The Body-Solid R300 is a quality air rower at a discount to the popular Concept II. It has comparable features, including an adjustable damper. The monitor reports the most important stats in a legible backlit display. Ultimately, this is a capable rowing machine for steady-state and intense workouts at a nice value.
Who It’s Right For
Things to Consider
Let’s play a quick game of word association…
When you read the word below, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind…
If you thought ‘Concept 2’, you’re likely in the majority.
By the way, ‘brutal’ is another that popped into my mind.
Back to Concept 2 though – they’ve been dominating the rower scene for decades. You’ll find their rowers in top facilities and home gyms around the world, and rightfully so… they’re great pieces of equipment.
True also is the fact they haven’t, until fairly recently, faced an enormous amount of competition over the years.
Fortunately for us consumers, we are starting to see more and more options entering the market.
One such option is the Body-Solid R300 Rower, which I’m reviewing here.
This is a high-quality, heavy-duty rower that is priced competitively and comes with one of the best warranties you’ll find.
Is it enough to overtake the reigning champ… the Concept 2?
Read more to find out.
The Body-Solid R300 is modeled very similarly to the Concept 2 Model D rower. Like any rower, it’s a challenging piece of equipment that will test your stamina, increase your cardio, and generally improve your overall strength.
Due to its low-impact nature, it’s a great tool for just about anyone. Considering also that it’s fairly easy to learn and you can get a great workout done in a short amount of time, it’s hard to argue that a rower isn’t one of the best conditioning tools available.
As a company, Body-Solid has been around for 30 years, so they’re no stranger to the equipment space. In fact, I can all but guarantee you’ve used Body-Solid equipment at some point in your life if you’ve ever belonged to a commercial gym. While much of their equipment has been focused on strength, with some cardio options mixed in, their Endurance R300 rower is a relatively new kid on the block. With the ever-growing popularity of home gyms, they’ve also started heavily targeting that market with new equipment including racks, bars, benches, etc… through their sister company, Fitness Factory
Now that I’ve had the R300 in my gym for over four months, I can say that it satisfies both the home gym market as well as that of the commercial market. Price-wise, it’s less expensive than both the Concept 2 and the Xebex rowers. Warranty-wise, it’s outstanding in comparison to all (more on this later). Build-wise, it’s well made and heavy duty. And performance-wise, I’m rather impressed.
All-in-all, the Body-Solid R300 is a real contender, in my opinion.
Before getting into the full review, let’s have a look at the overall specs.
- Frame Material: Steel & hardened plastic (on cover pieces)
- Frame Dimensions: 93″ long, 25″ wide, and 40″ tall (to top of monitor)
- Seat Dimensions: 12″ wide x 9.75″ deep
- Rail Length: 47″
- Handle Length: 18.5″
- Weight: 81 lbs
- Weight Capacity: 330 lbs
- Design: Flywheel/Air Resistance
- Assembly Time: Approximately 30-45 minutes
Design & Construction
Overall, the design of this rower is strikingly similar to the Concept 2, Xebex Rower, etc… The dimensions are nearly identical, the looks are basically the same, and even the materials used appear to be alike. I’ll break this section down into a number of sub-sections where we’ll look at the durability and various elements of the overall design and construction.
One of the most immediate things you’ll notice with this rower, as compared to the Concept 2, for example, is that it’s considerably heavier. Weighing in at over 81 lbs, it actually weighs over 42% more than the 57 lb Concept Model D rower. Compared to the 95 lb Xebex rower, it’s actually a little lighter. Constructed with a mix of steel and hardened plastic, it feels tank-like. Even when cranking at the highest intensity, the R300 rower doesn’t budge.
One thing I did find surprising though was the weight capacity on the R300 is only 330 lbs. Despite the Concept 2 rower weighing 24lbs less, it actually supports a max capacity of 500 lbs. The Xebex also supports up to 500 lbs.
The chain, like that of the Concept 2, is nickel plated, and it appears to be just as high in quality. In conjunction with clean welds throughout the frame, the R300 is built to last years and years… likely decades. To ensure it does stand the test of time, it’s highly recommended that you oil the chain every few months. In doing so, it will reduce friction, limit wear and tear, and it will generally just lead to a smoother, more comfortable ride. There is also a 27″ long access area underneath the monitor arm that is covered with a removable piece of plastic. You can use this to easily oil the chain and perform whatever maintenance is necessary.
I have no real concerns based on my experience with the durability of the R300. I will say, however, that the max weight capacity could be a deal breaker for some.
The seat on the R300 is built almost identically to the Concept 2, with a contoured design in the front and back. It’s also dense, which creates a stable ride, but it can get slightly uncomfortable if you’re steady-state rowing for long periods of time. I personally use the rower in higher intensity fashion, so I don’t suspect this will ever be a real problem for me. If you see yourself rowing for an extended period, however, it’s something to consider.
Underneath the seat is a series of rollers that serve to glide along the rail. There are two rollers that sit on top of the rail and one smaller roller on each side and underneath the rail. The movement is extremely fluid. Even a minimal touch is enough to glide the seat smoothly and uninterrupted. When operating the machine at any pace, you feel as if you’re literally gliding on air.
The guide rail itself is made of high-quality aluminum and it measures 47” in length. Not uncommon with similar rowers, the R300’s rail has a really nice look to it. The fit is virtually perfect with the rollers, as you can see in the picture above. This too contributes to a very smooth ride from front to back.
The footrests on the R300 are designed like most others. The bases are constructed with steel and they’re affixed to the frame in the upper and bottom third of the actual footrest. There is a built-in adjustable feature that utilizes two nodules on the base and a sliding heel. You can adjust this very easily by sliding the heel to fit your foot and securing it via two holes over top of the nodules. You can further adjust tightness with a standard nylon strap.
The handle on the R300 is a real winner, in my opinion. I like it considerably more than the Xebex and it seems on par with the Concept 2 for the most part. The angled hand-holds are comfortable and the textured surface is a nice touch. It has a great feel to it and it hasn’t come close to slipping out of my hands. The U-shaped piece that connects the chain is attached in two places at the front of the handle. It’s completely rock solid and it feels very consistent from pull-to-pull.
The handle can be rested in three different positions:
1.) On the angled arm via the designated housing attachment
2.) Directly underneath the monitor via another housing attachment
3.) Directly in front of the opening in front of the flywheel housing
Overall, the footrests are pretty standard and the handle is excellent.
The flywheel is really what makes any rower of this type tick. One look at the R300 and it’s almost a spitting image of the Concept 2 aside from a few aesthetic differences. I actually prefer the ‘gear-like’ look of the R300. On the side of the unit is your standard damper that adjusts the amount of air intake. This is easily adjustable by using the slider from a setting of 1 to 9. I’m not sure why they didn’t take this from 1 to 10 like on the Concept 2. The higher the setting, the higher the air intake. It doesn’t necessarily make it harder, but it does affect the amount of energy needed to accelerate from one stroke to the next. At the end of the day, intensity on the rower is measured by how hard you pull, regardless of the damper setting.
Generally speaking, I haven’t really noticed much difference between the R300, the Concept 2, and the Xebex. The R300 pulls very smoothly from the moment you initiate it to the moment you rack the handle.
Like most other rowers, the Body-Solid R300 is both portable and storable. On the front foot of the rower, underneath the flywheel, are two wheels. You can “easily” move the rower around by lifting from the back and steering to wherever you want to go. The feet themselves are very level too, mind you. There is no wobble to speak of.
Once you have the rower where you want it, you can do one of two things. The first is that you can just stand the rower up tall by lifting it from the back until the damper rests on the ground. This is personally what I do. I have a little nook next to my stairs and it fits almost perfectly. The second thing you can do is split the rower in half. This is accomplished with a pop-pin near the footrest. If you’re super tight on space or ceiling height, this may be a good option. I personally don’t want to fiddle with putting it back together though, so this isn’t really an option for me.
Visually, I think this is a really sharp looking monitor. I love the backlighting – everything is very easy to read. Overall, the monitor calculates time, calories, paddle width, stroke rate, distance cycle, and watts. It’s also Polar compatible to calculate heart rate. Also built into the monitor are 8 different exercise programs. These include quick start, distance, time, calories, game, intervals (20/10, 10/20, 10/10).
With the R300 acting as a self-generating machine, it eliminates the power requirements to make the monitor operate. There is, however, a battery cavity should you choose to use it.
Unlike the Xebex rower which uses a proprietary algorithm that landed them in hot water with CrossFit, the R300 from Body-Solid calculates in the same manner as the Concept 2, according to their engineering director. Being that Concept 2 is the industry standard in this respect, it’s actually a pretty big deal.
On top of the monitor is a cell-phone holder. I personally find it useless since it doesn’t hold my iPhone X. It’s also a bit annoying because it protrudes out enough to prevent standing the rower up too close to a wall… unless you just want to bend it all to hell. Honestly, I would just leave it off.
On the whole, the R300 is a strong performer, in my opinion. When performing steady-state rowing, the rower feels very fluid and I feel very connected to the flywheel through the entire range of motion. The only downside, as mentioned above, is the seat is pretty firm, which can get a little uncomfortable over time.
When performing high-intensity rowing, I similarly feel very connected with the flywheel. The entire rower is extremely sturdy and, even during all-out sprints, I feel virtually no wobble.
In terms of performance vs. the others, I think the R300 is better overall than the Xebex rower that I’ve tried (2.0). I like the handle much more on the R300 and, as you’ll read below on price/warranty, I think it’s a better option overall. That is, unless the max weight capacity comes into play in your decision making.
I do still think the Concept 2 reigns supreme in the world of rowers. It’s lightweight, it has a higher weight capacity, the monitor is industry standard, and it’s just incredibly fluid. But, as you’ll read below on price/warranty, it’s more expensive and it actually lags the R300 in terms of the warranty.
Rest assured, this is a high-quality rower that is going toe-to-toe with the big boys. It’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed in its overall performance.
Now that we’ve had a look at the design and overall construction of the Body-Solid R300, let’s now take a look at the price and its impressive warranty relative to the others.
The R300 is priced at $899 retail.
The Xebex rower 2.0 can be purchased for $799 while the Xebex 3.0 can be purchased for $899 (both after $50 discount). These, however, do not ship free. You’re looking at a hefty freight charge of at least $100 unless you pick it up locally at their store. If you opt for the freebies instead of the $50 discount, you would also need to add that to the total – so you’d be looking at $950 and $1,050, respectively.
The Concept 2 Model D rower is priced at $990 shipped.
So, if we’re just looking at price alone with these three options, the Body-Solid R300 is the value leader.
How about the warranty though? In the table above, you’ll see a breakdown of the overall warranty program. I am very impressed with what Body-Solid is offering on the R300. Even if used in a commercial setting, the R300 offers a frame warranty that is 3x that of the Concept 2 and Xebex rowers. The parts warranty is also greater than both, regardless of whether it’s home or commercial use. Body-Solid also includes labor, if needed.
All-in-all, the price and warranty of the R300 makes for a very compelling option.
Pros and Cons
Overall, Body-Solid has impressed me with the R300 rower. It performs very nicely, it looks great, and it comes in at a great price. If you’re in the market for a quality rower and you’re not looking to spend over $1k, this is going to be a great option for you. Again, I don’t think it’s as nice as the Concept 2, which is the industry standard. But, I will say I didn’t feel a ton of difference between the two.
Body-Solid R300 Rating
The Body-Solid R300 is a really nice rower at a really nice price. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly rower that performs very well, take a look at the R300. It just may be the answer for you.