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Rowbike review

Old 04-15-06, 06:37 PM
  #1  
geo8rge
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Rowbike review

I bought a rowbike and thought others might be interested in it. Go to www.rowbike.com if you never heard of one.

Rowbike day -1: The day before FedEx tracking said the rowbike was to arrive I watched the getting started video on Rowbike.com.

Rowbike day 0: Box arrived. The assembly went easy enough as I promised myself I would read the instructions first, as opposed to my usual attempt to assemble things without reading the instructions. The bike has some parts that do not come together in an obvious manner, reading the instructions is necessary. The quality of the parts and construction is very good, especially given the non standard parts (available from rowbike). The bike came with touch up paint and even a cyclo computer.

I attempted to ride the rowbike in my driveway. The lever used to propel and steer the bike is spring loaded so there is some comedy as I attempt to figure it out. Mostly I just familiarized myself with the bike.

Rowbike day 1: I push and carry the bike 3 blocks to the bike path in Brooklyn NY. For about a half hour I mostly waddle with one foot on the ground. After a half hour I am able to operate the bike with one foot in the foot rest and the other in the air. After about an hour I am able to operate the bike, both feet in position, in a zigzag pattern deviating at times 3 ft or so from my desired path. I generally have to stop if I see anyone nearby as I am not confident enough to ride near others yet. Stopping is actually very smooth as long as you have at least one foot properly mounted. I was able to coast. It is important to look at the horizon in the direction you are going if that is not obvious. Using the handlebars to propel and steer takes some skill.

The bike is a great workout. It's true you do use all your muscles and do stretching at the same time. It is amazing that something as out of the ordinary can be sold so cheaply and actually work. The bugs have been worked out, it is ready for "prime time". I really do not see any major flaws. I do not think I will have to tweak it. If you got good at it, it could be a primary bike, although I can't imagine chaining it in NYC. I also think rowbike is a concept worth supporting so that it becomes more popular.

I think the foot rests should have foam coverings incase I nick a car or person. It should have a place to mount rear view mirrors, perhaps on top of the foot rests . I would like fenders and a rear rack on the 16" wheels. The front fork is more or less standard but the rear is not, and may not accept standard racks and fenders, although due to the geometry of the bike spray might not be a problem from the rear wheel. It would be nice if the foot rests and seat were quick release to make storing easier. Asking for a folding rowbike is probably pushing my luck.

FWIW, I am 6', 210lb I thought the bike 'fit' was fine.

More info:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowbike
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Old 04-16-06, 01:21 AM
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Damn, geo, sounds like me the first time out on a bike since I was a kid, lo these many years past. Now, I'll take a look at the link.
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Old 04-16-06, 01:27 AM
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Hmmm. Interesting video. Not much ground clearance under that swinging beam, though.
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Old 04-16-06, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by geo8rge
I bought a rowbike and thought others might be interested in it.
--- Looks like a good invention. Makes use of a lot more muscle power than just the usual pedals. How is it up hills?
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Old 04-16-06, 03:19 AM
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Looks like fun. Is there an option where you can pedal or row? Arms and shoulders are smaller muscles than legs. I would imagine after a few miles on one of these, the rider would be spent.
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Old 04-16-06, 05:45 AM
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How's it on climbs?
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Old 04-16-06, 06:20 AM
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"How is it up hills?" I have not done any steep hills, but I was able to do smaller hills.

"Is there an option where you can pedal or row?" There are no pedals, it has fixed foot rests.

One problem I had was that my left arm is weaker than my right. This caused steering problems after about 1.5 miles.

"Not much ground clearance under that swinging beam, though." I was very carefull going over curbs, pot holes.
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Old 04-16-06, 10:10 AM
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I've been wnating one of these for a year now. It will come - oh yes, it will come!
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Old 04-16-06, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
Looks like fun. Is there an option where you can pedal or row? Arms and shoulders are smaller muscles than legs. I would imagine after a few miles on one of these, the rider would be spent.
Rowing is a full body exercise and uses the legs as well as the upper body. Note the motion of the seat and the legs. In any case, I have no doubt that with proper conditioning a rider of this bike could go for many miles. After all, I've seen guys with hand cycles and no legs doing RAGBRAI.
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Old 04-16-06, 06:37 PM
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Interesting. While I would never dump my road bikes for this, if I had the extra money and lived in a quiet (and flat) neighborhood, I'd probably get one to tool around with.
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Old 06-20-06, 11:28 PM
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Don't knock it till you've tried it.

Hey Guys, I've owned a rowbike for about 6 months and this thing kicks your ass! Its nothing compared to a workout on a regular bike because its not a regular bike! It handles hills really well, its fun and easy to use once you get used to it. (took me about 3 hours of total use) I've always been in good shape but now my entire body looks great too. The only drawback to the rowbike is that it isn't made for hoping over curbs and doing crazy trail riding. You can't do a lift on the front of the rowbike as you can with a regular bike. I use my trek y5 for that stuff and the rowbike for everything else.
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Old 12-15-06, 12:56 PM
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I've had my Rowbike 720 Sport for just over two months now. It's such a blast, I actually look forward to getting up at 5:30 am (even in 15 degree weather!) and doing about a 3 mile circuit every morning before work, and "rowling" at a more civilized hour on weekends. Over the last ten years, I'd become less and less active, and it showed when I first started, as I couldn't even get up a small rise in elevation in the lowest gear. But in just over two months of about 15-20 minutes a day, I've dropped about 10 lbs and built up enough upper body strength, that I'm able to do the entire circuit in 7th gear with no downshifting for the rise, and I can now climb the fairly steep hills in my neighborhood. If you want to see some real hill climbing, google Lee Cole in San Francisco, and see the video of him rowling up to Twin Peaks. Thanks to Scott Olson (also the inventor of Rollerblades) for such a great invention!
Cheers,
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Old 12-15-06, 07:19 PM
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OK. It's a piece of excercise equipment that is used outdoors. Sounds like it really works in that regard. As a bicycle, it just seems kinda goofy.
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Old 12-15-06, 09:43 PM
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Can you make it a fixed gear? lol
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Old 12-16-06, 08:15 AM
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As a follow up to my review.

Thus far I was only able to mount a fender on the front wheel.

The place where the chain is fixed to the frame, the 'Dave Cam', has a bolt which came loose. It actually ate into the lug it was mounted too before the whole thing came apart. I suggest inspecting it regularly. I replaced the bolt with a clevis pin I bought a Loews.

The metal pulley the chain runs over got over tightened an stuck. This made rowing progressively harder, and damaged the chain and pulley. That should be inspected on each use. Disassempbly and greasing might help too. It would be nice if the pulley was replaced with a cog mounted on bearings.

The rollers on the sliding seat have shown significant wear. I rotated them. They sell replacement rollers.

I put Catseye Bar Ends on it. They were a great improvement.

Minor issues are: Aluminum head set screw stripped, I replaced it with steel. Steering cables get slack, and need to be adjusted. At some point hubs will need to be repacked and breaks will need adjusted.

Replacing bolts on the foot rests with wingnuts might make storing easier.

If you really want to know fixed gear conversion is probably impossible, and dangerous. But this gizmo might be a candidate for fixed gear conversion: https://champiot.com/.
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Last edited by geo8rge; 12-17-06 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 04-21-11, 03:08 AM
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Geo8rge,
This looks like a great idea, but my cycle to work is in traffic and it would be difficult to avoid a few curbs. I assume you would not recommend the rowbike for this?
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Old 04-21-11, 04:09 AM
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What is the foot mount, strap in? It's funny that spd cleats are the one piece of technology that has been adapted from cycling to rowing recently. Well that and head mirrors. And this is the one piece of technology that has been adapted from rowing to cycling but it doesn't look like it uses clipless.

My one comment is that most people have really terrible rowing technique, and without any coaching it is unlikely that they will improve. It's true that rowing will use a lot more muscles than cycling, but still more than half of your power should be coming from your legs.
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Old 04-21-11, 04:21 AM
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I think this bike is rather cleaver and have wanted to ride one since I saw it on television some years ago but, it is so similar to the Healthrider that I am not understanding the high price in comparison. https://www.healthrider.com/riders/healthrider.html
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Old 04-21-11, 04:25 AM
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It's nothing at all like the Healthrider.
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Old 04-21-11, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan The Man View Post
It's nothing at all like the Healthrider.
What are those round things on the bottom?
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Old 04-21-11, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jamessalkeld View Post
Geo8rge,
This looks like a great idea, but my cycle to work is in traffic and it would be difficult to avoid a few curbs. I assume you would not recommend the rowbike for this?
Although I can operate it in streets, in general I try to use bike paths separated from traffic and pedestrians. It is not as maneuverable as a bicycle and surrounding traffic is not used to dealing with a rowbike so they do stuff like get close to you to get a better look.

Originally Posted by Dan The Man View Post
What is the foot mount, strap in? It's funny that spd cleats are the one piece of technology that has been adapted from cycling to rowing recently. Well that and head mirrors. And this is the one piece of technology that has been adapted from rowing to cycling but it doesn't look like it uses clipless.

My one comment is that most people have really terrible rowing technique, and without any coaching it is unlikely that they will improve. It's true that rowing will use a lot more muscles than cycling, but still more than half of your power should be coming from your legs.
The stroke is like a rowing machine. The 'power lever' is pinned and the handle bars move in a fixed radius. You pull back with force. There is a bungie cord in the lever you pull that extends. When you come back up the bungie cord retracts pulling you back up, so cleats are not needed or really useful. Note the chain does not travel in a loop, it gets sucked up into the 'power lever'. The big difference between Rowbike and a bicycle is really the lower back, shoulders and arms. I find a lower back work out is very useful.
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2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
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Old 04-21-11, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by geo8rge View Post
If you really want to know fixed gear conversion is probably impossible, and dangerous. But this gizmo might be a candidate for fixed gear conversion: https://champiot.com/.
That Champiot is something a little different, called an Irish Mail. As far as I know, it does not have multiple gears. What you see is what you get. A club member here has two of them: a Champiot and an old, antique one from the 1920s.
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Old 06-06-11, 01:31 PM
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hello all, ive been a RowBike nut since Scott invented them. I have been thru the mill, lottsa mistakes, equipment failures, but they are FUN.
They originally came out as singlr speeds called 120 mags, 20 in wheel set using skyway plastic wheels w a 16 tooth ACS claw fixed gear.
I have 3 and my wife has 1...4 total.
Used mine to commute 16 miles round trip while working, fenders can be done...planet bike, mostly go to utube and check ouy my blogs, type in sweetrower. they are and can be a maintenance nightmare but have come a LOOOONG way from the original, but the components are crap, frame is good. 1 last major issue ive had w Rowbike is tht derailleurs were NOT made 2 constantly swing back and 4th, weakens the spring and breaks. Ive went thru 5 derailleurs over the years, deore, lx , xt, xtr, etc, finally an internal nexus 8spd, now most recently a nuvinchi planetary, best. wheels are crap, shock cord is crap, i use novabraid, seat screws come loose over a period of years and seat can come off, mine did, i have fixes on all this on my utube. lastly Rowbike was invented by Scott Olson and sold the Company last year to folks who r not 2 bike savy IMHO, & r not 2 responsive , rowing technique on the website is TERRIBLE, waste a lot of 4ward momentum Rowbiking that way. Feel free to respond 2 me, we went touring w them down hwy 1 last July, steering cable snapped and they sent the wrong size, a lot of things r not standard , as the Rowbike evoled over the years component sizes changed, so be careful when u order parts.
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Old 06-06-11, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SweetRower View Post
hello all, ive been a RowBike nut since Scott invented them. I have been thru the mill, lottsa mistakes, equipment failures, but they are FUN.
They originally came out as singlr speeds called 120 mags, 20 in wheel set using skyway plastic wheels w a 16 tooth ACS claw fixed gear.
I have 3 and my wife has 1...4 total.
Used mine to commute 16 miles round trip while working, fenders can be done...planet bike, mostly go to utube and check ouy my blogs, type in sweetrower. they are and can be a maintenance nightmare but have come a LOOOONG way from the original, but the components are crap, frame is good. 1 last major issue ive had w Rowbike is tht derailleurs were NOT made 2 constantly swing back and 4th, weakens the spring and breaks. Ive went thru 5 derailleurs over the years, deore, lx , xt, xtr, etc, finally an internal nexus 8spd, now most recently a nuvinchi planetary, best. wheels are crap, shock cord is crap, i use novabraid, seat screws come loose over a period of years and seat can come off, mine did, i have fixes on all this on my utube. lastly Rowbike was invented by Scott Olson and sold the Company last year to folks who r not 2 bike savy IMHO, & r not 2 responsive , rowing technique on the website is TERRIBLE, waste a lot of 4ward momentum Rowbiking that way. Feel free to respond 2 me, we went touring w them down hwy 1 last July, steering cable snapped and they sent the wrong size, a lot of things r not standard , as the Rowbike evoled over the years component sizes changed, so be careful when u order parts.
Thanks for that update.

I saw a guy on one of these last year at my local beach and it looked like fun and his body was just ripped!

It's too bad the company has gone to the dogs though.
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Old 06-06-11, 10:59 PM
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Interesting, very interesting. I think I know what to get when I save up a bit.
Ernest

Edit: So the company isn't any good? Service-wise or delivery?
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