In the rowing machine market, some contemporary models are stripped-down versions meant for entry-level purchase, with low prices and, sometimes, equally low quality and durability. Others are top of the line machines with precision manufacture, a wide range of features, electronic support, and the highest quality production values — for a top of the line price as well.
Then, in the middle, there are machines like the BodyCraft VR100, which attempt to offer a medium rowing experience for a medium price. The BodyCraft VR100 is a rowing machine which succeeds in delivering a smooth, well-rounded rowing experience but is somewhat flawed by a poorly designed monitor.
Sturdy Construction, Good Warranty
One of the most attractive features of the BodyCraft VR100 is its sturdiness. The machine looks straightforward and robust, and, by the accounts of users, this impression is true. The construction is very solid and workmanlike, the parts fit together well — ensuring that the machine’s operation is quiet — and the seat moves smoothly on the central rail, which has a wide mount to ensure that the user feels stable and firmly seated. The sturdiness of the construction is further attested to by the machine’s lifetime warranty on the frame and 1 year warranty on all other parts.
Size, Weight, and Weight Limit of the VR100
The VR100 Rowing Machine is slightly under 6 feet long and 2 feet wide, although the workout space needed is obviously a little larger than this. As such, the machine is one of the more compact devices on the market, and can fit into many different places in your house or apartment. It also folds for easy storage, and assembly is straightforward and easy. The machine can support users of up to 250 pounds. The VR100 weighs 70 pounds, and is constructed out of aluminum and steel with a urethane seat. The seat runner is 44 inches long and should accommodate almost any height of user, including those over six feet tall.
Resistance — Six Levels With Wind and Magnets
Like most exercise equipment, the VR100 offers a range of different resistance levels. There are 6 levels of resistance, one provided by wind resistance alone and the rest furnished by a combination of wind and magnetic resistance. The wind resistance is provided by an arrangement of fan blades powered by your strokes, and the resistor has been arranged so that the stream of air generated flows over the user, cooling them while they exercise. The resistance varies from low to very strong, so any level of exerciser will probably find a setting that is good for them.
Smooth Rowing Action for Low-Impact Workouts
Many users mention how smooth the rowing action is on the BodyCraft VR100 — an important consideration, since one of the advantages of rowing over other exercises is that it is low-impact and very easy on the joints. The smoothness of this machine’s action makes it a good choice both for ordinary users and those with joint problems, who want to avoid machines with jerky or irregular resistance. As one satisfied customer, Paul Bent, remarked, the machine’s action "is very smooth, the pull action is progressive and there’s no whiplash of the belt on return" — and he also noted that the resistance levels are well-spaced. This means, of course, that as you build your strength, you will find the next resistance level convenient rather than too weak or too strong.
Problems: A Flawed Monitor
The computer monitor is the weakest point of the BodyCraft VR100, and, it must be admitted, this is a place where the designers did not provide even the medium-quality monitor that would be expected in a medium-price machine. The main problem with the monitor is that it does not measure precise information — it only gives you a general picture of how you are performing, and, as such, you cannot use it to effectively track your workout.
As one user, Rowist, commented, "To row the standard 2000m distance on the BodyCraft VR100 takes EXACTLY two hundred and twenty strokes. It does not matter if you take 220 long, powerful strokes or 220 stunted, one-foot strokes; the computer always displays 2 km." The same user also noted that changing the resistance does not change any of the monitor’s measurements either. In effect, the monitor is only a stroke counter, and gives you no other information about your workout.
Heart Rate Monitors and the VR100’s Computer
One plus to the monitor, however, is that it can detect and automatically connect with certain heart rate monitor watches and belts, without the user needing to carry out the usual set-up procedures. If the exerciser is planning to take advantage of this feature, it would probably be best to contact the manufacturer and find out which heart rate watches or belts are compatible with the computer before buying one of these belts or watches.
The Machine Overall
In summary, the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine is an extremely solid entry in the mid-price rowing machine market.
Its standout advantages are durability (with a good warranty to back up the sturdy construction), smooth action, and a good range of resistance levels.
Its biggest fault is the design of the monitor, which is little more than a stroke counter, although it does have the bonus of being able to automatically connect with a variety of different heart rate watches and belts.
The machine is compact and folds for storage, and is stable if assembled correctly.
Where Can I Buy the BodyCraft VR100 Rower for the Best Price?
The best price for the BodyCraft VR100 is to be found on Amazon, and the thrifty shopper can opt for free shipping on this site as well, which can be important when a 75-pound package is involved.