Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine Review

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Quick Review Summary

Name: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 full motion rowing machine

Features: 350lbs weight capacity, fully pivoting arms, grippy handles, large, non-slip foot pedals

Pros: Budget-friendly, works as expected, silent operation 

Cons: Not enough resistance, no transportation wheels, not foldable 

Our Rating: 3.5/5

Full Written Review:

With its low price tag and decent build quality, Sunny health and fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine has quickly become a hot-selling product during the pandemic, when most of us are looking for budget-friendly products for our home gym.  87% of buyers have rated it 4-stars and above. A lot of buyers have agreed that despite its very obvious flaws, it gets its job done right

When we came across this product a few weeks ago, we immediately thought of trying it out. Well, Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine did meet our expectations. 

We wouldn’t say that it is one of the best rowing machines that you must not miss on. It has several issues that we personally don’t like. But, considering its low price point, we still recommend it for beginners and casual exercisers. 

After using it for weeks, here is our honest review of the SF-RW5639 full motion rowing machine. 

Key features and specifications: 

  • Dimensions: 52.2 x 28.7 x 11.8 inches
  • Product weight: 35.8 Pounds
  • Weight-bearing capacity: 350lbs
  • Resistance type: hydraulic-piston resistance with 12 adjustable levels 
  • Its USP is its full-motion arms that make you feel as if you are actually rowing a boat.
  • Has a very basic LCD digital monitor
  • Frame has a 3-years warranty. Parts and components have 90 days warranty. 

Build quality 

The best thing about the SF-RW5639 rowing machine by Sunny Health it & Fitness is that it has a strong build quality. The solid steel frame can bear 350lbs of weight, which is much more than what other budget rowing machines in this price range can handle. 

It can’t be folded for storage like the expensive air-based rowing machines but it is quite compact and can be stored in a cabinet. The arms can be folded, minimizing the space it requires for storage.  

It has non-slip handlebars for intense sweaty sessions. The large textured non-slip foot pedals have adjustable foot straps, so your foot won’t just slip out, causing an injury. The pedals are of average quality, exactly what you can expect at this price range. But, they are comfortable and pivoting. 

The seat is wide and decently padded. It is firm and durable but it can cause discomfort if you sit on it for more than 20 minutes. Nevertheless, this rectangular seat is much more comfortable than the bicycle seats that other rowing machines have

Monitor 

As you can expect, Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine has a pretty basic monitor that displays time, strokes, and calories. The monitor uses two AAA batteries. It automatically shuts off after 4 minutes of inactivity and helps save battery. 

For us, the monitor never worked. Probably, we have received a defective product many other buyers too have experienced the same problem. Numerous buyers have stated that the monitor worked fine for a few months and then died suddenly. If you are buying a low-cost rowing machine, these are some of the issues that will have to bear.  

Resistance

As mentioned above, SF-RW5639 rowing machine uses a hydraulic-piston resistance mechanism. The piston is located beneath the seat rail. It is connected to the two full-motion rowing arms. When you pull the arms, the liquid inside the piston is forced through it to create resistance. 

There are 12 levels of resistance that can be adjusted by turning a knob. The 12 levels of resistance sound quite tempting but they aren’t enough. Unless you are a beginner or you aren’t looking for a challenging workout, even the highest resistance setting will be a breeze for you. It is a beginners’ rowing machine.

Due to its hydraulic resistance mechanism, it is pretty quiet. You can watch our video above to see how it works. We have been using it for weeks now and we can bet that it won’t disturb your kids or other family members. 

However, just like hydraulic rolling machines, the piston could heat up within 15-20 minutes of rowing. You have to be careful not to touch it. Further, when hot, the Piston will also start losing some of its resistance. Unfortunately, all inexpensive rolling machines have hydraulic-piston mechanisms, so there is nothing much that you can do about it.

Full-rowing motion 

We like the rower-style arms that can pivot back and forth as well as inward and outward. Their movements stimulate the rowing motion of a boat. The traditional rowing machines have a pulling handle attached to a strap. It just goes forward and backward, limiting the range of your upper body’s movement. The rowing arms of SF-RW5639 rowing machine by Sunny Health & Fitness help you add some diversity to your workouts by targeting various muscles of your upper back, shoulders, and arms. 

Pros: 

  • SF-RW5639 rowing machine has pivoting pedals that tilt forward and backward as you move, easing out the strain rowing leaves on ankles and knees. Not many budget-friendly rowing machines have pivoting foot pedals. If you have problems with your knees, this is something worth considering. 
  • It offers smooth and quiet operation; exactly what you need for your home.  
  • Assembly is pretty straightforward and requires about 30-45 minutes depending on your skills. 

Cons: 

  • Unlike most rowing machines, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 one doesn’t have transportation wheels. You can’t move it around so easily. You will have to choose a dedicated space where you leave it until you don’t want to use it for some time. 
  • Some buyers have stated that the seat sometimes wobbles
  • Customer service isn’t great. Some buyers have stated that they take weeks to respond to their complaints. 
  • Don’t expect it to last for years. It isn’t very durable and certainly not meant for intense workouts

Our Rating: 3.5/5

Our Verdict: 

This is a beginner-level rowing machine but the manufacturer hasn’t mentioned this in its product description. It should have, because a lot of buyers felt cheated

Our team member used it on its highest resistance and she couldn’t break a sweat or get her heart rate up even after 30 minutes of exercising. The resistance is just enough for a beginner or someone who is recovering from an illness or injury. 

Don’t worry if you have a very limited budget; we will soon be coming up with a list of best budget-friendly rowing machines for home gym.

Meanwhile, you can check out our top spin bike recommendations and best-rated mini ellipticals for your home gym/home office