From a company known for excellent home gyms, Bodycraft rowing machines originally didn’t live up to expectations if you thought the rowers would be of above average value. While quality was certainly always there, the all-important rowing design was initially flawed.
This award-winning fitness equipment manufacturer was founded in 1993 by two former ICON Health & Fitness employees, Randy Lundquist and Alan Gore.
The brand has won awards from consumer magazines for products lines that include home gyms, benches, power racks, and indoor cycles – a full line-up of quality fitness equipment. Unfortunately, BodyCraft was not known for making a good rowing machine at the beginning.
Originally BodyCraft made just one rowing machine: the VR100. Just looking at it, this machine seemed to be a winner, and it was built with quality components in the frame. Yet the design was surprisingly poor.
Now, the company offers three different rowing machines, and the quality and design has improved significantly. I guess the company realized that offering one OK rowing machine was not going to cut it.
Your choices now include the entry level VR200, the VR400 and the top-of-the-line VR500 Pro rowing machine, all of which feature a completely different look. They range in price from about $899 to $1899, so there is a model to fit every budget.
Let's take a closer look at all of the current models.
The base VR200 model features a compact design, 8 levels of air and magnetic resistance, aluminum handles, easy folding capability, deep contoured seat, 15.5" seat height, basic LCD computer and a 300 lb. max weight capacity.
The mid-level VR400 is a step up in size as well as quality, with 16 levels of manual resistance, longer monorail to accommodate taller users, 18" seat height, a more advanced display and a max user weight of 350 lbs.
The advanced VR500 is the top of the line model, and the one that gets the Bodycraft rowing machine that garners the most attention. It gives you the most durable construction, 32 levels of electronic resistance, a more advanced display with a larger number of workout programs, 19" seat height and a max user weight of 350 lbs., just like the VR400.
All of the BodyCraft rowers feature both air and eddy current resistance and close to zero impact workouts.
Reviews of the newer models have been positive, as the company has strived over the past few years to increase the quality and usability to compete with some of the bigger names like Concept2 and WaterRower. They're doing a pretty good job thus far.
It's always a good idea to compare BodyCraft rowing machines to other brands to determine if they offer value for the money you're going to spend.
If you are going to row daily or weekly as part of your exercise program, you need to choose a quality rower with the correct ergonomics. So take a look at each model carefully to decide which one is going to work for your particular needs.
One of the most talked about rivalries is the Bodycraft rower vs Concept 2. In particular, users compare the VR500 with the Concept2 Model D, as those are two of the most popular rowing machines on the market today.
They each have their benefits and drawbacks; there are some people who prefer the VR500 over the Concept2, and others who believe that the Concept2 Model D is a far superior rowing machine.
The consensus seems to be if you are more of a serious rower, who prefers an advanced computer with accurate readings, the Concept 2 with its PM5 performance monitor is a better option.
However, if you don't need that accuracy, the BodyCraft offers quieter, easier to adjust resistance, and more levels at 32 vs. 10. You may also prefer the belt chain on the Bodycraft rowing machines vs. the chain on the Concept 2s, and the fact that you can change the resistance from the handle.
Keep in mind that the VR500 is much pricier than the Model D, about $700 more last we checked. So that is a big difference.
Besides Concept2, the Bodycrafts often get compared to the WaterRowers as well, but those are water resistance machines that give you a much different feel than air and magnetic.
With only three Bodycraft rowing machines on the market, it's relatively easy to make a decision as to which one to buy. It comes down to your budget and what your fitness needs are.
For beginners, light users or those with a limited budget, the VR200 is a perfectly good choice. Some of the positives on this one are ease of assembly, compact, space-saving design and enjoyable workouts with low impact and consistent resistance. It is a little bit noisy and the computer isn't the most advanced, but all in all it is a satisfying machine.
If you are a little more serious about your training, and your budget is a bit more open, we would lean towards the VR500 over the VR400, as it has a lot more to offer. You get the most amount of resistance levels, and you can make changes on the fly. You get a ton of built in workouts that you don't get on the other Bodycraft rowers.
Interestingly, despite its higher price tag, the VR500 is the most popular rower in the series, which speaks to its desirability.
So we would opt for the VR200 for light use, and anything else step up to the VR500. Also take a look at the Concept2 Model D and E for comparison, as those come in at a lower price point.
BodyCraft VR200 - replacing the VR100 as the new base model with a compact design, 6 levels of air and magnetic resistance and quiet performance.
BodyCraft VR400 - the mid-level model with 16 resistance levels, longer monorail and higher seat height than the base VR200.
BodyCraft VR500 - Their top end model with resistance controls built into the handlebars, this one competes directly with the Concept2 rowers and has some favorable features.
BodyCraft VR100 - The VR100 is a solid rower construction-wise, but speaking in terms of ergonomics, the ergometer, and proper rowing style – this model is sub-par.
The top choice of professional rowers and health clubs, a quality piece of equipment and a great investment for your home gym.
BEST WATER ROWER
The WaterRower Natural rowing machine is a stunning piece of fitness equipment and offers an amazing simulation of the feel of on-the-water rowing.
BEST BUDGET ROWER
A solid budget model offering great value for the money, with continuous resistance and ergonomic design.