Neptune Challenge Rower Review

Neptune Challenege Rowing MachinePrice: £499
Buy From: Fitness Superstore

Overall Rating: 3
Build Quality: 3
Ease of use: 4
Console Features: 1
Comfort: 3
Value for Money: 3

Water resistance based indoor rowing machines are based upon relatively new technology within the fitness industry which means they are still a little above the budget price point.  Designed to recreate a lifelike simulation of the real thing, there are several offerings within the marketplace with the most well known model being the wooden water rower.

The Neptune rower from First Degree Fitness is the entry level from their range.  At a size of only 197cm long and 53cm wide it is extremely compact for a rowing machine as many models are over 2m in length.  It is also stored by simply standing it up on its end which results in a meagre storage footprint of just 53cm x 51cm. This makes it the ideal solution for those with real space restriction concerns. Not only that but the inclusion of inbuilt transit wheels at the front mean that moving this rower around is easy for anyone to do making it very portable.

The tough, polycarbonate tank uses marine grade, stainless internals and there are fill lines clearly indicated on the tank for users to be able to add or remove water as required to provide different levels of resistance according to fitness levels. These range between 9 litres (easy) to 17 litres. (maximum difficulty)  Although not particularly difficult to do, I felt that the majority of people will simply fill the tank to the optimum level and leave it there as less water than this meant very minimal resistance which didn’t represent much of a challenge. As there is no other way of adjusting resistance on this rower, this signifies the biggest weakness of the Neptune.

To create a more intense workout, you have to row faster, which relies on the motivation of the rower and makes it a little one dimensional in terms of workout versatility.  Having said all that, the resistance that is there, is smooth and continuous through the strokes and there are none of the “dead spots” or momentum lag that can be found on air based resistance rowers.

The seat is comfortable and it runs smoothly on precision bearings and rollers on an aluminium rail. The footplates pivot and the straps adjust quickly and easily for any sized feet. The whole product seems very well crafted and it will hold users to a maximum capacity of 140kg (22 stone).

The monitor provides the basics, with time, stroke count, stroked per minute and calories. The LCD is large and clear but there is no distance monitor, which although not essential, does limit functionality as a lot of rowers will like the option to compete with distance as their goal.  First Degree rather sneakily included this basis option on the Pacific model rower which is the next in the range but it costs another £100 for the privilege.


  • Smooth, realistic resistance with no dead spots
  • Very compact, portable and easily stored


  • Resistance not easily adjusted
  • No distance reading on the monitor

In summary then, for an entry into water resistance based rowers, the Neptune does well.  If you are looking for some general exercise with a realistic, sometimes even therapeutic feel to it and are willing to forgo some motivational goals then the Neptune could be for you.  Serious rowers will need to look elsewhere though as this rower will not be challenging enough.

Price: £499
Buy From: Fitness Superstore

Tunturi R25 Rowing Machine Review

Tunturi R25 Rowing MachinePrice: £299
Buy From: Fitness Superstore

Overall Rating: 4
Build Quality: 4
Ease of use: 4
Console Features: 3
Comfort: 3.5
Value for Money: 4


The R25 magnetic rower is the entry level model in the Tunturi range.  As with the majority of home use rowers there is a folding facility enabling users to significantly reduce the footprint for storage.

At 201cm long when in use, this rower is already shorter than an air resistance alternative which tend to be significantly longer at around 260cm. By unwinding a simple handle, the seat rail can be lifted and folded vertically so that the length of the rower when stored is a more convenient 102cm.

There are large footplates which pivot to reduce stress on the heel and large Velcro straps are easily adjusted to accommodate various sized feet.  A single rail and soft ergonomic seat ensure rider comfort, although the range of seat movement is just 71cm from front to back which will shorten the stroke length for taller users, resulting in a workout that sometimes feels a bit restricted and there is certainly nothing like the sense of involvement you would experience with an air or water based alternative.

Magnetic rowers are however compact, and very quiet which will count for a lot in some home environments. The resistance is adjustable via a manually operated permanent magnetic brake.  It uses a similar type of system to that used on an exercise cycle except that instead of pedalling you are pulling.

The 6kg rotating mass will provide enough of a challenge for the majority and the 8 levels mean that this rower has some versatility but as a magnetic rower, the compromise is the slightly mechanical feel which is evident in all rowers of this type.

Tunturi-R25-Rowing-Machine-ConsoleThe console is large and clearly displays time, distance, strokes and 500m splits with a calorie counter and a heart rate monitor display. (Polar T31 wireless chest strap is required to utilise this) As the LCD is monochrome however, I found it wasn’t always easy to ready the display in bright sunlight.

Programs on rowing machines in general tend to be a luxury as rowing is a challenging enough exercise incorporating some 90% of the body’s muscle groups so alot of manufacturers consider them to be unnecessary.  After all you wouldn’t row a boat up a hill you would simply go faster.

The R25 is a lightweight portable rower, easily moved on transportation wheels when folded and sturdy too, able to handle users of up to 135kg.  The Tunturi level of build quality is plain to see and is backed up with a 15 year frame and 3 year parts and labour warranty on all other parts.


  • Light, portable and easy to fold
  • Comfortable seat
  • Great build quality represents good value for money
  • Quiet and smooth


  • Short range of movement for taller users
  • Mechanical, slightly unnatural resistance when compared with alternatives

In summary then, if you are looking for a premium built rowing machine on a budget and your needs are for something compact and quiet then the R25 does very well indeed.  If you have more room available however, then the York Fitness R301 Mag air rower is good alternative to consider for a better, more rounded workout, especially if you are taller than average.

Price: £299
Buy From: Fitness Superstore


Hi I’m Alex and welcome to the unbiased rowing machine reviews site. Here you will find independent reviews of the top rowing machine brands & models, from Reebok Fitness, Tunturi, Vision Fitness, Life Fitness, NordicTrack, Horizon Fitness, Wave Rower and many many more.

I used to work as a service engineer for a major sports company so know a lot about rowing machines and other fitness equipment. I’m also an avid runner and have a real passion for fitness.