Today we’re reviewing the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 magnetic rowing machine–that’s a mouthful of a name! There’s a Classic (light gray) and Smart (darker gray) version of the machine, with Bluetooth (included with the Smart version) being the only difference.
It was important to use this machine several times before making a recommendation because I’m skeptical of rowers in this price range. I wasn’t disappointed.
Right now it holds first place for the best magnetic option in this price range.
In short, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine is a good option for those who want a low-cost magnetic rowing machine without sacrificing quality. It offers quiet resistance that’s smooth yet strong. Also, it doesn’t make the squeaky noises typical of budget exercise equipment.
Downsides include those that apply to most budget rowers like a basic monitor (no distance tracking, for example) and low-cost materials.
Add to that the limitations that apply to magnetic rowers, in that they’re great for cardio workouts, but not suitable for getting into the hobby of indoor rowing (joining CrossFit gyms, rowing studios, racing online, etc.).
Either way, it offers good value. So, if you want a good entry-level magnetic rower at the price of a cheap hydraulic piston rower, the Sunny Health SF-RW5515 is a great choice.
Of course, to be a true budget rower, shipping must be included. For the lowest price, pick it up from a place that offers free shipping.
Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Review
The SF-RW5515 is a magnetic-resistance rowing machine.
These machines use a magnet inside the flywheel to create resistance against a spinning metal drum.
Magnetic rowers differ from air, water, and hydraulic-piston rowers in a couple of ways. Namely, they provide:
- A virtually silent rowing motion.
- Resistance that operates independently from rowing speed.
With air and water rowers, pulling the handle takes little to no effort at low speeds. With the magnetic type, resistance stays the same so the workout can remain challenging at a slow pace or made easier at high-speed.
You can read more about all the different resistance types in this article I wrote.
You can also read how a magnetic rowing machine compares to an air rowing machine in my magnetic vs. air article.
Magnetic Resistance Operation
The Sunny Magnetic Rowing Machine has 8 different resistance levels. Each level can be adjusted by turning the knob on the center panel.
Level 1 is the easiest and is great for beginners, while level 8 will give even the most serious athlete a great workout.
As you turn the knob from level 1 to level 8, a magnet inside the flywheel moves closer to the drum. As the magnet gets closer, more resistance is created.
Here is a video that can help explain the resistance a little better.
People of varying fitness levels mentioned how great the resistance is on the SF-RW5515. Most users row at a resistance level of 4 or 5 which is great because it leaves a lot of room to grow.
The resistance is easy to adjust and all you have to do is turn the knob right or left. The only downside is you have to stop rowing to adjust the resistance but this really isn’t a major problem.
The Sunny Magnetic Rower is very quiet, so people with folks sleeping in the next room. It’s also perfect for watching TV or movies while getting a great workout.
The times I’ve used the machines, I’ve found the resistance to be strong, smooth, and consistent.
Consistent resistance is what you expect with magnetic rowers. I.e., unlike air resistance which varies as you row faster/slower.
Overall, folks seem pleased with the resistance, including both beginners and experienced rowers. I didn’t have any issues with the intensity, feel, or noise level.
The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 magnetic rower provides a full, normal rowing stroke and adjustable tension. When resistance is adjustable (instead of variable), the tension (muscular strength needed to row) doesn’t change with rowing speed.
You can go heavy and slow, light and fast, or any combination. The choice is yours. This gives you the flexibility to focus on cardiovascular conditioning, strength, power, or all of the above!
Update: nowadays, they advertise a newly-improved “smoother and quieter magnetic tension system” so it may have improved on this front even more compared to the model I tried.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 magnetic rowing machine comes with a basic digital monitor in the form of a convenient, large LCD console.
Basic monitors are expected at this price. In my experience, you won’t find the more advanced monitors until $500+.
The monitor tracks and displays basic fitness data such as:
- Count (Strokes)
- Total Count (Total Strokes)
The SF-RW5515 monitor’s convenient scan mode displays data dynamically by scanning through each data set every few seconds. This provides feedback throughout the rowing session.
It’s battery operated so no need to worry about having an electrical outlet.
The monitor did receive a few complaints such as users being disappointed that it doesn’t record distance or meters rowed. I heard one user mention they found the display small and difficult to read. It’s not backlit, which doesn’t help on that front.
I should also mention that on basic monitors, the calorie counter is not accurate and should only be used to compare workouts. The calories calculated are based on an average user, so they are not specific to the person rowing.
Just know that if you burn 300 calories in one workout and 500 calories in the next, the second workout was much more strenuous and better for losing weight.
Other than that the monitor is pretty basic and straightforward. It tracks all the necessary fitness data and is comparable to others in this price range.
I felt sturdy when using the SF-RW5515, but the one I used was quite new.
I expect signs of wear (e.g., squeaky noises) on budget fitness equipment after a while, so I searched high and low for complaints of this kind. I didn’t find any such complaints, but it’s still possible in the long run.
The Sunny Health and Fitness magnetic rowing machine is made with a heavy-duty steel mainframe, so it feels stable (no wobbling).
The rowing handle is attached by a reinforced nylon strap to avoid any fraying and allows for a smooth rowing stroke.
This form of cardio involves sitting for longer periods, so comfort is important for an enjoyable rowing workout.
The Sunny SF-RW5515 magnetic rower comes with a comfortable, fully-padded seat and non-slip grip handlebars.
I found the padded seat to be comfy but you might still want to get a seat cushion at some point.
The foot pedals are large enough to fit any shoe size and come with adjustable foot straps to make sure your feet stay firmly in place.
It comes with floor stabilizers but some users suggested that in order to add more stability when rowing on slick hardwood, you can put down a rowing machine “fold-to-fit” exercise mat. This keeps sweat off of the floor, too.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine has a big footprint in use but can fold up for storage. It takes very little floor space in the upright position.
Storing is very simple and can be done in under 30 seconds.
Just unscrew a bolt, take out a pin, fold up, and reinsert the pieces. Boom. Done.
There are built-in transportation wheels on the front of the rower that make it easy to move around.
The rowing machine can easily be stored in a closet or in the corner of a room.
The weight capacity of the Sunny Fitness Magnetic rowing machine is 250 lbs [114kg]. In my experience, most rowing machines at this price have a weight limit of 300 lbs.
Don’t worry if you’re tall. The seat rail on the SF-RW5515 is fairly long and should be able to accommodate most. I found users between 5′ and 6’7″.
There’s no lower limit for height so kids can use the machine.
If bordering on 250 lbs and you’d be more comfortable with another machine, consider the Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower. It’s one of the best magnetic rowers on the market with a 275 lb. weight capacity.
The #1 bestselling rowing machine overall is the Concept2 air rowing machine with a 500 lb. weight capacity.
Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Dimensions
- Assembled Dimensions:
- 82.0″ x 19.0″ x 23.0″ (L x W x H)
- Assembled Weight:
- 59 lbs
- Shipping Dimensions:
- 51.0″ x 10.0″ x 26.0″ (L x W x H)
- Shipping Weight:
- 71 lbs
Pros and Cons
- Strong resistance
- Great price
- Comfortable seat
- Large capacity
- Very quiet
- Foldable storage
- Basic monitor with no distance measurement or pre-programmed workouts
- Large footprint when not in storage mode
- Short warranty period
- 1 Year
- 90 Days
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Price
The Sunny Magnetic Rower SF-RW5515 is usually priced at $249 but the total cost can reach $500 when shipping is charged separately.
This puts it in the budget rower category (<$250), making it the best magnetic option in its price category. Good magnetic options typically start at $500 or higher.
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine Review: Conclusion
So, there you have it.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is the best budget magnetic rowing machine to hit the market.
Again, if looking to get into the sport or hobby of indoor rowing, this isn’t the best option. (though advanced rowers can still get a good rowing machine workout). For example, the monitor tracks some rowing-related stats like stroke count, but not meters (or any units of distance).
But if the goal is simply to get in shape, you can’t do much better for the price. It’ll provide a great full-body workout that hits all the major muscle groups.
If you’re in the market for a low-cost machine with adjustable magnetic resistance, then this is the best option.
While not quite as cheap, another budget magnetic rowing machine worth taking a look at is the Stamina 1110 Magnetic Rower. You can read my full Stamina 1110 Rower review here.
If you want to take a look at the best low-cost air rowing machine, then I recommend the Stamina 1399 Air Rower. Check out my full Stamina Air Rower review here.
For getting into the sport, consider the Concept2 RowErg Model D. It’s the industry standard and is even used by outdoor rowing professionals for conditioning work.
I hope you found my SF-RW5515 review to be informative. Please ask any questions in the comment section below and good luck on your fitness journey!
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.