Written on: 22/07/2008
The problem for any air resistance rowing machine is that it is inevitably compared with the Concept2 which has become the standard against which such machines are judged. Given that it costs little more than half the price the Oxford II CS acquits itself quite well.
The machine is delivered as two sub-assemblies. One has the working parts, the fan to provide the resistance and the mechanism to drive it, all contained in a welded steel frame and a protective metal cover to keep anything from getting trapped in the fan. The second assembly is bar on which the seat runs. Assembly involved connecting these two parts, fitting the pivoting footplates and the adjustable mount that holds the console which displays time, distance, calories and strokes per minute and was simple using the tools supplied. The machine itself is solidly constructed with a reassuring weight to it that gave me confidence that it would survive serious use.
Once assembled it was time to give it a go. The footplates are sturdy and have broad straps to hold your feet tightly in place. With my feet strapped in the position was comfortable throughout the full range of a stroke. I set the timer and started rowing. The machine itself felt solid with little or no movement or flex as one sometimes gets on cheaper machines. The level of resistance was good. It seemed easy as first but within a few minutes I was breathing hard and starting to sweat. The problem with the resistance was that there was no means by which it could be adjusted and this might be a problem as training progressed. My main criticism of this machine is the console. A wider range of functions would be useful. For instance it would be good to be able to set a distance you wished to row for rather than a time and it would be nice if the timer was activated by your starting to row rather than you having to press a start button and then start rowing. This would be even more important if one was setting a distance to be rowed rather than a time. The distance function is weak to. Essentially it just multiplies the number of strokes by an unspecified amount to arrive at a distance. The number of strokes is measured by a sensor activated by the seat and so takes no account of length of stroke or the power of the stroke. As such its hard to say its measuring anything meaningful at all.
For the money this is a sturdy and well built air resistance rower that is badly let down by the console supplied. While variable resistance is undoubtedly desirable on an indoor rower it is the console more than anything else that allows you to measure your efforts and to challenge yourself. The information that this console provides simply is not adequate. Given the low cost of electronics these days I find it hard to believe that Horizon couldn't do better without dramatically increasing the price of their machine.
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