WaterRower Vintage Oak Rowing Machine

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WaterRower Vintage Oak

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396 lbs108 lbsWaterS4

The WaterRower Vintage Oak fluid rower pretty much has the same specs and features as the WaterRower Driftwood model that we’ve already reviewed here. However, its frame has a different finish and stain. It’s definitely a rowing machine that meets commercial standards, great for users of all levels and sizes.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 83L x 22W x 21H inches (211L x 56W x 53H cm)
  • Product weight: 108 lbs (49 kg)
  • Supported weight: 396 lbs (180 kg)
  • Frame: Premium Oak Hardwood
  • Footrests: Size-adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance type: Water
  • Exercise meter: S4
  • Warranty: 1 year limited

Frame construction

As its name suggests, the WaterRower Vintage Oak rowing machine is crafted in durable Oak Hardwood. The construction of the machine is very solid; it is actually rated for a user weight capacity of 396 lbs (180 kg).

The wood parts within the frame structure feature a Walnut Stain for added color consistency; they are also finished with Danish Oil which not only that provides a deep luster, it also preserves the beautiful aspect of the wood for a very long period of time.

In terms of size, the fully assembled unit is fairly large. It is approx. 83″ (211 cm) long, and 22″ (56 cm) wide. Plus, it is recommended to leave at least two feet of clearance at the rear and on each side of the machine, for ease of access and to be able to use it without any hindrance. But on the other hand, just like most other WaterRower machines, it can be stored vertically.

Similar to the WaterRower Oxbridge or WaterRower Natural, this machine rests on four large rubberized pads. They are non-adjustable, so if the floor is irregular, you might need to place the rower on a mat. These rubber stabilizers should prevent the floor from scratching, though, also providing an excellent grip of the machine, so it won’t move when you’re exercising on it.

The machine is fairly heavy, especially with a full tank of water. However, its front base is equipped with transport wheels which facilitate its relocation. By using these wheels, you will basically be handling only 30% of its total weight.

One last important aspect to mention here with regards to the wooden frame of this machine is its vibration absorption property. Due to this fact, each rowing motion is considerably smoother than on a metallic frame rower. Plus, it also reduces noise.

Seat and other parts

The WaterRower Vintage Oak is equipped with a durable seat featuring a wooden structure just like the rest of the machine. Its top is pretty firm but does integrate a layer of padding. Its cover is made of heavy-duty vinyl material highly resistant to wear-and-tear. The top section of the seat is also contoured in order to prevent the user from sliding backward or forward during rowing.

The seat is equipped with four main wheels which glide on top of the rails, and four auxiliary wheels which glide on the inner side of the rails for added stability. All wheels integrate sealed ball bearings for a smooth travel on their tracks, and an outer rubberized layer for noise and vibration absorption.

The top of the seat is placed at approx. 16″ (40 cm) above floor level. A “HiRise” kit with a Vintage Oak stain is also available for this machine but not included. In case you opt for it, you should know that it will elevate the machine by approx. 8″ (20.3 cm).

The machine’s rails are completely horizontal, so the seat provides a neutral, optimal movement. Other rowers have a slightly inclined rail so the recovery motion is a bit faster. Also, in case you’re wondering, the unit’s rails provide approx. 37″ (94 cm) of travel for the seat.

The WaterRower Vintage Oak rowing machine features a set of adjustable footrests. They are fairly large and can accommodate athletic shoes of all sizes. They combine PVC and metallic parts in their construction; they have adjustable straps and heel guards to provide maximum stability for your feet.

The angle of the footrests is non-adjustable. Also, they are fixed; they do not pivot as the footrests of other rowers, such as the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5854, for example. Their board is set at an angle of approx. 45°.

The unit’s pulling handle is a short straight bar with rubberized grips. Its length is approx. 15.5″ (40 cm). It does not integrate pulse sensors or other controls like for other machines, but the rower’s exercise meter does have a pulse reading function. The pulling handle is attached to a heavy-duty nylon strap which is highly resistant to abrasion. Since it’s not a chain, it eliminates the need for periodic lubrication.

Water tank and resistance system

the WaterRower Vintage Oak rower is equipped with a 4.5 gal (17 l) capacity water tank, made of heavy-duty polycarbonate material. It integrates a 2-paddle impeller connected to a system of heavy-duty bungee cords and pulleys. As you pull the handle, the flywheel begins to spin into the water tank, generating resistance.

The machine’s water tank does not have a water level adjustment system as the tank on the First Degree Fitness Viking II model, for example. Therefore, in case you want to adjust the overall resistance, you will have to either remove or add water in the tank with the provided pump.

Similar to other fluid rowers, the Vintage Oak from WaterRower provides a dynamic response. The resistance is directly proportional to the strength you put behind each stroke. In other words, if you pull faster, the impeller will also spin faster into the water tank, generating more resistance.

With regards to the level of noise generated by this fluid rower, we can say that it is considerably more quiet than most air resistance rowers. The movement of the impeller in the water tank can be heard, though, but it’s far from being annoying or loud.


This WaterRower includes the S4 rowing computer. It features an LCD display divided into multiple sub-sections in order to show as many workout metrics as possible. It indicates intensity (or speed), watts, KCalories per hour, stroke rate, heart rate, and distance traveled. It also features Interval Workout Settings for distance and intensity, as well as 9 Advanced Workout Programs.

The unit can be programmed to show the distance in meters, miles, km, or number of strokes. The same goes for speed, which can be shown in m/s, mph, /500m, or /2 km). Also, as we’ve mentioned above, the unit has a pulse reading function but the machine does not have any pulse sensors. So, in order to benefit from a pulse reading, you will have to use an ANT+ or Polar HR chest strap transmitter. It’s also PC interface capable. In other words, you can connect it to your PC via cable in order to connect to various online fitness apps such as WaterRower’s Online Rowing Community, WebRacing, and WaterCoach FIT.

The S4 rowing computer requires 4 AA batteries as its power source. It has an On/Off/Reset button but also has a sleep function which initiates after 2 minutes of inactivity on the rower.

Assembly and Maintenance

The water tank comes pre-assembled and attached to the front part of the frame. However, the rest of the parts still require assembly. You will have to connect the two main rails together and attach them to the front section with the tank, add the seat, the footrests, and the console. This shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes. A set of basic tools is included for the task, and the manual provides pretty clear assembly instructions.

Once the unit is assembled, all you have to do is put water in the tank, while for maintenance, water treatment is necessary. At the first use, you should put one of the supplied chlorine tablets into the tank. Also, water treatment is required every six months. Other than this, it is recommended to keep the rails clean, to prevent any damage to the seat wheels or to the guides on top of them.

The Pros

  • Sturdy frame, rated for a weight capacity of 396 lbs;
  • Superior aesthetics – Oak Hardwood construction with a Walnut Stain, treated with Danish Oil;
  • Can be stored vertically;
  • Transport wheels on the front base;
  • Large rubberized stabilizers;
  • Contoured, padded seat;
  • Water resistance system for a dynamic response;
  • Adjustable footrests with heel guards and straps;
  • S4 rowing compute with 9 preset programs;
  • Smooth and quiet operation;
  • Rower for users of all levels;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Excellent warranty.

The Cons

  • The S4 monitor does not have LED backlight;
  • A wireless HR chest strap is not included with the unit.


The WaterRower Vintage Oak is a high-capacity, fluid resistance rower. It features a durable Oak Hardwood frame with a beautiful Walnut pattern, an ergonomic seat, and the S4 programmable rowing computer. It’s a machine for users of all levels, from beginner to pro, for home use or commercial use. It provides a full-body workout which targets almost every muscle group in your body. And finally, it’s not one of the most affordable rowers, but its quality, durability, and aesthetics definitely match the price.

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