Customer Reviews: Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair)
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After a lot of consideration, I ended up purchasing these weights to use with P90X Extreme Home Fitness Workout Program - 13 DVDs, Nutrition Guide, Exercise Planner. The program calls for a lot of different weights, and I was tired of leaving 8 different dumbbells lying around on the floor of my den. After using these for roughly three months, I am very pleased with them, and with a few exceptions, they work great for P90X.

CONSTRUCTION/DESIGN- As of 2/16/10, the model being sold on Amazon is the 2009 model, which came out in September 2008 and is the most current model available. There is no 2010 model, despite what many third party sellers claim (I have confirmed this with Nautilus). I have uploaded pictures of the version Amazon is selling, which comes with a black base plate. Amazon has lumped the reviews from the 2008 model in with this 2009 model, so read the reviews carefully. The 2009 model eliminates many of the complaints of the 2008, most specifically, it uses metal tabs on the weight plates to lock them in place. Construction is solid and it is very unlikely these will break. Although unlike traditional dumbbells, you can't drop these on the ground after a set. They are fairly sturdy, but I would be very nervous about dropping these from any height over about 5". The handle is ergonomic to fit the palm of your hand and the grip feels good and natural during lifting. The handle is thicker than a dumbbell and I prefer it to the thinner dumbbell handles.

The weights have a dial on the end of them that you turn to select the desired weight. If you select 10lbs, it will then lock in the two weight plates to make 10 lbs, and release everything else; so when you pick up the weights, you get 10 lbs and all the other weights are left in the base plate. When done, you put the weights back in the base plate. This works very well, with the exception of it "catching" occasionally if the weight plates shift a little bit. This happens maybe 1/100 times or so though and isn't a big problem. You just jiggle the weights a bit until it locks. The nice thing about this design, is that the two ends of the dumbbell don't have to be the same weight. You can set the dial to 10lbs on one end and 30 lbs on the other. This will effectively put 5lbs on one end of the bar and 15lbs on the other. I don't do this often, but it can lead to more variation in exercises, and I occasionally do it for tricep workouts or hammer curls. When lifting, the weights feel very sturdy. The plates are firmly locked onto the handle. There is no shaking or movement of the plates at all, and they don't feel much different than dumbbells.

PRICE - I definitely do not think these are worth the suggested retail price, but then again, I have never seen them sold for anything close to that. While they may seem expensive, if you calculate the cost of a large range of dumbbells (which typically sell for $1 per pound), these are a very favorable comparison. Just two 35lb dumbbells are going to cost you at least $50 (closer to $70 if new).

USE WITH P90X - I originally did P90X with dumbbells. I had three different dumbbells, which just isn't enough for the variety of exercises used in that program. If money and space is no object, I would recommend a full dumbbell set over these, as dumbbells are better for the exercises. But for most people that just isn't practical. I hate pulling out and storing even three sets of dumbbells every other day to workout. The SelectTechs look so good that I just leave them in my den year round.

The main advantages the SelectTechs have with P90X is the ability to select smaller weight increment, and being able to make weight changes quickly. Before these I owned a set of 10s, 15s, and 25s, which isn't enough variety. Going up from 15 to 25 on bicep curls is a very big jump for me was too light, 25 was too heavy, and my form was terrible because I was struggling with the weight. With the SelectTechs, I could go to 17.5, then 20, then 22.5, then finally to 25. being able to go from 10lbs to 12.5 on tricep exercises, rather than 10lbs to 15 helps significantly. The other advantage is to quickly change weight increments. With P90X, you have about 15-30 seconds to set up for the next exercise. 5-10 seconds is all the time I needed to change the four dials on the SelectTechs and get a new weight.

CONS - The real problem with these weights is the length. I had no real problem with the width, which is very manageable, but the dumbbells are 16" long. This can cause a problem with some of the P90X exercises. There are maybe 7-8 exercises during the entire program that are awkward to do because of the length of the dumbbells. There are about 2-3 exercises that are very awkward to do (to the point that I actually switch to my dumbbells for these). Congdon Curls and Flip Grip Twist Kickback (tricep exercise) are two that I can think of off-hand that are difficult to do. You can ultimately make it work, but it's going to feel a little funny as you try to hold the weights out far enough to clear each other or your chest. This isn't enough of an issue that it would discourage me from buying them again.

I originally debated between getting these and the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Single Dumbbell, since I was worried 52.5 pounds wouldn't be enough. Even though there are a few exercises where you could eventually need more than 52.5 pounds (heavy pants and lawnmowers come to mind), I really think this is enough weight for 90% of the people who will be doing P90X. And as Tony says, if you don't have heavy enough weight, you can always add reps. I would not buy the 1090s (which go up to 90 lbs) for P90X because I think the length of those, which is even bigger than the 552s), would just be too unwieldy for many of the exercises.

The SelectTechs did come with a short DVD that shows you some workouts specifically designed for these dumbbells and how to use them. I did find this beneficial since it gave me some tips that I didn't know about lifting. Optionally, I bought the Bowflex SelectTech 552 / 1090 Dumbbell Stand to use with these. It looks great, but I'm not sure I would buy it again. If you don't care about looks, the box the SelectTechs are shipped in makes a great stand on it's own and is very sturdy.

UPDATE June 2012 - I've put these weights through an estimated 200+ hours of heavy use since I've had them and they still look brand new and work just the same as when I got them. There are times when I want heavier weights and would have liked some dumbbells that go up to 90 lbs, but I don't want to sacrifice the smaller profile of these for the larger model. Still very satisfied.

UPDATE November 2013 - I'm still using the SelectTechs almost daily. They are in almost identical condition to when I received them with no signs of wear or problems. I have not found a better solution for adjustable dumbbells yet and will continue to use them (although I do wish they were slightly smaller).
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3535 comments| 1,501 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 4, 2015
I got to say you guys aren't really fair with the way you kill it. People these are adjustable and you got to be careful when using them. Seriously.

░░░░░Lets break it down, Pros/Cons mixed░░░░░
❖ Number one complaint people have is that they aren't sturdy and I disagree, they are very well made and safe. You cannot drop them. It gives ample warning in the manual as there are moving parts and it simply isn't designed to take that much abuse. I often do work to failure however have till have the strength guide the dumbbells to a light landing on the floor this really shouldn't be an issue.

❖ Another complaint people have is that you have to put them back on their stand at an exact angle which is true but I really never noticed as it really isn't that difficult.

❖ Another complaint I have seen is that the weight is off I tested this and it was off by a couple of ounces, that rumor simply isn't true.

❖ Another complaint that comes to my mind form # of people is that they are too expensive (if you can't find a deal) and too bulky with the lower weights (as the length stays the same) however you get used to adjusting to the size really quick, at least I did.

░░░░░BOTTOM LINE░░░░░
I am very happy with my purchase and am seeing great results so far. If you can find a good deal and trust yourself to never drop the things you should have no problems.

***If you like this review, please mark this review as helpful below! Also, feel free to ask me questions by leaving comments. I will promptly reply. Thanks for reading***
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on November 4, 2008
I was torn between these and the PowerBlock dumbells I kept reading about. I had a chance to check out the 2008 and prior model Bowflex Select Tech's at Dicks Sporting Goods, and I remember thinking about how easy it was to spin the dials to adjust the weights.

My only concern and hesitation was that a few reveiws mentioned the possibility of the weights rattling and people were worried they could fall off? I had not heard this before, so I researched it more and although the PowerBlock dumbells had gotten good reviews, I simply could not get past how ugly they were, and the fact that they used a magnetic pin to hold the weights in.

I decided to spend the few extra dollars on these 2009 model Select Techs (assuming any prior issues they may have had were corrected) and boy am I glad I did, they are AWESOME! The dials, in my opinion, are ten times easier than the magnetic pins of PowerBlocks, and these Bowflex dumbells look ten times more fashionable (our gym equipment is on our loft, so yes my wife and I have a style standard). These dumbells are about 15 inches long, but neither of us have any issues with their size (I think the PowerBlocks were only a 3 inch difference anyways).

We are 100% happier we bought these, and we bought the stand from Amazon to go with them also (it is better for your back if you lift dumbells from a standing position instead of from a squatting one). I hope you enjoy your SelectTechs as much as we enjoy ours!
2525 comments| 345 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 23, 2014

LOOK ONLINE - There have been many cases in which these fail and RELEASE the plate from the dumbbell. It happened to me this year (2014). One of the bigger plates fell from the dumbbell onto my toe, nearly severing it. Its been a month and I'm still not able to walk properly.

Bowlfex's reaction was to draw out every possible detail and then told me too bad. They wouldn't even fix them, not that I'd sell them, because I GAVE THEM AWAY! (After I warned the person of course)
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on August 18, 2009
Mine are 9 months old and used about 4 hours a week with light home use. Last months one of the 5 lb plates just fell off. The little plastic nib that holds it on was chipped off. Replacement_ $32!!!. It happened again today but I was on a bench and it hit me in the face. I have contacted the company but don't expect much.
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on January 15, 2009
No question great design - 5 out of 5 rating for sure. Support is a 4, pretty good. Where they fall down is on ruggedness. There may be improvements in the 2009 versions but the main problem with my 2008 set is many of the parts are made with plastics. There is 52 lb maximum of weight and thats alot to ask to support of some of the types of plastics used to construct this product. The minor flaw in my view is the choice of materials for this product. For example, the spindles that pick up and hold each plate in place are made of a thin hard but brittle plastic. If you do a set on a bench, get exhausted and drop these weights by more then a inch or 2 on the floor, these plastic spindles have a tendency to break. The hand unit, minus the weights will need to be replaced. Bowflex has a 2 year warranty and were pretty good about sending out a new handle. The handle got to me within about 5 days. For me I would rather they make the spindles out of a metal and pay $50 more. That is a testament to how much I love these weights. I am more careful with them now. So if you can see your way to either being very caring with these weights or rough on them and getting replacements (for free under the 1st 2 years warranty), I would not hesitate in buying these units. Otherwise, save yourself some aggravation and buy something else.
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on February 2, 2014
I've owned a SelectTech 552 pair for a couple years; last night one fell apart, the weights almost crushed a foot. Injury lawsuits have been won by some, but this doesn't help a crushed skull. READ THE INJURY REVIEWS and talk to people in fitness stores. They're cheap plastic, imported, and fall apart.

Each Bowflex SelectTech 552 has eight plastic permanently-attached round connector pieces, four on each left/right side between the grip and dial between weights, not mentioned as plastic. These keep the actual weights in place. After consulting people in sport stores, I've learned of insane injuries due to this plastic rotting/breaking in SelectTechs. When the plastic rots/cracks, the weights drop out--while lifting. I was lucky: the weights cracked my hardwood floor; two plastic connectors had rotted I found pieced on the floor. Other connectors inside bent. I'm stunned they missed my foot.

The current (as of 02.2014) safer model in retail stores is the SelectTech 52.5, the model's connector pieces are metal. This isn't the 552 even though they look similar. Amazon's, as well as the Bowflex company's 552, is still plastic-engineered. I contacted Bowflex to hear what customer service had to say, though I'm never using another piece of their equipment. But also because a fitness trainer recommended, noting fitness companies take product breakages/complaints/reviews more seriously than other companies. This highlights the conversation with Bowflex, the sarcasm from and cut offs:

"Well did you drop them? Almost everyone does and tries to get something free from us because when you drop them of course they break. People don't keep them clean so that's the cause too. I've never heard of them breaking and worked here for years. We have excellent engineers that build them here. If you'd like us to repair one, it will be fifty six dollars since they're past the two year warranty."

I asked how Bowflex handles injury reports: "I don't handle injury reports, and there's always injury reviews you'll find online. Are all of them fake? No. Should they still be used if they injure you? No."

I pulled the phone away as Bowflex began the sarcasm again. It's sad this was the Bowflex/Nautilus company itself, a fitness/health company (not Amazon). The SelectTech Dumbbells are a China import, not "engineered here" as said. Bowflex also did recalls on SelectTech 1090s, the next weight above 552s. If you're someone who regularly works out, you know it's rare to drop home workout dumbbells.

After talks at sport stores and with a trainer who has seen bloody SelectTech injuries, I'd go with an excellent PowerBlock set. Top unbreakable construction and a 10-year warranty. Add-on capability, comfortable hand grips, cost, and many U.S. made.
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on June 2, 2010
I have only had the my Bowflex SelectTech 552 for 1 month and the largest weight falls off. I called support and they will not honor the warranty as I didn't buy it from an authorized dealer. When I asked them how was I am suppose to know who are the authorized dealers, they responded "We don't have to disclose that". I am 59 years old and this is the worse consumer experience that I can remember. I am not sure if it is illegal, but very unethical. So now I am out $400 as it is too dangerous to use and I can not get support. So unless you have money to burn..... I suppose that the product has worked with some people. I do have their very latest model too. If anyone knows how I might be able to fix them myself, please let me know. Bowflex said that they will sell me a new one. You almost have to laugh.
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on January 25, 2010
We have had our weight set for approx 5 years now and used it approx 4 times a week. The set has now broke for the second time and will cost approx $100 to get it fixed. The first time it broke it was under warranty, so they did send us a new set. Now we need to buy new barbells to be able to use again. The plastic discs that hold the weights on have cracked and therefore the weights will not stay on. When I called to talk to a bowflex representative to find out how to fix it, I was on hold for 20 minutes before I was able to speak to someone. I feel the product is not the quality I expect when I pay that much money and need to have repaired every 2 years!
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on April 17, 2010
Initially I loved how easily I could switch how much weight I needed and how little space they took up. However, there were a few occasions that I had sections of weights suddenly fall out. I remember one time having to suddenly jump back to avoid the weight that would have landed on my foot. I was concerned that one of these weights could potentially hit me in the head. Honestly, I am scared to use these weights anymore.
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