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on December 24, 2014
After pouring through tons of reviews on Amazon for various rowing machines, I decided on this one for the money. Of all the different rowers, I wanted one that was more like actual rowing, sculling type, rather than just a line pull. It is a bit heavier than others of this type which to me equates to more durability. I'm around 165 lbs and I think this will accomodate people weighing up to 250 with no problem.

Okay, so why the four stars? After going through reviews, people complaing about missing parts, or how flimsy the packaging was. Others complained about leaking cylinders, or that the resistance was too much even on low settings. Here's what I experienced:

The packaging was just fine, no issues except that one of the plastic bags was open and not sealed and that some parts from that bag had fallen out. It seemed like someone at the factory realized that they forgot a few items and threw them in at the last minute before closing it up for shipping. So, I removed all of the parts from their respective packages and inventoried them against the list of parts illustrated in the manual.

Everything was there!...Yea!!! Now then, the manual is in German, but they illustrate step by step the order in which the parts need to be assembled including the part numbers for all the different washers, bolts, etc. Be sure to check them off against the parts list. The illustrations could be better, but putting it together took me apx 1-1/2 hours by myself. Once done, I realized that the arms were not equal in height from the starting position so I contacted the seller Unique Fitness, (Amazon was out of these, so I purchased online from Amazon through this vendor). They were quite helpful and got me the right contact at Kettler. The person at Kettler that I spoke with went through all the possible steps to be sure I had assembled it correctly. I had. So after some consideration and measurements, their concensus was that the arm that was lower had been incorrectly welded at the factory. They promptly shipped a replacement on Fed-Ex Ground and I had it in three-four days.

I was still able to use the machine as it was prior ro getting the replacement arm, but when I get something new that I just spent $600.00 on, I expect it to be right. So, Kettler took care of the problem right away and if I couldn't get this resolved to my satisfaction, the people at Unique Fitness said they would arrange for me to ship it back for a full refund. So, customer service was great.

Now then, the rowing action is a bit stiff at first but as I use it, I'm noticing that it is starting to loosen up. This is normal for this kind of rower. Will the cylinders leak? Apparently so, over time, any rower that employs hydraulic cylinders will eventually...not right away. I'm thinking it's going to take a while for that to occur. If you're worried, place it on a mat.

One of the other reasons I bought this brand is their warranty. It is three years on most everything vs others that only have a few months to a year. Overall, I feel the construction is sound and should last me a long while. I am over 60 yrs old and didn't have any problem with the resistance and would suggest to people that do is to give it a little time to loosen up the cyclinders and they'll become easier to work with as you use it.

I do think Kettler could have made some improvements overall. I wish they had a handle on one end and perhaps some wheels on the other to accomodate picking it up and moving it out of the way. It does weigh about 65 lbs. The arms fold in for storage and they supply a couple of velcro straps to secure them so they aren't flapping around while moving it out of the way. They perhaps could have had a locking mechanism instead for a more secure postion instead of cheap straps. The straps for your feet are also cheap and may have to be replaced at some point, but they work okay for now. The electronic monitoring device and screen are a little diificult to understand, but there are English instructions for that. I wish the batteries they supplied weren't dead but not that big of a deal for a couple of AA batteries... but why didn't they supply with fresh batteries? For $600? Really?

Overall, I am happy with my purchase for this type of rower and the folks at Kettler and Unique Fitness were easy to work with.
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on November 21, 2015
Well made all the way, great German workmanship, worth every Deutsch mark, er, euro! It is not very compact, though, both when folded for stowing away but especially while using, it takes quite some room. Gives a good cardio workout throughout all the weight bearing and lifting parts of your body, but you need to do at least 1/2 an hour to get the maximum benefit. Also, you have to learn proper rowing/sculling techniques or else you might injure your back in no time. Start at the minimum shock adjustment level (you might need to equalize the dampening level, as the #1 position on one shock might not be as hard on the other shock) and go up as you feel fit. I use it while in front of the TV. Great when you're Netflix binging!
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on December 21, 2013
The Kettler Kadett is typical of the quality one comes to expect from German engineering and design in both form and function. As compared to other "rowing" exercise machines it may not give you as intensive of an overall workout that you desire however, but for the cost no other machine will give you a more realistic rowing or training experience. It simulates the actual eliptical motion of a true rowing-stroke as well as the variation between each arm and it's individual strength and motion as in real-life rowing. Instead of the rigid and short T-bar styled handle of most machines which does nothing for a real "rower" to work on their form it employ's actual outrigger's set into an "average" geometry one would find across the board of most rowing shell's and skiffs. In addtion to it's good design it is backed-up by solid construction and materials and should last for many years when properly used and cared for.

Now for the negatives with this machine. I rated it 4 stars because of several items also noted and reviewed by other purchasers as well that should have been addressed by the company. Mine arrived very quickly after ordering but as in other reviews it also was "irritatingly" missing some hardware which required a trip to the hardware store to replace the missing metric fasteners for the pivot-points on the outriggers. This is professionally unacceptable as a lack of oversite by quality control before product shipping since there is a small amount of hardware needed for complete assembly in the first place. Also as others have noted, the velcro foot-straps are of low quality and strength and should be upgraded to match the heavy-duty construction of the actual machine. I would also say that a resistance-level sticker should be supplied so that you have a reference mark or indicator to reset or adjust the cylinders as you change your work-out. And finally the instruction booklet could use an English edit and reprint to ease the burden of relying more on the illustrations than the verbage associated with each step of assembly.

In conclusion I would highly recommend this product to serious rowing enthusiast's as a great off-season training tool for endurance and to maintain form while exercising and all at a cost which is far less than many so-called "rowing-machines".
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on December 28, 2014
I have owned this product for a few weeks now and I wanted to give my experience so far.

Putting it together was relatively easy (working on my own most of the time) except the arms get a little bit tricky. But if you attach the arm pieces to the body first without screwing them in, it becomes clear right away if you have made a mistake or not. Then it is easy to pull it apart and fix things.

I really liked the instructions. They give you a little ruler so you can make sure that you are using the correct bolts for each step, all the units are given in millimeters.

I am a newbie at rowing/sculling so after I assembled the machine I watched a few YouTube videos to learn the proper posture and technique. It took me a few days to get the rhythm down. I started out with the tension set to level 1 but didn't feel that I was getting much of a workout. Now I have it at level two and am much happier with that level for now.

After using the machine for a while one of the arms starts to wobble a little bit. This happens because there is a knob, that holds each arm in place and is meant to be unscrewed in order to collapse the machine to make it take up less space, that gets loose. If you just lean down and tighten it then there is no more wobbliness. This does not happen every time I use the machine. Probably closer to every third time.

Overall I am very happy with this model and rowing exercise. Something I didn't think about to start was to purchase a pair of exercise gloves. After a few days of using it I started to get blisters on my hands which the gloves prevent. I am also considering wrapping the hand holds with sport tape or something like that. The hand holds are made of plastic and have a ridge where the plastic was originally molded. This ridge gets irritating when you are using the machine for longer periods of time. The gloves do help some, but since the hand holds rotate during use it will inevitably chafe your fingers.
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on February 17, 2013
Package arrived kind of beat up on the outside, but no damage to any parts and all pieces accounted for. Assembly took me a good 1.5 hours, but I'm not terribly mechanically inclined and I really took my time so I would get it right. Assembly instructions are in pictures, which I found to be well laid out and pretty straightforward. The only tricky part to me was orienting the arms/pistons correctly, and my advice is to read through the other reviews for tips -- that helped me immensely. It all went together just fine in the end, and I've been using it now for a couple of weeks.

The construction is very solid and it feels like it will last a long time. It's true the foot rests are plastic, but they're not as flimsy as I was expecting from reading other reviews (like someone else mentioned, the fat velcro straps are for the foot rests and the skinny ones are for securing the arms for storage). To me they feel fine. The rower itself is awesome to use! It's kind of relaxing, actually, despite the workout...I find myself getting into this kind of zen state as I row and row and row. And I love the workout! Not quite a full-body workout but it does incorporate many muscle groups.

I was not familiar with sculling so at first I wasn't sure I was doing it right by keeping my arms low as I pulled back and then raising my arms on the push -- and, in fact, that's not correct. Keeping your arms higher as you pull back (imagine the oars dipping into the water) and then pushing them forward at waist level (oars out of the water) is, I believe, the proper form, and it gives your upper body a much better workout.

I haven't been using the computer thingie, so I can't comment on that. The size feels fine to me...I'm a 5'5", ~125 lb female and am very comfortable on it. But it's got enough length that I think it can accommodate taller people just fine as well. It does take up a bit of floor space when you're using it, but it's simple to fold up the arms and move it out of the way. It's heavy but not at all too heavy to move easily.

So far I'm completely happy with it!
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on July 28, 2009
I am 63 years old and last year I was tapped on my shoulder and reminded I was mortal. I decided to start taking care of myself. When I was younger I worked out with weights, but gave that up and gave them away many years ago. I recently purchased some dumbells and did the normal exercises, but it became boring. I knew what ever I did I would have to do for the rest of my life. I started looking at rowing machines. I have learned that you generally get what you pay for. I did not want to get one where mechanical problems got in the way of exercise. Looked at the lower cost machines (I can be cheap), then looked a the Concept 2. I probably would have gotten the Concept 2 except for the length, I settled for the Kettler.

True to the other reviews the Kettler arrived in 5 days and was missing parts in my case the footrests. Kettler USA without any questions sent them with 3 day shipping. It does take 1 1/2 hours to put together, mainly by following pictures, it is not rocket science. The piston adjustment numbers are alittle off, that is not a problem you adjust them so they are equal. The "computer" is in German, that is not a problem unless you believe the world should be in English and you can not remember what 5 digital readouts mean. There are only two things I do not like about the Kettler 1) It assumes you know how to use the rowing machine, it comes with no instructions on rowing form, this is solved by going on the internet and watching some videos on YouTube; second the ear pulse heart monitor with its wire drives me craze, I purchased a Omron HR 100c heart rate monitor from Amazon for about $35 it comes with a handle bar mount that works great. If you are my age I suggest you use a heart rate monitor, it will keep you from over doing it on the machine. You do not want people to say "he died while rowing in his backyard".

What I like about the Kettler 1) it is a solid machine and probably will not wear out so I will not get a chance buy a Concept 2; 2) its fluid rowing motion is low impact on joints something we old folks need; 3) it is relaxing and fun way to excerise; 3) my blood pressure is dropping as is my glucose level and I feel better. I am happy I made the investment.

One last note that maybe helpful to those that have footrest/tiedown problems. I strapped a pair of loose fitting Crocs permanently on foot rests so I would not have to deal with the velcro straps every time I get on the machine. All I need to do now is slip my feet into the Crocs and off I go.

August 11 - Had a part that failed, that can only be blamed on poor quality controls at Kettler. If it was not for the superior customer service in thier parts department this product would loose some shine. The parts department again without question shipped me a replacement part which I received within 7 days. I still consider it a good investment.
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on September 10, 2016
Awesome machine but I do not like the system to adjust resistance. At the top of the piston on each arm there is a grey cap that has sequential numbers and can rotate clock-wise and counter clock-wise. The numbers are about half a cm apart but their is no marker or indicator to tell you what number or what position this cap is in. You basically have to play around with it, going off of feel to decide if the resistance feels right and if they are even. It is a terrible system in my opinion but I've got it to where I like it and have no problem never changing it again. I will say that had I known about this before hand I would not have made the purchase. It really is a major flaw for me but everything else is really awesome hence the 4 out of 5 stars.
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on February 4, 2013
So, I bought this a while ago. I used it off and on (every other day or so) for a few months, and recently started using it every day. Some observations:

1) In general, I love it. The motion is probably a little odd to get used to, but as someone who used to row a real rowboat, it's pretty realistic.

2) It's not the quietest piece of machinery. Especially at higher resistances (I'm at 8 out of 12 right now) and stroke speeds (20 per minute), the force required to pull the arms back causes the rest to strain slightly, and the seat obviously rattles a little as it rolls. I don't think it's unreasonable for exercise equipment, however.

3) The pistons are a potential weak point. It seems that when they heat up (either through ambient temperature or through use), the seal at the top (which provides the actual resistance as you pull out) loosens or has problems; this can be "solved" by making sure the piston arm is inserted entirely on the forward motion. That seems to restore the resistance - well, mostly, anyway. It still gets a little "softer" during a prolonged workout on warm days, but short of wrapping them in ice packs, I'm not sure what could be done about that.

4) I haven't had the problems others have mentioned with the foot straps. I actually leave them secured and just slide my feet in and out (the heel support tapers at the side, so a slight turn of the heel to the outside lets me slide it out).

Overall, I'm more than satisfied.
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on February 19, 2017
The equipment arrived on time, but when I started to assemble the machine, I realized that the rear bracket of the lower frame was spot welded incorrectly. The rower could not be assembled. I contacted customer service, sent them a picture, and they immediately shipped me a replacement. The problem was that I had then to transfer a number of parts from the old frame to the new one. After I finished this successfully, I proceeded to assemble the rower. The directions state that the assembly time should be about 45 minutes. I have good tools, and I am pretty good at putting things like this together. Assembly took a good three hours. Few serious problems except that they did not include enough of one size washer and I had to improvise. Once assembled, the rower performed very well. It is well engineered and well made.
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on August 13, 2012
This is by far the nicest rower I've used anywhere. It replaced my elliptical trainer which I wore out. Was told that I was probably one of the only people in the US to wear out a piece of exercise equipment.

Assembly was complicated. Harder than Ikea but not PhD worthy. Having said that the device was designed well to be assembled, there was a considerable amount of thought in the construction with regards to assembling the device correctly. Plan on a good solid hour or double that if you're not mechanically inclined. It is constructed from solid metal. The frame parts are likely to survive the impending zombie attack.

I have had the machine for about eighteen months. It has gotten moderate usage. I would call it heavy usage if I traveled less. When I'm home it's 2-4 times per week about 40 minutes at a stretch.

There are some issues.

1) The foot straps broke within the first month. You need to get creative with identifying replacements as they're not commodity items. I was able to buy some generic Velcro straps on Amazon that work relatively well. (At least they take longer to fail and you can buy them in quantity.)

2) You need a screwdriver to replace the monitor's batteries. Please.

3) The right arm sits lower than the left one at rest. This isn't a problem per se, but an annoyance.
[Edit: I've been informed that this is likely by design. So . . . never mind.]

4) The right handle does not sit as far down as the left one. It feels like the screw or sleeve is stripped or something. This is more of an issue than #3 but not a real problem.
[Edit: Poorly phrased above. The hard plastic handle sits over the end of the "oar" shaft and is secured via a screw/washer to a spacer inside the pipe that serves as the shaft. The handle rotates independently of the shaft. The right handle has about 1/4" of play in/out of the shaft while the left handle has almost none.]

5) In the middle of my rowing last week the timing unit took a dump. It suddenly reset and I noticed after it was reading in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. I never bothered to change it over to Imperial units. Odd.

6) The left piston has started to exhibit loss of resistance. I don't know if there is a gasket problem or some other issue, but it seems to be failing. The last time I was able to "reset" it by turning the resistance knob all the way around. Now it seems to be behaving oddly once it's warm. I can't claim to be a heavy user in either frequency or mass so this is likely a latent defect in the piston.

In the end I'm conflicted. It is a nice machine and I use it multiple times per week. The action is smooth and I'm getting good results from my workouts. But for this kind of cash I expected fewer rough edges and a little better durability.

---------

Update November 2012.

The right handle did finally separate itself from the oar. Each oar has an insert inside the oar pipe with the center drilled out for the screw that holds the oar handle. The screw was stripped during insertion. The assembly manual had complete instructions to assemble the handles but I recall that that part of the assembly had been done at the factory. A trip to Lowe's was able to produce a replacement screw and the oar handle was re attached. It seems to be holding.

The left oar piston did fail. It started to provide resistance sporadically or and eventually not at all. After reading of the "three year residential warranty" I called Kettler USA for a replacement. I was informed that oar pistons were wear items and not covered. $88 later a new piston is in the mail. -1 star (from three to two) for being cheesy on the warranty. When the replacement arrives I'll disassemble the failed piston to see if I can identify the issue.
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