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Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5508 Ultra Tension Magnetic Pro Rower

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Sunny SF-RW5508
sunny sf-rw5508 - magnetic rowing machine
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300 lbs80 lbsMagnetic90 days

Sunny Health & Fitness offers several rowers, and the SF-RW5508 is one of their heavier models. Although it can’t be compared with a commercial quality rower such as a Concept2, it still is a solid rowing machine, perfect for home use. But on the other hand, it costs half the price of a Concept2 or WaterRower machine. In this review we’ll try to cover as many aspects as possible regarding the features and functions of this Sunny rower. Therefore, let’s see what it can do for you.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 87L x 21.5W x 23H inches (221L x 54.6W x 58.4H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 80 lbs (36.2 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs (136 kg)
  • Frame: Steel and aluminum
  • Footrests: With straps
  • Resistance type: Magnetic, 10 levels
  • Performance monitor: Time, time 500m strokes, strokes per minute, distance, calories, pulse, recovery function
  • Warranty: 90 days

Frame and other parts

First of all, the Sunny SF-RW5508 features a frame made of steel and aluminum components. In other words, its sustaining bases, as well as several of the internal components, are made ofsunny sf-rw5508 - pivoting footrests with velcro straps steel, while the gliding rail of the seat is aluminum-made, providing a smooth and quiet glide. The rail is long enough to accommodate users of all sizes. In fact the assembled machine has a fairly large footprint, especially lengthwise. It’s 87″ (221 cm) long, and 21.5″ wide (54.6 cm), quite a bit longer than the SF-RW5606 or SF-RW5515. Also, an important aspect that requires mentioning here, is that the rail does not fold up like for the SF-RW5515. Thus, once assembled, the machine pretty much remains at its dimensions.

The gliding rail is not horizontal; it’s set at a soft angle (approx. 10°), which means the rower provides a faster recovery motion, and a slightly superior workout for the legs. The rail is solid enough to support users up to 300 lbs (136 kg).

The frame features two bases. The rear base has a PVC cover, while the front base integrates two transport wheels, which facilitate its relocation if you need to move it once assembled. The assembled machine is not extremely heavy. It weighs approx. 80 lbs (36.2 kg), but by leaning it onto its front, transport wheels, you will only have to handle 1/3 of its total weight.

This Sunny rowing machine is equipped with a fairly large seat, 12″ (30.4 cm) long, 15″ (38 cm) wide. Although it does not integrate air cell cushioning, it does have a layer of soft padding, to provide optimal comfort. Its surface is also contoured and ribbed, supplying maximum adherence.

The seat integrates 3 sets of heavy-duty PVC coated, ball bearing rollers. Thus, the contact surface of the seat frame with the rail is fairly wide, the seat providing excellent stability.

The Sunny SF-RW5508 is equipped with pivoting footpads. Their maximum angle is approx. 60°. They’re made of durable nylon material. They’re not size-adjustable, but they’re larger enough to accommodate sports footwear of all sizes. They’re equipped with adjustable straps, to supply maximum stability for the feet, feature which may come in handy for users with various disabilities. And finally, the rear of each footpad has a heel guard, also enhancing foot stability and comfort during rowing.

One last aspect to mention here regards the pulling handle. It consists of a simple, slightly curved bar, padded with a sheet of rubber foam material, to prevent any damage to the hands during prolonged workouts. Although it may seem an insignificant detail, the fact that the pulling handle is curved is quite a plus. That’s because it promotes ampler motions, and the grip is more natural.

Resistance and drive

The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5508 is equipped with a manual magnetic resistance system. This means you don’t have to connect it to a power circuit, in order to benefit from resistance. The resistance mechanism involves a balanced, magnetic flywheel. Its weight is notsunny health and fitness sf-rw5508 - magnetic resistance system specified, but it’s fairly heavy, supplying a consistent momentum and a steady feel. The flywheel is connected to the tension knob under the machine’s console. There are 10 available tension levels, and by turning the knob clockwise, you increase resistance. The lowest resistance levels provide a rather light workout, while the top 9-10 one offer a high level of difficulty, which may be appropriated even for pro athletes.

Evidently, since this Sunny rower doesn’t have any air resistance elements, the resistance for each tension level is constant. It doesn’t vary with how hard or fast you pull such as for air rowing machines or water rowing machines. Therefore, most professional rowing athletes will describe the machine’s feel as “less natural”. This is actually common for most magnetic and hydraulic rowers. But nonetheless, the machine does provide excellent cardio training possibilities, each workout involving a large number of muscle groups.

When it comes to the machine’s drive, it can be described as extremely quiet, almost silent. This being said, the machine is great for apartment use. The transmission between the main pulley and flywheel consists of a heavy-duty belt, which basically doesn’t require any maintenance. The pulling handle is connected to a highly durable mesh belt, made of synthetic material.


The fitness computer unit supplied with this Sunny rower can be classified as a mid range one. It offers quite a bit more than a basic unit, as it features an LCD display with 7 panels, which means it can display 7 workout statistics simultaneously. It can track time, distance, calories,sunny sf-rw5508 - console pulse, time 500m, strokes per minute and total strokes. It doesn’t have any pre-set workout programs, nor it has online connectivity. However, it has goal functions for distance, time and calories. For example, you can setup a specific value for any of these stats, and the console will count it down from there as you workout.

The console unit can read pulse via a wireless HR chest strap transmitter, but this accessory is not supplied with the rower. The unit also has a Recovery function, which rates your performance based on your pulse rate at the end of your workout. Evidently, to use this function you will need a HR transmitter.

The console unit is easy to operate. It has 4 keys: MODE, SET, RESET and RECOVERY. MODE is used for entering a setting value or resetting a set value. SET is used for assigning values for time, distance or calories. RESET obviously clears all the values. And finally, the RECOVERY button covers the recovery function. The unit requires 2 AA batteries.

Assembly and Maintenance

The flywheel, pulleys, transmission, handle and console come already assembled, and attached to the front part of the frame, enclosed by their plastic guards. All you need to do is attach the front base stabilizer, the rail, seat, and the footrests. This shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes. A manual that guides you through the process is supplied, along with all the necessary tools for assembly.

When it comes to maintenance, the internal parts come pre-lubricated, so they don’t require any further lubrication for a long while. The main aspect to have in mind for maintenance and prolonging the life of the machine, is keeping the gliding rail free of sand, dirt or small objects that may cause nicks in it, or damage the rollers. Also, a periodic check of the bolts and nuts is recommended.

The Pros

  • Sturdy and stable construction;
  • Elegant design;
  • Padded, contoured seat;
  • Pivoting footrests with heel guards and velcro straps;
  • 10 levels of magnetic resistance, offering light to difficult workouts;
  • Mid range fitness computer, with a 7 panel display, pulse reading, goals and recovery function;
  • Smooth and quiet operation, great for apartment use;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Easy to handle and relocate;
  • Little maintenance required.

The Cons

  • Frame doesn’t fold, and it’s rather large lengthwise;
  • Console doesn’t have LED backlight, so its reading may be a bit difficult in poor lighting conditions;
  • Heart rate chest strap accessory not included. sunny sf-rw5508 - magnetic rower


The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW55058 is a heavy-duty rowing machine, designed for users of all sizes and levels. It features manual magnetic resistance with 10 distinctive tension levels, and a mid range fitness computer with goal and recovery functions. It has a sturdy construction being able to support users up to 300 lbs. It’s an excellent machine for cardio exercises, as rowing involves multiple groups of muscles, such as deltoids, rhomboids, biceps, paraspinals, hamstrings, quads and glutes. You can be sure that all these muscle groups will benefit from a consistent toning if you workout daily on this fitness machine. Other than that, it’s great for anyone who wants to build stamina, tone muscles, undergo a consistent cardio training, and of course, lose weight. Finally, it’s an affordable rower, as most other models with similar specs cost at least $200-$300 more.

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