The BodyCraft VR500 rowing machine is the company's top model, designed to meet the needs of more demanding rowers. It features wireless resistance control in the handlebars, a generous amount of workout programs and solid, ergonomic construction.
The advanced display on the VR500 shows you relevant workout metrics such as distance, calories, resistance level, time, watts, pulse and strokes per minute. You can also choose manual mode or choose from 12 different program profiles.
Let's take a closer look at some of the specs...
The BodyCraft VR500 was introduced to compete with the more popular high end rowing machines like the Concept2, and thus far they are doing a pretty good job.
The one very noticeable difference is that the VR500 is much more expensive than the Concept2 machines. It's about $1600 on sale as opposed to $900-$1100, so that is a big difference.
However, consumer reviews have been very favorable thus far despite the higher price tag, as the machine has a lot to offer.
Some of the highlights include the ability to adjust the resistance right on the handlebars (unlike on the VR400 model) as opposed to stopping your workout and changing it. This is a nice touch for those who don't want to keep stopping and starting.
Users also appreciate the comfortable contoured seat, which allows them to work out much longer without feeling the usual discomfort in the lower back. One of the few complaints about the Concept2 rowers is that the seats tend to be a bit uncomfortable for some users.
The design is professional and sturdy, and the motion is very natural with steady resistance throughout. You get a heavy duty I-beam rail with high strength aluminum track.
One of the other alluring features on the BodyCraft VR500 is the nice array of workout programs. You get 12 in all, including 4 race programs, 4 heart rate control, 2 interval training, 1 custom and 1 manual. You also get 4 different user profiles which is nice for a family or multiple users.
Assembly is relatively easy which is a big plus. Although this is a very long machine, requiring ample floor space, it does fold up to make storage a little easier.
As we mentioned, the VR500 is the most advanced BodyCraft rowing machine, and surprisingly the most popular in spite of its higher price tag.
Let's take a look at how it compares to the other models in the series...
The VR200 is the base model, the most compact in the lineup and featuring 8 resistance levels (air and magnetic), folding capability, contoured seat, aluminum handles, 15.5" seat height, and a 300 lb. maximum user weight allowance.
Stepping up you have the mid-range VR400, which is larger and more durable than the base VR200. It features a taller 18" seat, 16 resistance levels, longer monorail, a better computer and a jump up to 350 lb. max weight capacity.
At the top of the heap you have the VR500, another step up in quality and performance, with 32 electronic resistance levels as opposed to manual on the others, built in workout programs, 19" seat height and a more advanced display.
So the VR200 is going to be more of an entry level rowing machine, and the VR400 and VR500 are going to be a bit more advanced and able to handle heavier use.
What about the VR500 vs the Concept 2 Rowing Machine?
There's a lot of competition between the BodyCraft VR500 and the Concept 2, and there are fans on both side of the fence.
Although the VR500 is around $700 more expensive than the Concept 2 Model D and $600 more than the Model E, there are those who believe the VR500 is worth the additional expense.
Here are some of the advantages that users note over the Concept 2 Model D:
However, in addition to the considerably lower price tag, the Concept 2 has the much more advanced computer, which athletes and serious rowers will appreciate, comes in two color options and is much more popular. Therefore resale value is probably higher as there is a much higher demand for a Concept 2 Model D or E.
The VR500 is probably the most appealing of all of the BodyCraft rowers, simply because it is the most well designed in the series, with an emphasis on comfort as well as usability.
The only hesitation here is the hefty price tag, which is a lot to pay for a rowing machine. Definitely take a look at Concept 2 as well, as you can save yourself $500-$700 and get an equally good, if not better in some respects, machine.
But the two do compare well, and many users actually prefer the BodyCraft machines due to the handlebar resistance change capability, the longer monorail and the more comfortable seat.
It really just comes down to preference. You can't go wrong with either machine, so it's a matter of deciding which one most appeals to you.
UPDATE: April Rowing Machine Sales are going strong!
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