Personally, I am not a massive fan of rowing machines that feature magnetic resistance systems. They are very quiet but they put a limit to what I can do. I prefer a system that can simulate the feel of rowing outdoors. Unfortunately, these water resistance-based machines can be pretty expensive.
The closest you can get to the realistic feel of a water rower is a flywheel rowing machine. One of the flywheel rowers to hit the Australian market is the FreeForm R2000 Rowing Machine. Here’s my review.
Overview of the FreeForm R2000 Rowing Machine
The FreeForm R2000 Rowing Machine is a studio-quality fitness equipment that comes with commercial-grade components. It’s built for maximum durability, allowing continuous use for many decades.
This rowing machine comes with a flywheel resistance mechanism that is many times better than magnetic resistance rowers. There are 9 selectable air flow settings to help you fine-tune the level of resistance you are ready to work against. When in its maximum air flow, the limit depends on the power you put into the pedals.
While its display needs some improvements, the R2000 does provide 4 intuitive programmes to make training more fun and engaging. There are 2 predefined Interval programmes and one customisable programme.
Adding to these fitness programmes is a Game Mode where it would be fun to row against yourself in a time trial. There’s an integrated smartphone holder on the display, too.
The R2000 comes with a solid steel construction, complete with a comfortable seat and ergonomic handle grips. It has a long glide rail, allowing taller individuals to use the machine with relative ease.
The rowing equipment feels solid. And while it is heavy, giving it greater stability, the machine is easy enough to store using its built-in transport wheels.
There are plenty of reasons why the FreeForm R2000 is one of the most sought-out rowing machines by commercial gyms, fitness clubs, and training studios. In the following section, we will look into these reasons through the equipment’s awesome features.
A Closer Look at the Features of the FreeForm R2000 Rowing Machine
Commercial-Grade and Studio-Quality Design and Construction
With a price tag that breaches the $1,000 mark, you would expect that the design and construction of the FreeForm R2000 are top notch; and they are. This rowing machine features a sleek and futuristic look that very few rowers can match.
The only thing that is quite large, in my opinion, is the flywheel mechanism. But this is the heart and soul of the machine, so it’s understandable.
The R2000 comes with a solid carbon steel construction. From the glide rail to the flywheel housing and the feet, almost everything is made of premium-quality steel. Because of this material, expect the R2000 to be heavy.
At 70 kilogrammes, it is a stable platform. One doesn’t need to worry about moving it, either. FreeForm already included transport wheels in the design of the R2000 Rowing Machine.
There is one thing I am not a fan of in the R2000. It is quite long. At 240 centimetres from end to end, it is 54 centimetres longer than the Lifespan Rower 442. However, there is a good reason why the R2000 is built longer.
A shorter glide rail means the machine cannot be used by individuals who are tall or who have long legs. Because the R2000 comes in at a whopping 2.4 metres, a person who is about 1.85 metres tall can still use it without a hitch.
The footrests are adjustable, allowing different individuals to ride it with ease. It is not surprising why many of the fitness clubs and gyms I’ve visited have the R2000 on their floor. The footrests come with their own individual straps to help secure the feet when rowing.
FreeForm did not renege on its promise to deliver comfort while rowing, too. The handle grips are ergonomic. It features the EcoCoat-Grip coating technology that provides comfort for the hands while preventing slippage. The handles come with the right size at about 28 millimetres in diameter.
The seat feels comfortable, too. The company put careful consideration into this aspect of the rowing experience. It integrated a DuraCore commercial-grade foam which FreeForm’s engineers moulded to conform to the natural contours of the butt. Covering the foam padding is a ripstop vinyl upholstery known as VorTex.
A rower that caters to tall people
Flywheel Resistance System with 9 Airflow Adjustments
This, I believe, is the heart and soul of the R2000. Like what I said in the beginning, I don’t like machines that put a limit to what I can achieve.
In traditional rowing machines that utilise magnetic resistance, I can only push myself so far as the maximum level of resistance of the machine. As such, if the maximum resistance is at 15 kilogrammes, then there is no way I can push myself to work against 16 or 20 kilogrammes.
The R2000 utilises a humongous flywheel mechanism that sticks out at the front of the equipment. It is not a very pretty sight but FreeForm did manage to make it look elegant.
As mentioned earlier, a flywheel mechanism is the closest thing you can get to a realistic rowing experience. It is almost similar to a rowing machine with a water drum. The only difference is that you don’t get the sound of splashing water.
Nevertheless, the flywheel on the R2000 allows me to push myself. The amount of air resistance that the fan blades create is proportional to the amount of force that I apply to the pedals. The faster and more forceful I drive the nickel-plated chain, the greater is the resistance coming from the flywheel.
What I find very useful is the integration of dampers in the flywheel mechanism. FreeForm mated this to a mechanism that allows you to control airflow.
There are 9 different airflow levels so you can choose the right one based on your needs. Putting the airflow in the lowest setting is like a gentle cruise on a body of water. Push it to the max and the airflow becomes limitless.
And that is what I love about the FreeForm R2000 Rowing Machine.
Elite Performance Monitor
The R2000 comes with a large user display. Unfortunately, it is in greyscale instead of a full colour version. I would have loved this rowing machine more if it did include a display with better contrast and more colour. Regardless, the system does provide all the necessary information I need to keep track of my rowing progress.
There are the Strokes per Minute, the Paddle Width, the Cycle, the number of Calories burned, the Time elapsed, and the Distance covered. It also presents the number of Watts generated. It displays Heart Rate information as well.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a built-in heart rate tracker or sensor. Some of the rowing machines I have tried in the past already comes with integrated heart rate sensors in the handlebar. For those that do not have such systems, they will often throw in an accompanying heart rate strap to go with the purchase. The R2000 comes with neither.
It does provide a holder for your smartphone, however. At least, there is no need to purchase a separate smartphone holder to clamp onto the rowing machine.
Advanced Rowing Fitness Programs
There are four rowing programmes in the R2000 that I found very noteworthy. These are in addition to the usual programmes like Normal, Time, Calories, and Distance. This brings the total number of programmes to eight.
The R2000 features the Score Game programme, which puts your skills to the test by rowing the farthest distance you can in 5 minutes. You will then be given a score afterwards. It is a neat feature if you want to turn a rowing machine experience into something more fun and rewarding.
There are also Interval programmes in the R2000. These include a 20/10, a 10/20, and a 10/10 user-defined interval settings. In the 20/10 Interval programme, you row as hard as you can for 20 seconds before resting for 10.
In the 10/20 programme, it is the opposite. You row for 10 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. In the 10/10 User-defined Interval programme, you decide how many seconds you want to row and how many seconds you want to rest.
Pros and Cons
- Flywheel resistance mechanism a lot better than magnetic resistance systems
- Airflow adjustments make it very easy to adjust the levels of resistance
- Very fluid, outdoor rower-like motion of the gliding system
- Commercial-grade design and construction for the modern home
- Comfortable to use, both on the hands and on the buttocks
- User-friendly performance tracker and monitor
- Easy to move and easy to maintain
- Requires some 20 to 30 minutes of initial assembly
- Does not include a built-in heart rate sensor in the handles
- Has an extra-long footprint; may be an issue for individuals with limited space at home
Should You Get It?
The FreeForm R2000 Rowing Machine is not the perfect rower for home use. While it provides gym-grade performance and commercial-quality build, there is still some room for improvements. The lack of a heart rate sensor and greyscale display are a few of those things. Regardless, if you want a rowing machine that professional athletes use, then the R2000 is for you.