Today, we’re reviewing the Xterra Fitness ERG220 rower, the brand’s bargain-priced magnetic rowing machine. So, if you’re in the market for a budget rower, you’ve come to the right place!
I’m picky when it comes to recommending low-cost rowers. It’s not hard to find a low-cost option that works well in the beginning, but finding one that holds up over time is a different story.
So, before writing this review, I made sure to wait until I’d used the ERG220 personally a few times and there was enough long-term user feedback on the machine.
In short, the Xterra Fitness ERG220 magnetic rower is among the better magnetic rowers for the price. It’s comfortable, delivers a smooth stroke, has a solid frame, and is easy to assemble. Downsides include resistance (too weak for some) and durability.
A potential issue is the monitor. It has a small display that can be hard to read. With my glasses, I didn’t have an issue.
The frame is strong, but some long-term owners reported squeaky noises developing over time. I didn’t notice this, but the one I used was fairly new.
If available, there’s a better option for about the same price (usually about $20 more than the ERG220). For more, see the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 review. If this one isn’t available, the ERG220 magnetic rower is still a great option for the price, and I recommend it overall.
For the lowest price, ensure you get it from a major retailer (it’s twice as expensive on the Xterra website) and one that offers free shipping.
The Xterra ERG220 is a magnetic rower, which means it utilizes a combination of a magnet and metal flywheel to increase or decrease the resistance.
When you pull on the handle, the action spins a flywheel located at the front of your rowing machine. The magnet is placed close to the wheel, and adjusting the difficulty dial shifts the magnet closer or farther from the metal wheel.
As the magnet is moved closer to the wheel, greater magnetic force is exerted on the metal, and the difficulty of spinning the wheel increases. As the magnet is moved away from the wheel, the lower the magnetic force and, therefore, the lower the difficulty.
The dial—sometimes labeled as “resistance setting”—will allow you to adjust the difficulty of the machine, making it an “adjustable” resistance rowing machine.
Note: Magnetic “adjustable” resistance isn’t exactly the same as the “variable” resistance you get from air rowers. I’ve written this article to explain the differences between the two.
Or, watch this simple video that will show you how magnetic resistance works:
The Xterra ERG220 comes with 8 levels of magnetic resistance, which allows you to raise or lower the difficulty of your workout literally at the turn of the resistance dial.
If you’re looking for a slow-paced, steady-state rowing workout, switch the resistance to 2 and row for an hour. Or, if you want to kick it up to maximum intensity, crack the dial to 8 and row with all you’ve got for 15-20 minutes in a HIIT training session.
The knob, located on the center console, makes it easy and convenient to adjust the dial—even in the middle of your rowing session.
Magnetic resistance is smooth and steady. There is no direct pressure on the wheel, merely the force exerted by the magnet on the metal wheel.
This also makes it quieter than average air or water rowers, perfect for if you want to watch TV while working out or are concerned about waking a child sleeping in the next room.
The resistance is smooth, but a bit weak for some rowers. This was my experience and after reading feedback, I see I’m not alone.
This matters less for beginners and may not matter at all if you’re less concerned with strength and muscle tone. For cardio conditioning, you can simply go faster for a more challenging workout.
Unfortunately, magnetic resistance does come with drawbacks. The main one, of course, is that you don’t get that natural feel that you get with water or air rowing machines.
With water rowers, the harder you pull and the faster you row, the greater the difficulty level because of water displacement within the tank. With magnetic rowers, however, the resistance remains consistent as long as you don’t adjust the magnet dial. The setting is the same no matter how fast or slow you row.
This isn’t a major issue—in fact, a lot of people actually like the consistency, and feel it gives them a better, more predictable workout, ideal for steady-state, low-intensity exercise performed over long periods (45+ minutes). It’s worth the trade-off because the magnetic resistance rowing machines are also quieter than water rowers.
Again, one complaint specifically about the Xterra ERG220 Rower is that the resistance wasn’t quite strong enough for people who want to crank the workout intensity up to the max. With only 8 levels of resistance, you don’t get quite as much variety as you would with competing models.
For example, several Sunny Health & Fitness models offer more difficulty levels to choose from, allowing for much greater variability in intensity. Magnetic rowers in general—particularly budget models—tend to have this same problem.
Beginner rowers and casual at-home users should have no problem with the resistance settings. However, professional athletes, very strong rowers, and advanced fitness enthusiasts may find it’s better to bump up to a higher price range in order to get a machine with stronger resistance.
The Xterra Fitness ERG220 Rower does deliver a smooth, quiet rowing action that makes for a great workout unless you need maximum-intensity resistance. It’s a great rowing machine for beginners who want to start rowing at a budget price.
Though it doesn’t have the strongest resistance on the market, it’s a good choice for your first budget rowing machine—you can always upgrade later as your fitness level improves.
The Xterra ERG220 comes with a 3.5-inch LCD console that tracks the basic metrics:
- SPM (strokes per minute)
- Count (strokes taken for the session)
- Distance (miles)
- Total Count (total strokes taken all-time)
- Scan (scan through metrics every 30 sec)
- Pulse (Heart Rate strap sold separately)
As you can see by the image below, it’s highly visible and easy to read the metrics of your workout session even in low-light environments.
The display is powered by 2 AA batteries (which are included in the box) so you won’t have to plug it in. The battery life is much better than what you’d get from most digital displays, so you’ll rarely have to change the batteries.
The display will also automatically shut off after a few seconds of inactivity to preserve battery life.
The biggest downside to the monitor is its size. It’s located in an easily visible position on the rower itself, but it’s small enough that you may struggle to see the numbers, even though they’re extra-large for more visibility.
One user found that the digital monitor struggled with accuracy. Though it turned on fine, it didn’t synchronize with their rowing to track their workout accurately. However, this doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue.
The Xterra ERG220 Rowing Machine does come with heart rate-tracking capabilities, but you have to purchase the chest strap heart rate monitor separately.
Aside from a few concerns (small size, quality control issues), the monitor on the Xterra ERG220 should be fine for most.
It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles you get from pricier models with larger screens and more complex menus/operating systems, but it delivers all the necessary metrics you need to track your workout. Overall, it’s on par with most monitors offered in this price range.
Xterra Fitness has made its mark on the exercise equipment world, and it’s a brand known for its quality. If you read some of my reviews of other Xterra Rowing Machines, you’ll find that I’m pretty positive overall about the build quality of their rowers.
Let’s be clear: at this low price range, you’re purchasing budget rowers typically built in China. The quality control standards will vary drastically from model to model, and though the materials are typically the same, even a few minor changes to a design can lead to a noticeable drop in quality.
The Xterra ERG220 is built with a steel frame and an aluminum slide rail that offers a very smooth glide while rowing. That rail, however, seems to be the part most commonly damaged during shipping. One user reported finding a “huge gash” in their slide that made it difficult to row. Another reported squeaking and creaking.
The ERG220 does come with three stabilizers that keep the rowing machine stable and steady while you row. However, some users reported feeling like the seat itself wobbled slightly on the track, and the components felt “cheap and plastic-y”.
While customer support replaced the parts punctually, it’s a factor to be aware of if you’re considering the Xterra ERG220 Magnetic Rower.
In general, though, the build quality does seem to be in line with other models in this price range. Just be aware that when purchasing a lower-priced model, there may be some quality defects.
Check out a video below to see it in action:
The Xterra ERG220 is a rowing machine built with user comfort in mind. Unlike most of the other models I’ve reviewed on this site, the ERG220 comes with pivoting foot pedals that can be adjusted to the right angle to ease tension on your knees, hips, and ankles. For users with reduced mobility or prone to joint pain, this is an absolute game-changer.
Many rowing machines use the standard pull strap, which annoyingly tends to loosen while you row. I’ve had workouts where I have to re-tighten the foot straps every 3-5 minutes, which is a pain in the rear if I’m rowing for 45-60 minutes.
That won’t be a problem with the Xterra ERG220, though. It uses large velcro for the foot straps. Once securely placed, you can row your heart out and never have to re-adjust the straps for the rest of your workout.
The seat is ergonomically molded and contoured for a comfortable fit, with thick padding and raised to a height of 9.5 inches to make it easier to sit and stand.
Most find the machine plenty comfortable, as did I. At most, I found a complaint or two from folks who found the seat to be uncomfortable after around the 30-minute mark. This is common and you can always get a rower seat cushion.
The handlebar is padded and easy to grip. It’s designed specifically to reduce blisters and prevent excess pressure on your wrists. For those worried about carpal tunnel syndrome or joint strain, the Xterra ERG220 is a good option to consider.
Overall, the Xterra Fitness ERG220 scores above average in the comfort department.
Like all Xterra Fitness at-home rowing machines, the ERG220 is designed to fold up for easy storage. In fact, it’s one of the easiest models to fold. Just pull on the locking pin and lift the track until it locks in place in the upright position.
What’s great about this folding design is that only the aluminum rail lifts, but the front of the machine (with the heavy flywheel and breakable LCD screen) remains securely grounded on the two front support feet.
With other machines that you have to tip up, there’s the worry that you’ll accidentally knock them off or let them fall, which could damage the rower. With the Xterra ERG220, the folding process is simpler and much safer.
The built-in plastic caster wheels on the front of the rower make it easy to push the ERG220 into a corner or off the side of the room, or to pull it back into place when it’s time for your workout.
When it’s folded up, the dimensions are 47.2″ L x 19.1″ W x 56.9″ H.
The Xterra ERG220 Rower has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and a recommended upper height limit of 6’ 4”.
User reviews seem to agree that larger trainees have no problem working out with the Xterra ERG220. One mentioned that their 6’ husband ( at 240 lbs) found it plenty comfortable, and another 6’ 1” reviewer said it “fits their body frame perfectly”.
Of course, remember that not everyone has the same inseam (the most accurate measurement of leg length). Taller users with shorter legs may find it easier to use the machine than shorter users with longer legs.
If you are tall and have very long legs, then you might have to look into an extra-large model (sized for users closer to 6’ 6” or even 7’ tall).
- Assembled Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 80.3″ x 19.1″ x 29″
- Storage Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 47.2″ x 19.1″ x 56.9″
- Assembled Weight:
- 62 lbs.
Based on feedback, most find the Xterra ERG220 to be an easy-to-assemble rowing machine.
One person that a couple of screws were missing from the box, but they were easily-replaced screws (which they had on hand, but could be procured from customer service should that prove necessary).
A handful felt that the assembly instructions weren’t very intuitive, which slowed down the process as they tried to figure out what went where. Overall, most of the feedback was positive on this front.
I took a look at the Xterra ERG220 instructions manual—which you can find here—and had no trouble understanding how the machine was assembled. The troubleshooting instructions for the screen are also clear and make it easy to figure out any issues with the digital console.
Pros and Cons
- Quiet, smooth, and stable
- Good warranty
- Comfortable design
- Solid velcro foot straps will never come loose during a workout
- Consistent, reliable resistance easily adjusted with the dial
- Very easy assembly
- Well-sized, good weight capacity
- Easily folded and stored
- Quality control issues; product may arrive incomplete or damaged during shipping
- Build may not be as solid as other Xterra models
Most of the people who reviewed the Xterra ERG220 agree that it’s a great budget model. It’s comfortable, user-friendly, and provides smooth resistance.
There are a few minor issues with the build quality and quality control, but that’s pretty standard for most budget models.
Budget rowers tend to perform well overall, and if you’re okay with a few flaws, you’ll find they deliver a solid workout at a much lower price than the top-of-the-line models or commercial rowers usually found in gyms.
IMO, the Xterra ERG220 is at the higher end of the budget model spectrum in terms of reliability and durability. For the most part, the problems mentioned are par for the course with lower-cost models.
Check out more Xterra ERG220 Rower Reviews here.
Average Rating: 4.6
The Xterra ERG220 page claims to have “industry-leading warranty coverage”. I think a 1-year warranty is great on a product in this price range and beats out some of its competitors!
- Frame: 1-Year
- Parts: 1-Year
- Labor: Unspecified
- Model Number: ERG220
Xterra ERG220 Rower Price
Xterra Fitness is known for reasonably-priced exercise machines, offering options in the low, mid, and high price ranges.
The Xterra ERG220 is typically found at big retailers for under $240 before taxes when shipping is included (it usually is). The Xterra website offers free shipping but charges $379 for the ERG220 before taxes.
Big retailers offer the best deal overall with lower prices, free shipping, and better return policies.
The Xterra ERG220 is a pretty great option if you’re looking for a magnetic rower in the budget price range.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic SF-RW5515 is a better option, if available. If it’s not available, I can safely recommend the ERG220.
The Xterra ERG220 Rower has a solid frame and seems to hold up decently over time. It offers a smooth stroke and adjustable resistance. So, you can control the resistance (tension level) independently of rowing speed.
The main downside is that the max difficulty (resistance) level may become too easy as you get in better shape. Another concern is that the monitor is a bit small, so you may find it hard to read. Finally, squeaky noises may develop after extended use.
Other options include the Sunny Health rower (linked above) and the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Rower.
I hope you enjoyed my review. If you have any questions, feedback, or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below!
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.