Are you on the hunt for a good-quality rower to use in your home gym? Have you heard about the Xterra ERG500 Rower but aren’t sure it’s the choice for you?
Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out!
Below, we’re going to take a deep dive into the Xterra ERG500, one of the mid-range rowers offered by Xterra Fitness.
This air rower is often recommended for those who want a solid workout using air resistance, durable construction, and good price point.
Of course, there are some downsides to this model, which we’ll explore in the review to come.
Read the full Xterra ERG500 rowing machine review below to find out if this is the rowing machine for you!
As its name suggests, the Xterra ERG500 Air Turbine Rower uses air resistance to give you a kickass workout.
Air resistance works in a pretty simple way: when you pull the handle, you spin a fan that displaces air. The harder you pull or the faster you row, the greater the air displacement, which increases resistance. This is called “variable resistance” because speeding up your rowing makes the workout more difficult.
Air rowers typically offer a smooth, strong stroke that makes for a great workout. They mimic the feel of real-life rowing with surprising accuracy.
You can read this article on rowing machine resistance types for a deeper exploration of air vs. magnetic vs. water rowing to help you better understand how the Xterra ERG500 differs from other models.
ERG500 Resistance Benefits
The Xterra ERG500 only comes with 8 resistance levels, so you’ve got options to choose the ideal difficulty for your training session.
When an air resistance rower has “resistance” settings, it means there is a damper to control how much air is let into the flywheel housing.
The more air you let in (higher resistance level), the more the air can ‘resist’ against the fan blades. The less air you let in, the easier the stroke feels.
This confuses some users because changing the resistance level does not provide an immediate change in resistance feeling like a magnetic rower. You still need to row faster to feel the change in “resistance”.
If you want to row slowly and feel strong resistance, you may need a magnetic rower. If not, the Xterra ERG500 should provide all the resistance you need. Learn more about damper settings here.
The stroke is smooth and does a great job of mimicking the resistance you feel when rowing on water. It’s also gentle on your joints and a great low-impact workout!
The lever makes it easy to switch between resistance levels, even in the middle of your workout. Just switch to a higher or lower gear, and the fan blades will adjust the difficulty in an instant.
Air rowing machines are, unfortunately, some of the noisiest on the market. With water rowers, you get the soothing sound of sloshing water. With magnetic resistance, there is only a quiet whirring of the spinning flywheel.
Air rowers, however, are blowing air out of the turbine, and that displaced air is going to generate a lot more noise than you might like.
You may find it difficult to watch TV or carry on a conversation with someone while rowing. It won’t be so noisy that it will drown out the sound of the music in your headphones or wake up a sleeping baby across the house, but it’s far from the quietest machine around.
Aside from the high noise level, you’ll find the Xterra ERG500 delivers decent air-generated resistance.
Air is one of the most common and preferred resistance types. As long as users understand the resistance depends on how fast you row!
The Xterra ERG500 comes with a small 3.5” LCD monitor built into the rowing machine’s body. The angle is fully adjustable and easy to see while rowing.
It displays the most important workout metrics:
- Visual Stroke Display Graphic
The LCD screen is highly visible even in low-light settings, with large numbers that make it easy to see your workout progress at a glance.
Another cool feature: you don’t have to worry about plugging in the rowing machine. The screen only needs a pair of AAA batteries, and it will activate only when you start rowing. You’ll find it’s got excellent battery life.
Unfortunately, the Xterra ERG500 rower doesn’t have any integrated pre-programmed workouts. This isn’t a problem for users who like to do their own thing, but for people who like preset training modules to challenge themselves, it’s a downside to be aware of.
Some users complained that the odometer tracking the distance/rowing strokes is slightly off. You can pull harder without seeing a visible increase in your distance rowed compared to gentler rowing. Competitive rowers who want to beat their time-to-distance or accurately track performance during their workout may find this a turn-off.
Also, some people were irritated by the design of the monitor, because they had to virtually disassemble the panel in order to change the batteries.
The Xterra ERG500 Air Rowing Machine comes with a small, easy-to-use monitor that gives you the basics and not a whole lot else. It provides good data points but may not be the most accurate tracker on the market.
These are all factors to take into account when considering whether the Xterra ERG500 is the machine for you.
One thing you can always trust about Xterra Fitness is that they build a great rowing machine.
Xterra is one of the best-known brands in gym equipment, so it’s no surprise that their line of rowing machines are built to great quality.
The Xterra ERG500 rower is built with a heavy-duty steel frame and manufactured to pass Xterra’s high-quality control standards. You’ll rarely have to perform maintenance on the frame, the turbine, or the aluminum rails even after years of use.
As you can see from the image of the Xterra ERG500, it’s a solidly built machine with all its components made of sturdy materials. The few plastic components integrated into the machine are made from high-quality ABS material, and the straps are durable and resistant to wear.
Build Quality Downsides
Some users have complained that certain parts—namely, the foot pedals and the attachment securing the handle to the cable—are prone to breaking.
This appears to be a quality control issue common among these components, which are made in China.
Build Quality Overall
User reviews mostly agree that the Xterra ERG500 Air Rower lives up to the brand’s standard for durability (aside from a few problems with the quality control of secondary components).
Overall, consumer comments reinforce my belief that it’s a well-crafted, well-designed machine. Though it doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, it does a great job of giving you an at-home workout and will last for years of daily use.
Comfort is absolutely a factor to take into account when shopping for a rowing machine! You need a rower with a good seat that offers plenty of cushioning, a well-designed handle that will prevent wrist strain, and well-placed foot pedals that allow for a comfortable leg position.
The Xterra ERG500 delivers on all fronts!
First off, the air resistance provides a very smooth and comfortable stroke that has a truly natural feel to it. You’ll slide back and forth on the solidly-built aluminum rails without any wobbling or unsteadiness.
The seat itself is both larger-than-average and raised to 15” to make sitting/standing that much easier. It’s ideal for people with reduced lower body mobility, who might find it difficult to lower themselves to a standard-height (9-12”) seat. The seat’s contours will keep your butt firmly in place and stop you from sliding backward or forward while rowing.
One thing I love about the Xterra ERG500 Air Rowing Machine is the flex pedals. They’re actually designed to move with you as you row, while still offering a sturdy platform to push off of. The straps are sized for BIG feet—up to size 14.
The handle is both ergonomically contoured and comes with just enough padding to make it easy to grip.
Overall, the Xterra ERG500 is a very comfortable choice, ideal even for active rowers and competitive athletes planning an extended (1+ hour) rowing session.
For most home users, the “perfect” rowing machine is one that offers both a solid structure and easy storage.
The Xterra ERG500 is designed to be tucked away in the side or corner of a room, but still very easy to roll out and set up for your workout.
The aluminum seat rail folds upright, and all you have to do is tip it up toward the turbine, and you can roll it on the built-in castor wheels. When it comes time to get rowing, just pull the quick-release catch and lower the seat rail back into position.
The folded dimensions are 45″ L x 20″ W x 57″ H. It’s smaller than other Xterra rowers—like the Xterra ERG700—which makes it even more convenient for use in a home gym or workout room with limited space.
The Xterra Fitness ERG500 Rower has a decent capacity for its price range.
A customer support agent said the rower can handle users up to 6’3″. Another user said the wee 6’3″ and had plenty of room to spare.
The Xterra ERG500 also has an excellent weight capacity! It can handle up to 300 pounds no problem.
Anyone under these capacity limits will have no issue using this model.
- Assembled Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 72″ x 19″ x 33″
- Storage Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 45″ x 20″ x 57″
- Shipping Box Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 55” x 23” x 11.5”
- Assembled Weight:
- 79.4 Pounds
- Shipping Weight:
- 41.28 Kilograms
You might not love the equipment assembly process, but it’s a necessary part of getting your rowing machine set up. Plus, it’s something you really only have to do ONCE!
For tool-challenged users, you’ll be glad to know the Xterra ERG500 is a machine built for you. I love how one consumer review put it: “The assembly tools and instruction manual are compassionately made and presented i.e. not confusing.”
Assembly time seems to range roughly from 30-45 minutes. With everything neatly packaged and organized, you’ll find it’s a fairly straightforward step-by-step process to set up the Xterra ERG500.
None of the reviews mentioned any of the parts arriving broken or missing, so you should have no problem getting the Xterra ERG500 Air Rower set up and ready to use in under an hour.
Pros and Cons
- Solidly built machine designed for daily use
- User-friendly instructions and easy assembly
- 8 levels of adjustable air resistance
- Better-than-average warranty
- Easily legible monitor
- Basic and sometimes inaccurate monitor
- Occasional quality control issues with smaller components
- Resistance can feel light
Overall, the Xterra ERG500 Air Rower seems to have pretty positive customer reviews.
There are a few with complaints like—faulty or easily breakable components, issues with the monitor, insufficient resistance, etc.—but for the most part, users are largely satisfied with their purchase. When they had to deal with customer service, they were impressed by Xterra’s responsiveness and speed of delivering the requested components.
The rowing machine is well-constructed and delivers a smooth, steady stroke in a comfortable position. Unfortunately, the issues with the mode impaired people’s enjoyment enough to give it an overall lower-than-average rating.
Average Rating: 4.0
Xterra ERG500 Warranty
Xterra offers one of the best-in-industry warranties on their products, which is one reason that so many people continue to use them even when some models have the occasional defect or quality control issue.
Their customer service—both via Amazon and their own website—is top-notch, and they’ll gladly sort out any issues you have with your rowing machine as they arise.
- Frame: 5 years
- Parts: 2 years
- Labor: 90-days in-home labor
- Model Number: ERG500
Xterra ERG500 Rower Price
The Xterra ERG500 falls pretty squarely into the mid-price range, based on its price compared to the other rowing machines available on the market.
Reviewers had no trouble with the price tag, though a couple mentioned that they wished they had spent a little more to buy a higher-end model.
While I think the Xterra ERG500 is a solid option, after doing all this research, I’m convinced that you could probably find a rowing machine as good (or possibly even better) for around the same price. That’s not to say that you’d be overpaying for the Xterra ERG500, just that for its mid-range cost, you could find a few other models that delivered superior quality with fewer issues and more advanced features.
But the Xterra ERG500 is still a worthwhile option to consider. It’s certainly durable and comfortable enough to make your at-home workouts easy, and you’ll find its money well spent on a middle-of-the-line air rowing machine.
I will point out that typically the Xterra ERG500 on Amazon is more competitively priced than on the Xterra Fitness website (always subject to change). I also like that Amazon adds an extra layer of customer service and protection, plus free shipping (on qualified orders) for both delivery and returns. Both of those make it worth your time checking it out via Amazon.
I started researching into the Xterra ERG500 hoping it was a great-quality rower at a good price, and I’m ending this review convinced that it’s a pretty decent “second pick”.
If your #1 rowing machine option is temporarily unavailable (a common problem these days, given manufacturing delays) or you don’t want to spend full price on a top-rated rower, you can pick up the Xterra ERG500 as a backup, lower-priced option.
That being said, I like the Xterra ERG500’s build quality, comfort, and general reliability (quality control issues aside). Though it’s not the fanciest or most technologically advanced rower around, it delivers on the important fronts: comfort, decent resistance, visible control panel, and durability.
If you are still wanting an air rowing machine, I would check out the Xebex Air Rower. It cost a bit more but is well worth the increase in price!
If you aren’t sold on air rowers and may want a magnetic resistance rower, check out the Schwinn Crewmaster Rowing Machine.
I really hope you found this Xterra ERG500 review helpful and my insights into the rowing machine made it easier for you to pick the best choice for your workouts. It’s a tough decision, so if you have any feedback or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment in the section below!
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.