York Excel 310 Rowing Machine Review

York Excel 310 Rating
4.3 / 5 Reviewer

There is this buzz going around in fitness circles regarding how good the York Excel 310 Rowing Machine is. A lot of folks are saying that it epitomises exceptional exercise equipment engineering complete with a very pocket-friendly pricing scheme, a frame that can put to shame higher-end models, and a truly lightweight design that is perfect for folks with smaller frames. That’s why I’ve decided to make a York Excel 310 Rower review to either confirm or refute the things that people have been saying and whether or not this exercise equipment has the right to dethrone the WaterRower Natural rower in my heart.

York is a well-established company in the business of designing and manufacturing a variety of exercise equipment for fitness buffs of various ages and sizes. They are well regarded for their use of relevant engineering principles to bring to the masses machines that they will love. It’s about time I try to make a review of their much-vaunted Excel 310 Rower.

Overview of the York Excel 310 Rower

My first impression of the 310 is that it looks rather short, measuring only about 1.76 metres from end to end. What really caught my attention is the rather imposing bulk of its flywheel casing complete with a 7-inch console sticking out and up like the head of E.T. The pedals are positioned at an angle and can be easily adjusted to accommodate your preferred positioning. Personally, I find it quite comfortable especially with the specialised straps that secure my feet to the pedals. Otherwise, it would be a shame to get out of your rhythm just because your feet are also moving out of its place every now and then. So far so good, the Excel does impress.

The seat is rather small to my liking. Although I am fairly slim by today’s women’s standards, I would still prefer something that offers my bottom ample space to distribute its weight.

However, considering that the York Excel 310 folding rowing machine is designed specifically for folks weighing less than 120 kilogrammes, I think it is just about the right size for such a frame. The seat has a textured padding, too, providing comfort for the butt. I did wish, however, that the padding were thicker so that I won’t really have to feel my coccyx scraping against the hard surface of the seat underneath its padding. The textured design is bliss, nonetheless. It works more like Velcro keeping my bottom from moving around like a top dancing in a circle. Looks like folks are right about the 310.

“Best for petite user”

Now, let’s try to focus on the heart of the 310 – its flywheel. I was hoping that the Excel would also be coming up with a water resistance mechanism. Alas, it comes in with magnetic resistance. Personally, I would have loved to have the water resistance model since it does give you a more natural rowing feel. I am not saying magnetic resistance technologies are no good. What I am saying is that these machines don’t give you a more realistic experience of rowing on water. Nevertheless, the 310 has the same number of resistance levels to the Lifespan Rower 605 at 16 and you can also easily make the necessary adjustments in the amount of resistance you would like to work against with a touch of a button. On hindsight, for a few more dollars, I’d be happy to get the York Fitness R301 Platinum since it comes with a combination of magnetic and air resistance. But then again, that’s only me.

Perhaps one of the biggest draws of the 310 is its dizzying number of programme presets. There are 24 overall so it does come in very handy especially for those who are a bit clueless about what they really need. Honestly, I don’t think having 2 dozen different settings is necessarily a good thing since there will always be certain programmes that will be either underused or not used at all. It does come with manual settings, regardless, so that’s a welcome relief. Well, at least, in my opinion. It also comes with a heart rate control mode although you’d have to pay extra for the wireless clip. You can always rely on the contact sensors on the padded handles, nonetheless.

The aluminium rail is a big plus, however. Compared to those that employ solid steel, I’d say the lightweight characteristics of aluminium played well into the foldable design of the 310 without sacrificing its overall structural integrity. There’s one catch, though. The York Excel 310 doesn’t come with transport wheels so you’d really have to carry it to your storage compartment. I am physically fit and quite strong than most other women. Unfortunately, for those not gifted with the strength yet, this might be an issue. Moreover, it doesn’t come with built-in batteries so you’d have to make do with the extra-long power cord. Good thing they decided to make it lengthy, otherwise I’d be tripping on that cord more frequently than is necessary.

I’ve checked quite a few dozen reviews about this folding rowing machine from York Fitness and they all agree that the number of features embedded into its design is above the price range of the Excel 310. It does have many commendable features and qualities, although not enough to dethrone the WaterRower Natural in my own biased opinion.

Check the Price

A Look at the Features of the York Excel 310 Rowing Machine

  • Multiple workout programmes in one nifty console

It would not be fair if I don’t recognise the multiple workout programmes on the York Excel 310 folding rowing machine. With a total of 24 different programmes, I am pretty sure you will find something that will help you achieve your fitness goals whether it is to improve your cardiovascular endurance or develop certain groups of muscles. There really are a lot of settings that you can tinker and play with, pun intended. But of course, if you’re already at a point where you want a more customised programme, the Manual Mode on the 310 might not be that adequate.

  • Compact, lightweight, and durable design

For women like me, the weight of the machine is of critical importance. Not all of us have well-chiselled bodies to really lift something really heavy. Good thing the Excel 310 is made of durable yet super-lightweight aluminium, giving it unsurpassed structural rigidity while making sure you won’t break a sweat trying to lift it to fold it. Unfortunately, as I have already pointed out earlier, the York Excel 310 doesn’t come with roller wheels so you’d still have to push it across the room to have it stored in your favourite place.

  • Super smooth and ultra-quiet magnetic resistance flywheel operation

One of the beauties of magnetic resistance systems is that they’re amazingly quiet and allows for very smooth operation. While it doesn’t really provide that near-realistic rowing experience you get from water resistance models, it does a fairly decent job of making rowing motions a lot more pleasant. The housing upon which the flywheel is encased in is also exceptionally simple in design, opting for a more circular style than the more mainstream geometrically streamlined boxes.

  • Comfortable and stable seat, pedals, and handles

The seat come fully padded and is textured to allow for a more stable grip of your bottom. The pedals are wide and are slightly moulded in to allow for a more comfortable placement of the feet. Additionally, there are secure straps on the pedals to keep your feet in place.

Pros and Cons


  • 24 different workout programmes including a customisable option
  • Lightweight yet durable aluminium frame construction
  • Heavy duty flywheel operating on magnetic resistance mechanism
  • Padded and textured comfort seat plus secure pedals
  • Contact sensors fully integrated into the handles of the York Excel 310
  • Maximum user weight capacity at 120 kilogrammes
  • Folding and compact design
  • No batteries; you will need to plug it in an electric outlet
  • No transport roller wheels; this can make moving the York Excel 310 quite tedious
  • Too many workout programme presets but too few customisable options
  • 120-kilogramme weight limit restricts the number of people who can use the 310


When I embarked on this review of the York Excel 310 I was expecting quite a lot based on what a lot of people have been saying about the exercise machine as well as what the reviews are revealing. Unfortunately, I am the kind of woman who prefers a more ‘natural’ approach to rowing and as such, when compared to the WaterRower Natural, the 310 simply fails to wow me.

It did get my attention because of its compact and lightweight design. I also believe that it is a wonderful rowing machine for those who want a lot more from their existing equipment but at a price that is friendlier than most. Its solid construction is amazing and its computer console is quite neat. Technically, if I hadn’t known the WaterRower Natural I’d also go for the York Excel 310 just like anybody else in fitness circles. Too bad the 310 simply cannot woo me to dispatch the WaterRower; not yet, anyway.

Check the Price