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First Degree Fitness Full Commercial E-520 Fluid Rower

UnitSizeSupported
weight
ResistanceConsoleWarranty
FDF E-520
first degree fitness - model e520 - commercial water resistance rower
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L:75.2"
W:32.2"
H:40"
330 lbsWater,
20 levels
Time,
Speed,
Distance,
RPM,
SPM,
Watts,
Calories,
Pulse,
Pacer,
Goals,
Online
connectivity
Frame: 10 years
Tank: 3 years
Seals: 3 years
Mechanical: 2 years
Wear: 2 years

The E-520 fluid rower, also known as the Evolution E520, is actually one of the older models from First Degree Fitness. But nonetheless, it’s still one of their best. It’s a rowing machine made for commercial standards, built to withstand 24/7 hours of use within the premises of a gym. Along with its tough construction, one of the best aspects about this machine is its adjustable water resistance, feature that many other fluid rowers don’t have.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 75.2L x 32.2W x 40H (191L x 82W x 102H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 150.5 lbs (68.2 kg)
  • Supported weight: 330 lbs (150 kg)
  • Frame: Aluminum / steel
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance type: Water, adjustable (20 levels)
  • Fitness computer: Time, distance, strokes per minute, watts, calories / hour, 500m split time, HR capable, USB port, online connectivity
  • Warranty: Frame 10 years / Tank and seals 3 years / Mechanical 2 years / Wear parts 2 years

Frame and parts

This First Degree Fitness rower is part aluminum, part steel. The front part of the frame which supports the water tank and the machine’s drive system, as well as the rear foot stabilizers, are made of steel tubing. The dual rail system of the machine however, is made of durable anodized aluminum. It’s made to support users up to 330 lbs (150 kg).fdf evolution e520 - steel and aluminum frame

Like most rowing machines, the FDF E-520 is fairly large, especially lengthwise. It takes cca 75″L x 32″W (191 x 82 cm) when fully assembled, thus it’s not exactly a machine for small spaces. Also, it requires at least two feet of clearance on each side and at the rear, for safe and proper operation. The frame doesn’t fold such as the Stamina 1450, but can be stored vertically, its footprint remaining at cca 35″L x 32″W (89 x 82 cm).

The machine is rather heavy, with an assembled weight over 150 lbs. However its front foot stabilizers incorporate transport wheels, which makes its relocation much easier. Both front and rear stabilizers rest on the floor on heat-injected rubberized caps, which provide a superior grip onto the floor.

All the metallic parts in the frame are coated with corrosion resistant paint, gray in color. The sustaining base of the seat has a black finish though.

The First Degree Fitness E520 fluid rower is equipped with an ergonomic seat. The top of the seat features a contoured surface, to provide optimal comfort, also integrating a thin layer of padding. One of the best parts about the seat of this rower is that it’s situated quite high above floor level, at approx. 18″ (45 cm), thus taking position on it is easy. This is actually great for elderly users, or users with disabilities. There’s also a backrest accessory for this seat, however this part is optional (not included) with the machine.

As opposed to the WaterRower GX or FDF Daytona Challenge AR, the E-520 features a dual rail system. Thus, the rollers of the seat are concealed, moving on the inside parts of the rails, which increases the safety of the ride. The seat is equipped with a set of 4 heavy-duty, low friction rollers, which offer a very smooth, almost silent glide.

This rowing machine is equipped with size-adjustable footrests. They’re large enough to fdf evolution e520 - seataccommodate shoes of all sizes. They’re equipped with adjustable straps for extra foot stability in case it’s necessary. They integrate heel guards, which also add stability to the positioning of the feet. Their angle cannot be adjusted though. The metallic plate on which they’re placed is fixed, part of the steel frame, set at an angle of approx. 45° though, providing optimal comfort.

Last but not least, the machine is equipped with a Deluxe Ergonomic handle, which allows a comfortable grip. It’s slightly curved towards the user in order to alleviate the stress on the wrists and elbows. It’s attached to a heavy-duty, maintenance free nylon strap, designed to last for many years of use.

Water tank and resistance

The FDF Evolution E-520 is equipped with a highly durable, polycarbonate material tank, which integrates a stainless steel flywheel / impeller, attached to a system of bungee cordsfirst degree fitness e520 - water tank and pulleys, which also add resistance to the overall rowing motion. The water tank features a pattented construction, with two chambers: the “storage” chamber and the “active” chamber. There’s a dial on top of the tank which allows you to adjust the volume of water in the active chamber, thus adjusting the overall resistance of the machine. This rower provides 20 levels of resistance. The first levels offer feather light resistance, perfect for elderly users, warm-ups or users who require recovery training. Conversely, the highest settings offer Olympic resistance, delivering the training settings required by professional athletes.

Like all other types of fluid rowers, the resistance also depends on the strength you put behind each stroke. Therefore, the rowing feel is similar to rowing a real boat. Also, the operation of the machine is quiet, and the sound generated by the spin of the impeller in the water tank has been described by most users as “soothing”.

Fitness meter unit

The exercise meter that comes with the First Degree Fitness E520 rowing machine is an advanced unit. To begin with, it features a multi-panel LCD display, which means it can show all your workout statistics simultaneously. This being said, you don’t have to continuously first degree fitness e520 - consolescroll through the values to lock the ones you’re interested in on screen. It displays all data required by a professional rower, including time, distance, speed, heart rate, watts, calories, revolutions per minute, strokes per minute, and 500/m units. Distance can be displayed in miles or km, while speed in MPH or km/h. A heart rate wireless chest strap transmitter is not included with the machine though.

As the tank of the rower offers 20 distinctive levels of resistance, the console unit also has 20 levels of intensity. Therefore, it’s recommended to corelate the level on the console with the selected water level on the tank, in order to benefit from a correct reading of calories, watts and other parameters.

The fitness meter offers several on-board, interval-based workout programs and goal setting functions for time and distance. It also has a 6 previous workout memory and a unique pacer system, just as the unit supplied with the S6 Laguna model. But the best part about this computer unit is its online connectivity. The unit has a USB port which makes available its connection to a computer. Differently put, you can connect it to your PC or laptop via USB cable, in order to use various compatible online apps, such as the NetAthlon 2 XF for Rowers, in order to compete with others or train solo in a virtual 3D environment, record your progress, and access web-based logging and ranking systems.

The console unit is battery powered, and requires 2 AA batteries.

Assembly and Maintenance

The water tank with its flywheel, the pulleys, cord and strap come ready-assembled, and attached to the front steel frame. Therefore, in terms of assembly you only have to attach the rails, the seat, the rear feet, connect the bungee shock cord to the seat, and finally fill the tank with water. The manual offers clear instructions for assembly. Tools for assembly, as well as a small siphon pump for filling up the tank are also included.

For maintenance, the water in the tank requires to be treated with one of the four chlorine pills supplied, one every six months, to prevent the formation of algae and keep the water clear. Keeping the rails of the machine clean is also recommended. Also, if stored vertically, the water can remain in the tank.

The Pros

  • Sturdy construction, commercial grade build;
  • High user capacity, up to 330 lbs (150 kg);
  • Dual aluminum rails for extra stability;
  • Superior aesthetics, aluminum and steel frame;
  • Can be stored vertically, and the water doesn’t require to be removed for storage;
  • Easy to handle and transport;
  • Water resistance system, providing the most natural rowing feel that you can get;
  • Dual-chamber water tank, with 20 distinctive water resistance levels, from feather-light to Olympic level;
  • Contoured and padded, ergonomically designed seat;
  • Backrest for extra lumbar support optional;
  • High seat placement, which makes it easy to take position on the rower, great feature for users with disabilities;
  • Advanced, multi-panel fitness computer, that tracks time, 500m time, pulse, distance, strokes per minute, watts, RPMs, and calories;
  • USB connection, for online workout data tracking, or competing with other rowers;fdf s6 laguna – vertical storage position
  • Smooth and quiet operation;
  • Rower for users of all levels;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Tools for assembly included;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • Heart rate transmitter not included; first degree fitness e520 - evolution series - commercial fluid rower
  • The console doesn’t have LED backlight, thus it may be a bit hard to read in a room with poor lighting.

Summary

The E-520 is one of the commercial fluid rowers in the Evolution series from First Degree Fitness. It features an extremely sturdy construction, with a high weight capacity. It offers 20 levels of resistance, from feather-light to Olympic standard. It’s equipped with a highly advanced console, which covers all your workout metrics, features several interval-based programs and online connectivity. It’s a machine for users of all levels, delivering a consistent cardio workout which involves deltoids, rhomboids, biceps, paraspinals, hamstrings, quads and glutes. Finally, it’s not exactly an affordable machine, but given the fact that it’s made for commercial use, the quality in its construction and parts, and its overall sturdiness definitely match the price.

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