The Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is high quality indoor rower that uses an innovative pivoting motion and hydraulic cylinder system to provide a wide range of potential resistance levels.
This review makes some important comparisons between the Favorit and lower priced hydraulic rowers, to find out which model represents the best value for money.
We also take an in-depth look at the display console features and workout programs, to help you decide if the Favorit is the best rowing machine for your own home workouts.
If you’re considering buying a new rowing machine but don’t have the budget or workout requirements to invest in one of the WaterRower or Concept2 models, the Kettler Favorit could certainly be worth adding to your shortlist.
At first glance, the design may seem quite unique, but it does share a similar range of motion as the BodyTrac design from Stamina Products.
Both rowers feature ‘arms’ that pivot around a central point against the pressure of a hydraulic cylinder.
This has been designed in an effort to recreate the natural rowing motion that you would experience if you were out on the water using the oars.
By using choosing the hydraulic cylinder resistance over the more conventional water tank or fan resistance rowers, Kettler have managed to dramatically shorten the length of the rowing machine, making it a more attractive option when space is limited.
There is however one main difference in the way the two rowers utilize this type of resistance, with the Kettler Favorit using one cylinder per arm, whereas the Stamina BodyTrac uses a single cylinder to create the resistance for both arms.
This is due to differences in the way the resistance systems work, with the Kettler model offering far more resistance levels than the BodyTrac from Stamina.
Storage and transport
Much like many of the other rowing machines available at this price point, the Kettler Favorit has been designed in such a way that it can be folded down to a more compact size.
This not only makes it easier to move around given its 50 lb weight, but also makes it much easier to store, as the folded dimensions are small enough for it to fit under a bed.
Kettler Favorit – Features Summary
- Rowing machine to help you stay in shape and train in your own home
- Two hydraulic cylinders with continuous resistance and a comfortably ergonomic seat
- Training computer provides info on time measurement, number of oar strokes, speed of strokes, distance covered, and more
- Program for desired distance covered and stroke speed
Visual and audio signals
- Folding oar levers with continuous adjustment of force
- Moving foot plates with straps for safe positioning of feet and ankles
- Battery powered training computer measures time, strokes, speed of strokes, distance covered per session/total, energy consumption and pulse rate Heart rate
- Anti-slip floor protectors for safe use on multiple types of surfaces
- Durable steel construction
How to use the variable resistance
The reason we’ve decided to dedicate a section of our review to the resistance system is because it’s something that we simply haven’t come across before.
It’s quite unusual, and for that reason we felt it might benefit you if this was a rower you were interested in buying.
Essentially the amount of resistance varies according to how much leverage the rowing arms have over their fixed pivot points.
If you look closely, you’ll see that each of the chrome rower arms has a large number (50 to be precise) of ridges that have been etched out of the lower portion of the bars.
Using the hand wheel at the side of the rower arms to adjust where the hydraulic cylinder arms attach to the rower arms is what determines how challenging your workout will be.
By sliding the clamp towards one of the notches closer to the pivot point, this makes your workout easier, as there is more leverage between that point and the top of the rower arms where your hands are.
As soon as you start moving the clamp further up the chrome arms, the shorter distance between your hands and the clamp starts to make the rowing motion much more challenging.
The only real downside is that this has to be done manually. It’s not that this is particularly time consuming, but even with the wider notch positioned every 10 smaller notches, it can still be difficult to match up each arm individually so that you have an equal amount of resistance on each side.
That being said, after a few workouts you tend to develop a feel for what level each notch relates to, and can use its number to record your progress in a training log, to then compare with your workouts at a later date to monitor your improvements.
Having such a large number of resistance levels means that this is a rower that can be used by just about everyone, regardless of their current strength and fitness levels.
Although a few people in the customer reviews sections of sites like Amazon did experience issues with the resistance, this was usually because they didn’t have the rower arm at a 90 degree angle to the ground when adjusting the clamp setting.
If this is a problem that you run into, it’s worth bearing this solution in mind.
Display console design
When it comes to display consoles on rowing machine, you generally have two main types; the high-end models that offer data sync for checking through your workout data on the computer (Concept2 and LogCard for example), and the much more basic type that simply shows your time, distance, and maybe calories burned.
Fortunately Kettler seem to have built on the basic console, making a number of improvements without having too much of an impact on the price.
The only real issue with the display screen is that it doesn’t include a backlight. In all honesty this doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as we thought, as you’re seated position is much closer to the console than conventional rowers.
The entire console has also been made as large as possible, and positioned at an angle to ensure the workout information is always close to your eye line.
Because the resistance system is hydraulic and the console is powered by 2 AA batteries, you really have complete freedom over where you position the Kettler Favorit, as you don’t have to worry about being near a power outlet.
The amount of feedback you get from the screen is also much more than we were expecting, and includes your total workout time, number of strokes, speed, pulse rate, distance, and calories burned.
Although all of this information is permanently on display, the largest segment of the screen is always going to be the one that’s easiest to read.
That’s why every 5 seconds the information displayed in this portion switches to a different piece of feedback, so that you at least get to see each piece of feedback in the larger section of the screen once every 30 seconds.
You will also notice the small red ‘recovery’ button positioned near the base of the console.
When pressed, this activates a built in fitness program, which measures how quickly your heart rate returns to normal after a period of exercise.
Heart rate monitoring and goal setting
Two of the main advantages the Kettler Favorit has over similarly priced rowing machines is the fact that there are multiple ways for you to measure your heart rate, and that you also have access to some basic goal setting workouts via the console.
In terms of monitoring your heart rate, you really have two options:
- Use the ear clip that’s provided – A cord where one end attaches to the console and the other to your ear. We’ve seen this type of idea with safety keys on treadmills before, but never on a rowing machine.
- Wearing a Polar chest strap heart rate monitor – This tends to be the preferred option whenever possible, mainly due to not having to worry about the length of cord that hangs loose during your rowing strokes
Although you don’t have access to preset training profiles in quite the same way that you do with upright exercise bikes and elliptical trainers, it’s still a nice touch that the Favorit includes two goal setting options.
Using the plus and minus buttons on the performance monitor, you can quickly and easily set a target distance or stroke speed and watch as you progress towards your goal.
As well as being an extra source of motivation, this can also be a good way to track your workout performance over time.
Another innovative feature that Kettler included with this particular design is an audible and visual cadence signal which happens one you achieve one of these target based goals.
Ease of assembly
The first thing to mention about the user manual is that it contains assembly instructions that have been put together in a format that we haven’t seen before when reviewing other rowing machines.
Possibly due to the larger number of countries this product is distributed to, the assembly steps seem to rely almost completely on visual diagrams rather than textual explanations.
However, each step is still easy to follow, and is helped by there being relatively few parts that need putting together.
This is similar to the experiences we’ve read about in the customer reviews, and although it took some people a little longer, the average assembly time seems to be around 1 hour.
One final thing we noticed about the user manual is that it also mentioned the possibility of the shock absorbers becoming hot during use.
This is similar to the note we found in the manual for the Stamina BodyTrac rower, which also uses the hydraulic cylinder resistance system.
However, unlike the BodyTrac model, the Kettler Favorit doesn’t have a recommended workout duration as a result.
In terms of the level of maintenance required, there are actually very few moving parts other than the biomechanically correct pivoting foot pedals and movement of the seat as it slides along the rail.
This movement is made possible thanks to a collection of sealed ball bearings, which are designed to provide a smooth gliding motion, without requiring any ongoing maintenance.
By now we’ve hopefully provided you with enough information to know exactly what the Kettler Favorit rowing machine has to offer in terms of workout programs, display console functions, its compact design, and the resistance system.
One final check that we like to go through with each of our write-ups is to read through the reviews that other people have left for the product on sites such as Amazon.
These often provide some useful insights into issues that other people may have experienced after using the equipment for a longer period of time.
While there were no major issues to report, there were a few points that were left in reviews suggesting a couple of minor faults that are certainly worth keeping in mind.
The following lists of pros and cons are based on points taken directly from these reviews, and you can read each of them in full over on the Amazon website. This is also where you can currently find the best price on the Favorit rowing machine, together with free shipping.
- Excellent level of response from customer service
- High number of challenging resistance levels
- Compact footprint
- Useful collection of workout feedback provided by the monitor
- Quieter to use than rowing machines that use water or air resistance
- High level of build quality
- Smooth rowing motion
- Comfortable padded seat
- Countdown timers offer a useful form of goal setting
- Enough space between the rower arms to avoid worrying about hitting your knees on the forward stroke
- Effectively works a full range of upper and lower body muscle groups
- Provides a useful range of features as one of the few rowing machines available at this price range
- LCD display doesn’t include a backlight
- There’s a big jump in price from similar hydraulic resistance rowers, costing more than 3 times as much as the BodyTrac Glider
- Ear clip cord for measuring heart rate was found to be slightly too short for some taller users (6ft+)
- Might have been useful to have more detailed written instructions
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts: 3 years