Peloton Row review – almost the perfect rower

With Peloton, I feel like their top-notch content almost always outshines their equipment. With the upcoming release of the Peloton Row, that is no longer the case.

I believe the Peloton Row is the best piece of fitness equipment Peloton has ever produced. It is, well, almost perfect. Even still, with its current price of $3,200, I cannot suggest it except for the most dedicated of Peloton fans.

Peloton Row review [Video]

Peloton Row size and storage

According to the manual, the Peloton Row is 94″ (7 feet 10 inches) long, which would make it far longer than any other indoor rower. After measuring it, I found out it is actually two inches longer for a total of an 96″ in length.

Since the Peloton Row is intended to be stored upright, you will definitely want to measure your ceiling height. My ceiling is exactly 97″ high, so it will be a very tight fit.

To store the Peloton Row, there’s a little button under the screen that allows you to collapse the screen down to make it more compact.

Hope you have a tall ceiling!

Now storing an 8-foot rower can be tough, especially if you are shorter. Thankfully, the super smart folks at Peloton put this handle about half way down to make it a lot easier. This handle is also there for you to attach the tether and carabiner to the wall mount that comes with the Peloton Row to ensure it doesn’t fall over.

The Peloton Row also has two wheels in the front as most do, so you can fairly easily wheel it around. Also, you can open up a latch to unbolt the long rail from the front-end of the rower. Something you might find necessary is to move it from one room to another, especially if maneuvering in a more narrow hallway.

Very nice!

Peloton Row design

Seat

If you have a sensitive butt, you are really going to like to very soft and squishy seat on the Peloton Row. It’s very similar to the Hydrow, and feels very comfortable to row on. 

The seat sits on a rail where it glides back and forth as you row and this feels very smooth and is almost silent. In general, seats on rowers do not usually make lot of noise, but they usually make more than this.  

Your butt will love this seat.

Now the seat is placed fairly low especially relative to the foot pads. This is not a problem for me, but for those who are larger or less flexible, this can be an issue. The low seat-to-footpad height ratio may make it tough to row without rounding your back. If you cannot easily touch your toes, you may want to start taking more Peloton stretching classes.

Also there is a bottle holder and additional place to store your headphones or a small towel. I have never seen this on a rower before, but I do not know why. It is a nice addition and very convenient.

Bottle holder in a rower! Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this??

Footpad

The strap on the footpad is well designed with a wide surface area that allows for a snug fit. However, the footpad seems poorly built for anyone with smaller feet.

There are seven adjustable levels on the footpad, with the smaller numbers being for smaller-footed users. I wear a 9 1/2 mens shoe, and the optimal footpad level for me is the level 2. It only goes down to 1. 

Now you will still be fine without an optional foot pad position, but it seems strange to have it designed like this, especially give that the majority of Peloton members are women. 

Great footpads…unless you have small feet!

Handle

Next we have the handle, and this is a very similar handle to the classic Concept 2 Rower. It has a similar shape and hard plastic feel.

Unfortunately, the handle on the Peloton Row does not feel as comfortable as several others. There are also two small holes in the back of the handle that I really disliked as I rowed.

It is not a bad handle by any means, but with almost everything else being so well designed, the handle is a noticeable weakness here.

Screen

The 24″ HD touchscreen is the exact same screen that you can find on the Peloton Bike+ and Peloton Tread. As such, it looks great, is quick and responsive, and has a very nice set of forward facing speakers.

The screen can also rotate 25 degrees up or down, as well as 45 degrees left and right. This is very useful for taking classes off the rower like strength yoga and bootcamp classes.

A very nice rotating screen.

Rowing on the Peloton Row

When I first jumped on and started to row, I was actually shocked at how horrible it felt. It felt like there would be no resistance, and then all of a sudden, a lot. t was jarring and not smooth at all and I was thinking to myself, “What did they build here?”

But thanks to the nice Peloton showroom workers, they explained I needed to calibrate the Row first. So I took the 5-minute calibration that allowed the Peloton Row to measure my starting and ending positions. Once I did, the rower all of a sudden became ultra smooth.

So yes, it feels very good to row on par with the silky smooth Hydrow Rower.

But there is the one difference…

It doesn’t make any noise. 

A lot of rowers claim to be silent. While none of them are usually as loud as the chainsaw which is the Concept 2, they all make some noise. It may not be loud, but it is noticeable. 

The Peloton Row is not like that. There is no noise. You can hear a tiny bit of the nylon strap sort of winding back up, but that is it.

Time to ROW!

Peloton Row classes

When selecting a class, you have a few options. You can choose “Just Row,” which is a blank screen where you can see your metrics. FYI, this is the only thing you will be staring at should you ever cancel your peloton membership.

Next, there are scenic rides. Currently, Peloton has only one available, but I would expect a dozen of so available here upon launch of Peloton Row in December.

Then we have the instructor-led classes; I was surprised Peloton already had a decent amount of rowing classes available. These classes ranged from 5 to 45 minutes in length, with various categories including warm-ups, beginner rows, HIIT, and endurance rides.

It looks nice!

Drag factor

When you start a class, you will be presented with two new options. One being your drag factor (or resistance setting), and the other being your Pace Target.

The drag is set to medium, and you are prompted to not change it unless you already have rowing experience. This is a good suggestion. If you are new to rowing, it takes a while to learn that the drag doesn’t work like traditional resistance.

Resistance on the rower is generated as a reaction to your own power. The harder and faster your drive with your legs while pulling the handle, the more resistance you will get. 

Most should leave drag at the standard setting and probably never move it. If you do want to change it, there are set low and high settings. Additionally, you can change the drag anywhere you’d like from the 230 levels available.

Drag levels.. don’t mess with them!

Pace Target

The Pace Target is another new feature added to the Peloton Row. During classes, instructors now use the terms Easy, Moderate, Challenging, and Max, instead of giving you a specific range. By setting a Pace Target level, you will be prompted a custom range that makes sense for your rowing capacity.

In theory, I like this as it provides a more personalized workout experience. In practice, I feel like it needs a bit more fine tuning. Some of the levels have very big gaps between them, and because of this, I would often find myself switching back and forth between two levels.

Side note: It would have been much better to provide Power Zone Training. Other rowing platforms do it and with Matt Wilpers already on the rowing team, the implementation would not be difficult. I doubt we will see it given how few instructors there are on Peloton Row upon launch, but I am crossing my fingers.

I wish there were a few more levels here, especially one between levels 4 and 5

Peloton Row features

On the screen, you will see a variety of metrics including your pace, your stroke rate, and your power output.

Among these metrics is this new little wave icon. It took a while to figure out exactly what does. Eventually, I discovered that it adds a very faint blue wave that rises up alongside your rowing motion. Evidently this is there to help you get a better sense of your rowing rhythm. I did not find it useful, but it doesn’t look bad either, so I just left it on.

Another interesting change is that during a class, whenever there is a form drill, the metrics on the screen will gray out. While you can still see your pace and your total calories will continue to climb, your total meters rowed and total power output will not increase.

I like this a lot. With the leaderboard and personal records no longer at stake, you feel more inclined to actually focus on the drill.

Grayed out metrics during form drills… but can you see the blue wave at the bottom?

Peloton Row form feedback and tracking

The most unique feature on the Peloton Row is the form feedback and form tracking. Thanks to sensors tracking both the handle and the seat, the rower is able to track and monitor your form in real time. 

I thought this might be a gimmick (given my experience with “form feedback” on the Peloton Guide), but this is actually very impressive.

It tracked my positioning extremely well, even being able to detect the difference between me pulling the rower with my arms or just simply leaning back. The Peloton Row form tracing looks for nine common faults such as leaning back too far, or bending your knees too early, before the handle is in the correct position.

Form tracking, my knees just be doing something bad!

During a workout, these faults will show up as red spots on your avatar (bend your knees too early and your knees will glow red). While this should be very easy to see for most, it was a bit more difficult for me since I am colorblind. I would love to see a colorblind mode option added here to make it easier to use.

After each class, there is a full breakdown of each form fault, and the percentage of your total strokes that you committed those faults. It is a very well designed, easy to understand representation of what you should try to improve. I look forward to trying to improve my numbers.

This is a form fault I struggle with and it was great to see Peloton catch it and provide feedback!

Peloton Row coaches

There are currently five rowing coaches set to instruct classes for the Peloton Row, two of which Peloton owners likely know well: Matt Wilpers and Adrian Williams. The three new coaches are Ash Pryor, Alex Karwoski, and Katie Wang.

Matt and Adrian are two of my favorite Peloton coaches. I respect them both a lot but that said, they are not the best rowing coaches of the bunch. For example, you can tell Matt seems a bit stiff and does not have the experience that comes from years of rowing. He is a much better coach on the bike and tread which is his expertise.

Matt is a great coach, but rowing is not his expertise.

Adrian William and Katie Wang have more of a strength background and seem best for the bootcamp style workouts. They can hold their own as rowing coaches, but nothing like the other new coaches.

From my experience so far, Ash Pryor is going to be the highlight here. I found her coaching to be excellent, and she has the potential to be one of the best coaches Peloton has ever brought on.

I was also impressed with Alex Karwoski. Fun fact: his brother Nick is a coach on Hydrow! Now that sounds like a fun family rivalry. 

Ash is one of the best new coaches Peloton has added in a while!

Final thoughts

So, is the Peloton Row perfect? No, but it is as close as I have ever seen.

Is it worth the $3,200 price?

No, especially given the huge amount of better priced alternatives. Hydrow feels just as good and has a huge library of content filmed with excellent coaches out on the water. They also recently released the Hydrow Wave, which is less than half the price of the Peloton Row.

Other rowers, like Aviron and Ergatta, provide very good alternatives as well for those more interested in gamified workouts.

And of course there is the Concept 2, which still provides an excellent rowing experience, the best workout customization and 3rd party support, and costs less than $1,000. You will also likely be able to take Peloton rowing classes on any rower once Peloton decides to open up access onto the digital app.

Am I leaning too far back… or just enough? The Peloton Row will let me know!

Additionally, Peloton has changed their pricing over five times within the past year, and there is no reason to believe at this point that they have the pricing dialed in. The cost for the Peloton Row could be much lower for those who wait even a few months after release.

The Peloton Row may be the best rower, but it still needs to trim the cost for it to be worth it for most.

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