First Degree Fitness E-316 Fluid Rower

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FDF E-316

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330 lbsWater,
16 levels
Frame: 10 years
Tank: 3 years
Seals: 3 years
Meter: 2 years
Wear: 2 years

The First Degree Fitness E-316 is another fluid rower in the Evolution series as the E-520. It’s also a commercial grade rowing machine, but it’s a bit more affordable than the E-520 and other FDF fluid rowers. It offers a wide array of training options, such as progressive training or interval training, featuring an advanced ergometer with online connectivity capabilities.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 83L x 31.8W x 40H (211L x 80W x 102H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 121 lbs (55 kg)
  • Supported weight: 330 lbs (150 kg)
  • Frame: Aluminum / steel
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance type: Water, adjustable (16 levels)
  • Ergometer: Quick start, manual programs, interval training, 6 previous workout memory, unique pacer system, USB port, online connectivity
  • Warranty: Frame 10 years / Tank and seals 3 years / Ergometer 2 years / Wear items 2 years

Frame construction, seat and other parts

The first aspect to mention here is that the FDF Evolution E-316 features a sturdy construction, combining steel and aluminum elements. The front part of the frame which hosts the water tank is made of steel tubing, while the gliding rail of the seat is made of anodized aluminum for a smooth glide. The rear stabilizer is also steel-made. This being said, the machine weighs approx. 121 lbs (55 kg); by filling the tank with water will add approx 16.7 lbs (7.6 kg) of extra weight. All this weight plays quite an important role in the machine’s overall stability. Plus, the front part of the frame features three adjustable stabilizers with rubber pads, while the rear base also has rubber pads, for an excellent grip onto the floor.

The frame does not fold; however, it can be stored vertically, resting on the water tank base. The front part is also equipped with two transport wheels which facilitate the relocation of the machine. In case you’re wondering, water can remain in the tank while the machine is stored vertically.

The First Degree Fitness Evolution E-316 fluid rowing machine takes quite a bit of usage space. When fully assembled, it is 83″ (211 cm) long and 31.8″ (80 cm) wide. You’ll also have to keep at least two feet of clearance on each side and at the rear for safe operation. On the other hand, when stored vertically, its footprint is reduced to approx. 31″ x 40″ (80 x 102 cm).

As we’ve mentioned above, the machine’s main rail is made of anodized aluminum, providing a very smooth glide for the seat. It’s long enough to accommodate users above 6’5″ (196 cm). It’s also durable enough to support users up to 330 lbs (150 kg).

The seat features a contoured and textured finish in order to prevent slippage. It integrates a layer of padding to adapt to the shape of the user. It slides on a set of high-grade wheels with top-quality ball bearings designed to last a lifetime. The construction of the rail and seat conceals the wheels, for maximum safety. Also, the seat is set up pretty high, to the average height of an office chair, in order to provide an easy entry and exit, a great feature for users with certain disabilities.

The First Degree Fitness E316 rower is equipped with a set of large, adjustable footrests, with heel guards and straps for maximum foot stability. Their angle is not adjustable, though, as for the ASUNA 4500 for example. They’re attached to a fixed metallic plate at an average 45° angle.

The pulling handle is a simple, slightly curved bar with rubber foam grips for improved ergonomics. It’s attached to a heavy-duty nylon mesh strap, not a chain as for the Concept 2 Model E, so it doesn’t require maintenance.

Finally, with regards to the overall frame finish, the steel parts feature a gray, corrosion-resistant paint finish, while the aluminum rail has its own natural polish, having only the machine’s number and logo painted on it.

Water tank and resistance system

The First Degree Fitness E-316 fluid rower is equipped with a slightly smaller water tank than the FDF Neptune, for example. This tank has a capacity of only 2 gal (7.6 liters). It’s made of durable polycarbonate material and integrates a metallic, multi-blade flywheel.

Even though it’s smaller than for other models, it still has a dual chamber, offering 16 levels of resistance. The two chamber system allows the water to be quickly transferred from the active chamber to the storage chamber, and vice-versa, facilitated by the dial on the top of the tank. Therefore, if you have all the water in the “active” chamber, the machine will generate the maximum resistance level possible, providing the training setting required by pro athletes. Conversely, if you set the dial to the minimum level, most of the water will be transferred back into the storage chamber so you will benefit from a light resistance.

Regardless the resistance system, though, since it’s a fluid rower it means it generates a dynamic response. In other words, the resistance also depends on the strength you put behind each stroke. The harder of the faster you pull, the more resistance you will get. 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 flywheel in the water tank has been described by most users as “soothing”.

Ergometer unit

The E-316 fluid rower from First Degree Fitness comes with the same ergometer unit as the E520 model. It’s an advanced unit, featuring an LCD display with multiple panels, showing multiple workout metrics simultaneously, so you won’t have to use a SCAN function. The displayed data includes time, distance, speed, heart rate, watts, calories, revolutions per minute, strokes per minute, and 500/m units. You can select either imperial or metric units for speed and distance. The unit also integrates a heart rate receiver so it can communicate with various HR chest strap transmitters. A heart rate wireless chest strap transmitter is not included with this rower, though.

As we’ve mentioned above, the machine’s water tank offers 16 distinctive levels of resistance, so the console allows you to also adjust the level of intensity depending on the resistance setting selected on the water tank. In other words, you have to correlate 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 ergometer unit offers several onboard, interval-based workout programs and goal setting functions for time and distance. It has a 6 previous workout memory and a unique pacer system. It also has 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 uses 2 AA-type batteries which are not included.

Assembly and Maintenance

The water tank comes pre-assembled and attached to the front part of the frame. However, the rest of the frame does require assembly. So, differently put, you will have to attach front steel base to the tank part, the rail, the seat, the rear stabilizer, the transport wheels and the footrests. This may take over an hour. However, the provided manual provides clear assembly instructions and all the required tools are included.

For maintenance you will have to treat the water in the tank with one of the 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, it’s recommended to periodically check the integrity of the frame, and if there are any loose bolts and part, you should re-tighten them.

The Pros

  • Sturdy construction, commercial grade build;
  • High user capacity, up to 330 lbs (150 kg);
  • Dual aluminum rail for extra stability;
  • Can be stored vertically, and the water doesn’t require to be removed for storage;
  • Easy to handle and transport;
  • Adjustable stabilizers with large rubber caps at the front;
  • Water resistance system, providing the most natural rowing feel that you can get;
  • Dual-chamber water tank, with 16 distinctive water resistance levels, from feather-light to Olympic level;
  • Ergonomic seat with a contoured and textured surface to prevent slippage;
  • Optional backrest for extra lumbar support;
  • High seat placement, for easy entry and exit;
  • Advanced, multi-panel ergometer which 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;
  • The ergometer is telemetric and works with most wireless HR chest straps;
  • Smooth and quiet operation;
  • Rower for users of all levels;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Tools for assembly included;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • No LED backlight on the console;
  • HR chest strap transmitter is not included.


The First Degree Fitness E-316 is a commercial grade fluid rower featuring a dual-chamber water tank with 16 levels of resistance. It comes with versatile, telemetric and online capable ergometer. It features a very sturdy construction with a steel/aluminum combo frame, and a high seat for easy entry and exit. It’s an excellent machine for users of all levels, from beginners to Olympic level athletes. Its perfect for a full-body cardio workout, interval training, endurance building, weight loss and also for rehab training. Evidently, since it’s a commercial machine, it’s not exactly cheap; however, it does offer excellent value for the price.

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