Some rowing enthusiasts claim that the disproportionate number of tall rowers is simply due to the unfair advantage that tall rowers have on the ergometer. This is due to the ergometer's inability to properly simulate the larger rowers drag on a boat due to weight. Since the ergometer is used to assess potential rowers, results on the ergometer machine play a large role in a rower's career success. Thus, many erg scores are weight-adjusted, as heavyweights typically find it easier to get better erg scores. Also, since crew selection has favored tall rowers long before the advent of the ergometer, and bigger, taller crews are almost universally faster than smaller, shorter crews on the water, being tall is a definite advantage ultimately having little to do with the ergometer.
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.