Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5987 Magnetic Rower

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Sunny SF-RW5987

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285 lbs49.4 lbsMagnetic,
16 levels

The Sunny SF-RW5987 is one of the rowing machines released by Sunny Health & Fitness in 2020. It is a model made for home use, similar to the SF-RW5941 that we’ve already reviewed here. However, its rail doesn’t fold and it has a greater weight capacity.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 72.5L x 18.5W x 25H inches (184L x 47W x 64H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 49.4 lbs (22.4 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 285 lbs (129 kg)
  • Frame: Steel
  • Resistance type: Magnetic, 16 levels
  • Performance monitor: Time, count, total count, calories, goals, scan
  • Extras: Device holder, bottle holder
  • Warranty: Frame 3 years / Parts 180 days

Frame construction

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5987 rower features a steel frame with oval base tubes and a rectangular rail. The only notable, non-steel parts in its construction are the footrests and the resistance system covers. These are made of durable thermoplastic material. All the steel bars are coated with a rust-resistant paint finish, gray in color.

Compared to other rowers, the Sunny SF-RW5987 is not extremely large. However, it still takes approx. 72.5″L x 18.5″W (184 x 47 cm) of floor space. Plus, it is recommended to leave at least two feet of clearance at the rear of the machine and on each side for ease of access and correct usage. Its rail is fairly long, designed to accommodate users with an inseam up to 43.5″ (110 cm), or differently put, users up to 6’6″ (198 cm).

As we’ve mentioned above, this Sunny rower does not have a folding design. However, it can be stored vertically, resting on its front stabilizer tube and the small leveler on the top of the front unit. When stored in vertical position, its footprint becomes 25″L x 18.5″W (64 x 47 cm) while its height reaches 72.5″ (184 cm).

The rower isn’t too heavy. With all the parts assembled, it weighs approx. 49.4 lbs (22.4 kg). This being said, it can be assembled by only one person. Its front base stabilizer is equipped with a set of transport wheels. Also, both base stabilizers are equipped with adjustable levelers.

Seat and other parts

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5987 rowing machine is equipped with a large seat, similar to the one included with the Sunny SF-RW5885 model. Its top pad offers plenty of contact surface. It is approx. 15″ (38 cm) wide, and 11″ (28 cm) deep. It integrates a thick layer of foam cushioning (approx. 2″) which is covered by a layer of durable vinyl material.

The seat and the rail assembly is rated for a maximum user weight limit of 285 lbs (129 kg) which is not bad for a machine made for home use. The rail is horizontal, so the seat maintains a constant height in relation to the floor. Its top is at approx. 12″ (30.4 cm) above floor level which can be quite a plus for users with certain disabilities.

The seat frame is steel-made. It integrates three sets of wheels. One slides under the rail for extra stability, the other slide on top of the rail. They integrate sealed ball bearings for a smooth motion and a long lifespan. Also, their outer layer is made from a material designed to reduce noise.

As we’ve mentioned above, the machine’s footrests are made of solid thermoplastic material. They are fairly large so they should accommodate athletic footwear of all sizes. They have a textured surface and heel guards for improved foot stability. They are also equipped with adjustable Velcro straps.

The two footrests have a similar design to the ones on the XTERRA Fitness ERG160. They can pivot on their axis slightly adjusting their angle as you row. However, they also have stoppers at the rear so they won’t tilt backwards past an angle of approx. 45°.

This Sunny rower is equipped with a standard pulling handle. It consists of a short and straight metallic bar with foam sleeves on its grips. It does not integrate pulse sensors or any controls. It is attached to a heavy-duty nylon strap which is highly resistant to abrasion. Since the machine uses a strap, not a chain like other rowers, you won’t have to lubricate it and the usage of the rower is considerably quieter.

Resistance system

The Sunny SF-RW5987 rower is equipped with a manual magnetic resistance system. This means that you don’t need an adapter for it or an external power source. But on the other hand, it cannot adjust the resistance automatically and the integrated console does not have pre-set workout programs.

The machine’s resistance system is up to a point similar to the resistance system of a magnetic exercise bike. It consists of a magnetic brake connected to the tension knob on the front section of the rower through a steel cable. As you turn the knob, the magnetic brake shifts its position in relation to the internal flywheel which adds or reduces the workout load.

Needless to say, one of the main advantages of a magnetic resistance system in a rowing machine is the overall quietness during usage. The resistance elements do not touch, and there is no fan to make a noise. Also, since the brake pad does not touch the flywheel, wear-and-tear is minimal, and the brake does not require replacement after a while, as it is the case for fitness machines with a friction resistance system.

This Sunny magnetic resistance rower offers 16 levels of resistance. The first few levels deliver a faily light workout load. Conversely, the highest resistance levels offer considerably more resistance great for anyone who wants a consistent full-body cardio workout.

The weight of the internal flywheel is not specified. But considering that the net weight of the rower is only 49.4 lbs (22.4 kg), the flywheel probably doesn’t weigh more than 20 lbs (9.0 kg). It has a perimeter-weighted structure which adds inertia, and improves motion stability.

Performance monitor

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5987 magnetic rower is equipped with a performance monitor that offers a few more features than the average basic rower monitor. It has an LCD display that tracks time, count (number of strokes for the current workout), total count (total strokes from the first usage of the machine), and calories burned. It does not track distance (in meters) and does not have a pulse reading function. In other words, you cannot sync it with a wireless HR chest strap.

The monitor unit is equipped with three buttons. These are Mode, Set, and Reset. The Mode button allows you to select the workout metric that you want to view on the display. You can also select the Scan Mode which automatically rotates all the metrics, showing each one for 6 seconds.

The Set button accesses the setup mode and offers the possibility to select workout goals for time, count, and calories burned. If a goal is selected for any of these workout metrics, the rower’s monitor will countdown from the selected value until it reaches zero. This function can help keep track of your progress and push your limits from a workout to the other. And finally, the Reset button clears all the values to zero, except Total Count (which can only be reset if you remove the batteries from the unit.

The machine’s performance monitor requires a set of two AAA batteries as its power source. It starts up when you begin rowing and also automatically turns off if it does not detect any activity on the rower for more than four minutes.

Assembly and Maintenance

The front unit of the rower with the performance monitor and all the resistance elements comes pre-assembled. The other parts do require user assembly, though. You will have to attach the front base stabilizer, insert the seat onto the rail, connect the rail to the front part unit, attach the rear stabilizer, and the two footrests. This shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes of your time. The manual provides clear step-by-step assembly instructions. Also, all the necessary tools for assembly are included.

Once the machine is fully assembled, you don’t have to worry too much about maintenance. It is recommended to keep your rower clean, especially the rail, to prevent any damage to the wheels of the seat. The internal elements do not require any maintenance. It is also recommended to periodically inspect the machine to make sure that all the moving parts work properly and all the joints still hold tight.

The Pros

  • Sturdy frame for a light rower – can support users up to 285 lbs;
  • Can be stored vertically to save space;
  • Adjustable levelers;
  • Transport wheels integrated into the front stabilizer;
  • Large, padded seat for optimal comfort;
  • Pivoting footrests for a perfect foot position with each stroke;
  • Fairly long rail – can accommodate users up to 6’6″;
  • Quiet and smooth magnetic resistance system;
  • 16 levels of resistance, for light to medium workouts;
  • Performance monitor included – it can track time, count, total count, and calories burned;
  • Goal setting functions for time, count, and calories;
  • Device holder included;
  • Bottle holder included;
  • Batteries for the console are included;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Little maintenance required.

The Cons

  • No pulse reading function;
  • No distance or time/500m functions;
  • No backlight on the performance monitor.


The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5987 is a magnetic resistance rower made for home use. It offers 16 levels of resistance and a performance monitor with goal functions. It has a fairly long rail for users up to 6’6″ with a maximum user weight limit of 285 lbs. It’s a great machine for a full-body cardio workout, stamina development, and weight loss. And finally, it’s an affordable rowing machine, currently available for less than $300.

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