WaterRower FAQ & Test – Everything you need to know at a glance

The history of the WaterRower


WaterRower Inc. was founded in 1988 by the US rower John Duke in Rhode Island. His goal was to develop a rowing machine that would perfectly imitate rowing on the water. To this end, John Duke developed the now patented waterplane and set new standards in the field of rowing machines. Thus, the WaterRower was the first rowing machine that used water as a resistance system.


Since 1994 WaterRower GmbH has also had a seat in Germany. The high-quality sports equipment has been manufactured in the NOHrD factory in Lower Saxony since 2005.

In 2008 WaterRower received the renowned Plus X Award in the “Sport and Lifestyle” category. The first prototype of the WaterRower is also on display in the London Design Museum. It is the only piece of sports equipment that is used there.

Furthermore, the rowing machine became a secret star in the television series House of Cards (2013 -), on which the corrupt US President Frank Underwood rowed excessively. The sales figures literally roll over when the series is broadcast.

Today WaterRower has over 15 locations worldwide , including in the USA, England, Germany, France and the Netherlands, where sports equipment is developed and manufactured.


The production

WaterRower rowing machines are now manufactured by NOHrD Manufaktur in Nordhorn and are therefore allowed to  bear the Made in Germany seal of approval . The production of the rowing machines is based on a mix of very complex manual work and precise machine technology. The wood to be processed is obtained exclusively in the USA and Germany, as it must meet certain internally defined quality standards. Each rower that NOHrD factory exits, is because of the unique wood grain unique . To protect the wood, all elements are oiled with Danish oil. This oil seals the wood permanently and offers protection against stains, dirt and sweat.

The leather for the seats also comes from Germany. This is also processed by hand and must meet certain quality requirements such as:




    • Real leather smell through vegetable tanning



    • Particularly good skin tolerance



    • ISO 9001 (quality at the highest level)



    • Nature-conscious disposal (not like with chrome leather)



    • and much more




In addition to rowing machines, the NOHrD manufactory also produces upper body trainers, wall bars, rope pulls, leather balls, swing dumbbells, stools and much more.

To the WaterRower S4 test report

In general, WaterRower or NOHrD Manufaktur is a very innovative and environmentally conscious company . The entire system is largely solar powered. As little waste as possible should be generated during the manufacturing process. If there is any waste, it will be processed as best possible. From an ecological point of view, there are not many companies that treat the environment as responsibly.


What are the advantages of water resistance?

Rowing machines with a water resistance simulate a very authentic rowing feeling . The entire rowing movement is very fluid and the feeling of rowing on real water comes very close. This protects the joints even more than with conventional rowing machines. In addition, this resistance system can be heard very quietly and comfortably. There are also almost no signs of wear and tear, since water does not wear out.

As with rowing machines with air resistance, the following also applies to water resistance:


The harder you pull, the stronger the resistance becomes.


Thus, the resistance adapts perfectly to your intensity and no additional steps are necessary.

Many rowers who have once trained with the WaterRower have tasted blood and no longer want to do without this resistance system.

What are the disadvantages of water resistance?

There are no real disadvantages with water resistance, except that rowing machines with this resistance system are quite expensive compared to other braking systems .

The chlorine tablets that are put into the water tank are relatively cheap and not a real expense. The follow-up costs are therefore very low.

What are the advantages of the wooden construction?

At first glance, the WaterRower doesn’t really look like a piece of sports equipment. This means that it can be stored in places such as the living room or bedroom without worrying about being intrusive. With its inconspicuous appearance, the WaterRower almost looks like a piece of designer furniture.

Another advantage of the wooden construction are the vibration-damping properties that the wood brings with it. This not only enables very quiet training, but also offers a lot of smoothness when rowing during the forward and backward movement during training.

The last point is longevity. With the prescribed care, which is expensive at all, the WaterRower hardly shows any signs of use even after 10 years. We will come to the topic of maintenance and care later in this article.

Which WaterRower models are there?

WaterRower S4

The WaterRower S4 is, so to speak, the standard model of the complete rowing machine series. The S4 only differs in the type of wood. Otherwise, all technical features are the same. The WaterRower S4 is available in four different wood versions ( ash, oak, cherry / oxbridge and walnut ). There are also two special editions with the ” Shadow ” and ” Club Sport ” models .


As the name suggests, the S4 has the S4 performance monitor with which a number of additional functions such as online rowing, pulse-oriented training, interval training etc. are on board. In addition, the WaterRower S4 consists almost entirely of high-quality wood. The seat runs on a double rail, which has the advantage that the weight is better distributed and therefore the background noise remains very quiet.

With a maximum load weight of 150 kg, the S4 is even more robust than the A1 (entry-level model).

Due to the different wood materials, the different versions differ significantly in terms of price. For example, the cheapest variants ash and oak cost € 1,299 RRP. In contrast, the most expensive and noble version made of walnut costs a proud € 1,699 MSRP.


WaterRower S1 stainless steel

The WaterRower S1 is a limited special edition and is made entirely of high-quality powder-coated stainless steel . This also results in the proud price of € 2,499. As with the M1, the maximum load is 185 kg. At 40 kg, the S1 is the heaviest rowing machine in the group. Otherwise this variant hardly differs from the S4 / M1 models.

How do the training computers differ?

All models except the WaterRower A1 use the S4 performance monitor. The A1’s training computer has fewer functions and fewer setting options. For some, the missing features are not relevant at all, for others it is a knockout criterion.

The following table clearly shows the differences between the A1 and the S4:

Which heart rate belts are compatible with the S4?

Variant 1 would be the “WaterRower heart rate installation set ANT”. This includes an ANT chest strap including a receiver in the form of a circuit board. The board must be installed in the S4 performance monitor. The assembly is very easy. To do this, remove the batteries from the S4, unscrew the housing, then lift the display a little and insert the circuit board into the board. That’s it already.

The ANT technology transmits in the 2.4 GHz range and enables interference-free reception in contrast to conventional transmission technologies.


The receiver is already built into the latest S4 monitors.


Variant 2 would be the special polar receiver for WaterRower. The prerequisite for this would be a Polar chest strap that you already own or would like to purchase. The receiver is plugged into the jack plug and guided under the footrests in the direction of the running rail. The receiver either dangles under the rail or is attached to the wooden rail with adhesive tape. Now all you have to do is pair the Polar chest strap with the receiver. The field reports and customer reviews show that the variant is not yet so mature and does not really fit into the aesthetic image of the WaterRower. Therefore, this variant is not yet a real recommendation .

How often does the water have to be changed?

According to the manufacturer, there is no specific cycle in which the water has to be changed. There are people who have rowed with the first filling for up to 4 years and thanks to the chlorine tablets there was no growth of algae, limescale deposits or the like. No water was lost either, so the basic resistance was always the same from the start.

Our recommendation would be: Change the water in the tank at least every 2 years and also the chlorine tablet, which is changed every 6 months.

Can I also use water-based paint with the chlorine tablet?

This is not advisable, as the color in connection with the chlorine tablet clearly loses its color intensity. The water color already contains a proportion of chlorine, so that no additional chlorine tablet is required when using the color.

How often does the WaterRower need to be serviced?

The WaterRower is very easy to maintain and there is almost no work involved. Depending on the type of wood, the screws have to be retightened every year. This process is normal and unavoidable, as wood is known to work through the load and the screws loosen minimally but hardly noticeably after a long time.

It is also advisable to change the chlorine tablet every 6 months to prevent algae growth etc.

The batteries of the WaterRower S4 monitor last about 1,000 hours of training and only need to be changed very rarely. However, 4 standard AA 1.5 V batteries are then required.

The wood does not necessarily have to be cared for, as Danish oil was added during manufacture. But if you want to freshen up the tone of the wood, you can use Rustins Danish Oil according to the WaterRower recommendation . Brush the wood with fine steel wool beforehand. Then apply the oil to the wood.

The construction of the WaterRower is really well thought out and durable, which is also thanks to the water, since water does not wear out.

If, despite everything, something really breaks on the rowing machine, you can easily order a replacement from NOHRD.

How long is the guarantee period?

In addition to the statutory warranty, the warranty period is 2 years from the date of purchase. If a device shows material defects or a defect, it will be repaired or replaced immediately, according to NOHRD. The guarantee is valid in the EU and Switzerland.

Who is the WaterRower suitable for?

Anyone who attaches great importance to the design, the workmanship and the rowing feel will find the perfect compromise of the points mentioned with the WaterRower S4. It is not for nothing that the WaterRower is called the iPhone among rowing machines because of its aesthetic appearance and ease of use.

If you simply want to row in style without much technical fiddling, you can’t go wrong with the WaterRower.

Can I row against others online?

You can row against other WaterRow owners online with the We-Row browser extension. To do this, you need to connect the S4 training computer to a PC / Mac via USB using the PC cable provided. Then install the We-Row extension for Google Chrome . You can now register and use all the useful functions of this application. Since the application is made available as a browser extension, it is independent of the operating system.

Unfortunately, the online community is not as big as that of its competitor Concept2 , but it is growing steadily.

What accessories are there?

Hardly any other rowing machine manufacturer has such a large portfolio of accessories as the WaterRower. Whether functional parts or just utensils that make training more pleasant. There’s just about anything at WaterRower.

Among other things, there are the following accessories:




    • Floor mats



    • Heart rate chest straps



    • Laptop holder



    • Water color



    • Chlorine tablets



    • Seat cushions



    • Protective tarpaulin



    • Rowing reefs



    • Workout DVDs



    • Wood oil



    • HiRise adapter (feet for a 20 cm elevation)



    • and much more




How tall can I be to row with the WaterRower?

That always depends on the length of the leg, so only estimates are given. The maximum size of the A1 is approx. 190 cm. For all other models it is approx. 200 cm. If you are larger, you can request an extended version of the running rail from WaterRower.

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