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Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine Review

Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine Review

Today, we’re reviewing the Kettler Favorit rowing machine. While it’s a budget rower, it’s mid-range in price for a hydraulic piston rowing machine.

I’ve had a chance to try this one and the Lanos hydraulic rower, so I have a good idea of how they compare.

kettler favorit rowing machine - indoors
All sprawled out, it doesn’t look space-saving but it’s quite compact.

In short, the Kettler Favorit rowing machine is a good-quality hydraulic rower that’s suitable for shorter rowing sessions. Longer sessions result in softer resistance and other complications like hot pistons. The main benefit is that it fits in small places.

Compared to other hydraulic machines, the Kettler Favorit stands out in quality construction (lifetime frame warranty), monitor, and resistance features like the dual-piston design with 50 resistance levels.

As for fitting in small places, there’s no bulky resistance mechanism with hydraulic machines. So, they have a smaller footprint both in use and in storage. So, if floor space is extra limited, a rower like this might be a good choice.

You might wonder why I didn’t list cost as a benefit. It is quite cheap, overall, but…

Because other types of rowing machines (magnet, water, and air) are increasingly available in the same price range (~$230 to $300), it’s hard to justify a hydraulic rower unless space-saving is a big priority.

If floor space is limited or you’d like a hydraulic rower for any reason–the Kettler Favorit is a good option.

Another issue is availability. The Favorit isn’t even listed on the company website anymore (at Kettler Sport or Kettler USA). This may mean it’s no longer in production. You may still find it at major retailers, but not consistently, in my experience.

For this type of rower, the Lanos is a good alternative since it’s more commonly available and more appropriately priced for a hydraulic-piston rower. For more info, see the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine Review.

Resistance Type

The Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is a hydraulic-piston rower.

In this case, the resistance is controlled by 2 hydraulic pistons–one attached to each rowing arm.

Inside the piston, there’s hydraulic fluid that causes resistance when a user pulls the rowing arm back and the fluid is forced through a small opening.

You can read more about the general characteristics of hydraulic-piston rowers and other rowing machine resistance types in this article here.

Resistance Benefits

Hydraulic resistance has a few advantages, in general.

One advantage is price. Hydraulic-piston rowers are usually on the lower end of the rowing machine price range due to low manufacturing cost.

However, while they used to dominate this category, quality budget rowers of all resistance types are more widely available in the $250 range. Since the Kettler Favorit is more than most hydraulic rowers at ~$250 or $300, the savings benefit is pretty much cancelled out in this case.

Another advantage of hydraulic rowers is that they’re ideal for tight spaces making them great for small apartments. They’re very quiet and typically compact, so they fit in most places and are less likely to wake anyone sleeping nearby.

Kettler Favorit’s Unique Dual-Piston Design

As for how it works, each rowing arm on the Kettler Favorit has its own hydraulic piston, which gives you stronger, more reliable resistance compared with a single piston design.

The rowing machine has 50 different levels. It’s more than what you get with most, but complaints of weak resistance are still common.

The resistance can be easily adjusted by manually changing the position of the piston on the handle bar. Moving it up increases resistance, while moving it down decreases resistance.

The resistance increases due to an increase in angle being applied to the piston.

Kettler Favorit Resistance

The ‘Free Motion’ design of the Kettler Favorit is another cool feature. Unlike other rowers where you can’t vary the angle at which you ‘pull back’ the handles, you can vary the angle on the Favorit.

For example, you can pull the arms straight back to work the inner back muscles or you can ‘swing out’ your arms, like rowing a boat, and work the outer back.

The ability to vary the angle makes rowing on the Kettler Favorit mimic the style of rowing you see on actual boats. Check out the video below in the ‘Build Quality’ section for a demonstration of this feature.

Resistance Negatives

The Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine gets some negative feedback as with most hydraulic resistance machines.

The main one is that the resistance gets weak after a while. This is true for the upper body (arms, back, shoulders, etc.) and legs.

Those with physical limitations (like the elderly) may never have this problem. Also, it may be adequate for someone just starting out but that person might outgrow the machine in a short time as they get in shape.

Some say the resistance is too difficult to adjust. I found this comment several times. I did not have this issue when using the machine.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Several people commented that after they removed the “accordion plastic” on the handle, the resistance was much easier to adjust.
  2. In my experience with these machines, it’s usually easier to adjust the resistance when the handles are standing up.

In any case, it probably just takes some getting used to.

Resistance Overall

Overall, the resistance on the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is a slightly upgraded version of the hydraulic-piston resistance you’ll find on cheaper models.

The dual pistons, orbital arm design, durable frame, and 50 different levels give it an edge over other hydraulic machines, which is why the price is a bit higher.

But it’s still hydraulic resistance in the end. For a consistently challenging workout over the long term, go for a different resistance type.

Monitor/Control Panel

The Kettler Favorit comes with a multi-functional fitness monitor. It tracks more data than I expected (compared to other hydraulic piston rowing machines I’ve used and researched).

In fact, Distance (which the Kettler Favorit does track) is a metric sometimes missing on $500 rowers. Of course, accuracy is another thing, which we’ll get into in this section.

The monitor tracks the following data:

  • Workout time
  • Number of strokes
  • Speed of strokes
  • Distance
  • Energy consumption (Kilojoule)
  • Pulse rate

The fitness monitor is located near the user’s feet and can easily be seen while rowing.

Kettler Favorit Home Rowing Machine Monitor

It automatically turns on once you start rowing and automatically shuts off after a few minutes of inactivity.

The monitor is not backlit, so you will need some light to see while rowing. The monitor is powered by two AA batteries which are included with the rower.

All of the data is displayed simultaneously on the home screen with one of the metrics shown in large text in the middle of the display. By default, the monitor cycles through the different metrics on the larger part of the display in five-second intervals.

Before and after a workout, the room temperature is displayed which is kind of cool.

Your pulse can be monitored by the machine in two ways:

In addition to pulse monitoring, the monitor can measure your recovery pulse rate after a workout.

You have three general options when working out with the monitor:

  • Just start rowing and the workout data will be counted
  • Set predetermined workout metrics and row until you hit your goal
  • Row in your preferred “aerobic zone” as suggested by the monitor (it’s based on your age)

Other Notes

As always, take calories burned with a grain of salt. The Kilojoule calculator is based on an average user, so it’s not specific to the person actually rowing.

According to the manual, the calculation used is 1 hour of rowing, with a rate of 40 strokes per minute, will consume 2930 kJ. The calculation is based on a medium-strain level and is only changed by means of a variation of the stroke frequency.

1 calorie is equal to 4.186 kilojoules, meaning 1 hour of rowing at 40 SPM will burn 700 calories. To increase the amount of calories burned you will have to row at a higher SPM rate.

So, just know that increasing the resistance won’t increase the calories burned on the monitor. The monitor also doesn’t take into consideration other factors that affect the amount of calories burned like age and weight.

I wrote an article that further explains burning calories while rowing which you can read here.

Just know calculations aren’t 100% accurate and should be used as guidelines.

Monitor Overall

Overall, the monitor on the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is considered very good, especially for a hydraulic-piston rowing machine.

If you aren’t looking for advanced features and just want basic fitness data monitored, it’ll do just fine.

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Build Quality

The quality construction is another thing that accounts for the added cost of the Kettler Favorit compared to similar rowers.

The frame of the rower has a lifetime warranty and the parts come with a 3-year warranty. Other rowing machines only have a 2-5 year warranty on the frame and maybe 1 year or less on parts.

The frame is made of high-carbon steel and is powder coated to provide a tougher exterior than traditional paint.

Kettler Favorit Review

Complaints about the hydraulic pistons and wheels underneath the seat are few and far between.

Other than the sound of the wheels rolling on the seat track, the rower is very quiet.

You also won’t hear annoying squeaking noises commonly heard on cheaper rowing machines.

The main components such as handles, seat, footrests, and foot straps are made from quality materials.

As with all rowers, simple maintenance in the form of wiping down the seat track with a damp towel will keep this rower running smoothly for years.

Below is a video of the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine in action.

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I found the Kettler Favorit pretty comfortable and most seem to agree from the feedback I’ve heard and read.

The seat is padded, wide, and contoured, making it comfortable for long rowing sessions.

You’ll glide up and down the seat rail smoothly thanks to the top-grade rollers used under the seat. Also, the seat is made with sealed ball bearings, so you won’t have to bother with lubricants.

The handles are fairly comfortable, swivel, and on the thicker side, which could help reduce blisters.

The non-slip, pivoting footrests secure your feet with adjustable straps.  The pivoting movement allows natural foot movement when rowing.

The rower has free-motion handles meaning you can push/pull the handles towards and away from your body and you can also swing out the handles to the side. This is similar to the experience of rowing in a boat and helps target different muscles.

The rowing motion is smooth, strong and gets a lot of positive feedback.

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Kettler favorit rower storage

There’s not much to the Kettler Favorit storage. Just loosen the resistance locking knobs, fold the rowing arms forward, and that’s it.

It should be able to store under most beds that have a slightly raised frame. It’ll store easily in closets.

The Kettler Favorit does not have wheels, which might make it difficult for folks with physical limitations. For most, it won’t be a problem since the entire machine only weighs 44 pounds.

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According to the Kettler homepage, in addition to other sources, the weight capacity is 285 pounds. This is a decent weight capacity, similar to other budget and mid-tier rowers.

If you’re under 300 lbs., I don’t think you will have any issues.

I’m not aware of an official height limit, but the Kettler Favorit isn’t ideal for taller rowers. The seat track is only 42″, which means an inseam of 40″ or less would be ideal.

So, those up to about 6’1” could comfortably use it. Beyond 6’1″, things will start to get pretty cramped.

As for shorter statures, there are no minimum height requirements. Some owners report that their pre-teen children use the machine.

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  • In-Use:
    • 52.0″ x 32.0″ x 10.0″ (L x W x H)
  • Storage:
    • 52.0″ x 32.0″ x 10.0″ (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 
    • 44 pounds

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According to Kettler, the assembly process should take roughly 35 minutes. I believe this estimate is with two people based on the pictures in the instruction manual.

Based on the feedback I’ve heard and read, it should take about 1 hour to completely assemble the rower. It’s not too difficult, but takes a little longer than most.

The initial instructions that come with the Kettler Favorit may be non-English, but if you keep scrolling through the guide, you’ll find the right section.

The required tools for assembly are included but it wouldn’t hurt to have a screwdriver on hand.

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Pros and Cons


  • 50 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Quiet operation
  • Lifetime warranty on frame
  • Free-motion arms resemble rowing on a boat
  • Above-average multi-functional monitor with built-in pulse rate monitor
  • Lightweight and compact design


  • Resistance gets weaker after rowing a bit
  • There are better (non-hydraulic) rowers available for around this price
  • Hard to find these days
  • Might be difficult to assemble for some people
  • No wheels for transporting

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Consumer Reviews

Users like the higher-quality look and feel of the Kettler Favorit compared to other hydraulic rowers. Owners commented the rower was quiet and provided a smooth rowing stroke.

A few users had difficulty adjusting the resistance and felt it didn’t provide them with a strong enough workout.

Others had some difficulty assembling the unit.

User feedback for the Kettler Favorit can be found here.

Average Rating: 4.2

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  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 3-years

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Kettler Favorit Price

In the past, the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine could easily be found at the big online retailers in the $300 range, though prices would fluctuate.

Today, it’s harder to find.

As always, prices (when a machine is available) vary by country, retailer, and time of year.

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Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for a high-quality hydraulic-piston rower, then the Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is a great option if you can find one. Hydraulic resistance has several limitations, namely, that it goes soft after 20 or so minutes at most.

But for what the Favorit does, it does well. For example, it has 50 levels of resistance to choose from, which is more than most, in my experience. Other cool features include the fancy arm design, above-average monitor, and high-quality construction.

The main downside is availability. The Lanos is a good alternative. It’s more commonly available and costs a good bit less. For more info, see the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine Review.

If you want to go up slightly in price, you could check out the Kettler Kadett Rower. This model has outrigger-styled rowing arms.

If you want to go lower in price but still try to keep the build quality, you can check out the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rower. It is similar in style to the Kettler Favorit but slightly downgraded.

I hope you enjoyed this Kettler Favorit review! If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below.

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  1. Hi Edwin, fantastic site here and I love all the detail in your reviews. The Kettler Favorit is a really good seller and I think for the price, it’s one of the better quality machines around.

    1. Hi Greg,

      Thanks for the complement. The Kettler Favorit is a really good rowing machine and it’s one of the best hydraulic piston rowers on the market with a solid warranty.

      1. Kedves Edwin, én használtan vettem egy Kettler Favorit evezőgépet és nagyon szorúl, a karja nagyon nehezen mozgatható, az elektronikai része nem működik, gondolom ráférne egy elemcsere, de hogyan kell elemet cserélni? Nem találok sehol a NETen semmilyen instrukciót erről :-( Tudnál segíteni? Előre is köszönöm, üdv. Olga

        1. Hi Olga, I tried translating your message to: “Dear Edwin, I’ve used a Kettler Favorit rowing machine and I’m very tired, her arms are very difficult to move, my electronics do not work, I think I need a battery replacement, but how to replace an item? I can not find anywhere on NET any instructions on this :-( Can you help me? Thanks in advance thank you Olga”

          You should be able to visit their international website here and request a manual which can help you: https://intl.kettler.net/index.php?id=194

          1. Hi Edwin, question, how you open the display to change the batteries? I an not find any manual online and I don’t like to brake it….


  2. Great Site and thanks for all the info.

    Do you actually try all these rowers or do you just compile information from reviews. Hope that didn’t come across rude. I was just curious.

    1. Hi Curt,

      Thanks for the compliment on my site! Your question isn’t rude at all! I try to row on as many machines as I can before I post a review, but unfortunately I do not have access to all the rowers I review. I have personally rowed on a handful of the rowers I reviewed, the other rowers I compile information taken from the web in addition to other research such as contacting the manufacturer and whatever else is needed.

      Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any other questions.


  3. I have problems with Display Unit. Can’t get it show all parameters when rowing. I tried to locate a User Guide but could not locate it anywhere.
    Do you know where to get it?
    Thank you,

  4. Back in the 80’s I had a Tunturi rowing machine I really loved but after a few years it became a rusty mess and I got the original Concept 2 with the huge flywheel which looked like a piece of art but I never liked using. I just preferred the individual hydraulics of the Tunturi. After going through Nordic Track machines and Lifecycles which did the job for me I finally found the great Kettle Favorit available in my country (Panama) which has loads of Concept 2 type machines but no hydraulics to speak of. When I saw the Kettler at the local Pricemart I bought it in a snap and I am happily in the ZEN of rowing again.

    1. Hi Coley,

      I’m glad to hear you were able to get the machine that you ultimately had the best experience with. I’ve never tried a nordic track machine; I heard mixed reviews about their machines. I can see why you enjoy the Kettler Favorit out of all the machines you tried. I’m sure it will last you a few years (at least).

      Thanks for stopping by, Coley!

  5. Hi Edwin,
    I’m trying to decide between two different rowers (Kettler Favorit and Stamina 1215). I am relatively in shape and want a quality machine that will provide a good amount of resistance. . I have read various reviews for Kettler stating the resistance begins to decrease after approx. 15 minutes of use so i don’t know if this is the best option. I didn’t see this mentioned with the cheaper Stamina model, but I also don’t want to invest in a machine that isn’t as durable or well-made. In your opinion which machine would be better for a mix of good resistance, cardio and will last me for a while? Merry Christmas!
    Sam J

    1. Hi Sam,

      Thank you for stopping by and I hope the Holidays treated you and your family well. Based on your physical condition and the desire for a quality machine that will stand the test of time, I would look into getting a machine with a different resistance type; either a water or wind-resistance rower. The first machines that come to mind are the Concept2 Model D and any WaterRower machine (I reviewed ‘both’ recommendations on this site). These machines are tank’s so if you can somehow find a used one at a local garage sale or craigslist, I would do so with confidence. Good luck with finding a rowing machine – you will NOT go wrong with either one of these ‘models’.


  6. Thanx for the great review. On the money. I bought the machine last year & it did wonders to my body. Love it . I used to work on the earlier model without the digital display back in the mid nineties & it was still great. Two issues I need to raise. 1) the calorie count remains the same whether I am at resistance level A or at resistance level B (higher). It should be able to tell me that I am burning more calories if the resistance level is higher. 2) what is the normal life for the pistons? I usually work out twice a day for half an hour each time – a minimum of 30 minutes and 500 strokes each session. What would be the signs that the Pistons need replacement & where can I buy them when I need to do so.

    1. Hi Ashraf,

      Thank you for the compliment and I’m glad you are enjoying your rowing machine!

      Yes, the calorie calculator is based off an average user and will only changed based off an increase or decrease in SPM. I forgot to include this in my review and just added a some information to my ‘Monitor’ section. There is also a link there to an article I wrote about burning calories on a rowing machine.

      As far as your piston, they should still be fine. Kettler makes high quality rowing machines so I would expect them to last at least 3-4 years. As long as there are no leaks and the resistance strength feels even when both pistons are set to the same level they shouldn’t need to be replaced.

      If a time comes where they do break, you can order them from Kettler for about $50.00 each. You can also give their customer service a call and ask about the pistons. They would have a better idea about the specifics of part failures. Here is a link to the parts and phone number. The warranty on the Kettler Favorit Rower is 3-years so just keep an eye on that date and order anything before the warranty expires.

      Hope this helped and thanks for checking in!

  7. Hi Edwin, great site, enjoy reading all your info & detailed reviews – you really know your stuff. The Kettler is one of my favs too and good value for the quality it you get. Great site keep up the great work!

  8. Hi Edwin,

    I just have a kettler variant, and I don’t know how to open the display…….I don’t see anything where should push or pull….. any idea how to open to change the batteries?


    1. Hi Marcos, I think it would be best to contact Kettler support. You can give them your model and serial # and they should be able to help you with instructions.

  9. Hi Edwin, great writing!!

    I wanted to ask you about the Strokes Per Meter (SPM), and the amount of distance that covered in rowing.

    Second, I think its too bad that this information isn’t showing on the frame..

    What’s the recommendations is that rower?

    1. Hi Lior,

      Thanks for reaching out! Can you explain your questions in a bit more detail? I’m not exactly sure what you are asking.

  10. Great site- thank you so much!

    I’m torn between 3:
    The Kettler reviewed here
    Stamina 1205
    Stamina 1215

    I’m fit and strong
    Just looking to add a little variety – 15” spin bike then 15” row
    Back and forth a few times 1-2xs/week.

    Can you give me some insight on which of the three would be most suitable please?

    Email if needed!

    1. Hi Zach – thanks for the kind words! If you are going to go with a hydraulic-piston rower and have the money for a Kettler – then that’s the best option.

      They have the highest quality pistons and can be used for longer periods of time. The lower-priced hydraulic rowers are recommended to be used for 20 minutes or less at a time.

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