Is the Matrix Rower the best magnetic rowing machine on the market!? Some say “yes”, though many feel that the price tag is a bit too hefty.
I own an air rower but have used the Matrix rowing machine when training clients. I loved the strong, silent magnetic resistance and super smooth rowing stroke.
In short, the Matrix Rower is an excellent rower that warrants the price tag for those who prefer magnetic rowing machines. It does well to correct the drawbacks inherent to magnetic rowers and thus comes at a cost. For an equally effective rower at half the cost, consider a rowing machine.
If you aren’t set on magnetic resistance, then I would recommend a quality air rower like the Concept 2 Model D. It’s used in the sport of indoor rowing (if you want to take up the hobby), provides a more realistic rowing motion, is equally well-built, and is about half the price when you consider shipping.
But again, if you want a magnetic rower, the Matrix is the best. It provides a silent, super smooth rowing stroke. The monitor is easy to use and can track a ton of fitness metrics. It’s easy to see why so many health clubs are starting to outfit their gyms with these amazing rowing machines!
Not to mention, it’s undergone improvements since the first iterations.
“Good is the enemy of great”, which is why they revitalized their lineup in 2012. Bringing in top-notch industrial designers, engineers, and product specialists – they were able to create one of the most advanced rowing machines on the market”.Matrix Fitness
The Matrix is hard to find at major retailers but can be found with free shipping and returns here.
Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead!)
1. Resistance Type
2. Monitor/Control Panel
3. Build Quality
9. Pros and Cons
10. Consumer Reviews
13. Overall Review
The Matrix Rower is a magnetic resistance rowing machine.
This means a magnet is used to create resistance against a metal flywheel.
First, a user pulls the handle to begin their rowing stroke. As they pull the handle, the metal flywheel begins to spin.
Inside the flywheel housing, there is a magnet that uses magnetic braking to slow the flywheel down.
The closer the magnet is to the flywheel, the stronger the braking force. The further the magnetic is away, the weaker the braking force.
A user can control the distance the magnet is away from the flywheel by turning the dial on the center console. Due to a user controlling the resistance with a knob, we call this “adjustable” resistance.
Learn about the differences between magnetic and air rowing machines in my full article here.
For a visual representation on what I just explained, check out the video below:
The Matrix Rowing Machine comes equipped with a brushed aluminum flywheel and 10 levels of magnetic resistance.
I’m not 100% sure why “brushed aluminum” is good but I think it has to do with the fact that the flywheel on this magnetic rower is showing to the outside (see photo below).
The brushed aluminum looks better than other types of metal and gives it a shiny, glossy look.
The 10 levels of magnetic resistance can easily be adjusted using the center knob.
One feature users keep raving about is how smooth and quiet the rowing stroke feels! Users said you could use it in the same room as a sleeping baby without waking him/her up!
So this rowing machine is perfect for apartments or using it early in the morning with a family.
Other users mentioned the rowing stroke was easy enough at the lower levels for beginners but the higher settings felt really strong (which is a good thing!).
This means the Matrix Rower has stronger overall resistance than other top of the line rowing machines and will be stronger overall compared to air resistance rowers. Stronger overall resistance is a common feature on magnetic rowers.
There really are no major downsides to the Matrix Magnetic Rower resistance.
However, one downside would be the resistance felt on magnetic rowing machines is not very similar to the resistance felt while rowing on water.
Air or water rowing machines more closely resemble on-the-water rowing because their resistance is “variable” and gets stronger the faster you row (similar to rowing in a boat on water).
While this isn’t a big deal for most people, if you are training for crew or Crossfit, an air rower may be more suitable.
Overall, users found the resistance on the Matrix Rowing Machine to be excellent!
It’s super smooth, virtually silent, and has enough resistance levels for beginners or experienced athletes.
The monitor on the Matrix Rowing Machine is one of the most important features to analyze.
Monitors are a huge part of a rower’s cost and they become more advanced as price goes up. The Matrix Rower’s monitor is considered advanced but it may not be as good as some of the other monitors we see.
This rower comes equipped with a extra-large backlit LCD Display (3.5” x 2.5”) that tracks the following data:
- SPM (strokes per minute)
- Heart Rate
- 500 meter split
As you can see from the photo, it has an easy to read display and is fairly easy to use.
There are different programs to choose from such as Manual, Interval, and Challenge. The quick keys provide easy access to these programs which are essentially – sprinting, distance rowing, and high-intensity interval training programs.
When a user rows it supplies energy to the monitor but there is a backup battery for memory.
The monitor does have a telemetric receiver, which can sync to a heart rate monitor such as the Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor.
Check out the video below for some of the monitor functions in action:
The monitor does have a drag factor feature, which means you can set each Matrix Rower to a certain “drag factor” setting.
This means a Matrix Rowing Machine at a drag factor of 50 will feel and track metrics exactly like another Matrix Rower set to a drag factor of 50.
This may not seem necessary but rowing machines like the Concept2 have this feature so you can setup a rower in a gym to be exactly like your model used at home.
One downside is the battery is self-charged by actually rowing so it will dim depending on the power being generated.
The other main downside is it does not provide all the features on rowing monitors like the Concept2 PM5 (which sells at a lower price).
The Concept2 Rowers are designed for collegiate/olympic rowers and Crossfit athletes, so they have a few more data points.
Some people love analyzing data and the Matrix Rower falls short in these areas.
It also doesn’t have pre-programmed workouts like other magnetic rowers. Other models can have programs such as “hills” (like a treadmill) where the resistance automatically gets stronger/weaker during the workout. At this price range, I would think there would be pre-programmed workouts.
It does seem that due to the high quality of the magnetic resistance, Matrix cut some cost by providing a slightly lower quality monitor.
Overall, the Matrix Rowing Machine monitor is great and should be able to track all the necessary fitness data for at-home use.
However, if you really want to keep track of every metric and have the most functionality, a rower like the Concept2 would be better. If you want pre-programmed workouts, you may want a rower like the Stamina Avari or NordicTrack RW500 (both linked in my final section).
When you start to pay over $1,000 for a piece of fitness equipment, you want a solid machine. When you start to pay close to $2,000 – you want something indestructible!
Luckily, the Matrix Rower is a very well-built magnetic rower!
The seat rail is made from aluminum but it has stainless steel strips to add extra strength for high-volume usage.
A very strong cord is used to attached the handle to the drive system. The drive system uses a poly-v belt, which is extremely durable. There were no signs of any parts wearing out over time.
The seat is made from a soft but durable material and all the plastic parts felt well-made.
The Matrix Rower is often used in fitness centers so you know it can withstand a lot of abuse. I’ve never heard any user say this model felt cheaply made or had pieces break for no reason.
Overall, the build quality is excellent and Matrix Fitness will stand behind their product and warranty should anything go wrong.
Check out the rowing machine in action below:
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, I may sounds like a broken record, but comfort is key when buying a rowing machine. If the rower isn’t comfortable, you aren’t going to use it.
The Matrix Rower scores very high on the comfort scale, so all you have to do is use it!
Magnetic resistance is built for comfort due to the virtually silent rowing stroke. Users can row while watching TV at normal volume levels and you won’t wake anyone up by rowing early in the morning.
The ergonomic contour seat is also built for comfort (more than performance) and is softer than other rowing machines on the market. A harder seat, like the one on the Concept2, is built for scoring better times. While a softer seat is made for more enjoyable, exercise based rowing.
The footrest are easy to adjust and allow a user to quickly release or buckle-in. One key feature of the footrests is that they are slightly wider than other rowing machines, which adds a bit more comfort for bigger users. It allows people’s thighs to not rub together and gives men a little extra space!
Users can also comfortably hold an extra-long ergo grip handle, which is wide enough for all types of people big and small.
There is a seat lock mechanism, which helps increase stability for a user when getting on/off the rower.
The only downside I saw (although minor) is the cord that attaches to the handle is not fixed and can sometimes slide from one side to the other. All a user has to do is slide it back to the center if it moves out of place.
Overall, the Matrix Rowing Machine provides a smooth, comfortable rowing stroke with great complimenting features.
Storing the rower is very simple but it does not include “foldable” storage.
To store the Matrix Fitness Rower, all you have to do is pick the back of the rower off the floor and tilt the unit on its front end.
The rower will then store vertically.
There are 2 built-in caster wheels at the front of the rower, which allows the unit to roll around easily into place.
While some people like a foldable rower, the overall length is only 88.0″ so it should fit vertically with an 8-foot ceiling.
The Matrix Rower has a smaller footprint than some of the other high-end rowing machines but still has a fairly large capacity.
Matrix Fitness set a recommended weight limit of 350 lbs. (158 kg) which should fit most users.
This is lower than some of the other air rowing machines that offer 500 lb. weight allowances or WaterRowers that can hold up to 1,000 lbs!
Even with a shorter overall length, the Matrix Fitness Rower can accommodate tall users.
This is due to the magnetic flywheel being placed low to the ground to allow for a full forward “reach”. Whereas, air rowers put the flywheel further in front to still allow a full reach.
The Matrix Magnetic Rower can accommodate users up to 6’7″ tall. There are no lower limitations and even a child could use this rower comfortably.
So anyone under 6’7″ tall and around 350 lbs. can use this model!
- Assembled Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 87.60″ x 21.50″ x 22.0″
- 223 x 55 x 58 cm
- Assembled Weight: 130 lbs. (59 kg)
- Shipping Weight: 152 lbs (69 kg)
I would give the Matrix Rowing Machine a 5 out of 10 for assembly. It’s not super easy but it’s also not difficult if you follow the instructions.
There are about 6 different steps and one person can complete the entire assembly by themselves. It should take around 45 minutes to complete, so clear out a nice space and play some tunes!
One downside is the assembly requires quite a few tools that do not come with the unit. The manual states the assembly requires a 4, 5, 6, and 8mm Allen wrench a Philips head screwdriver, and 13, 14, and 17 mm open-end wrench.
Pros and Cons
- 10 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance
- Solid build quality
- Extremely comfortable rowing stroke
- Strong resistance felt through the entire stroke
- Virtually silent
- Smaller footprint compared to other high-end models
- Easy storage
- Assembly does not include tools
- Heavy to move around (if needing to go up/down stairs)
- Less advanced monitor
- High price tag
- Lower weight capacity than competitors
The Matrix Rower reviews have been overall very positive! The issue is finding them!
One huge benefit of Amazon is that they really push consumers to leave a review. This leads to great feedback for online shoppers. However, Matrix Fitness doesn’t offer their rower on Amazon so it’s difficult to find feedback.
The only feedback you can find is on the retailers websites where I’m sure they have the power to curate reviews!
With that being said, I think this model would get very high reviews on Amazon. Customers said it has strong, smooth, quiet resistance and a very comfortable rowing stroke. One consumer said it was the most solid built rowing machine they have used.
I can attest to these positive comments after using one at my local gym. Which leads me to my next point that some reviews are left by people who use them at a gym and not their home. This means they aren’t factoring the price into their rating!
Either way, it’s great to hear consumers loved this rowing machine and really had no negative comments. You’ll just have to decide if the higher price warrants buying it over other models.
Check out more Matrix Rowing Machine reviews here.
Average Rating: 4.7
- Frame: 7-Years
- Parts: 3-Years
- Labor: 3-Years
- Model: Matrix Rower 02
Matrix Rower Price
The Matrix Rower price is one of the biggest factors in making a decision. If you haven’t heard, it’s not cheap!
I scoured the web to find deals on this unit but most places sell it for the same price. Below are 2 options on where to find it and why to buy from that retailer:
Johnson Fitness: This seems to be the main retailer and the best spot to purchase. It sells for the same price as everywhere else but they have a ton of locations around the U.S.! This means you can possibly test it or return it easily. I was amazed to see a location about 40 minutes from my house.
Amazon: I know I said this rower isn’t on Amazon but sometimes it is….kinda. I was able to find some “Amazon Renewed” models that were $100 less than a brand new unit. “Amazon Renewed” is when someone gets a return and the unit can’t be sold as “new” because the unit was already assembled or the box was damaged. This means they knock $100 off and resell it, but it’s basically brand new! These models are covered by the “90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee”. I have used this program before (for a much less expensive item) but the item seemed brand new and worked great! This was the best Matrix Rowing Machine price I could find.
There were some other sites that were offering a $100 discount but I get nervous that these sites can be a scam. I have seen people get scammed by websites offering a Concept2 at a discount so I’m sure they are out there. Make sure to use a credit card (not a debit card) if purchasing from a lesser known site, since they offer more protection.
RXP Rower vs. Matrix Rowing Machine
So you may see 2 different types of Matrix Rowers. One is the Matrix RXP Rower and the other is just the plain Matrix Rower. The basic model was once the “Matrix Rower 01” and now it’s technically the “Matrix Rower 02”.
The Matrix RXP Rower has a different monitor that is touch screen and built with a few training-specific features. It is wifi, Bluetooth, and ANT+ enabled, while the Matrix Rower 02 is not.
Below is a side-by-side feature comparison of the Matrix RXP Rower vs. Matrix Rower 02:
So make no mistake, the Matrix Rower is overall an excellent rowing machine!
It provides everything a user can want in a great magnetic rower. For those who are set on getting a magnetic rower, I would recommend it to all who can afford it.
Another option is for people who just want a very high-performing rowing machine, with a great monitor, but don’t necessarily need magnetic resistance. If this is you, I would look into my Concept2 Model D Rower review.
Lastly, if you want great pre-programmed workouts, look at the NordicTrack lineup. The RW500 is a great model and has an entire fitness app for workouts. Check out my RW500 review here.
I really hope you enjoyed my Matrix Rower review and were able to learn some new things! Leave me any questions or comments in the section below!
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.