I’ve been asked many times what the best Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing machine is, and it’s a difficult question to answer as Sunny makes so many impressive rowers.

Two stand out from the rest.

I’ve reviewed a ton of their gear over the years, including all of their rowing machines, and bang for your buck, these guys are unbeatable. Still, there are a couple of rowing machines that stood out from the crowd, outshined the competition, and delivered more than expected in their price ranges.

And in today’s guide, we’re going to take a close look at those Top Two rowing machines from Sunny Health and Fitness, their resistance systems, their build quality, and who they’re designed for.

Best Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine

1. Sunny SF-RW5155 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Sunny makes more low-cost magnetic rowers than any other company. These guys know what they’re doing in this space and have over two decades of experience.

Their Flagship low-cost rowing machine, the Sunny SFRW5155, is their best-selling magnetic rower and has been outselling every other magnetic rower out there for the past five years.

woman rwoing on budget rowing machine in her home gym

Whisper Quiet Magnetic Resistnace

One of the reasons the Sunny Sf-RW5155 Rowing Machine is so popular is that it uses a magnetic resistance system. Magnetic resistance is fast becoming the No.1 choice for home and commercial rowers, and there’s good reason why? Its whisper-quiet in operation.

The magnetics of the resistance system never have to make contact with the flywheel resulting in a near-silent rowing motion making it the perfect choice for a home rower. And because it’s frictionless, it’s also maintenance-free, which is always a good thing!

Surprisingly Strong Resistance

While most budget rowers boast magnetic resistance systems, hardly any can boast strong resistance suitable for intense calorie-burning workouts, and thats what’s different with the Sunny SF-RW51555 it can.

Users actually praise how strong the resistance feels of the sunny SF-RW5155 in the upper levels, comparing it to machines they have used in their local gym, which is surprising, and unheard of for a budget magnetic rowing machine.

Also, magnetic resistance is constant. No matter how fast you row, it stays the same strength unless you manually select another reistnace level.

One benefit of constant resistance systems is that you can row on a strong resistance setting at a slow pace, great for building the legs and something thats impossible with air rowers because their resistnace systems are dynamic.

8 Levels of Resistance

The Sunny includes eight levels of magnetic resistance. This is what we expect to see in this price range. Restnace levels can be slected via the tension knob situtaed on the flywheel housiung. The 8 levels are suitbale for beginners though to intermediates.

sunny health and fitness sf-rw5155 tension knob

Maintenance Free Blt Drive System

Another big plus about the Sunny SF-RW5155 is that it uses a belt drive system; belt drives are much quieter than a chain drive system and create less vibration. When combined with a magnetic resistnace system, they make for the quietest combination you’ll find for any rowing machine.

Long Rail Can Accommodate User Up To 6’5″

The Sunny magnetic rower also has one of the longest rails in this price bracket with a 40″ inseam accommodating users up to 6’5″. Only one other rower in this price bracket can match the Sunny on rail length.

Also, the rail is angled, which is good to see as an angled rail intensifies the push phase of the rowing stroke and speeds up the recovery phase, plus puts you in the best position to rower from.

Anything Else Worth a Mention?

The Sunny folds for storage and it’s a useful feature as it halves the Sunny’s overall footprint when folded. And it’s not one of those fiddley systems like we see on so many of the cheap rowers. The SF-RW5155 uses a pull pin type system which takes just a few secoinbds to fold.

Also we have transport wheels built into the front stbalizers just tilt and roll to move.

And lastly, I was happy to find that the seat of this rower is contoured not just for comfort, but also for stability because it will stop your butt from slipping in the push phase of the rowing stroke. Additionally, the seat padding is made from high-density foam this is the good stuff it’s not too soft to cause stability issues or too hard to be off-putting.

To Sum Up

The reason this Sunny SF-RE5155 rower sells so so well is that it provides everything a mid-level magnetic rower does but at half the price. Its sturdy, has a  strong resistance system, smooth rowing stroke, and is well built. The monitor might be basic but it’s easy to use and track all the essecial workout data you need.

One of the only budget rowers out there that’s stood the test of time, people who have owned this rower for years are still priaing how well it works, and there are not many $250 rowers that can claim that.


obsidian surge water rower in showroom

2. Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge Water Rower

It wasn’t so long ago you had to pay well over $1k for a water rower thankfully in the past couple of years water rowers have come down in price, and we can now get hold of an impressive well-built machine for under $500.

Solid Heavy Steel frame Rowing machine

The Sunny Water Rower isnt a solid wood water rower, but dont worry, steel frame water rowers, are just as sturdy. The Sunny weighs 92lb. This is heavy for a rowing machine costing under $500, and it’s a telling sign this thing is made from quality materials, plus the extra weight will keep this rower stable.

When you’re rowing on the Sunny Onsdian Surge water rower, it will feel solid and of high quality. It’s not going to feel like a cheaply built rowing machine. It won’t move around while you exercise.

Dynamic Resistance Mimics The Feel of Outdoor Rowing

Water rowers are different from magnetic machines in that a water rower benefits from dynamic resistance rather than constant. Dynamic resistance allows for a much more natural feel as the strength of resistance is determined by your workout pace.

The faster you row on a water rower, the stronger the resistance, just like rowing on actual water. Also we have the sound of the paddles pushing through the water in the rower’s water tank, adding to the natural feel we’re looking for from an indoor rower.

sunny & Fitness Rowing Machine Monitor

Quiet Machine Can be used in Appartments.

Does the Sunny water rower make much noise? No, this is a quiet machine. All you’ll hear is the whooshing sound of the paddles going through the water and its soothing sound. I love it. Plus, the Obsidian Surge water rower uses a belt drive system that keeps noise to the minimum and the rowing stroke smooth.

Contoured Seat

The seat of Obsidian Surge is similar to the SF-RW5155 accept it is slightly larger, and users say it’s very comfortable. It’s contoured to prevent slips in the rowing stroke’s push phase, and the padding is made from high-density foam.

Perhaps most important is that the seat runs on high-grade ball bearings and rollers, which allows the seat to slide effortlessly across the rail, keeping the rowing motion smooth and uninterrupted.

And the rail length is impressive, as it can accommodate users up to 6’4″ at full leg extension, and dont worry if you’re petite because minimum height limit is around 4’10”

Decent Monitor – Wireless Heart Rate Monitoring

And lastly, the monitor is more advanced than the Sunny SF-RW5155 monitor because we get wireless heart rate monitoring and a few workouts programs. Plus, it tracks all the essential workout data such as distance SPM, time totals, calories, etc.

Easy Set-Up

For anyone concerned that water rowers are complicated to set up and use, they are not. They are as easy to set up as any rowing machine.

The Sunny is quite heavy, so two people may need to move the delivery box in place and unpack it, but assembly only takes around 40 minutes, and once assembled, all you need to do is fill the water tank. I find filling the water tank 1/4 full provides a strong, smooth resistnace at a medium stroke rate.

To Sum Up

The Obsidian Surge is undoubtedly an impressive machine, and if you want that natural feel from a rowing machine, then a water rower like the Sunny Obsidian is the way to go. It’s about as close as you’re going to get to the feel of outdoor rowing indoors.

The Sunny Obsidian Surge is the most popular steel frame water rower available right now, and because it uses a steel frame its costs around half the price of a decent solid wood water rower. Still, it looks great; the frame is impressive, weighing 92lb and sturdy. Best of all, the Sunny water rower is suitable for any fitness level because the resistance system is dynamic, which basically means a limitless amount of reistnace levels.


Final Thoughts

Sunny Health are great at providing good quality equipment at affordable prices. It’s whats this company specializes in. They make a ton of rowers, but I thought to concentrate on their two best – The Sunny SF-RW5155 and their water rower, the Obsidian Surge, as it’s these two rowers that have had the biggest impact on their users and on me.

If you’re a beginner reading this and looking for your first rowing machine, I urge you to consider Sunny SF-RW5155 magnetic rower. It’s an impressive machine for around $250 you won’t find better, and we know it’s durable too, thanks to the years of positive feedback, so it’s going to last a few years until you need to upgrade.