BodyCraft VR500 Rower Review

BodyCraft VR500 Rowing Machine
Our Rating:
4/5
In recent years BodyCraft has been establishing itself as one of the top names in cardiovascular equipment. The VR500 is the cream of their range of rowers and a hybrid option that opens up a variety of possibilities to users. Now, with its price possibly being the only thing greater than its reputation, it’s time to find out exactly how good it is, if it’s worth the money, and whether or not this is the ideal model for you.

PROS

  • Incredibly intelligent and interactive computer
  • Comfortable and ergonomic design
  • Combination of air and magnetic resistance
  • Easily foldable for storage
  • High-quality materials with long warranties

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No moneyback guarantee
  • Not designed to be easily taken apart

Resistance Type

The BodyCraft VR500 generates its resistance using both the traditional air variety, as well as the much newer technology that is magnetic resistance.

When looking at air rowers, they operate by having a flywheel pull air into the machine, which it then has to turn against, providing the machine with its resistance. The more air the flywheel has to work against, the greater the resistance will be.

BodyCraft VR500 resistance

The way that you control the amount of air being used is as simple as adjusting your speed, as the faster you row the more air is pulled in and vice versa. This allows you to quickly and frequently change the difficulty of your session as you progress through it, without having to stop.

However, the inclusion of magnetic resistance in addition to air enables the user to change things up and work through a much more specific routine, using pre-set levels of resistance. It is also substantially quieter than air resistance too.

This occurs as a magnetic rower generates its resistance through pairs of magnets. Therefore, depending on how far apart they are set, you will know exactly what challenge that awaits you. In this instance the closer the magnets are to one another, the greater the resistance generated will be.

Technical Specifications

  • Weight – 98 Pounds
  • Assembled Length – 98.5 Inches
  • Assembled Width – 20 Inches
  • Assembled Height – 38.5 Inches
  • Folded Length – 58.5 Inches
  • Folded Width – 20 Inches
  • Folded Height – 77 Inches
  • Frame Material – Steel and aluminum
  • 38 levels of magnetic resistance

Display/Monitor

BodyCraft VR500 monitor

The BodyCraft VR500 comes with a fantastic, easy to read, LED-backlit, black and white LCD screen computer. It is located on an adjustable arm that makes its position fully and easily changeable so that users of all sizes can clearly see it whilst they are rowing.

While it provides all of the information you would expect from a rowing machine computer, such as calories, distance, time, level, pulse, and strokes, it also has a number of additional features that further improve its usefulness.

It features 12 pre-set programs, 3 customizable programs, a cooldown program, the ability to set the magnetic resistance to one of 32 predetermined levels and even the ability to store the data for up to 4 different users.

Build Quality

The BodyCraft VR500 is made from incredibly high-quality materials throughout. From the steel legs to the reinforced aluminum track and even the premium nylon cord used in the drive, everything is designed to stand up to wear and tear for a long period of time.

Combine that with how well everything is put together and you have yourself an incredibly high-quality product that should have you rowing long into the future.

Comfort And Capacity

With an ergonomically designed handlebar, contoured and padded seat, adjustable screen, and even heel rests on the footholds, the BodyCraft VR500 is a machine designed to provide its users with a comfortable experience, no matter how frequently or how long you use it.

With a maximum capacity of 350 pounds and a design that makes it effective for users up to 6 ft 8 in, this is a rower that will be able to be used by pretty much anyone. Sure, some powerlifters or basketball players may be outside of the designed limits, but for the vast majority of us, this will be a perfectly fitted rowing experience.

BodyCraft VR500 footplates
BodyCraft VR500 handles
BodyCraft VR500 seat

Assembly

As far as assembly goes, it must be said that the BodyCraft VR500 is not the easiest option on the market. Don’t get me wrong, it does not require any technical wizardry and everything you need, tools and all, is included in the box.

That said, when it can take people anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to assemble, it certainly is not one of the “use straight out of the box” options that you can quite easily find.

Storage

BodyCraft VR500 folded

With its fold and roll system, the BodyCraft VR500 is perfectly designed to be quickly and easily put away for storage after use.

That said, it is still quite a large piece of kit that will take up a fair amount of room vertically. As far as foldable rowers go though, this is certainly one of the better models in terms of how much space is needed to keep it in. However, it still falls behind other options that are designed to come apart after use when looking at ease of storage.

Warranty

As with many rowers of this spec, the BodyCraft VR500 comes with several fantastic warranties.

For personal use, it has a lifetime warranty on the frame, 7 years on parts, 2 years for labor and even a year for wear and tear. Even for light commercial use it gives you 10 years on the frame, 3 years for parts, and a year for labor and wear and tear.

This is an absolutely fantastic safety net that is more than you are likely to find anywhere else. This should make you feel supremely confident in your purchase as not only are you covered if anything goes wrong but it shows how sure the manufacturers are that nothing will.

Price And Value

There is just no way around this, the BodyCraft VR500 is an expensive piece of equipment. If you are looking for a cheap, budget option for a casual bit of rowing, this probably isn’t the one for you.

That said, this is a case of getting what you pay for, as it really is a fabulous machine. If you need the variety and specificity in your training that this rower gives you then you will still find it to be a good value item, as it should give you many years of top-quality rowing.

Alternatives

If you do find yourself wanting a top-quality rower that provides most of the features seen here but the price is just a little too high, there are a couple of alternatives I can suggest.

BodyCraft VR400 Pro Rowing Machine

If you like everything the VR500 has to offer but don’t think you need quite so much from the computer, then BodyCraft’s previous model may be a better fit for you. Featuring most of the same specs, just with fewer programs, only one user profile, and 16 resistance levels as opposed to 32, this could save you around 20% just by shedding a little control that you wouldn’t use anyway.

BodyCraft VR200 Rowing Machine

If the main selling point for you of the VR500 is its combination of air and magnetic resistance, but you don’t need all of the bells and whistles included on the computer, then the VR200 should have you covered. Featuring only 8 levels to choose from and an extremely basic computer, this will be perfect if you know exactly what you’re doing and want to save a bunch on features you’ll likely never use.

Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine

One of the most popular rowing machines of all time, the Model D will provide you with almost all the features of the VR500, except it is purely an air rower. So, if you aren’t worried about noise or the ability to pre-set your rower to a specific level, this is a fantastic option to get all the other features at a little bit of a discount. If you want to find a real bargain try landing yourself a used Concept2 rower

Final Thoughts

That brings us to the end of our BodyCraft VR500 Rowing Machine Review. In case you are in any way unsure about my opinion, let me be clear, this is a fantastic rowing machine.

With its wide range of programs and resistance settings, its sturdy yet comfortable design, and its incredible warranty structure, this is an immensely enjoyable rowing experience that you can be confident of using years into the future.

I admit the price tag may be off-putting to some but, considering how effective it is, you really do get what you pay for and you are unlikely to find a rower of comparable specs that isn’t in a similar price bracket.