Hydrow Wave review: It’s a smooth, sleek and compact rower bursting with features, but is it better than the original Hydrow?

Hydrow Wave

BUY IT NOW:

$1,895 / £1,595 (plus $44 / £44 monthly membership), hydrow.com

Design: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Home-gym friendly: 4.5/5
OVERALL: 4/5

Pros:

  • Cheaper than the original
  • Compact design
  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • Engaging classes and inspiring instructors 

Cons:

  • Screen can be tricky to operate 
  • Built-in speakers could be better 
  • Bluetooth audio delay
  • Monthly subscription fees

Hydrow made waves in the rowing space when it launched its debut connected rowing machine in 2021, but is the brand’s newer, slightly cheaper and more compact Wave just as impressive? 

The Hydrow Wave is a more slimline and less space-consuming version of the brand’s original model, measuring about 30% smaller. 

Launched just two months or so after Peloton announced it was getting into the connected rowing space (a machine that’s currently readying for UK launch), the Wave is not only slimmer and sleeker but priced at £400 less than its predecessor, costing £1,595. 

Hydrow Wave design

The Wave is an exquisite bit of kit. With a minimal design of neat, curved edges complemented by high-quality materials such as brushed aluminium and steel, it has an elegance and robustness that justifies its price tag. It measures 204 x 49 x 110cm (80.3 x 19.3 x 43.3in) while the original comes in at 219 x 64 x 84cm (86.2 x 25.2 x 33.1in).

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Despite being more compact that its predecessor, it still has some significant length to it and will dominate smaller spaces. However, it’s a relatively lightweight device by rower standards (at 43kg / 94.8lb compared to the original at 66kg / 145.5lb) and has built-in casters on its front legs, allowing for easy transport and storage. 

A man in an apartment using the Hydrow Wave rowing machine

The Hydrow Wave rower won’t look out of place in most living rooms – as long as you can find the space

Hydrow Wave performance

Despite its rather svelte appearance, the Hydrow Wave feels sturdy and robust underfoot when in use, which is important for something you’re throwing your entire body weight up and down, at speed.

It also feels incredibly smooth thanks to its drag technology and computer-controlled resistance, which have been developed to replicate the natural feel of rowing on water. It’s almost as realistic as the WaterRower Original Series. You’ll appreciate that smoothness when you’re really going for it. It’s almost like you’re out there on the waves, getting all the benefits of rowing: a low-impact, total-body workout. And without getting wet.

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As for the Hydrow platform, it’s easy to use and boasts an array of engaging live daily workouts with Hydrow athletes, including Olympians and world-class rowers, alongside an ever-growing library of on-demand content. It works well, is fun to exercise alongside and feels like a premium service. But then so it should for a £44 monthly subscription cost.

How does the Hydrow Wave compare to its rivals?

Still, not many other rowers sport such an advanced built-in content platform. The imminent Peloton Row looks to become its most immediate rival. Both products offer connected fitness experiences, but the Peloton Row looks more advanced. It’ll cost almost double the price of the Hydrow Wave and will focus on high-intensity workouts and competitive challenges.

The Hydrow Wave, on the other hand, is more of a ‘lite’ option, emphasising the immersive and meditative aspects of rowing, with on-demand classes that feature scenic rowing videos.

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While you could compare the workout experience of the Hydrow Wave to existing popular rowers such as the Concept2 RowErg, it’s difficult to draw parallels since the Wave’s unique live content offering is something that transforms the entire workout experience.

Hydrow Wave disadvantages

One of the few things that disappointed us was the touchscreen display, which allows users to access the connected Hydrow platform. Since it’s positioned on an arm at a set distance from the seat, the problem we found is that it can be awkward to reach – even with the rower’s seat right at the very front of the machine’s slide.

Of course, it’s much easier to control when your feet aren’t strapped into the footrests, but if you’re looking to alter settings mid-workout or want to see smaller detail like stats the screen can feel too far away. This isn’t as much of a problem on the original Hydrow machine as it features a much larger 22-inch display over the Wave’s 16-inch variant. 

Another slight niggle we have is regarding the quality of the audio coming from the Wave’s built-in speakers. At higher volumes it sounds tinny, lacking the richness and depth you’d expect from a high-end bit of kit. When connecting it to an external speaker via Bluetooth there’s also a slight delay, which can be irritating. 

Should you buy a Hydrow Wave?

When first released in the UK, the Hydrow Wave was priced at a more accessible £1,395. Now it’s risen to £1,595, which still seems good value – but it’s certainly not cheap. Plus you need to factor in the £44/month membership (up from £38 last year) to access the Hydrow platform. That seems steep when you consider Peloton’s (already quite expensive) all-access membership is £39/month. And that’s all that’s required for one household, even if you own multiple Peloton devices.

Since Hydrow so far only offers rowing machines, it’s a big price to pay when there’s no opportunity to add other equipment types to your home gym arsenal that share the same subscription.

Yet while the Wave is an expense, it does offer one of the best authentic rowing experiences on the market. It feels robust, looks stunning and would prove a great complement to any home gym. Still, if it’s the best experience you’re after, it might be worth paying the extra for the original Hydrow model to get the bigger screen and better audio in a form factor that’s not actually all that bigger. 

Words: Lee Bell