There’s a new high-end streaming rower in town and I have a feeling it’s going to make waves in the home fitness market – and I mean that in the best way possible.
Enter CityRow Go’s Max Rower.
Instead of directly going head-to-head with either the Hydrow or the Ergatta, CityRow made a brilliant decision, in my humble opinion, to combine features from both rowers into their Max Rower machine.
Like Ergatta, they used a WaterRower rower for the hardware, but instead of going the gaming-inspired route, they followed Hydrow’s suite and instead used instructor-led workouts.
This makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
With the CityRow Max, you get the best of both worlds – you can enjoy instructor-led workouts while rowing on a heavy-duty water rower.
It’s also priced quite competitively, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Before you decide on anything, you have to know what you’re getting into – and that’s where I can help.
In this review, I’ll go over all the specs and features the CityRow Max Rower has to offer (and I’ll also compare it to some of the other top streaming rowers to see how it compares).
After reading, you’ll be well-equipped to decide for yourself whether or not this is the right rowing machine for your home gym.
The CityRow Go Max Rower
If you’re wondering, yes, this is the same CityRow who offers the studio rowing classes.
I think they started out in New York City, but they’re gradually popping up in other locations around the country (we actually have 2 locations near my home).
Think spin studio, but with rowing machines instead of indoor cycles.
Well, that description isn’t entirely accurate, because the classic CityRow workouts combined rowing intervals with on the mat strengthening exercises, resulting in a full body burn.
Anyway, their popularity seems to be growing because now they’re expanding into home fitness.
Which makes a lot of sense – you’ve got a lot of experienced instructors at your disposal, might as well film ’em and start cashing in on home streaming.
Anyway, at the time of writing this, CityRow has 2 home rowers to choose from – the CityRow Max and the CityRow Classic.
The Classic uses the same rower as the Max, but it’s significantly cheaper because it doesn’t include a large touchscreen display – instead, you pair your own tablet or phone to access the workouts.
But we’re here to talk about the Max, so let’s get to it.
- WaterRower base
- 19.5″ HD touchscreen console
- Unlimited water resistance
- Sleek design
- 325 lb weight limit
- Stores vertically
- Tons of instructor-led workouts to choose from
- Workouts on/off the rower
- Compatible with bluetooth headphones
- Compatible with Apple Watch
- Assembly manual easy to follow
- Water purification tablets supplied for life (through WaterRower)
- Good warranty
- Competitively priced
- Currently not compatible with heart rate monitors (other than Apple Watch)
When thinking about which rower to invest in, I think it’s a good idea to consider which type (resistance) you’d like first because this can really help narrow things down.
Generally speaking, rowers come in 4 main varieties based on the kind of resistance they use – hydraulic, magnetic, air, and water.
The CityRow Max is a water rower, so we can skip the talk on the other varieties for now, but if you’re interested, you can check out my full rowing machine guide for more info.
As a water rower, the Max uses water to create your resistance.
Every time you pull the handle, a flywheel inside the tank spins, cutting through the water inside the tank.
Water rowers are great for a few reasons, but one of their best features is that you don’t have to mess with changing resistance levels during workouts.
If you want more resistance, you simply row faster (or harder) and you’ll feel more resistance.
Which closely mimics the sensation of rowing a boat on water.
You also get to hear the swooshing of the water in the tank, which again gives you the feeling of rowing a real boat (but it does make these rowers a bit louder than magnetic rowers).
Personally, I like the sound of the water moving around in the tank, but certainly something to think about.
Even though there aren’t any resistance levels to mess with on the CityRow Max, you can still adjust the feel of things a little by adjusting the water level in the tank.
Adding more water to the tank will make rowing feeling a little “heavier” and vice-versa for less water (CityRow recommends starting with a water level of 17), but resistance will still be based on how hard you row.
Speaking of water, the siphon you need for adding/removing water is included, as is a purification tablet to keep your water clean and clear.
You’ll likely have to add a purification tablet to the tank every 3-6 months and this is really the only required maintenance.
WaterRower provides free purification tablets for life, you’ll just have to pay the cost of shipping.
Overall though, the fact that the CityRow Max uses a water rower is a great start in my book and it’s also an immediate difference from the computer-driven magnetic resistance found on the Hydrow.
CityRow didn’t just use any water rower for the base of their Max/Classic, they went with the best in biz – WaterRower.
The WaterRower brand is largely recognized as providing some of the best water rowers in the world, not to mention some of the best looking.
WaterRower has their own lineup of rowers as well and you can also purchase machines directly through them if you decide you don’t want to whole streaming experience.
Based on the design and specs of the Max, it looks like they’re using the WaterRower A1’s.
Like all WaterRowers, the A1’s start with a hardwood base (Ash in this case), but they come with a single, aluminum rail instead of the dual-rail found on many of their all-wood rowers.
This makes the CityRow Max a little lighter, coming in with an assembled weight of about 98 lb (with water).
The Max’s weight limit is a bit lighter than some of WaterRower’s other models too, but at 325 lb, it’s still high enough to accommodate most rowers.
For the sake of comparison, the Ergatta also uses a WaterRower rower as their base, but they use the all cherry wood Oxbridge model, which comes with a dual rail and a weight limit of 500 lb.
The Max also comes with a max user inseam of around 39″, allowing it fit folks who are probably in the 6’6″ – 6’8″ range.
This rowing machine can’t fold away for storage, but it can be stored vertically when not in use – and no, you don’t have to take the water out of the tank either.
And the Max is a full size rower, so it takes up a floor space of roughly 7′ x 2′ when in use.
Overall, I like that CityRow took a page out of Ergatta’s playbook and went with a WaterRower model for their Max.
The Max Rower isn’t as heavy-duty as the Ergatta, but with a 325 lb weight limit, it can still accommodate most users – and I think the dark wood and aluminum rail combo makes for a very sleek look.
The rower itself is high-end, but let’s be real – it’s the huge touchscreen mounted to it that most of us are probably more interested in here.
The CityRow Max comes with a 19.5″ HD touchscreen console that’s used to stream all of your workouts and view all metrics.
This console comes with built-in speakers, but is also compatible with bluetooth headphones for those times when you need to keep the noise level down.
You can also adjust the angle of the console, making it a little easier for folks of all heights to get a comfortable viewing angle.
The console on the Max is also compatible with Apple Watches for metric tracking and whatnot.
When it comes to the workouts themselves, the Max is more like the Hydrow, in that it uses traditional, instructor-led workouts.
With a CityRow subscription, you get access to tons of on-demand workouts to choose from, as well as live classes daily.
Their library consists of both rowing workouts, non-rowing workouts, and workouts that combine both.
And like pretty much every other streaming service these days, you can select from all kinds of non-rowing workouts, like yoga, Pilates, stretching, strengthening, etc, etc.
With the Max, a subscription is mandatory – I don’t even think they’ll let ya buy one without signing up for a membership first (you don’t need a membership to use the Classic).
And at the time of writing this, a CityRow app membership costs $29/month (after your 14 day free trial).
This is a bit cheaper than Hydrow’s $39/month membership and identical to Ergatta’s membership cost.
Overall, users seem to love CityRow’s classes and the large touchscreen display found on the Max will certainly make it easy to access and see ’em.
Just keep in mind that monthly membership fee is mandatory.
If you purchase the CityRow Max and decide to assemble yourself, it shouldn’t be too daunting of a task.
Most of the process consists of bolting the different components together with an Allen wrench (included), then attaching and connecting the console, before finally adding water (siphon included).
I’d like to give CityRow kudos for doing such a great job with their assembly manual – the images are large and bright, making them easy to see.
Which is something I certainly can’t say for all brands.
CityRow says you should be able to get this rower unpacked and assembled in about 45 minutes, but I could see it taking a little longer.
But still not bad.
Overall, I think self-assembly on this rower is very doable, but if you’re worried, you can always opt for professional assembly where they deliver it fully assembled.
The CityRower Max Rower comes with the following residential warranty:
- 5 year frame
- 3 year parts
- 1 year console
Ok, so a pretty good warranty here.
5 years on the frame is pretty consistent with what the other big names are offering.
Hydrow also offers a 5 year frame warranty and so does Ergatta (as long as you register your rower); NordicTrack does a little better and offers a 10 year frame guarantee on their RW900.
3 years on mechanical parts is also pretty good, considering Hydrow only offers 12 months and NordicTrack only offers 2 years.
A year on the console is pretty average.
Overall, I think this is a nice warranty for this rower.
It took a little time, but we’re seeing more and more streaming rowers hit the market.
And as streaming rowers go, I think the CityRow Max has what it takes to be one of the top players in the game.
As I mentioned in the intro, I think it was brilliant for CityRow to combine a water rower with traditional, instructor-led workouts because nobody that I’m aware of has really done this yet.
Hydrow and NordicTrack use instructor-led workouts, but they’re both magnetic rowers.
Well, to be fair, Hydrow created their own type of computer-controlled magnetic resistance and films their instructor-led workouts on the water, but you know what I mean.
And Ergatta was the first to use a water rower, but they paired it with a gaming-themed workout program.
The CityRow Max fills that need for folks who want instructor-led workouts, but prefer a water rowing machine.
And not just any water rower, this is a WaterRower rower.
When comparing the Max to the Hydrow and the Ergatta, deciding whether you want a magnetic or water rower is the easiest way to decide vs the Hydrow.
Compared to the Ergatta, the Ergatta certainly uses a nicer WaterRower rowing machine, but their gaming-inspired workouts aren’t for everyone – personally, I would prefer instructor-led workouts.
When it comes to cost, I think the Max is well-priced.
At the time of writing this, the Max costs $2,195 and their membership is $29/month.
This is a bit more affordable than the Hydrow ($2,495 and $39/month membership) and pretty identical to the Ergatta ($2,199 and $29/month membership).
So, long-story-short: if you’re looking for an elite streaming rower, you’ve got some thinking do to, but I think the CityRower Max can hold its own quite well against the other top dogs. Recommended.