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Matrix Rower Review

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MATRIX Fitness Rower
MATRIX Fitness Rower
MATRIX Fitness Rower
Start Rowing Score

Recently, well-known home fitness Manufacturer Matrix decided to completely overhaul their popular 2012 Rower. The result is the Matrix Rower 02, a complete rebuild from the ground up that has produced a very impressive magnetic resistance rower. It’s one of the quietest, smoothest, and most durable magnetic rowers on the market, but also one of the most expensive. 

Here at Start Rowing we include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission.

Pros
  • Very solid
  • Sleek design
  • Smooth magnetic resistance
  • Whisper-quiet operation
  • Comfortable ergonomic seat
  • Very good warranty
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Limited monitor functionality
  • No assembly tools

This is our review of the Matrix Rower

I’ve gone deep to uncover the good, the bad, and the indifferent about this rather pricey magnetic rowing machine to give you the full picture. As well as putting the Matrix Rower through its paces myself, I’ve spent hours conducting online research on this rower and the company behind it. 

I’ve also gone through dozens of verified user reviews to find out what they like and loathe about the Matrix Rower. My goal is to present you with the most complete Matrix Rower review you will find online.

Personally, I found the Matrix Rower to be an excellent magnetic rowing machine. It delivers an extremely smooth, quiet, and strong rowing performance, is solidly built, and is comfortable to exercise on. It’s got a relatively compact footprint and can easily be stored. However, the monitor on the Matrix Rower is pretty ho-hum and the price tag is pretty steep. 

In the paragraphs to follow, I’ll dig into the features and benefits that the Matrix Rower provides. I’ll also compare the Matrix Rower to three popular alternatives and make it clear who should and who should not invest in this high-end magnetic rowing machine. 

Keep reading to get the entire story on the Matrix Rower. 

Matrix Rower 

Matrix Rower

The Matrix Rower is a magnetic resistance rowing machine. This low-impact rower provides 10 levels of magnetic resistance powered by an aluminum flywheel. It features an aluminum monorail, an ergonomic seat, and a smaller footprint than you find on competing models. 

The Matrix Rower delivers in terms of providing an ultra-smooth rowing stroke that is free of lag or jerkiness. Transitions between resistance levels are seamless and the operation is super quiet. 

The Matrix Rower is a complete redesign of Matrix’s 2012 model rower. The company has a saying that ‘good is the enemy of great’. They were determined to take the good 2012 version and turn it into something great. What they ended up with is certainly impressive, but there are a few flaws that prevent it from being great. 

The monitor that comes with this rower doesn’t measure up to the price tag. Overall, I consider the Matrix Rower to be a great performing rower that is just a little too expensive for my taste. 

Functionality And Design

The rebuild of the Matrix Rower began from the floor up. The frame is fully made of steel, which makes it quite heavy. As well as ensuring durability and eliminating vibration, this also grounds you securely to the floor when you are rowing intensely. The Matrix design team also created a brushed aluminum flywheel and magnetic resistance system that delivers a whisper-quiet and smooth rowing action. 

The Matrix Rower is not a foldable rowing machine. However, it can be stored in an upright position simply by tilting it up from the base. The length of the machine is 88” so it will store upright in any room that has a minimum ceiling height of 8 feet. There is also a pair of transportation wheels to make it easier to move the rower around your workout space. 

The Matrix rower is designed to be used by people up to 6’7” in height and who weigh up to 350 lbs. There is no lower limit on height or weight for use, as even children can use the machine with no problems.

Features and Benefits

Let’s now drill down on the specific features of the Matrix Rower.

Resistance System

The Matrix Rower operates a magnetic resistance system. It is fitted with a brushed aluminum flywheel with magnets that sit on either side. A dial centrally located on the frame allows the user to control the distance that the magnets are from the flywheel; the closer they are the more resistance that is generated. This system provides the quietest of the 3 rowing machine resistance systems (the other two being air and water resistance). 

Unlike on many magnetic rowers, the flywheel (or part of it) is visible below the motor housing of the machine. The brushed steel look of the flywheel looks very stylish while also ensuring quiet operation. Ten levels of magnetic resistance are controlled by the resistance knob which sits just under the handle return on the base. The ability to adjust the resistance makes this an adjustable rowing machine, putting you in control of the intensity level of your workout.

Matrix Rower resistance

The ten levels of resistance allow for gradations from a very light to a heavy rowing pull. That makes this rower suitable for all ranches of rowing ability and ensures that you will be able to increase your intensity as you get fitter and stronger. 

Standout features regarding resistance are the smoothness of the rowing action and the quietness of the row. 

A common problem with magnetic rowers is that you can experience a slight lag on the return which interrupts the rhythm of the rowing action. You do not have that problem with this machine. 

The Matrix Rower is also amazingly quiet. This is a benefit that many online reviewers mentioned, making this a great choice for people who will be using their rower in apartment settings or other situations where they are virtually on top of other people. 

Build Quality

The Matrix Rower is an extremely strong rowing machine. Some user reviews call it ‘indestructible.’ The frame is constructed of solid steel. This reduces vibration and ensures that the machine remains securely in place throughout your exercise session. On lighter machines, the base may jump around when you’re rowing at maximum intensity but that is not a concern here. 

The monorail of this rower is made of aluminum which has been reinforced with strips of solid steel. That makes it stronger than most competitors. The handle cord is thick and durable, while also contributing to the quiet operation of the machine. 

The drive system that is located inside the motor housing of the Matrix Rower is fitted with a poly-v belt that is quieter and more durable than a standard v-belt drive. 

The maximum user weight on the Matrix Rower is 350 lbs. That is about what you’d expect for a rowing machine in the $2000 price zone and confirms the solid build of the machine. 

The Matrix Rower has a very sleek, streamlined design, making use of curves and seamless lines. While you can easily store the machine away after use, it will also make an attractive feature piece in any room.

YouTube video

Comfort

The Matrix Rower gets good reviews from users in terms of comfort. It’s clear that the design team at Matrix has worked hard to make your exercise experience on this rower as enjoyable as possible. They have given it a seat that is ergonomically engineered to mold to your butt while also ensuring tail bone comfort. 

The seat height is higher off the ground than many competing magnetic rowers, making it easier for people with compromised mobility to get on and off the machine. Advanced rowers, however, may prefer a lower to the ground seating position, which will more closely replicate the actual on the water rowing experience. 

The contoured seat is well padded for comfort. That is a good thing in terms of not getting a sore butt. However, if you are a serious rower who is focused more on performance than comfort, a harder seat will allow you to row with greater intensity. It’s a bit like the difference between firing a canoe from water and firing it from solid ground; the more secure the platform underneath, the greater the performance that will result. 

The footrests on the Matrix Rower are larger than many competing machines provide. Rather than using a velcro securing system, there is a quick buckle lock to keep your feet in place. This is more durable than velcro though it does take a little longer to secure. The footrests are a little bit wider than standard. This can be handy for larger people as it will help to prevent their thighs from rubbing while they’re exercising. However, the wider foot positioning can compromise hip positioning and may throw out your biomechanics slightly. 

The handle on this machine is longer than standard, allowing you to get a greater variety of grip distances. It features a comfort-enhancing foam over-mold for a more comfortable pulling stroke. 

Console

The monitor on the Matrix Rower consists of a 3.5” x 2,5” backlit LCD. The display tracks the following training data points:

  • Time
  • Distance
  • SPM (strokes per minute)
  • Stroke
  • Watts
  • Heart Rate
  • Calories
  • 500-meter split

The monitor contains quick keys that make it easy to scroll through your data points. Several training programs are built into the monitor. There are programs for HIIT workouts as well as sprint and distance training. 

The Matrix Rower monitor includes a drag factor. Drag factor is a feature of air and water rowers that takes into account the overall weight, air, and water drag of the rowing experience. This makes the magnetic rowing experience a little more like what you’d get on an air or water rower. 

It should be noticed that the heart rate feature on the monitor will only function if you wear a chest strap telemetric heart rate monitor. The Matrix Rower is set up for this functionality but your purchase does not include a chest strap. You will have to buy this separately, which will cost an extra $70-$90.

Rather than being powered by a battery, the monitor is self-powered by your rowing action. That means that if you are rowing lightly, the monitor display will not be as bright as if you were rowing with more intensity. 

While it does provide you with the data points that you’d expect on a medium-priced rower, the Matrix monitor falls short of its price range. It doesn’t give serious rowers the advanced feedback that they need, unlike what you find on the Concept2 RowErg

There are also a few basic programs available through this monitor, but it is lacking when it comes to things like hill training and other pre-programmed workouts. That is a little disappointing at this price point. 

YouTube video

Technical Specifications

Matrix RowerSpecs
Resistance TypeMagnetic Resistance
Resistance Levels10
Drive SystemCoil Spring Poly-V Belt
Max User Weight158.76 kg / 350 lbs.
Product Weight59 kg / 130 lbs.
Shipping Weight69 kg / 152 lbs.
Overall Dimensions (L X W X H)223 x 55 x 58 cm / 87.6” x 21.5” x 22.8”
Power RequirementsGenerator Powered LCD Display w/ Back-up Memory Battery
Display Screen3.5” x 2.5”
Display ReadoutTime, Distance, SPM (strokes per minute), Stroke, Watts, Heart Rate, Calories, 500 mtr/split
ProgramsManual. Interval, Challenge
Telemetric ReceiverYes

Setup Process

The Matrix Rower is not the easiest of rowing machines to put together. You will have to allocate about an hour to the process and should have someone to help with the job. There are six steps to follow through to go from unboxing to sitting on it for your first row. 

The instructions are easy enough to follow but the big disappointment I found is that Matrix does not include the tools needed to assemble the rower. This is the first rowing machine that I’ve come across that doesn’t throw in the assembly tools. At the price point of this magnetic rower, that’s pretty disappointing!

For the record, here’s what you’ll need to assemble the Matrix Rower …

  • ¾ inch adjustable wrench
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Allen keys for 4,5,6 & 8 mm

Price and Value

The Matrix Rower is available from several retailers, with the price averaging at around $2000. The main retailer is Johnson Fitness. There are a lot of Johnson Fitness stores around the US, so you may be able to go into a brick-and-mortar store and try it out before buying. 

You can find the Matrix Rower on Amazon but it appears that they are only selling models labeled as ‘Amazin Renewed’. These are machines that have been returned before being used. 

Simply put, at a price tag of $2000, the Matrix Rower is overpriced. The issues that we have identified – average monitor, lack of programs, lack of assembly tools, and potential hip issues with the footrest placement – should not be a problem when you’re buying a magnetic rower at $2000. 

Warranty

Matrix stand behind this rowing machine with a solid warranty. Here’s the cover that you get …

  • Frame: 7-Years
  • Parts: 3-Years
  • Labor: 3-Years

Alternatives

Having done a deep dive on the features and benefits of the Matrix Rower, it’s now time to put this magnetic rower head to head with the competition. I’ll compare the Matrix with two machines:

  • Concept 2 RowErg
  • Hydrow Rowing Machine

Concept 2 RowErg

Concept2 RowERG

The Concept2 RowErg is the world’s most popular air resistance rowing machine. Being an air rower, the Concept2 is going to be noisier than the Matrix. The resistance on the Concept2 is also variable, changing with the intensity of your row, so you have less control over the exact resistance level. 

In terms of the rowing stroke smoothness and reliability, both machines do a great job. However, the air resistance of the Concept 2 is more akin to what you’d get on the water than on the magnetic resistance of the Matrix Rower. The monitor on the Concept2 RowErg provides more data tracking points and is more accurate than the Matrix Rower monitor. In fact, the monitor on the Concept2 is so good that it’s the only rowing machine monitor that can be used to submit World Records. 

You can also use 3rd party apps with the Concept2 monitor, something you cannot do with the Matrix monitor. 

When it comes to build quality, the Concept2 excels in robustness and durability. All you have to do is check its maximum user weight of 500 lbs to know that the frame is heavy-duty. This machine is as solid as they come and is built to last. 

The warranty on the Concept2 is good but not as good as on the Matrix Rower. With the Concept2, you get 5 years on the frame and 2 years on parts. 

In terms of user comfort, both machines score well. However, the Concept2, with its slightly harder seat and lower seat positioning, is more built for performance comfort. 

Overall, the Concept2 RowErg is the better choice if you’re after as close to an on-the-water rowing experience as you can get on dry ground. It’s also cheaper and has a more high spec monitor than the Matrix Rower. 

Read our full Concept2 RowERG review

Hydrow Rowing Machine

Hydrow Rowing Machine

The Hydrow rowing machine is a magnetic resistance rowing, allowing for a more apples-to-apples comparison. When it comes to rowing performance, the Hydrow and the Matrix are pretty much on par. Both of them are super quiet, provide a smooth rowing action, and don’t involve any jerkiness of return lag. 

The max user weight on the Hydrow is the same 350 pounds as the Matrix. The frame is extremely durable and just as sleek and futuristic looking as the Matrix. The frame is constructed from aluminum with a plastic outer casing. 

The major point of difference between the Hydrow and the Matrix is the monitor. It consists of a massive 22” 1920 x 1080 HD Touchscreen with front-facing dual 3W speakers. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, so you can check your pulse with a Bluetooth-enabled pulse monitor. 

While it operates perfectly well as a high-level rower without it, to take your Hydrow experience to the next level you should take advantage of the Connected Rower membership. For $38 per month, you’ll get access to live ‘on the water’ rowing workouts from all over the world as well as rowing on-demand training sessions and instruction from the world’s best rowers. 

The Hydrow Rower costs a few hundred dollars more than the Matrix Rower. However. If you are after a premium quality magnetic rower with complete interactive functionality, then the Hydrow is the ideal machine for you. 

Read our full Hydrow review

Should you Buy The Matrix Rower?

The Matrix Rower is for you if:

  • You want a smooth, quiet, reliable magnetic rower
  • Comfort is more important to you than performance
  • You aren’t overly concerned with the accuracy or scope of monitor data collection

The Matrix Rower is not for you if:

  • You are more interested in performance than comfort
  • You want the most accurate and comprehensive data monitoring
  • You are wanting the most authentic off the water rowing experience

Final Thoughts

The Matrix Rower is a high-performing magnetic rowing machine that looks great, is extremely robust, and comes with a solid warranty. This is a very quiet, comfortable machine, making it ideal for apartment settings and use by older people. 

For those who are seasoned or competitive rowers, however, this rower lacks the monitoring capability and design nuances to allow for optimized performance. This is also an expensive rowing machine. It’s hard to justify the $2000 price tag with competitors on the market that are cheaper and that offer more. 

Check out the best price on the Matrix Rower and read verified user reviews. You can also check out our list of the best rowing machines available. 

MATRIX Fitness Rower
MATRIX Fitness Rower
MATRIX Fitness Rower
Start Rowing Score

Recently, well-known home fitness Manufacturer Matrix decided to completely overhaul their popular 2012 Rower. The result is the Matrix Rower 02, a complete rebuild from the ground up that has produced a very impressive magnetic resistance rower. It’s one of the quietest, smoothest, and most durable magnetic rowers on the market, but also one of the most expensive. 

Here at Start Rowing we include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission.

Matrix Rower FAQs

Is Matrix a good rowing machine?

Yes, the Matrix Rower is a very good rowing machine. This revamped version of the 2012 Matrix Rower is very solidly built, it looks great and it delivers a very smooth, consistent, and quiet row. However, it is an expensive magnetic resistance rowing machine. Also, the monitor is pretty basic. 

Matrix Rower

Recently, well-known home fitness Manufacturer Matrix decided to completely overhaul their popular 2012 Rower. The result is the Matrix Rower 02, a complete rebuild from the ground up that has produced a very impressive magnetic resistance rower. It’s one of the quietest, smoothest, and most durable magnetic rowers on the market, but also one of the most expensive.

Product Brand: Matrix Fitness

Product Currency: $

Product Price: 2385.00

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
3.5
Steve Theunissen

AUTHOR

Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and school teacher and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.