Some rowing machines take up a lot of room, while others opt for a more compact approach, both to save space and to make them more affordable to customers who are looking for a workout a few times a week, rather than many bells and whistles. Among these smaller rowing machines, few can be more compact than the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine, an entry in the market which is only a hair over four feet long.
This creates a machine that fits into nearly any place in the home or apartment, but also means that it is not suitable for larger users. The machine is largely workmanlike, but suffers from a few possible problems with the resistance cylinders that the potential buyer should be aware of.
Pros and Cons
Very Compact – Size and Dimensions
The Kettler Favorit is only 49 inches long, meaning that it could almost be set up for use inside a large closet, although it is also 31 inches wide, making it slightly wider than some considerably larger models. Still, a total exercise area of 4 by 5 feet is impressively small by any standards, and those with very limited space will appreciate the machine for this quality. The rower weighs in at just 50 pounds. This makes it easy to move into storage as well.
Limited Weight Capacity, Small for Large Users
The machine’s small size is a double-edged sword, of course. The maximum weight capacity of the Kettler Favorit is 250 pounds, which means that not only will overweight exercisers be unable to use it, but tall, muscular people may also be too heavy for the Kettler to accommodate. Saint M. from Main, however says:
“I am 6′ tall and have no trouble with the leg extension.”
The length of the central rail is also limited by the machine’s shortness, so long-limbed users might find that the compact dimensions of the rower cramps their movement. However, the foot supports are mounted at the very front of the rowing machine, which helps to circumvent this problem.
Sturdy, Well-Built, with Good Stability
The Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is built to very sturdy standards, by all accounts, and should last for a long time even with moderate to heavy use. The compactness of the design makes it less prone to breakage, of course, but the engineering is good and the frame is made of aluminum and steel, like most rowers on the market today.
The machine is well-balanced and stable, and rests on an anti-slip base which both keeps your floor safe from scratches and helps with stability, since the Kettler ‘grips’ the floor when there is weight atop it.
A Poorly Written Instruction Manual
One of the flaws of the Kettler, according to some users, is that its instruction manual is obtuse to the point of being incomprehensible in places. For example, users report that it shows the rowing arms mounted in positions which they cannot actually be mounted in, so it is difficult to know if they have actually been attached correctly. One user said:
"It took me "hours" to assemble it because the directions are totally inadequate."
"… picturing the exact size of screws, nuts, bolts, etc. would be very helpful."
However, others find the assembly fairly easy. One user says:
"If you can assemble a childs playset or furniture from IKEA you will have no trouble putting it together. Using the assembly diagrams and the picture of the finished machine I was able to put it together without a hitch."
The user manual also seems to have some pictures printed as ‘mirror images’ — where the actual parts are not attached in the way shown, but in the reverse order. Assembling the Kettler Favorit is something of a guessing game for this reason, and the user must rely on pictures of the finished item as well as experimentation to see if they have actually built it properly. Assembly time is estimated at around 90 minutes.
Smooth Rowing, Continuous Resistance, a Good Workout
The rowing action of the Kettler Favorit is smooth and strong, and the arms rotate in a way that very closely simulates actual rowing. The machine gives a thorough, invigorating workout to both beginners and practiced rowers, while the piston action is smooth enough not to cause any sudden jerks or stops.
The resistance is continuous so you will not find yourself pulling against different resistances at different parts of the stroke. This is a good feature which ensures that all muscle groups that are used during rowing will get an equal amount of stimulation and development.
If you set the pistons at the lowest position you can do an aerobic workout because the resistance is pretty low. If you set them at the highest setting, you can hardly pull it back, making the rower a heavy weight machine. A user reports that she can even use the Kettler Favorit Rower as a bench press by sitting on it backwards and performing a pushing instead of a rowing action.
How to Adjust the Cylinders
The Kettler’s resistance cylinders require manual adjustment, and this is a place where the user needs to be careful, because it is easy to adjust them improperly if you don’t have the correct information on how to do so. There are two pistons, and each one’s resistance is controlled by a clamp that is tightened by a separate knob. For this reason, you need to tighten each cylinder’s clamp separately, but match the tensions exactly or the resistance on the rowing arms will be different, and the workout will be uneven or even impossible.
The incorrect way to adjust the cylinders is when the rowing bars are parallel to the floor. If you do this, the clamps will not lock and rowing will loosen them, causing the uneven resistance described.
A reviewer described the correct way to adjust the tension by saying "the trick is to slowly pull the bars toward you/back of the machine to an upright position before raising or lowering the clamps." The user should be aware of this before beginning their use of the Kettler to spare themselves frustration later.
The Monitor – Plain but Adequate
The computer monitor of the Kettler Favorit is a fairly typical monitor, neither exceptional nor inadequate. Information provided includes time, strokes, the speed of your strokes, the calories you’ve burned, distance — including measurements for individual sessions and total distance, and your pulse.
The heart rate measurement that the machine provides is made via an earlobe clip. Unfortunately, this clip uses long wires to communicate with the computer, and it is almost impossible to avoid tangling these with the rowing arms during normal use and eventually snapping them by accident. Therefore, the Kettler’s heart rate monitoring is very limited.
All in all, the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is a good, sturdy, solid entry in the mid-range rowing machine category. It is good quality with a sleek design and it is made in Germany. It gives a thorough workout on a sturdy frame, and although tall or heavy users may find its compact size limiting, smaller and lighter customers will probably like it for its space-saving qualities.
There are a few flaws in the design, but none of them is crippling, and the average user will get years of invigorating use out of this rower.
Best Price for the Kettler Favorit
I found the best combination of price and shipping for the Kettler Favorit on Amazon. As one user explains:
"If you want a perfect rowing machine, spend much more money. Otherwise, this is a fine machine for the price. I’ve no complaints."