Are Used Rowing Machines Worth the Price?

Used rowing machines are one way to cut the cost of investing in a potentially expensive piece of exercise equipment. Many people who are just starting to work out using indoor rowers consider going this route, particularly if they are on a limited budget or they aren’t sure that rowing will end up being part of their long-term fitness program.

If you’ve considered buying a used indoor rower, be sure you know all the facts before purchasing.

Where Can You Buy Used Rowers?

There are almost as many ways to purchase used fitness equipment as there are models of rowing machines. Some methods are better than others, but you should consider all the options before making a decision, including.

Here are your options when it comes to buying used...

  • Buying at a popular auction site such as eBay, where you can often find rowing machines up to 50% off.
  • Buying used machines directly from health clubs, gyms, or physical rehab centers when they are upgrading to newer equipment.
  • Buying used rowers from fitness equipment stores that regularly carry reconditioned machines that have been traded in or sold to them.
  • Buying used rowing machines from a private owner through “For Sale” ads posted in newspapers, magazines, or on websites such as Craig’s List.
  • Buying equipment sold at yard sales, garage sales or consignment shops.

Advantages of Buying Reconditioned Rowers

Rowing machines are complex, using many moving parts and having, in many cases, an electronic console that provides a wealth of information and options.

Used rowing machines sold by reputable exercise equipment dealers have been cleaned, stripped down to the frame, rebuilt with new components and electronics and inspected for problems. This means you shouldn’t have any unexpected surprises when you buy a used machine.

Many of these companies also offer a warranty for reconditioned rowing machines, giving you customer support if there is a problem. It’s a great way to protect your investment, and you can often purchase a top quality, used professional model for less than half the cost of buying it new, putting a fitness center grade machine within your reach.

You can also look into buying a professional grade machine directly from a local wellness center or gym, but these will usually be sold “as is,” without being reconditioned and without a warranty.

Private Sales of Used Rowing Machines – Taking a Chance

You can take a look at any newspaper or online website such as Craig’s List or eBay and immediately find multiple listings for used exercise equipment.

You can sometimes find a great bargain if you shop around for a while, but do be aware that you are taking your chances if you buy your used machine from an online ad or a garage or yard sale.

In most cases, you’ll be buying a rowing machine that isn’t professional grade, although it may be a top quality rower for in home use. If you’re considering this option, be sure to ask questions and be aware of any potential problems. 

  • Carefully inspect the equipment for any problems such as worn handlebars, chains, or straps.
  • Check the frame to make sure it isn’t bent out of alignment.
  • Go for a “test drive” on the equipment to make sure it functions properly, isn’t too loud, and isn’t making any suspicious noises.
  • Ask the owner how long they’ve owned it and how often they used it.
  • Be sure to ask for the owner’s manual if available.

The down side to buying used rowing machines from private owners is that you’ll be buying the equipment “as is.” Used rowers that break down two weeks after they are purchased in a private sale leave their new owners in a bind because there was no warranty to fall back on.

On the other hand, if you find someone who only used their indoor rower for a few months before deciding it wasn’t for them, you can pick up a genuine bargain.

When You Should Buy New Instead

If your more of a serious rower, and/or you will definitely be using the machine on a pretty regular basis, you may be better off buying new rather than buying a used rowing machine.

The exception of course is as we mentioned above, you're buying from a reputable dealer or a gym, for example.  In that scenario you know what you are getting.

For example, a used Concept2 rowing machine from your local health club, as long as it has been kept up well, might be a good purchase for $500.

However, when you buy used from someone you don't know, you can't be sure you're getting a good machine.  It might look good in the pictures, and the price might be right, but it might be alot older than the seller claims it is.  It may also have had some serious issues in the past that may or may not have been fully addressed.

So that's why it makes sense in many cases just to buy a new rower instead of a used one.  You may be paying a little more, but there are many advantages.

Here are the main reasons why might be better off with a new rowing machine:

  • You know exactly what you are getting
  • There are no warranty issues to contend with
  • You have recourse in case anything comes up
  • Newer machines will have latest technology
  • Easier to find replacement parts if necessary
  • You can take advantage of special sales, discounts and free giveaways
  • Newer computers will be more accurate

Of course, you may buy a used rowing machine and never have a single issue for years to come.  But you may also have problems from day one, and if you are buying from someone you don't know, you'll likely have little to no recourse.

So definitely consider buying new as might pay a little more, but it may just be worth it for the extra piece of mind.

The Final Analysis - Buying a Used Rower

There are plusses and minuses to all of these approaches, so be sure you protect yourself before buying any used rowing machines.

Ask questions, check out online reviews of specific models, and decide what you’re willing to give up in order to save some money.

Your best bet in terms of buying used is to go to a reputable source that you can fully trust.  If that's not possible, find out as much as you can about the machine you are buying and try to verify all of this information as best you can.  Request detailed photos, ask about any recalls or repairs in the past, find out how much usage the machine has had and how many people were using it.

The more you know the better informed your ultimate decision will be.  And when in doubt, you can always buy new and save yourself a lot of the headaches.

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