- Lightweight & mobile
- Very quiet
- Reasonably priced
- Eight levels of resistance
- Large comfortable padded seat
- Suitable for tall users
- Digital monitor is basic & provides limited data
- No inbuilt exercise programs which some other machines include
- Footplates pivot and material is weak
- Doesn’t allow for full range of motion strokes
This is our review of the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 rowing machine.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is a magnetic resistance type rowing machine that aims to provide the user with a convenient yet challenging complete home workout.
Functionality and Design
The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 has a very basic design and features. But there are definitely a few things you’ll want to consider before purchasing.
The SF-RW5515 is a magnetic resistance rowing machine. Magnets are placed around the flywheel of the machine and the resistance level is controlled by the knob under the display monitor.
It comes with 8 adjustable resistance levels which increase the tension the higher you go. You can genuinely feel the resistance getting stronger as you increase the levels which is great but you can slightly feel the magnetic plates almost click into place on the higher settings. Unfortunately, this does affect the fluidity of the rowing stroke.
On the other hand, there are some other low-priced magnetic rowers where you can barely tell the difference between the resisting settings.
However, there is still a major downside to the resistance on this machine and it’s the same with most of the magnetic rowers.
Unlike air or water rowers, the resistance doesn’t change with your effort level. That means once you set a level, the resistance won’t adjust if you pull harder. This causes a big problem for some users as you can break through the resistance if you pull hard enough.
This basically means you can somewhat ‘push through the resistance barrier – if you are capable of really powering through your initial burst in the rowing action, it can essentially negate the effect of the magnetic resistance.
This makes the SF-RW5515 unsuitable for experienced rowers and those with higher levels of strength. Even if you are a beginner you should also consider the fact that you may outgrow (or out strengthen) this machine eventually.
Also, consider what you will use the rower for. If you plan to crank out daily HIIT workouts then this machine will not hold up well.
If however, you are a beginner looking for a reasonably priced rower for moderate usage to increase your health and fitness then it may suit your needs perfectly.
You will also like the SF-RW5515 if you want a quiet rower. Magnetic resistance rowers are known for their quiet & smooth operation compared to the other types, so if you are looking for a machine that does not make excessive noise, this may be a good choice for you.
The digital display shows workout time, stroke count & calorie count. These are very basic features and in reality, you can only really rely on the time and stroke count to be accurate. Since the machine doesn’t have a way of measuring your weight, height, or effort levels, you cannot rely on the calorie count to give you any useful metrics.
So it’s virtually impossible to track any useful metrics during your workouts as there is no gauge for intensity or speed. It would be nice if it recorded strokes per minute, was compatible with heart rate monitors, or had some built-in workouts included. But hey, you can’t be too disappointed given the price.
The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 rower is very sturdy, and despite being relatively light at 59lb, it has a 250lb weight capacity. It has a small footprint, sitting very low to the ground taking up next to no room vertically. Great if you don’t want your workout machine to be an eyesore.
It has floor stabilizers and a well-constructed steel slide rail, so you should be able to exercise quite vigorously without experiencing any wobble or instability.
Speaking of the rail, it’s one of the longest I have ever seen on a rower at around 7 feet. This is great for tall users who may have their range of motion restricted when using rowers with shorter rails.
However, where the design of the rower does come at fault is in the position of the handles. The insertion of the handles is placed above the footplates. This means as you complete your rowing stroke and move towards the monitor you can only complete about three-quarters of the movement. So what you gain in range of motion at one end, you lose at the other.
When using the correct rowing technique you will see that arms actually go past your feet as you lean forward. This is why the insertion on rowers such as the Concept2 RowERG is beyond the footplates.
Beginners may have no problem with this and may not even notice as you can certainly still get a good workout within this range. However, as stated already, this will not be suitable for those who take rowing more seriously.
The footplates are another thing that I wasn’t too happy about. The plates actually pivot, going up and down. I cannot understand why Sunny Health & Fitness opted for this design. I’m stumped to see the benefits.
Apart from the fact that you want your feet to be static when rowing, the design of the plates means that if you try and propel yourself further forward (knees over feet), the plates will pivot to the point that your toes actually point down. Why?
The fact that the handle is so far forward means that you would never get to this range of motion when rowing naturally but it’s yet another design flaw that I thought worth mentioning.
I take further issue with the footplates. They are long and wide enough but they cannot be adjusted. Meaning that the footstrap stays in one place. So when strapping your feet in the strap may come up too high or too short on your foot.
For me, it wasn’t a problem but for some users with large or small feet, this could be quite uncomfortable.
One area where this SF-RW5515 shines is its comfort. If Sunny Health & Fitness put as much care into the overall machine as they did the seat, they may have a serious rower on their hands.
Seriously, the seat is incredibly comfortable. It is firm but with the right amount of padding that you can easily go through long workouts without feeling sore from a hard uncomfortable seat. It’s also large enough for most users to sit comfortably and sweat-resistant too!
The handles on this machine are also very good. They don’t cause your hands to get sweaty or sore and they feel comfortable to grip. The only problem you may have is if you have broad shoulders as the handles are not the longest. This means you may be forced to take a narrower grip than you would like.
As previously noted, the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5155 is quite a light piece of equipment at just 59lb and is foldable with two sturdy transportation wheels on the end of the frame.
This allows the entire unit to be folded and moved to different areas of your home with relative ease.
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515||Specs|
|Maximum Weight Capacity||250lbs|
|Dimensions||In use: 82″L X 19″W X 23″HFolded: 37″L X 19″W X 53.5″H|
|Storage||Foldable. Wheels on the frame for portability|
|Resistance Levels||8 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance|
|Warranty||3-year structural frame, 180 days other parts and components|
Even if you have never assembled a piece of exercise equipment before, I would expect that you would be able to put the SF-RW5515 together without too much difficulty. The only tools required are two Allen keys and a spanner, all of which are provided in the box.
The entire assembly process should take most people somewhere between 30 – 45 minutes.
Sunny Health & Fitness has actually provided a very useful and easy-to-follow three-minute instructional video outlining the assembly of the rower, which you can watch below.
The warranty is 3 years on the frame, and 180 days on the parts and components.
I find this to be somewhat unsatisfactory regarding the parts and components, and it would give me a lot more confidence and peace of mind in purchasing this rower if it was just a straight 3-year warranty on the entire machine.
Alternatives To The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
For this review, I have only considered magnetic resistance type alternatives, as these are the main competitors to the SF-RW5515 and the most common type of home rowing machine due to their relative quietness, mobility, and ease of use.
The alternatives considered are all in a similar price bracket to the SF-RW5515 but there are certainly better rowing machines if you are prepared to pay more. Click here to see the best rowing machines.
The JLL R200 is the first machine I would suggest as an alternative to the SF-RW5515. It offers 10 levels of resistance, but can only handle a maximum load of 220lb, considerably less than the 250lb capability of the SF-RW5515.
The LCD monitor offers exactly the same functions (similarly, no pre-programmed workouts & no heart rate reading), and the unit can also be folded & moved with ease thanks to the wheels on its base. It is extremely light at just 51lb, but not as robust as the SF-RW5515.
At its maximum length adjustment, the slide rail is 45.5″ long, meaning that at 48″ the SF-RW5515 can accommodate a taller user.
The warranty for the JLL R200 is a 12-month coverage for the whole unit. I would suggest that this a slightly better warranty, as it is unlikely that you are going to have a problem with the frame, but you are far more likely to have a problem with a part or component, and the Sunny Fitness warranty only covers parts/components for 6 months.
Read our full JLL R200 Rowing Machine Review
The main difference between the Sunny SF-RW5623 and the SF-RW5515 is that this one features both magnetic & fan resistance. This means that it is going to provide an added level of workout (the resistance dial still ranges from 1 – 8), however, if you are a beginner or you are not looking for an intense workout, this may be an unnecessary addition for you.
This machine can handle a heavier maximum load of 300lb, and the dimensions are 68″L x 25″W x 30.5″H. It is, therefore, a wider machine capable of accommodating a greater load, but has a significantly shorter frame, meaning that if you are a tall person, this may not have a long enough sliding action for you to get the most out of your workout.
Much the same as the other models, the ProForm 440R is aimed at beginner to intermediate level users and is a reasonably lightweight, foldable & portable machine that does not require much storage space.
It has a maximum load limit of 250lb, the same as the SF-RW5515. Assembly takes around 45 minutes, which is the approximate assembly time for all of the rowers we have mentioned in this review, and the necessary tools are included with the unit.
It also has 8 levels of resistance available, with dimensions of 76.6″L x 20.5″W x 38.3″H, making it somewhat shorter, yet considerably taller than the SF-RW5515. The LCD screen displays all the same information as the other models, but certainly has the largest screen of the machines that we have compared here.
In terms of warranty, the ProForm comes with a hefty 5-year coverage on the frame, but only 90 days on parts and labor. I would suggest that the warranty offered by Sunny Fitness is of more benefit than this one, as again, you are far more likely to experience problems with the parts or components rather than the frame.
Read our full ProForm 440R Rower Review.
Should You Buy the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 Rower?
The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 rowing machine is for you if:
- You are on a budget and looking for an affordable rower
- Will only use the machine moderately
- Have multiple training methods and will use this machine for cross training.
- Are a beginner and not looking to take rowing seriously.
The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 rowing machine is not for you if:
- You want a rower that can track your data
- Your want realistic rowing strokes and resistance levels
- You are serious about rowing
- Want extra support (built in workouts, training and personal metrics)
- Want a rower to perform frequent HIIT workouts
If you find yourself in the “not for you” category I recommend looking at rowing machines in a much higher price range, such as the renowned Concept2 Model D. At around 4 times the price of the SF-RW5515, these are the types of rowing machines that you often find in gyms and are used by many professional athletes.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rower
Here are some answers to common questions about the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rower.
Is Sunny Health And Fitness Legit?
Sunny Health & Fitness is a brand that offers no thrills workout machines at a low cost. These machines, the SF-RW5515 in particular, are good value for the price if you want a workout machine but are on a tight budget. The products are solid, well made, and come with a good warranty.
Are Sunny Rowing Machines Good?
Sunny Health & Fitness rowing machines are potentially a great option for those on a budget as their rowing machines are some of the most affordable on the market. This low cost does come at a price though in the form of quality performance and functionality. Sunny rowing machines are incomparable with better performing machines such as the Concept2 Model D and come nowhere close to the newer connected rowers such as the Hydrow and Ergatta rowers in terms of workouts and functionality.
How Do I Reset My Sunny Rower?
For all troubleshooting issues see Sunny Health & Fitness’s troubleshooting guides.
Final Thoughts On The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is a sturdy and reliable entry-level rowing machine that would be well-suited to anyone at the beginner of their fitness journey or for those who want to incorporate light rowing into their cross-training.
If you are looking for a rowing machine that is going to provide you with more features and a better rowing experience than that discussed then try and save up and buy a better model. You can even try and get one second hand. We have a guide on buying a used concept 2 rower that you can check out also.
The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 is, however, a good value, robust and quiet home rowing machine. It’s likely to make the average fitness enthusiast very satisfied with their purchase. After all, there’s a reason why this machine is so popular.