Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rower SF-RW5801

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Sunny SF-RW5801

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285 lbs46.2 lbsMagnetic,
8 levels

The Sunny SF-RW5801 is one of the newest rowing machines from Sunny Health & Fitness for 2018. It’s also one of the most affordable magnetic rowers at the moment. It offers a similar range of features as the Merax MS037153BAA or the Efitment RW025. It’s a pretty basic machine, but for home use and daily cardio training is more than enough for most users.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 72″L x 22″W x 23″H (183L x 56W x 58H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 46.2 lbs (21 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 285 lbs (130 kg)
  • Frame: Steel
  • Resistance type: Magnetic, 8 levels
  • Console: Time, count, total count, calories, distance, RPM, SCAN
  • Extras: Tablet holder
  • Warranty: Frame 3 years / Parts 90 days

Frame & parts

The Sunny SF-RW5801 rower features an all-steel frame, with a fairly durable rail and seat assembly which can withstand users up to 285 lbs (130 kg). Its rail offers approx. 34″ (86 cm) of travel for the seat, so the machine should be able to accommodate users up to 6’2″ (187 cm) with no problem, promoting a full leg stretch.

The fully assembled unit is approx. 72″ (183 cm) long, and 22″ (56 cm) wide. Also, a usage surface of at least 90″ x 50″ (228 x 127 cm) is recommended for it. However, the frame is foldable; the rail with the seat can be folded in upright position, and with the rail folded up, the unit’s dimensions become 32″L x 22″W x 47″H (81 x 56 x 119 cm).

This Sunny magnetic rower is not an extremely heavy unit. With the frame fully set up, it weighs approx. 46.2 lbs (21 kg). This being said, its transport, unboxing, and assembly shouldn’t be a problem for one person. Plus, the front base is equipped with transport wheels which facilitate its relocation when you have finished your workout.

The unit’s base contact points feature rubberized pads. Therefore, the unit provides an excellent grip to the floor; it doesn’t slide or move during exercising. These rubber pads are non-adjustable, though.

The footrests have a pivoting design, similar to the ones on the Xterra ERG200. This allows them so slightly adjust their angle during each part of the rowing motion, providing the perfect positioning for the feet at all time. They feature a ribbed and non-slip surface, heel-guards, and adjustable straps in order to keep your feet secured during your workout.

The pulling handle is a simple, straight bar featuring rubberized grips. It’s attached to a nylon strap which is highly resistant to abrasion. It also doesn’t require any lubrication as some other rowers with a chain drive would.

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 is equipped with a fairly large seat. It’s approx 14″ (35 cm) wide and 11″ (28 cm) deep, providing plenty of contact surface. Its top is made of a high-density foam for optimal comfort, while its surface provides high adherence, it’s ribbed and concave in order to prevent you from sliding off the seat during rowing.

The seat integrates six wheels, four at the top, two underneath. They’re high-grade wheels with small ball bearings, made to deliver a smooth motion. They’re also concealed, in order to prevent your clothing to be caught under the seat, and increase the overall safety of the machine.

Last but not least, this magnetic rower features a rust-resistant paint finish. Despite the resistant paint finish, the machine is made for indoor use only. If stored or used outside, other parts that are not paint coated may still catch rust. The color used for all the steel parts in its frame is gray, this being the only color available for this unit.

Resistance system

This Sunny rower is equipped with a full-magnetic resistance system. It doesn’t have any air resistance or water resistance elements. Its main resistance element is a small magnetic brake attached to the tension dial on top of the front part of the machine via a steel cable. By turning the dial clockwise, the brake pad moves closer to the flywheel which increases the internal magnetic field. This ultimately leads to more tension during rowing.

The resistance system doesn’t require a power source; it’s completely mechanical, manually adjusted. Also, in case you’re wondering, the integrated fitness meter doesn’t play any role in the rower’s resistance adjustment.

The rower offers 8 distinct resistance levels. In case you’re wondering, the highest resistance level doesn’t supply the resistance required by a professional athlete. However, it does deliver light to medium cardio workout possibilities, great for anyone who wants a full body workout.

Since the unit doesn’t have any air resistance elements, its operation generates almost no noise. This makes the machine suitable for apartment use. The internal flywheel is not extremely heavy, but this weight is just enough to deliver a consistent momentum for rowing. It is also perimeter weighted, which results in very smooth and steady motion.

Like any other full-magnetic rowing machine, this model doesn’t provide a dynamic response during rowing. In other words, the resistance doesn’t vary with how hard you pull as for an air resistance rower or water resistance rower. It remains constant, given by the selected tension level. So, this being said, the rowing feel is not completely “natural”, that’s why it may not be the best choice for a professional athlete. However, the unit does offer the possibility to undergo quite a consistent cardio workout.

Exercise meter

Although the Sunny SF-RW5801 is a rather basic rowing machine, its fitness meter is not the most basic available. That’s because it has goal setting functions. In other words, you can set up target values for time, calories, and stroke count. Once a value is set for any of these, the meter will count down from the selected value until it reaches zero. This way, you can keep a better track of your progress.

Along with the time, stroke count, and calories, the LCD display of the machine’s exercise meter also tracks distance, total count, and RPM. Unfortunately, it does not have a pulse tracking function. It’s also not telemetric so it cannot read your pulse through an HR chest strap transmitter.

The meter is fairly easy to operate. It has a SCAN function which you can toggle ON/OFF from the MODE button. With the SCAN mode set ON, the display shows all the workout metrics in a sequence, each metric appearing on screen for six seconds. By toggling the SCAN mode OFF, you can select any of the metrics to appear on the display all the time. The SET button gives you the possibility to select countdown values for time, calories, and count. And finally, the RESET button clears all the values to zero.

The unit requires two AAA batteries which are included. It starts up when it detects activity on the machine, and also shuts down after four minutes of inactivity.

Assembly & Maintenance

The front part of the rower comes pre-assembled. In other words, the drive and resistance elements, are already assembled, attached to the front part of the frame, and protected by the ABS shrouds. So, in terms of assembly, you only have to adds the front stabilizer, the footrests, attach the seat to the rail, attach the rail to the front part of the frame, and finally close with the rear base. This shouldn’t take more than 20-30 min. All the tools required for the assembly are included, and the manual provides step-by-step assembly instructions and very clear schematics.

Maintenance doesn’t require much. It’s recommended to keep the unit’s rail clean, and periodically check for loose bolts and parts.

The Pros

  • Sturdy frame for a light rower – can support users up to 285 lbs;
  • Space-saving design;
  • Transport wheels integrated into the front base;
  • Rubberized stabilizers on all bases;
  • Quiet and smooth magnetic resistance system;
  • 8 levels of resistance, for light to medium workouts;
  • Ergonomic, padded seat for optimal comfort;
  • Pivoting footrests for a perfect foot position with each stroke;
  • The sliding beam can accommodate users up to 6’2″;
  • Exercise meter included – it can track time, count, total count, calories, distance, and RPM;
  • Goal setting functions for time, count, and calories; 
  • Tablet holder included;
  • Batteries for the console are included;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Little maintenance required.

The Cons

  • No backlight on the meter display;
  • No pulse reading function;
  • A tablet placed on the tablet holder will cover the fitness meter display.


The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 is an entry-level, full-magnetic rowing machine, featuring a non-programmable fitness meter. It has a sturdy frame construction which can support users up to 285 lbs. Its frame is also foldable, offering better storage possibilities if necessary. Even though it’s not a professional rowing machine, it can still provide a very consistent full-body cardio workout. It’s a great trainer for muscle toning, stamina development, and weight loss. In all, it offers an excellent value at a low price.

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