First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR Fluid Rower
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|300 lbs||55 lbs||Water||Frame: 5 years
Tank: 3 years
Seals: 3 years
Parts: 2 years
Wear: 1 year
The First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR is a water resistance rower designed for in-home use. However, it features the same tank as the commercial models, such as the FDF Apollo Pro 2, for example. But nonetheless, it has a lighter construction, which resembles the FDF Daytona Challenge model.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Assembled dimensions: 77.8L x 20.9W x 20.1H inches (197L x 53W x 51H cm)
- Product weight: 55 lbs (25 kg) w/o water; 92.5 (42 kg) with water
- Supported weight: 300 lbs (136 kg)
- Frame: Aluminum / steel
- Footrests: Pivoting, with adjustable straps
- Resistance type: Water, adjustable (4 levels)
- Exercise meter: Time, count, total count, SPM, calories, tempo
- Warranty: Frame 5 years / Tank and seals 3 years / Mechanical 2 years / Wear parts 1 year
Water tank and resistance system
Just like the other First Degree Fitness rowing machines, the Neptune Challenge AR model is equipped with a water resistance system. But as opposed to other water rowers, such as the WaterRower Oxbridge or the Stamina 1450 Wave, this model offers the possibility to adjust the overall resistance generated by the impeller.
The machine is equipped with a durable polycarbonate tank, with a 3-blade impeller, tank which is divided into two chambers: the “storage” chamber and the “active” chamber. The impeller is situated in the active chamber, while on top of the tank there’s a dial with four settings which allows the water to be transferred between chambers. Therefore, if you set the resistance to “MIN” on the dial, it will take about ten strokes to fill the central (storage) tank, leaving only a minimum amount of water in the main (active) tank, resulting in less demanding strokes. As opposed to that, if you set the resistance to “MAX”, all the water will pass into the active chamber of the tank, providing the user with higher resistance.
The water tank of the First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR has a capacity of 4.5 gal (17 liters). It’s recommended to be filled up to the top marking in order to provide the required resistance for each level. But nonetheless, it can operate even with a water volume of 2.3 gal (9 liters).
Apart from the fact that the machine’s water tank offers the possibility to quickly adjust the overall resistance, without removing any water whatsoever from the tank, just as any fluid rowing machine, the FDF Neptune generates a dynamic response for each stroke. Differently put, the rowing feel resembles the rowing of a real boat, the resistance being also influenced by how fast you stroke, or how much strength you put behind each stroke.
The rower’s drive system integrates a bungee shock cord passed over a set of pulleys which facilitate the recovery of the pulling strap. The pulling strap is made of highly durable nylon material and should last for at least several years even if the machine is used daily. The pulling handle features an ergonomic design, being slightly curved towards the user, in order to alleviate the stress on the wrists. It’s almost fully covered by rubber foam material, providing a secure and comfortable grip.
Frame and other parts
This First Degree Fitness rower features a construction similar to the Daytona Challenge model, but with a few differences. First of all, the front steel part of the frame which supports the water tank and the rear foot stabilizer have a black coating finish, as opposed to the yellow paint on the Daytona model. The aluminum rail has its natural silver finish, the only paint on it being the name of the rower.
The rear stabilizer is given by a simple vertical tube, while the rower’s footrests feature a pivoting design. This can be quite a plus as you get the possibility to slightly move your feet during each stroke, adjusting their position to fit perfectly to the rowing motion. Their size is non-adjustable, but they’re large enough to accommodate feet or sports shoes of all sizes. They integrate heel guards and adjustable straps for maximum foot stability.
The seat is a standard model. It does not integrate any cushioning but does have a ribbed surface to provide optimal adherence during rowing. Its top is made of durable PVC material, while its bottom frame is steel-made. It glides on six Delrin® wheels, four (two pairs) on top of the rail, two (one pair) under the rail. These wheels integrate high-grade, sealed ball bearings and highly durable synthetic coating, for a smooth motion and a long lifespan.
This First Degree Fitness rowing machine does not have a folding design, such as the LifeCore Fitness R100, for example. However, it can be stored vertically, resting on its front base tube and the water tank guard tube. When stored vertically, its footprint becomes approx. 21″ x 20″ (53 x 51 cm), requiring little storage space. Conversely, when in usage position, it’s 77.8″ (197 cm) long and 21″ (53 cm) wide, and on top of that, it requires at least two feet of clearance on each side and at the rear.
The rower is not extremely heavy. It weighs approx. 55 lbs (25 kg) with the tank empty, and approx. 92.5 lbs (42 kg) with the tank filled with water to its maximum capacity. Its front base does have small transport wheels, though. Therefore, it’s transport and handling once it’s fully assembled, shouldn’t be a problem for most users. Also, the water can remain in the tank when the machine is stored upright. In fact, if the water is treated periodically with chlorine pills, it doesn’t require to be changed for a long period of time.
The machine’s rail is long enough to accommodate users up to 6’7″ (201 cm), or, differently put, users with an inseam up to 38″ (96.5 cm). Its weight capacity is 300 lbs (136 kg), slightly lower than for other FDF models.
The First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR is equipped with a slightly less inclusive console than the other models. To begin with, it doesn’t have the level adjustment, therefore, you can’t correlate the measured calories consumption with the selected level of resistance. The unit features a 3.5″ LCD display with large digits for easy reading. It tracks time, strokes (Count), total strokes (Total Count), strokes per minute (SPM) and calories. It also has a tempo signal, allowing a range of 0-180 of beeps per minute. It also gives you the possibility to setup goals for strokes (Count), time and calories.
The operation of the meter unit is simple and straightforward. It has four buttons: Mode, Set, Reset and Enter. The Mode button gives you access to various settings. Set is to be pressed in order to set values upward for calories or count, for example. The Enter button covers the confirmation function, once you reach the desired value for any of the metrics. And finally, the Reset key resets all the values to zero.
The meter unit uses two AA batteries which are included. It has a sleep mode in which will enter after 4 min. and 30 seconds, if it does not detect any activity on the rower. It’s also powered on then it detects movement or when pressing one button.
Assembly and Maintenance
The First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR fluid rower does not require much assembly. It comes in two boxes, one for the tank, one for the rail. The tank is already assembled, attached to the front steel frame. Therefore, all you need to do for assembly is add the foot rests, connect the rail to the front part of the frame, mount the seat and the rear stabilizer. This shouldn’t take more than an hour. All the tools required for the assembly are included, along with a pump for filling up the tank. Also, the manual provides excellent step-by-step assembly instructions.
When it comes to maintenance, there are two main aspects to mention. One, you will need to add a chlorine tablet into the water tank, to prevent the formation of algae. Two, before each use you should make sure that the gliding beams are clear of any small objects that may cause them damage. In other words, wipe the gliding beams clean before each use.
- Sturdy frame, being able to support users up to 300 lbs;
- Superior aesthetics, aluminum/steel frame;
- Can be stored vertically, and the water doesn’t require to be removed for storage;
- Transport wheels for easy handling and transport;
- Water resistance system, providing the most natural rowing feel that you can get;
- Dual-chamber water tank, with 4 distinctive water resistance levels;
- Contoured, ergonomically designed seat;
- Pivoting footrests with adjustable straps;
- Fitness meter included, being able to track time, count, total count, SPM, calories, and tempo;
- Smooth and quiet operation;
- Rower for users of all levels;
- Little maintenance required;
- Easy to assemble;
- Excellent warranty package.
- No LED backlight on the console display;
- No online connectivity or possibility to transfer your workout data to an online app;
- The console does not monitor heart rate.
The First Degree Fitness Neptune Challenge AR is a fluid rower designed for home use, featuring an adjustable resistance water tank, with 4 distinctive levels. Its frame combines aluminum and steel elements, being able to hold users up to 300 lbs. It also includes a basic rowing console, with programmable goals for time, count, and calories. Even though it’s not a commercial grade rower, it can provide workouts for users of all levels, from beginners to pros. It’s an excellent fitness machine for cardio training, interval training, building stamina, and of course, for losing weight. It delivers workouts that involve multiple muscle groups with minimum stress on the joints. And finally, even though it’s not the most inclusive and the most affordable rower, due to its adjustable water resistance and its solid construction, it definitely delivers excellent value for the price.