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

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