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Last Updated: January 1, 2023
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.
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
- Folds up when not in use
- Includes 30 Days 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
- Console does not include a full-color touchscreen like the RW900
- It does require a bit of space when fully open
- 5” Backlit Display and Adjustable Console
- The display is clear and easy to see. Console adjusts up and down for precise visibility.
- Includes 1 Month NordicTrack iFit® membership**
- iFit includes hundreds of rowing classes and outdoor routes to enjoy while on your rower. The first month 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 month 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.
- 10” Portal 10i™ Tablet Included
- 5” Backlit Display
- Adjustable Console
- Includes 30 Day NordicTrack iFit® membership**
- Auxiliary Music Port
- Two 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers
- Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
- Adjustable SMR™ (Silent Magnetic Resistance)
- 26 Digital Resistance Levels
- 250 Lb. User Capacity
- Oversized Steel Seat Rail
- Oversized, Pivoting Pedals
- Adjustable Nylon Foot Straps
- SoftTouch™ Ergonomic Handle
- Front-mounted Transport Wheels
- SpaceSaver® Design
- 30 Preset Workout Apps
- 86.5″ L x 22.0″ W x 42.8″ H Footprint
- Frame: 10-Year Warranty
- Parts: 2-Year Warranty
- Labor: 1-Year Warranty
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- There are no fans on the RW500, but you get a bit of air flow from the flywheel itself while rowing.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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 is included free for the first 30 days 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.
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.
Is this a hinged construction? What is the weight rating? We are looking for a rowing machine that can sit aa person 294 lbs.
All the NordicTrack rowers have a maximum user weight of 250 pounds, so we wouldn’t recommend those — however, we highly recommend the Concept2 Model D rower. It is on backorder right now due to COVID, but it has a 500lb max weight and is the premier rower used all over the world. It doesn’t have a touchscreen, but the PM5 monitor is actually quite impressive.
The WaterRower is another option. It has nearly unlimited maximum weight because the track rests on the floor. It has a water tank rather than an air tank.
I can’t figure where to plug it in on the frame
The plug goes into a small port on the top of the flywheel. It looks like a little bolt or screw hole, but this is where you plug the end of the cord into the RW500. The other end should plug into the wall.
Generally, what do you know about Nordic Trac’s customer service policy. I have read some bad reviews online. Thank you for our thorough written and video review of the rower. It really helped.
We’ve read lots of negative comments on Nordictrack as well. In our experience, Nordictrack isn’t nearly as terrible as is often portrayed. We have had issues with a few machines and we’ve had to deal with customer service ourselves. Occasionally, we run into a rep that isn’t as helpful. But most of the time, we are able to get our questions answered and machines repaired when needed. The chat box that shows up when you go to the Nordictrack website is not customer service — this is their sales department. The chat option tends to be much less helpful than when you call customer service directly. Also, COVID has delayed manufacturing on most replacement parts, so I know there is a backlog of needed parts right now. This isn’t limited to Nordictrack — all the manufacturers are experiencing this problem.
Are the 30 pre-programmed workouts on the RW500 actual full-color videos that play on the tablet (similar to the iFit subscription videos), or are they just text graphics as shown on your image of on the 5” backlit LCD display?
The free workouts are graph displays that show up on the 5″ touchscreen. To get the full color videos you’ll need an iFit subscription.
If we buy the a rower, bike, and treadmill for the family; after the 1 year iFit trail, can we purchase 1 family subscription for all 3 machines?
Yes, you only need one subscription which will provide up to 5 profiles for your family. You don’t need a separate subscription for each machine.
How is the actual resistance on this? I’m pretty fit, and a lot of reviews say it’s too weak.
This doesn’t have the unlimited resistance you’ll find on a Concept 2 rower. It does have an air resistance flywheel, but it’s smaller than on a C2. The magnetic resistance adds additional resistance levels, but if you are a strong rower and used to the unlimited power of a C2, you may find you can out-row the RW500.
This model seems really good but I don’t find it anymore. Could have been replace by the RW600?
Yes, most likely Nordictrack has replaced the RW500 with the new RW600. We don’t know if they plan to bring the RW500 back so we’ve left the review up for now. The RW600 has a touchscreen rather than an LCD screen and tablet and is well priced.
For someone who is 6’4, I always worry about the track length to ensure I can stretch my legs out when rowing. In your experience, have taller people been able to use this machine?
The track is 39″ long. Taller people are able to use the machine, but it depends a bit on your inseam length. If your inseam is 39″ or less you’ll be fine.
Great review. Saw your video comparing this with the concept 2 and another machine on youtube. In it you said the concept 2 doesn’t need power, the hydro did but not sure you mentioned the nordictrack. In the video was trying to sport power cables. Could only see one from the hydro but saw the nordic track manual does feature a plug.
As far as resistance goes how does the nordictrack compare to concept 2. I’ve used the concept 2 previously and rowed on top level resistance or 1 down. I’ve seen some places say that combo air and magnetic resistence machines can have higher resistence than just air resistence but other places say the top resistence on the nordictrack was more like a 6 or 7 on concept 2.
Essentially looking for a good rower for a garage gym. So was slightly worried about the temperature warning with the nordictrack as through the winter it can be close to 0 Celsius in the garage (live in the south of UK, winters clearly winter but rarely have snow).
Those are good questions. Yes, the Nordictrack rower requires power. Air + magnetic resistance is more customizable (you can find and hold a set resistance level) but it does not have more total resistance. In fact, as you mentioned, users have compared the top resistance on the Nordictrack rower to roughly 70-80% of the max resistance on the Concept 2. For a garage gym that gets cold, I’d recommend the Concept 2 rower without question. It is durable, powerful, doesn’t need a plug, and can be stored vertically so it’s out of the way when not in use.
So the iFit rowing sessions control the resistance on the rower and provides a video visualization from the rower’s perspective on the tablet? Similar functionality on the 600 and 900 but on larger touchscreens?
Are there 3rd party apps for rowers like there are for bikes?
Yes, the rowing sessions on the RW500 are the exact same as the RW600 and RW900. Some of the more popular 3rd party rowing apps are: ASensei, CityRow Go, WaterRower & KinoMap.
I have the RW500 and now notice a “clunking” when the flywheel is engaging. Is this a common problem with this rower.
No, that doesn’t sound like a normal noise. One of the magnets could be loose which could cause that noise when you adjust resistance. I’d recommend contacting Nordictrack about that – hopefully they can provide some assistance.
Do you have to use the tablet that comes with it or could you use a larger android tablet with the ifit app installed on it?
The tablet that comes with is already preloaded with iFit and syncs with the RW500. We haven’t tested it with another tablet – so we can’t verify it will sync in the same way. Theoretically it should — but we can’t say for sure. We sold the RW500 we had here in our studio because Nordictrack no longer carries it on their website, so I can’t check for sure, sorry.