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First Degree Fitness E-520 Fluid Rower Review

E-520 From the Rear Review



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First Degree have set them self as one of the worlds leading rowing machine companies.  All of their products are high end, and this is the pinnacle.  The First Degree Fitness E-520 Fluid Rower is designed to perform in all areas: Construction, Build Quality, Technology, Effectiveness, Comfort.

We look at this machine in full, and compare it against the other First Degree Products, advise the best place to buy and recommend whether you should actually push the button on this.E-520 Display

Often when it comes to cardio machines I don’t really worry that they are not the fastest or the best made as its normally just me against the machine.  The E-520 crushes that notion, as you can now exercise and race against opponents round the world.  When its you and the machine against the world then you need to take every advantage you can,  choosing the fastest machine is part of that.

A quick look at the Fluid Rower brand pedigree.  They have really stacked up the awards with Mens Health, calling them one of the best rowing machines on the market.

The Resistance

With the Rower emulating the feel of being out on the water, this is the medium that the E-520 uses.  The advantage of using water is many fold, it gives the resistance a very natural feel, the harder you pull the more the water will resist.  This is just like the real thing.  In addition is the wonderful sound it makes, as the blades pull through the water you get the great sound of flowing water showing just how hard you are working.

Unlike air resistance the water is much quieter, and the resistance is applied more evenly through the stroke.

Each paddle is made of high grade steel that can be adjusted to give 16 levels of resistance.

Smooth Sailing

To ensure your comfort while rowing the E-25o, as you might expect, has a superb seat.  Contoured and large, the saddle is mounted on to some precise rails that glide effortlessly.  If you are not rowing fast enough, its not from drag in the seat.  This will be important come race time!

With the optional back rest you can avoid falling off the back of the seat.

At the Helm

The oars are represented by a standard t-bar handle, connected by a “zero take up” cable.  This means that from the first hint of pull the paddles are engaged in the water and no effort is wasted taking in the slack.  To maximise performance the cable is made from carbon fiber, 5 times stronger than steel, to ensure no effort is lost in the cable stretching.  Also there is no need to lubricate or maintain this, unlike a chain drive.

Rubber is used to coat the handles, so they are comfortable and will still be grippy when your hands warm up.  The rubber won’t wear out like foam handles can and should last for years of use.

First Degree e-520 DisplayNavigations Aids

Here you have two options, there is of course the built-in console.  There is also the option to connect to a large screen.

The standard console is a good size, clear and easy to use.  The display is mounted so that its still  fairly easy to reach when rowing, sometimes I struggle to change the display settings on a concept.  Be careful just to mount it in reach as it can be moved up and down.

One small niggle is that the buttons are quite small, and can get a little fiddly to use.  Fortunately there are quite a few, so you don’t have to run through menu options to change settings.

It is compatible with chest straps (not supplied).

The star of the show is the link up through the online race option.

Pros and Cons of the E-520 Fluid Rower


  • The water provides great tactile feedback
  • Incredibly smooth seat runners


  • The backrest and online races are optional extras


The First Degree E-520 is an incredible indoor rower, yes its expensive, but it is built to last and take years of abuse.  If you have any inkling of competitive then you will be hooked on the online racing.  This is the F1 car of indoor rowing machines, superbly engineered to deliver maximum performance of the racer.

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