Sole SR500 Rower Review: Rated and Compared For Home Gyms

If you’re looking for a high-end rower, there’s no shortage of options. More and more fitness brands are catering to people who want access to commercial-level equipment from the comforts of home, and the Sole Fitness company is one of them. 

The SR500 rower from Sole Fitness is designed for at-home workouts, and it's built with many features you'd find from a rower in a commercial gym environment. It's sturdy, well-built, fun to ride, and easy to use, but is it worth buying for your home gym? 

Let’s find out in this complete Sole SR500 rower review! 

When shopping around for a rowing machine, the first thing to do is consider each model’s features and functions. This is a great way to determine if a rower comes equipped with what you want and need in terms of comfort, rowing motion, adjustability, weight limitations, and more.  

Compared to other rowers in its class and price range, here are some of the unique features that make the SR500 stand out: 

16 Levels Air & Magnetic Resistance + Wireless Adjustable Resistance 

The first feature that makes the Sole SR500 stand out is the dual resistance system. Instead of utilizing a single type of resistance, this rower uses both air and magnetic resistance to create tension and adjust each workout’s challenge level. You get the best of both worlds by using both air and magnetic resistance as opposed to just one.

The SR500 has 16 different resistance levels to cater to each individual's challenge preferences. The levels can be easily adjusted using the buttons on the handgrips.

SOLE SR500 Rower review

Many rowers require you to make adjustments using the display console, which can interrupt your workout. Thanks to the wireless adjustable resistance, that won't be a problem with the SR500.

Adjustable Footrest With Numbered Sizing 

The oversized foot pedals fit just about any foot size, and it’s easy to make adjustments to the straps thanks to the addition of sizing numbers. This is another feature that most rowers don’t have, and it’s one that makes your rowing experience a lot more comfortable.

Built With High Strength Steel & Durable Powder Coating 

SOLE SR500 rower powder coating

The SR500 has a maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds, and this is all thanks to the durable frame and commercial-grade materials.

The frame is built from high-strength steel, the seat rail is made from aluminum, and the entire machine is powder-coated for added protection against sweat.  

Convenient Fold Up Frame 

Although the SR500 is a large machine that requires a good amount of space while in use, it doesn’t take up much space in storage. That’s thanks to the folding frame design. All you have to do to fold your rowing machine is loosen a knob, fold the seat rail, and tighten the knob - that’s it! 

Bright LCD With Adjustable Console Angle & Arm 

The SR500’s display may be small compared to some other high-end rowers, but it sure is mighty. This LCD is backlit for easy reading, and it can be angled for easy viewing from any position.  

Within the console, you’ll find a variety of preset workouts to choose from, including manual mode, heart rate programs, target calorie burning, interval training, fat burn, and more.  

SOLE SR500 rower LCD display

Quiet & Durable Belt Drive 

I won’t go as far as to say that the SR500 is the quietest rower on the market, but it’s definitely considered a quiet machine. The belt-driven design was specifically made to minimize noise so that you can row in peace and not disturb anyone around you.


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Machine Specifications 

Assembled Dimensions

94"L x 18"W x 38"H 

Machine Weight

115 lbs 

Maximum Weight Capacity

515 lbs 

Resistance Type

Air & Magnetic 

Resistance Levels

16 

Performance Monitoring

5.5” backlit LCD 

Warranty

Frame: Lifetime 

Parts: 3 years 

Labor: 1 year 

After using the Sole SR500 Rower, I was able to experience firsthand all that this machine had to offer as well as determine its shortcomings. Here’s what I found out:  

Assembly & Maintenance 

Assembling this rowing machine is fast and easy, and most people can do it in under 30 minutes. Putting it together involves attaching the stabilizer legs to each end, securing the rail to the frame, and connecting the pedals and seat. That’s about it.  

Sole provides simple and straightforward assembly instructions in the SR500 User Manual, so you’ll find everything you need there. Just keep in mind that this is a fairly heavy machine, so it’s best to have an extra set of hands to help with putting it together.  

Design & Features  

The best aspect of the SR500’s design is its frame. The rower’s frame is one of the sturdiest I’ve come across, and that’s proven by the high 515-pound weight capacity. It’s made from a combination of heavy-duty steel and aluminum, and even though it’s quite heavy, it folds at the center for convenient storage and transport.  

Another great feature of the SR500 is its ergonomic design. It’s clear right off the bat that this rower was made for comfort; the rowing motion is smooth, the seat is well-padded, and the foot pedals are fully adjustable to fit your exact shoe size.  

The best feature, though, is the hands-free wireless resistance adjustment. The buttons to adjust the resistance level are located directly on the handgrips, so changing things up with your workout is easier than ever. There’s no need to stop rowing to reach the console for adjustments; it can be done directly on the handle.  

Weight & Height Limitations 

As I mentioned, this rower has an insanely high weight capacity of 515 pounds. That’s a lot higher than most rowers on the market, which typically range from 250 to 350-pound weight limitations. For that reason, I highly recommend the SR500 for larger individuals who need extra weight support.  

While most taller individuals can use this rower comfortably, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone over 6’2” or 6’3”. The seat only travels 39” along the rail, which might not be enough for you if you have long limbs. There haven’t been many complaints regarding height limitations, but if you are on the tall side, consider a rower with a seat that travels 50” or more.  

Workout Quality & Performance 

If it’s intensity that you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed with the SR500. While it does cater to all fitness levels, including beginners, I was able to burn a lot of calories rowing in a short amount of time, breaking a sweat almost immediately.  

One thing I particularly love about this rower is the preset workout options. Aside from manual mode, there are 10 different training programs to choose from, including:  

  • Set Distance 
  • Set Time 
  • Set Calories  
  • 20/10 Interval 
  • 10/20 Interval 
  • Custom Interval 
  • Fat Burn 
  • Cardio 
  • Strength  
  • Game Mode 

The Game Mode is an interesting one, and it’s great if you want to experience a different type of rowing workout. It basically allows you to race against the rower to finish first, which is extremely motivating and surprisingly fun.  

Using The Console  

As soon as I sat down to use the SR500, I was a little disappointed by the small display. The LCD is only 5.5”, and as someone who has personally used rowers with 22” touchscreen displays, like the Ergatta and the Hydrow machines, this rower’s console is a bit underwhelming.

That said, the basicness of the console comes with a few perks, like the fact that it’s super easy to use. Navigating the settings and workouts can be done without any instruction whatsoever, but if you do need help, you can find everything in the User Manual.  

Aside from the small size, I’m not loving that this rower doesn’t include a device holder in the console. Normally I stream on-demand rowing workouts, and a lot of rowers would allow me to set up a tablet directly on the console. This one doesn’t, which is definitely something I would like to see improved with Sole’s next SR model.  

Footprint & Storage 

This is not a small rower, so if you’re short on space, you may want to consider a more compact rowing machine. This rower is a whopping 94” long, which means you need at least 8 feet of space to use it. 

The good news is that the SR500 features an easy-folding design so that you can minimize its footprint in a matter of seconds. There's a knob located on the underside of the frame, so start by loosening the knob, then fold the machine, then finish by tightening the knob to lock everything into place.  

Price & Warranty 

Pricewise, you might see the cost and immediately think this is way out of your budget, but it’s actually cheaper than a lot of the high-end rowers available. It falls just under $1000, which is a lot less than the $2000+ price tags of Peloton-quality rowing machines.  

Unlike many other rowers, you don’t have to pay ongoing costs for app memberships or subscriptions. You can, of course, use your own fitness apps and stream them from a TV, but that’s completely up to you.  

While you can purchase the rower from Sole directly, other retailers typically sell the SR500 for cheaper, like Amazon or Walmart. Whether you buy from the Sole website or from somewhere else, the lifetime frame warranty, 3-year parts warranty, and 1-year labor warranty still apply.  


Pros & Cons Of The SR500 Rower 

The best thing about the SR500 rower is probably that it’s designed for a high-intensity style workout that can be done at home. Whether the aim is to lose weight, build strength, or add to HIIT workouts, it’s great for anyone who’s looking for intense cardio. 

If you just want a basic beginner rower for easy cardio, this machine might not be the best choice for you. The workouts cater to all fitness levels, but the price does not, so if you’re not interested in all the bells and whistles, you’re better off going with a cheaper model.  

Even the best rowers have room for improvement, and the Sole Fitness SR500 is no exception. It comes with both pros and cons, which are detailed below. 

The Good 

  • Excellent build quality and sturdy frame 
  • Handlebars come with resistance controls, making it easy to adjust tension while rowing 
  • High 515-pound user weight capacity 
  • High 19” seat that makes it easy to dismount the rower  
  • Lifetime warranty coverage on the rower’s frame 

The Bad 

  • Monitor is lacking in advanced functionality, and it’s quite small 
  • Rower’s console doesn’t include a device holder for a tablet or smartphone 
  • Large footprint that isn’t ideal for small workout areas 

Comparing Sole SR500 With Similar Rowers 

Before you can decide if the SR500 is actually the right rowing machine for you, you have to weigh all the options. There are a lot of great rowers out there, and many of them come with even more features than Sole’s top-selling model. If the SR500 is appealing to you, here are a few more rowers to consider:  

Sole SR500 Vs Concept 2 Model D   

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Concept D is one of the most well-known names in the fitness industry, primarily because of their dependable, durable rowing machines. The company’s Model D (also known as the RowErg) is a great addition to any home gym, especially if the commercial-grade quality is what you’re after.  

The Model D is very similar in terms of resistance, performance monitoring, weight capacity, and price, so it’s tough to choose the winner when comparing these 2 models. The main reason to go with the Concept 2 rower is the brand’s sterling reputation; they’ve been producing rowers since the 80s, so they clearly know what they’re doing.  

Sole SR500 Vs Sole SR400  

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Sole’s SR400 rower is a step-down from the SR500. It’s very similar in design and functionality, but it's pretty obvious that the company made some improvements to comfort features and frame durability with the newer model. For that reason, the SR500 is the winner when comparing Sole SR400 vs SR500. 

Sole SR500 Vs LifeCORE Fitness R100  

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Another great choice for a residential rowing machine with commercial build quality is the LifeCORE R100. This machine has a slightly smaller footprint, so it’s not as ideal for taller users, but it’s great for compact areas. Best of all, it has a high 600-pound weight capacity thanks to the sturdy alloy steel frame.  


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How long does the Sole SR500 last? 

You can tell that this is a durable machine just from the lifetime frame warranty, so as long as you take care of the machine and keep up with regular maintenance, you can get 5 to 10 years of use out of your SR500.  

Where can I find replacement parts for my Sole SR500 rower? 

The best place to find Sole SR500 rower parts is from the manufacturer directly. Sole makes it really easy to fill out an online request form for service and parts 

How do you adjust the resistance level of the Sole SR500 rowing machine? 

You can change the resistance level by hitting the red Up and Down arrows that are located on the handgrips. This means you don’t have to stop rowing to change settings on the screen; just use your thumbs to make quick resistance adjustments while you continue rowing.  

Does the Sole SR500 fold? 

Yes! Like most high-end rowers, the SR500 features a folding design for easy storage. The aluminum rail folds at the center, cutting the rower's footprint in half.  


Conclusion

After examining the Sole Fitness SR500 rower in-depth, it’s safe to say that this machine is worth every penny. It’s durable, easy to store, offers smooth (and easy to adjust) resistance, and comes with several preset workout programs that cater to all fitness goals.  

Aside from the large footprint, the only potential complaint would be from people who are looking for a more advanced display system. The small LCD might not cut it for you if you prefer streaming live or on-demand workouts directly from your rower. If that’s the case, you’re better off going with the Ergatta, Hydrow, or NordicTrack RW900 instead.  

Last Updated on April 19, 2022