NordicTrack RW500 Rower Review – Pros & Cons 2020

Last Updated: April 9, 2020

The NordicTrack RW500 is one of NordicTrack’s top selling rowers. It is a smooth, well-built rower for home use that folds up nicely when you are finished. An included tablet is iFit enabled so it will sync with your rower to stream iFit programs while you row.

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Review

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Who It’s For: Users who want a quality rower that folds up when not in use

The RW500 is designed for users who want a sleek rowing machine that has:

  • A simple 5” LCD console with bright, digital display
  • Comfortable seat and smooth track motion
  • Extra-wide ergonomic pedals
  • Comfort grip handle
  • iFit enabled with included tablet
  • Folding Design
Pros
  • Folds up when not in use
  • Includes one year of iFit for free so you can enjoy classes and content at no cost
  • Has a smooth drive and gentle recovery design
  • Seat and pedals are comfortable
  • Rower sits low to the ground so it is easy to get on and off
  • Includes a tablet with purchase to stream your iFit workouts
Cons
  • Console does not include a full-color touchscreen like the RW900
  • It does require a bit of space when fully open

FeaturesSpecifications
  • 5” Backlit Display and Adjustable Console
    • The display is clear and easy to see. Console adjusts up and down for precise visibility.
  • Includes 1-Yr NordicTrack iFit® membership**
    • iFit includes hundreds of rowing classes and outdoor routes to enjoy while on your rower. The first year is free which allows users to access and evaluate content before having to commit to a subscription.
  • 10” Portal 10i™ Tablet Included
    • The tablet sits above the console in a secure tablet holder. You can sync iFit classes and content to your rower via the tablet.
  • Adjustable SMR™ (Silent Magnetic Resistance) with 26 Digital Resistance Levels
    • Magnetic resistance is created without any friction on the flywheel, so it is silent and doesn’t cause wear on the drive system. 26 preset resistance levels gives you exact resistance each workout.
  • Oversized Steel Seat Rail and Ergonomic, Molded Seat
    • The seat slides cleanly forward and aft along the seat rail. Powering through the rowing drive is smooth and feels natural.
  • Oversized, Pivoting Pedals and Adjustable Nylon Foot Straps
    • The pedals are a molded plastic overlay that covers a solid surface underneath. This provides underfoot support while allowing for some flex side to side to reduce tension in the ankles and feet.
  • SpaceSaver® Design folds when not in use
    • Like most rowers, the footprint is long and narrow when open, so you do need to have a dedicated space to get the full functionality out of the rower. However, it folds up when not in use. Wheels underneath allow you to move and roll it as needed when you are finished.
  • 30 Preset Workout Apps
    • In addition to the one year of free iFit that will stream to your tablet, the rower includes 30 preset rowing programs built into the console itself. This way you can use the rower without the need for WiFi or a tablet if desired.
  • 10-Year Frame Warranty
    • NordicTrack offers an extensive warranty on the RW500 which reflects its commitment to the quality and durability of the machine.

Technology:

  • 10” Portal 10i™ Tablet Included
  • 5” Backlit Display
  • Adjustable Console
  • Includes 1-Yr NordicTrack iFit® membership**
  • Auxiliary Music Port
  • Two 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers

Engineering:

  • Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • Adjustable SMR™ (Silent Magnetic Resistance)
  • 26 Digital Resistance Levels
  • 250 Lb. User Capacity

Comfort:

  • Oversized Steel Seat Rail
  • Oversized, Pivoting Pedals
  • Adjustable Nylon Foot Straps
  • SoftTouch™ Ergonomic Handle

Convenience:

  • Front-mounted Transport Wheels
  • SpaceSaver® Design
  • 30 Preset Workout Apps
  • 86.5″ L x 22.0″ W x 42.8″ H Footprint

Warranty

  • Frame: 10-Year Warranty
  • Parts: 2-Year Warranty
  • Labor: 1-Year Warranty

Quick Summary

The NordicTrack RW500 is one of their top selling rowers with a comfortable design and great functionality. It does not have a full color touchscreen, but it does include a 10” tablet that fits securely in the tablet holder to maximize your iFit training options.

In-depth Review of NordicTrack RW500 Rower


Construction

Frame

  • The RW500 frame is constructed of steel track with soft molded seat and ergonomic pedals with nylon straps. The track is long but secure and the seat glides smoothly up and down. The console on the front sits at a good height and is easy to reach and navigate. Folding it up is not difficult, just grab the handle on the center of the track and lift. Be careful to manage the weight of the console as you lift the center handle.

Geometry:

  • Total Footprint: 86.5″ L x 22.0″ W x 50.4″ H
  • Folded Footprint: 36.2” L x 50.4” H
  • Track length: The track is 39” from front to back
  • Track height: From the floor to the top of the seat is 15”
  • Saddle: The saddle is molded for comfort and slightly tapered. It measures 11” wide by 9” deep.

Pedals

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Pedals

  • The pedals are reinforced with a solid foot surface underneath and a molded overlay that holds your shoe securely. The double layer provides stability underfoot while still allowing for a gentle flex and give as you row. A wide nylon strap with velcro secures feet into position. The molded overlay is textured to hold your foot securely and has several positions which should accommodate all shoe sizes.

Handle

  • The RW500 handle is gently cushioned for a very comfortable hold. It is plenty wide and just thick enough for a good hand-hold. The proper hand grip allows for longer rowing routines without hand fatigue.

Seat

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Seat

  • The wide seat is contoured and slightly cushioned. It slides gently from front to back. Rowing feels second-nature and the track doesn’t bow at any point. The frame sits firmly on the ground.

FlyWheel

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Flywheel

  • The inertia enhanced flywheel provides a smooth stroke throughout your rowing drive. Recovery is also gentle as the flywheel evenly pulls the handle back to starting position. There is no jerkiness in the flywheel motion.

Resistance

  • 26 Digital Levels
    • Magnetic resistance is silent and calibrated using magnets that oppose the motion of the flywheel. There are no contact points and therefore no friction or wear on the flywheel.
    • 26 preset resistance levels give you plenty of options to select and allow users to find just the right resistance for any workout or class. You can adjust resistance via the OneTouch buttons on the console.

Air Flow Resistance

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Resistance

  • Air resistance occurs as the air flows through the flywheel with each drive. The air resistance can be modified by adjusting how much air flows out of the fan vents and how much stays inside. This creates an additional method of adding and adjusting resistance.

Console/Controls

Console

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Console

  • 5” Backlit Display: The Console is large and easy to navigate. If you use iFit, your metrics will show up on the tablet as well. The screen displays rowing metrics including:
    • Current 500m Split/Average 500m split
    • Calories burned/Calories per hour
    • Strokes/Strokes per minute
    • Time
    • Distance
  • Console Layout
    • One Touch buttons for every resistance flank both sides of the screen along the sides of the console. This makes it very convenient to adjust resistance quickly. You can simply touch a button to jump to whatever resistance is desired.
    • Buttons on the console control settings and programs. There is the option of manual control or using a preset program.
    • There are speakers in the console. You can sync your phone via Bluetooth with the console and play music through the speakers. There is also an AUX in port.
  • Screen Movement
    • The screen pivots gently up and down so you can find the right point of visibility. The tablet holder also pivots up and down as well as side to side.

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Side View

Accessories

  • Fans
    • There are no fans on the RW500, but you get a bit of air flow from the flywheel itself while rowing.

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Fan

  • Tablet/Phone holder
    • The secured tablet holder is positioned just above the console. It has an adjustable clip to hold any tablet or phone securely.

Noise Level

  • As with all rowers, there is a bit of noise as air moves through the fan. The noise isn’t terrible, but it is present. Be aware that the movement of air through the flywheel does cause some “whirring” noise. When you have air resistance turned up there is more air noise and when it is turned down there is less air noise.

Storage / Folding

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Folding

  • When not folded, the RW500 is a long machine. It isn’t very wide at just 22” in total width, but it extends out 86.5” when fully open. You will need a significant amount of floor space to open and then use the rower appropriately. Also, some workouts have you stand behind the rower and do exercises using the seat, so you will want additional space behind the rower as well.

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Wheels

  • The rower folds up via a handlebar on the track. It is a little tricky to fold since the screen on the front end is heavy. Wheels under the front mount engage when the rower is lifted so you can roll it gently as needed.

iFit and Onboard workouts

Pre-programmed workouts

Nordictrack RW500 Rower Programs

    • There are 30 pre programmed workouts on the machine that will guide you through various intensities and resistance. There is also a featured workout of the day from iFit that is free for non-subscribers, so you can enjoy whatever class or outdoor rowing route
    • is promoted. The onboard workouts are sufficient to keep you active and provide plenty of training variables

iFit Subscription

Nordictrack RW500 Rower iFit

  • iFit is included free for the first year with up to five profiles. You can access iFit by downloading the appropriate app via the included tablet. There are hundreds of rowing classes and outdoor routes on iFit.
    • Studio Rowing Classes:These classes are filmed in a studio with a trainer on a rower in front of you and other participants rowing alongside. Trainers are excellent at cueing form since it can be easy to develop sloppy form when rowing. The resistance is automated, so it will automatically adjust to whatever the trainer is doing.
    • Outdoor Routes all over the world: This is where iFit excels. No other program can compete with the extensive iFit outdoor content. You can choose courses from rivers all over the world. You see the perspective of the rowing trainer with an occasional drone shot or overhead view of the water.

Bottom Line:

The NordicTrack RW500 rower is an impressive, sturdy rowing machine. The seat is comfortable and wide pedals will work with any athletic shoe. The handlebar is also gently padded for extra comfort. While there is a bit of noise from the air fan as you row, we didn’t find it to inhibit our ability to hear and enjoy the iFit workouts.The included tablet makes it so you can enjoy iFit programs but still have the option of the simple LCD console — you aren’t stuck with one or the other. The tablet is Bluetooth enabled, so you can listen to your personal headphones which will sync with the tablet.

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