The resistance of your rowing machine impacts how it moves. Select from hydraulic and magnetic rowing resistance. Hydraulic rowers are typically more compact in size, while magnetic machines make little noise as they operate. Details like easy-to-reach tension knobs or buttons allow you to increase or decrease the intensity of your resistance as you train.
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Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.