York R301 Magnetic Rowing Machine Review

York R301 Rowing MachinePrice: £319
Buy From: Fitness Superstore

Overall Rating: 3
Build Quality: 2
Ease of use: 3
Console Features: 4
Comfort: 3
Value for Money: 3.5

A lot of people’s only experience of a rowing machine is likely to have been the Concept 2 rower, which has been the gym and health club staple for many years.  Therefore, when choosing a rower for the home, there is often a requirement to try and replicate the feel of a Concept 2 but at a less premium price.

The R301 is a budget range air and magnetic resistance rower from York Fitness but despite this there are certain similarities in the flow and movement to those found on more premium models.

The inclusion of 16 levels of electronically controlled adjustable resistance is fairly unique for an entry level rowing machine and will provide a challenge to users of all shapes and sizes.  Because the resistance is controlled electronically, York have been able to incorporate eight preset workout programs into the console which in itself is something of a rarity, as lower priced rowing machines often only provide basic feedback, with time, distance, stroke rate and a calorie counter.

The R301 has upped the anti by not only including the basic feedback and programs but also a heart rate monitor facility, although a Polar T31 chest strap will be required. The purist might argue that rowing uses 90% of the muscles in the body so is hard enough work already and therefore variable intensity programs are not required.

York-R301-Rowing-Machine-ConsolePeople can have a tendency to row a specific distance as quickly as they can or row as far as they can within a specified time with a view to bettering their performance at the next attempt.  Having said that, keeping motivation levels up is key when exercising, so the inclusion of programs here is a real bonus for those with a low boredom threshold or a competitive nature.

The foot plates are fully and easily adjusted for all sized feet and the seat is contoured and comfortable. The maximum user weight is 120kg (18.5 stone) which is average and reflects that this is a budget product.

For those with space restrictions, be warned, like the majority of air rowers this is not a small product.  When in use it stretches to 257cm long and although it can be folded to a more reasonable size for storage it is a fiddly operation almost requiring three hands to perform the task.

The build quality isn’t the greatest, with a slightly cheap feel to it although York back up the product with an extended 2 year warranty option when you register it with them once purchased. The bright orange colour used in the graphics won’t be to everyone’s taste but it doesn’t detract from what is a pretty reasonable rower considering the alternatives at this level.


  • Adjustable resistance and programs
  • Smooth and even stroke pull
  • Value for money


  • Awkward folding mechanism
  • Large footprint
  • Build quality feels a bit cheap

In summary then, if you are on a budget, but want an air rower with decent features and space is not a primary concern then the R301 would be a good choice. It performs better than the alternative options for the price but serious rowers or heavy users may find that the build quality won’t stand the test of time.

Price: £319
Buy From: Fitness Superstore