SOLE SR500 Air Rower
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|515 lbs||115 lbs||Air and magnetic||Frame: lifetime
Parts: 3 year
Electronics: 3 years
Labor: 1 year
Although SOLE is a brand acclaimed for its top quality treadmills and elliptical machines, they do offer one rowing machine model, the SOLE SR500. Needless to say, the remarkable quality is maintained for this air rower, just as for the other Sole products. It’s a machine pretty much similar to the Concept2 Model D rower, but comes for about $100 less than this model.
Therefore, if you’re on the lookout for a first-rate air rower, with pretty much all the belts and whistles an air rower can offer, here’s what the SR500 model from Sole can do for you.
Important Note: The Sole SR500 presented in this review is the 2014 model, which does not feature the additional wireless resistance controls on the handgrips. However, the 2015 model which does include this feature, also costs $100 more.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Assembled dimensions: 94L x 18W x 46H inches (238.7L x 45.7W x 117H cm)
- Product weight: 115 lbs (52 kg)
- Supported weight: 515 lbs (233.6 kg)
- Frame: Aluminum, foldable
- Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
- Resistance type: Air & eddy current, 16 levels
- Performance console: 14 programs
- Warranty: Frame lifetime / Parts 3 years / Electronics 3 years / Labor 1 year
Like most first-class air rowers, the SOLE SR500 features a pretty long frame, requiring about 9’L x 4’W floor space. Most of the frame pieces are made of durable aluminum. However, even though it’s not steel-made, the frame is built to sustain users up to 515 lbs (cca 234 kg), and the machine is also pretty heavy itself, with an assembled weight of 115 lbs (52 kg).
The frame features 3 bases. The rear and front bases have plastic caps, to prevent any damage to the floor, and enhance the machine’s stability. The front base is equipped with two small transport wheels which facilitate the relocation of the assembled machine. The mid base adds more stability to the frame, also serving as a secondary support when the frame is folded. As mentioned, the frame is foldable. In order to fold it, you must unscrew the knob under the frame, at the joint point between the sliding rail and the front part of the frame, which contains the fan. The rail folds up, the rail remaining in vertical position, offering a lot of floor space.
The main rail of this air rower is quite long, being able to easily accommodate the tallest users. It also features a slight slope, offering a better workout for the legs, supplying a faster recovery motion and a more demanding drive motion. The rear part of the rail has a 21″ (53.3 cm) elevation from the floor, while the front part of the rail is cca 19″ (48.2 cm) above.
The seat equipped on this rowing machine is pretty wide, compared with other rowers. It’s made of highly resistant plastic material, and features a contoured design, to offer maximum comfort and adherence for the rowing motion. The footrests are size-adjustable, with seven size levels, accommodating feet of all sizes. They’re also equipped with straps, and heel-stoppers, to secure feet on the correct positions. However, the footrests are not angle-adjustable.
Finally, the handgrips of the machine are covered with rubber foam padding to prevent hands from sustaining blisters during longer workout sessions. They’re attached to an abrasion-resistant, nylon strap, made to last many year of use.
The SOLE SR500 combines air resistance with magnetic eddy current resistance, in order to provide a natural rowing feel, and also to diminish the sound emitted by the flywheel (also referred to as fan). A certain amount of resistance is produced simply by pulling the strap, and setting the flywheel in motion. And this resistance varies up to a certain point, directly proportional with how hard you pull, similar to the rowing motion and feel of a real rowing boat. However, to increase the overall resistance, this rower doesn’t use a damper, which normally would control the air flow into the flywheel’s case. This is where the eddy current brake comes in.
The eddy current brake uses magnets to increase the drag onto the flywheel. This brake system offers 16 levels of resistance, which can be adjusted via the console equipped on the machine. The rower can be operated without powering it on though. But in this case, you will basically workout only on the 1st resistance setting, given only by the fan-shaped flywheel.
Evidently, since it uses an eddy current brake, the machine requires to be connected to 110V power circuit. The apposite adapter is included with the box.
The SOLE Fitness rower SR500 does feature a pretty advanced performance monitor, featuring a 2-color LCD display, 5.5″ in diagonal. The eddy current brake is controlled exclusively through the console. The values indicated by the display cover a lot of essential data that anyone training on a rowing machine should be aware of. It displays time, speed, distance, strokes per minute, total of strokes, calories burned, pulse, the current resistance level and the program in use.
There are 12 standard programs on the console, and 6 modes including Manual, Program, Watt, User, HRC, and Race. The User Mode can keep track of four users, great feature to have in case several persons use the machine. The Manual mode is the most basic one, the best setting to start with as it gives you the possibility to manually adjust the resistance and workout with on the resistance levels that you desire. The 12 built-in workout apps will automatically change the resistance. Evidently the HRC mode focuses on heart rate, while the Race mode offers a competition training setting.
An important aspect to mention regarding the console is the fact that it’s telemetry enabled. This means it can read your pulse via a heart rate chest strap. And yes, the chest strap for this purpose is included with the rower.
Assembly and Maintenance
The SR500 rower from Sole is quite easy to put together. All you have to do is attach the bases, seat, connect the sliding rail to the front part of the frame, and connect the console. This shouldn’t take more than 25-30 min. Also, despite the fact that it’s not exactly a feather, the machine shouldn’t be a problem to put together by only one person. The tools for assembly are included, along with the step-by-step owner’s manual.
Maintenance doesn’t require much either. It’s basically a maintenance free machine. All you have to do is make sure the rail is free of dirt or other particles, to avoid any damage to the wheels or the slide rail itself.
- Folding, space saving design.
- Extremely solid frame, able to support users up to 515 lbs.
- Air & eddy current resistance system, for a natural rowing feel and reduced noise.
- 16 levels of resistance.
- 7 size levels on the footrests.
- Contoured, spacious seat supplying excellent comfort.
- 12 preloaded workout apps.
- Multiple user profiles on the console.
- Multiple values displayed by the console, such as time, speed, distance, strokes per minute and total strokes, calories, and pulse.
- Included HR chest strap.
- Quiet machine.
- Excellent workout for back, arms, legs and core muscles.
- Basically maintenance free.
- Great warranty package.
We couldn’t find too many drawbacks regarding this rowing machine. However there are several aspects that some may consider downsides. So, here’s they are:
- Large footprint.
- Footrests are only size-adjustable, and not angle-adjustable. However, their position is pretty standard.
The SOLE SR500 rowing machine is without a doubt a gym-grade rower. Sturdiness, comfort, appealing design, foldability, and versatility in terms of training possibilities, are some of its main traits. Even though it is currently the only rower offered by Sole, it would seem that they invested a lot into it, as it offers just about anything you would expect from an air rower. It’s a great machine for cardio training, core toning, and of course, calorie burning. It’s not exactly a cheap fitness machine, but overall it holds an excellent price/quality ratio.