buttons on the handlebar
+ Air and magnetic resistance
Comparison with the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine:
*** seat much more comfortable*** - a deal breaker!
*** resistance is adjustable from the handlebar*** - a deal breaker!
*** Easier to adjust resistance: press buttons on handlebar instead of having to stop rowing, step out of the footrests, and adjust the resistance on the flywheel*** - a deal-breaker!
*** The Concept2 handle became easier to pull once we got momentum going, especially when starting each stroke which made less use of our leg muscles and put more stress on our backs and arms*** - a deal breaker!
+ Better warranty: Concept2 is only warrantied for 5 years on certain frame parts, and 2 years on the rest of the machine. See BodyCraft warranty info below.
+ The seat is higher: the brochure states it is 19". Ours is 18" to the top of the lowest point.
+ 32 levels of resistance compared with 10
+ Foot straps easier to adjust because the nylon webbing is smoother, but the footrest design is very similar
+ Nylon web strap connects the handlebar to the fly wheel instead of a metal chain
+ On the Concept2, the seat kept cutting into the backs of my ankles because I kept hyper-flexing my legs, i.e., I kept going too far forward during my recovery stroke
+ The Concept2 has a shorter beam
= Comparable durability of I beam and rollers under the seat
= Comparable handlebar
= Both seem to be sturdy, built to last many years
- The footrest heel cup is narrower, but it stretches, and the design is nearly identical
- Pricey unless you get a deal like what we got from our local fitness store: only $200 difference :)
- The salesman said the Concept2 display gave more information that is more relevant for rowing athletes, but we were just looking for a full-body workout machine, so this was not meaningful to us.
The BodyCraft display shows:
average and total: time and distance in meters;
average: pulse and strokes per minute;
and total: calories and watts.
It also shows your resistance level as you row.
- Less popular
- Comes in one color; the Concept2 comes in a choice of colors
We went to our local fitness store to try recumbent bicycles. My husband asked about the rowing machines. He had owned a piston-style one decades ago and wondered why they didn't have any like it. The salesman explained the differences between pistons, flywheels and water wheels. We tried the magnetic and air flywheels and the water wheels.
We understand that the piston-type are less durable and less ergonomic.
When we tried the water flywheels, we liked the sound of the rushing water, but we thought that would probably get annoying. We also decided on a different flywheel because our cellar has no drainage, and we didn't want to take a chance on the water tank leaking. The salesman told us the tank only holds around a gallon of water, but still...
We tried the air flywheel. We liked the breeze that came off of it, but we didn't like the noise it made.
Then we tried the BodyCraft VR500. The seat was the first remarkable thing about it: it was SO comfortable! We liked the feel of pulling on the nylon webbing better than the metal chain in the Concept2. The handlebar felt MUCH better than the other machines, except it was comparable to the Concept2. We had fun easily adjusting the resistance using the buttons on the handlebar as we rowed, without affecting our pace.
We so enjoyed the workout we got on the rowing machines during both visits, we lost interest in the recumbent bicycles. We have a treadmill, so didn't really need more lower-body exercise equipment.
I use it for weekly cross training. I am a runner who has won and placed in 5K races (for my age group) in the rural area where we live. My husband is working up to using it daily to supplement his daily 30-minute walk.
I viewed dozens of YouTube videos that explain how to use a rower. I found the one called Rowing Technique by doosport to be the most helpful.
We downloaded the Concept2 training manual from their website. It is great! We plan to follow their advice regarding workouts as we get used to the machine.
I saw varying statements about the residential warranty for this rower. The BodyCraft website states "Lifetime Frame, 5 years Parts". The BodyCraft brochure states "Lifetime Frame, 5 year parts, 1 year wear items, 2 year labor."