Saturday, 20 April 2024

Rowing Machines

Sunny SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine Review

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The Sunny SF-RW1205 rowing machine is currently one of the lowest priced and most compact rowing machines available, yet maintains a high average review rating due to its overall build quality and how easy it is to fold and store.

This review takes a closer look at the design features that make this machine so unique, as well as the display console feedback, warranty coverage, and customer reviews, to help you decide if this is the best choice of rowing machine for your own home workouts.

Design features

If you’re thinking about adding some variation to your current cardio routine, indoor rowing can be an excellent way to improve cardiovascular health, while at the same time providing a full body workout.

But one of the main disadvantages is that the combined length of the glide rail and size of the fan or water resistance system on many rowing machines makes them impractical for anyone with strict budget or space limitations.

This is perhaps why the Sunny SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine has proven to be so popular, with a price tag of less than $100, and a compact foldable frame.

Sunny have been able to remove the need for a large fan system or water tank at the front of the rower by opting for a hydraulic resistance system, which is the cylinder that attaches the frame to the main rowing arm.

Instead of having to adjust how much air is passed through the fan, or varying the amount of water in a tank each time you want to change resistance, you can simply rotate the adjustment knob of the cylinder through 12 clearly marked positions.

One of the main benefits of the hydraulic resistance is that these settings are always within easy reach, meaning you don’t have to stop rowing if you want to make your workout more challenging.

By using this unique system, Sunny have been able to save you a considerable amount of space and money.

Because the movement focuses around a single pivot point rather than the wider range of motion offered by a belt or chain system, rowing on the SF-RW1205 can take a bit of getting used to.

Having the option to fold the rear support tube and base stabilizer underneath the glide rail also makes it easier to store this machine away in a spare room or even under your bed when not in use.

In terms of how comfortable this rowing machine is to use, extra-thick padding has been added to the oversized seat, with a soft textured coating applied to the handles to make them easier to grip.

Sunny SF-RW1205 – Features Summary

  • 12 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Comfortable, smooth running seat
  • Pivoting foot plates for added comfort
  • Adjustable foot straps
  • Electronic monitor displays time, count, total count, calories burned, scan

Display console design

An important part of any workout is being able to track basic performance stats, such as your time spent rowing at different resistance levels, and total number of calories burned per workout.

Despite the Sunny SF-RW1205 currently being one of the lowest priced rowing machines available, you still have access to some of this information via the display console.

Whereas with most rowing machines the console is attached to the front of the machine (a fixed point), in this case, the console mount has been attached to the main rowing arm.

Although this doesn’t particularly hinder the rowing motion, it can make it slightly more difficult to keep track of the feedback.

That being said, there are really just 3 pieces of information that you are going to want to monitor; time, count, and total count.

There is actually another piece of feedback that gets displayed on the LCD screen, which is the number of calories burned.

But as with any machine that doesn’t let you input the information needed to make more accurate calculations (weight and age/height), the results are often inaccurate, and may vary significantly between workouts and individual users.

Ease of assembly

With the same format as the assembly instructions for their range of exercise bikes, the Sunny SF-RW1205 user manual includes a step-by-step walkthrough with full colour photos.

Due to the compact size and the majority of the assembly already having been done for you, there’s really not a lot you have to worry about when it comes to getting this rowing machine setup.

A full parts list and all the tools you need are provided, and with no heavy lifting required, the remaining assembly should be possible in less than 10 minutes.

Customer reviews

Although the ratings are much more diversified than they are for some of the higher priced rowing machines, the overall average is still impressive for such a low cost piece of equipment.

With over 100 reviews and more than 200 ratings, the Sunny SF-RW1205 manages to match many of the more conventional rowing machine designs in terms of both build quality and popularity.

By reading through these reviews ourselves, we’ve been able to put together the following summary of pros and cons, based on the points that were mentioned most often.


  • The majority of the assembly is already done before the rower is shipped
  • Seat glides easily over the rail
  • Hydraulic piston offers quick and easy changes to the level of resistance
  • Lightweight, foldable design makes it easy to store and transport if required
  • Smooth rowing motion
  • Low price makes it ideal for anyone starting a new fitness program, but doesn’t yet want to commit to spending hundreds of dollars on a more advanced machine
  • Seat glide path is long enough to cater for users up to 6ft
  • Compact footprint makes it suitable for smaller spaces
  • Practically silent to use, with no noise created by any water or fan resistance


  • Lack of pulse monitor
  • Relatively low weight capacity
  • Doesn’t work your muscle groups as much as a conventional rowing machine due to a more limited range of motion
  • Resistance produced by the cylinder tends to weaken over the course of longer workouts, due to the build up of heat
  • Feedback for calories burned is often inaccurate

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: 1 year
  • Parts: 90 days

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

If you're looking for an entry level rowing machine that doesn't take up too much space and will be used mainly for shorter workouts (less than 30 minutes), then the Sunny SF-RW1205 could be an excellent choice.

Unfortunately, due to the slight loss in resistance as the hydraulic cylinder warms up, we wouldn't recommend this rower for longer workouts, with a fan or water resistance system being a better option.

In terms of the display console and feedback, this is pretty much what we would expect of a machine at this price point, although it's still nice to have for tracking your time and row count.

Overall, if you're on a tight budget but still want to be able to perform effective, low-impact workouts that utilize many of the major muscle groups (back, legs, arms, abs), then this is certainly a useful option to have.

Product dimensions: 53" (L) x 20" (W) x 22" (H) Product weight: 23 lbs Weight limit: 220 lbs

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