Kettler R220 Programmable Magnetic Rower

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Kettler R220

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245 lbs81Automatic
16 levels
18 programs,

The R220 is one of the newest rowing machines from Kettler for 2018. It’s a mid-range equipped with a motorized magnetic resistance system and a folding frame. However, even though it has a pretty sturdy construction, it’s not a commercial model. In terms of specs and features, it is similar to the ASUNA 4500 from Sunny Health & Fitness. It also has a similar price.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 70.5L x 20.5W x 31.5H inches (179L x 52W x 80H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 81 lbs (36.7 kg)
  • Supported weight: 245 lbs (111 kg)
  • Frame: Steel & aluminum
  • Resistance: Magnetic, 16 levels
  • Exercise meter: 18 programs, recovery function
  • Warranty: Frame lifetime / Parts 1 year

Frame construction and parts

The Kettler R220 has a durable frame, combining steel and aluminum elements. The front part which sustains the main mechanism of the machine is made of steel, as well as the rear stabilizer. However, its main track is made of an aluminum alloy. All the steel parts in its construction are coated with a corrosion-resistant paint, while the aluminum track features its natural rust resistance. Also, the covers of the flywheel and the other elements of the drive and resistance system are made of a heavy-duty ABS material.

This Kettler rowing machine is not extremely large compared to other models, such as the LifeCore R100, for example. It’s fully assembled and extended length is only 70.5″ (179 cm), while its widest point is 20.5″ (52 cm). This being said, it’s not equipped with a very long rail and can only accommodate users up to 6’0″ (183 cm). Taller users may not benefit from a complete leg extension and the full range of motion.

Although the fully extended machine takes quite a bit of floor space, especially lengthwise, its frame has a folding design. The rail can fold up reducing the machine’s footprint to 31″L x 20.5″W (79 x 52 cm). Folding the unit is quite easy. The connection point between the rail and the front part integrates a pin which can lock/unlock the frame, allowing you to lift up the rail.

This rowing machine is not extremely heavy. With all the parts assembled it weighs approx. 81 lbs (36.7 kg). Its front base has a set of transport wheels which facilitate the unit’s relocation. Also, the front base features a set of adjustable stabilizers which allow you to perfectly level it on any type of surface.

The Kettler R220 rowing machine is equipped with a set of large footrests. They’re made of a very durable ABS material. Their length is non-adjustable, but they should accommodate athletic footwear of all sizes. They feature heel guards and adjustable straps in order to provide maximum foot stability during rowing. And finally, they don’t have a pivoting design, such as for the Sunny SF-RW5606, but they’re set at an angle of approx. 45° delivering an optimal foot position.

This Kettler rowing machine features a contoured and cushioned seat with a non-slip upholstery. It integrates a generous layer of polyurethane foam cushioning, delivering an excellent comfort. It’s equipped with three sets of rollers which integrate industrial quality ball bearings, designed to deliver a smooth and quiet motion. All the seat’s rollers are concealed to maximize safety.

One last aspect to mention here regards the row bar. This element consists of a simple cylindrical metallic bar with cushioned foam handles in order to deliver maximum comfort and a sure-grip. It’s attached to a durable nylon strap highly resistant to abrasion.

Resistance system

The Kettler R220 is a magnetic rowing machine. However, as opposed to other magnetic rowers, such as the LifeSpan RW100 or the Sunny SF-RW5515, this rower features a motorized resistance. This means you have to connect it to a power source, and the resistance can only be adjusted from the console. As you input a certain resistance setting on the console, the servo motor will adjust the magnetic brake in order to increase or decrease the overall resistance.

One important aspect with regards to the resistance of this machine, and to any rower with magnetic resistance in general, is that it doesn’t generate a dynamic response, such an air resistance rower or water resistance rower. In other words, the resistance remains constant, given the selected level, no matter how hard or fast you pull. For air rowers or water rowers, if you pull faster, you will get more resistance, and the consistency of your workout will proportionally increase. Due to this fact, this trainer may not be the best choice for a professional athlete who may want to benefit from a more natural rowing feel. But nonetheless, it definitely offers the possibility to perform a very consistent, full-body cardio workout.

On the other hand, though, since this machine has a magnetic resistance system, its operation is very smooth and almost silent. It provides 16 distinct levels of resistance. The first 1-3 settings offer light workouts, great for warming up or for recovery training. Conversely, the top 14-16 resistance settings deliver high resistance which will definitely enable you to break a sweat within minutes.

Console unit

The console unit included with the Kettler R220 is quite similar to the one of the Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge SF-RW5713 rower. It features a 5-inch diagonal, high-contrast, multi-panel LCD display which shows all the 8 workout metrics simultaneously. It tracks time, 500-meter pace, strokes per minute, total strokes, distance, calories burned, heart rate, and also shows the selected resistance level.

The unit’s distance reading is shown by default in meters. The machine does not have any pulse sensors, but the console is Polar compatible; it can track your pulse via a Polar HR transmitter. However, this accessory is not included.

The console unit does not have any online capabilities, it’s not compatible with any online fitness apps, nor does have a USB port for workout data transfer. However, it offers 18 workout programs.

The first 12 workout programs are preset. The 13th program offers a virtual race track and has 15 levels of difficulty. For level 1 (L1) the Time/500m is set at 8:00, while for level 15 (L15) it is set at 1:00. The 14th program is HRC-based; it offers three preset target HR zones, (55%, 75%, and 90%), and one custom target HR. These can be considered four distinctive workouts. The last workout program is user-defined. In other words, it gives you the possibility to create your own workout segment matrix.

The unit also has a Recovery Function. This gives you the possibility to calculate your fitness level. Based on the heart rate at the end of the workout it will give you a fitness rating between F1 (Excellent) – F6 (Poor).

Finally, the rower’s meter unit is attached to an adjustable mount, which gives you the possibility to adjust it angle in order to maximize readability.

Assembly and Maintenance

Like most magnetic rowing machines, the Kettler R220 comes partially assembled. The drive and resistance system are pre-assembled and sealed by the protective covers. All you have to do is attach the aluminum track, the seat, the rear base, and the console. This shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. The included manual provides clear assembly instructions. Also, the basic tools required for the task are included.

Maintenance doesn’t require much. Since it’s a magnetic resistance machine, there’s basically no wear and tear between the resistance elements, so you don’t have to worry about replacing any brake pads. Basically, the whole maintenance only requires you to keep the seat rail free of any debris that might cause damage to the rollers.

The Pros

  • Solid and sturdy frame, able to support users up to 245 lbs;
  • Aesthetic design;
  • Folding frame;
  • Transport wheels;
  • Adjustable base stabilizers;
  • Large footrests with straps and heel guards for maximum foot stability;
  • Contoured, foam-padded seat, for optimal comfort;
  • Automatic magnetic resistance with 16 available levels;
  • Multi-panel console with shows all the workout metrics simultaneously so you won’t have to use a SCAN function;
  • 18 workout programs;
  • Recovery test function;
  • Polar HR chest strap compatible;
  • Extremely quiet machine;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • Polar HR chest strap is not included;
  • Not for taller users than 6’0″.


The Kettler R220 is a magnetic rower featuring a steel-aluminum construction, with a folding design, and an automatic resistance system. It comes with a telemetric console which offers 18 workout programs. It has a pretty sturdy frame which can hold users up to 245 lbs. Its seat is foam-padded and contoured for optimal comfort. It’s a machine for users of all levels, great for light to intense cardio workouts, recovery training, interval training, muscle toning and weight loss. In all, it’s a pretty decent trainer offering an excellent value for the price.

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