- Realistic rowing motion
- Good build quality
- Very compact and folds away nicely for storage
- Adjustable height settings
- Comes with a good warranty
- Comfortable seat
- Takes a while to put together
- Foot-straps feel flimsy and uncomfortable
- The data from the monitor is poor by today’s standard
- Resistance can feel a bit awkward
Kettler has discontinued the Kettler Kadett. Although you may still be able to purchase it from some retailers or second-hand you can no longer purchase the product from Kettler. Please check out our best alternative rowing machines to find another model.
Type and model
The Kettler Kadett is an indoor rower that uses two independent hydraulic cylinders for resistance. Unlike most rowers that use a very guided forward-and-back-only rowing action, the Kadett is built using an outrigger design which means each arm not only moves independently but also moves in multiple directions.
This makes the rowing action look and feel much like sculling or rowing using two oars instead of the usual one.
It’s worth noting that hydraulic resistance is the cheapest of the four main resistance types and some people do find it awkward when rowing. However other users really like the way it mimics sculling and prefer it to the more traditional types of rowing machines.
Although overall the warranty for this model is very good, some customers have actually reported that the hydraulic system is not included in the warranty, only being told once there was a problem with it and they tried to claim.
Replacing the hydraulics will set you back $150-200 so that in itself may convince you to spend a bit more from the outset and go for a better model like the Concept2 RowErg that would only be a bit more expensive but definitely worth it.
The rower itself is, as you would expect from an award-winning German manufacturer, strong and sturdy and built from high-quality materials.
Rated for users weighing up to 285 lbs. the machine is 59 inches long, 67 inches wide (with the rowing arms extended outward) and 18 inches high. Weighing 51 lbs. and foldable, the Kadett rowing machine is portable and easily stored when not in use.
This is good news if you don’t have much space or just don’t want your rower out all the time. It’s also very light weighing in at 50 lbs. so you should have no trouble moving it if you need to.
The seat is quite comfortable which is always a plus, however the foot straps are flimsy and may not keep your feet entirely secure. It always baffles me how a manufacturer can build a functional machine but fail to create a foot strap that secures your feet.
Features and Functions
The main defining feature of the Kettler Kadett rowing machine is the lifelike independent rowing action. If you have rowed in the past or simply want to know how it feels to row a “real” boat, the Kadett will provide you with what you want.
The resistance of each arm can be adjusted independently so if you have one arm stronger than the other, you can still enjoy a balanced workout.
Other features include:
- 12 different easily adjustable resistance settings
- High carbon, powder-coated, steel frame with a lifetime warranty against breakage
- Flexible, adjustable footplates and straps
- Thickly padded, molded seat for comfort
- Sealed bearings for smooth, maintenance-free operation
- Infrared earlobe clip sensor measures pulse rate electronically
- Multifunctional performance display
The small LCD performance display monitors several different metrics relating to your workout including workout time, the number of oar strokes, speed of strokes, distance rowed during rowing session, total distance, energy consumption, and pulse rate.
These metrics are very basic and not entirely accurate. Especially not when compared to the data you get from the higher-end machines.
The monitor can be fitted with an optional plug-in receiver so that it will detect and display your heart rate when used in conjunction with a Polar or similar telemetric heart rate monitor chest strap.
Price and Value
The Kettler Kadett cannot be considered a budget rower or a cheap buy – it’s definitely a mid-range product.
However, it does deliver something that most other rowing machines cannot; a unique sculling experience.
You ARE paying a premium for this function but if you want a realistic rowing experience, that’s the price you pay.
One of the downfalls of this rower is that it is not the easiest to put together, with most users saying it took them around an hour from start to finish to put it together. This isn’t helped by the fact that Kettler only provides instructions in German (which we find very odd) which includes the manual as well as the assembly instructions.
Final Thoughts on the Kettler Kadett
This Kettler Kadett rowing machine is a good mid-range rower. The German-made outrigger design provides a very realistic rowing motion and the Kadett has many features that are hard to find in this price range, especially the built-in heart rate monitor.
However, it just doesn’t do enough for us considering the price. There are better models available and it’s a bit of a gamble if you’ve never tried this style of rowing machine before. Add that to the fact that the price range is not too far off some machines that are far better than it, we recommend paying a little bit extra.
Alternatively, if the price is a large consideration for you and going above isn’t an option then you should take a look at our reviews of low-budget rowing machines.
In short, if you want a realistic rowing experience but don’t want to break the bank doing it, the Kettler Kadett could be just the machine for you.