Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5866 Water Rowing Machine

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Sunny SF-RW5866

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265 lbs81 lbsWaterTime,

The Sunny SF-RW5866 is the second water resistance rower released by Sunny Health & Fitness and also one of the newest rowers for 2019. As opposed to the Sunny Obsidian Surge SF-RW5713 which was released last year, this newer model features a sturdier frame and a folding design. In terms of specs and features, it is pretty close to the Stamina Wave 1450.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 88L x 23W x 19H inches (223L x 58W x 48H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 81 lbs (36.7 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 265 lbs (120 kg)
  • Frame: Steel & aluminum
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance: Water
  • Exercise meter: Time, distance, total distance, count, calories, goals
  • Warranty: Frame 3 years / Parts 180 days

Frame construction

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5866 water resistance rower features a sturdy frame, combining steel and aluminum parts. The front part that supports the water tank and the base stabilizers are steel-made, while the rail is made of aluminum.

The fully assembled unit is not exactly light. It weighs approx. 81 lbs (36.7 kg). However, once it is assembled, it can easily be moved by using the wheels incorporated into its front base bar. Also, this weight provides excellent stability.

Speaking of stability, the machine’s rear base is equipped with adjustable levelers. Also, the other base stabilizers are rubberized providing an excellent grip to the floor and preventing the unit from moving during a more intense rowing session.

The Sunny SF-RW5866 rower is a fairly large unit, especially lengthwise. It is 88″ (223 cm) long, and 23″ (58 cm) wide. Plus, it requires at least two feet of clearance at the rear and on both sides for ease of access and unhindered operation. This being said, it may not fit too well into a small room. But on the other hand, its frame has a folding design. The rail with the seat can fold up, providing better storage possibilities. With the rail folded up, the machine’s footprint is reduced to 48″L x 23″W (122 x 58 cm).

An important aspect to mention here regards the length of the rail. This element measures 48″ (122 cm) and allows approx. 44″ (111 cm) of travel for the seat. This being said, the machine can accommodate users up to 6’5″ (196 cm) with no problem, promoting a complete and healthy leg extension during rowing. Also, the rail and seat assembly are rated for a weight capacity of 265 lbs (120 kg), which is not bad for a machine designed for home use.

Last but not least, the unit’s steel parts are coated with a rust-resistant and chip-resistant paint finish; the color used is gray, this being the only color available for this rower. The aluminum rail has its own natural polish.

Seat and other parts

The Sunny SF-RW5866 rowing machine features a fairly large seat designed for optimal comfort. Its top is 11″ (28 cm) deep and 14″ (35.5 cm) wide, providing plenty of contact surface. It’s made of high-density foam (2″ thick) so it alleviates the impact on the lower back. It’s also contoured to reduce muscle pressure and to provide superior adherence, preventing you from sliding backward during rowing.

The base frame of the seat is made of steel. It integrates three sets of rollers. Two are placed on top of the rail, while the third one is underneath to add stability. The rollers integrate high-grade ball bearings and have a rubberized layer on the outside to minimize noise and to deliver a very smooth motion for the seat. Also, all the rollers are concealed by the side panels of the seat frame, in order to prevent your clothing from getting caught in them.

The machine’s footrests feature a durable metallic base; they come already attached to the front part of the frame and the middle base bar so they do not pivot forward or backward during rowing. Their angle is approx. 50°, offering optimal positioning for the feet.

The footrests are length-adjustable. They offer plenty of adjustment, being able to accommodate athletic shoes of all sizes. They also have heel guards and adjustable straps so you can perfectly secure your feet on them.

The rower’s pulling handle is a simple straight bar with ovalized grips with a layer of rubber foam material for extra comfort. It is attached to a durable nylon mesh strap highly resistant to abrasion.

Water tank and resistance system

This Sunny Health & Fitness rower is equipped with a water resistance system which consists of a heavy-duty polycarbonate water tank with a 4-blade internal impeller. The exact capacity of the water tank is not specified, but as a general idea, it should be between 3-4 gallons.

The water tank does not have a mechanical resistance adjustment system like the First Degree Fitness Pacific Challenge AR. Therefore, you can only adjust the overall water resistance by adding or removing water from the tank. There are 6 water levels marked on the tank. If filled up to level 1, it provides the lowest resistance. Conversely, if the tank is filled up to level 6, the machine will provide the highest resistance possible.

Just as any other water resistance rower, the Sunny SF-RW5866 provides a dynamic response for each stroke. In other words, the harder you pull the handle, the faster the impeller will spin into the tank, and the more resistance the machine will generate. This leads to a rowing sensation that is similar to rowing a real boat through water. This is one of the reasons water resistance rowers are recommended to users who want to train on a professional level.

In case you’re wondering, the level of noise generated by the spinning of the impeller inside of the water tank is far from being high. For example, the usage of the machine should not cover the sound of a TV set on low volume.

Exercise meter

The exercise meter included with the Sunny SF-RW5866 water resistance rower offers fewer features than the console of the Sunny Obsidian rower. To be more specific, it does not have a pulse reading function, a recovery function or preset programs. It also does not have any online connectivity capabilities. It’s only a monitor for the main workout metrics.

The unit features a 5-panel LCD display which shows time, count, distance, total distance, and calories burned. It has three buttons which cover all of its functions. The MODE button allows you to select the desired display value for time, count, distance, and calories, while the SET button gives you the possibility to select a goal for any of these metrics. If a goal is selected, the console will show the remaining value up to the moment you reach the selected goal. The Reset button allows you to clear all the data to zero.

The unit requires two AA batteries which are included. It starts up when you begin rowing or when you press one of the buttons. It also has a self-shutdown function which initiates after 4 minutes of inactivity on the machine.

Assembly and Maintenance

Needless to say, the machine’s water tank comes pre-assembled and attached to the front steel frame part. Therefore, you only need to attach the seat to the rail, connect the sensor wire and rail to the tank section, add the rear stabilizer, and fill the tank with water. This shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes. All the necessary tools for the assembly are included and the manual provides very clear instructions.

Just as for any other water resistance rower, the water in the tank requires periodic treatment. One packet of water purification chlorine pills is included with the machine. You don’t have to periodically change the water in the tank, but it’s recommended to add a purification tablet in it ever 6 months. Also, a funnel and a small siphon pump are included for filling or emptying the water tank. Other than this, it is recommended to keep the unit’s rail clean and periodically check for loose parts.

The Pros

  • Sturdy steel frame which can support users up to 265 lbs;
  • Folding frame;
  • Fairly long rail – can accommodate users up to 6’5″;
  • Transport wheels for easy relocation;
  • Adjustable levelers on the rear base;
  • Contoured and padded seat for optimal comfort;
  • Water resistance system which provides a dynamic response during rowing and natural feel;
  • 6-level water tank;
  • Exercise meter included – it tracks time, distance, total distance, count, and calories burned;
  • Goal settings on the exercise meter for time, distance, calories, and count;
  • Smooth and quiet operation;
  • Chlorine tablets for water purification are included; 
  • Batteries for the console are included;
  • Tools for assembly are included;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Easy to assemble.

The Cons

  • No pulse reading function;
  • The display of the meter unit does not have backlight;
  • No preset programs.


The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5866 is a water resistance rower featuring a durable steel frame with a 48″ long aluminum rail and a folding design. It includes a console that tracks the most important workout metrics. It’s not a commercial grade machine but does offer an excellent, full-body aerobic workout. It’s great for interval training, light to intense cardio training, building stamina, and losing weight. It’s also one of the most affordable water rowing machines available at the moment, at least a few $100s cheaper than most WaterRower or First Degree Fitness machines.

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