Lighter on your knees than a treadmill and harsher on your core than an elliptical, it’s no wonder so many have fallen in love with the rowing machine. Rowing is a low-impact and high-intensity workout accessible for all fitness levels. Because of rowing’s sheer efficiency as an exercise, the activity is becoming a go-to-workout routine for people short on time but set on building both cardio and strength.

However, getting in a boat and rowing upstream isn’t very practical for most people these days. Fortunately, fitness brands have jumped at the opportunity to make rowing-based exercise accessible from the comfort of your living room. And if you know you want a quality, practical rower with solid interactive programming, you can parse your search down to two rowers that fit the bill: The CITYROW Max Rower vs. the Hydrow. Both rowers offer high-end features, quality builds and a smooth and quiet row of motion through different technologies. There are also distinct differences between the two, and in this comparison, we’ll break down which features the rowers share and which features set them apart. From there, you can decide which rower will best fit your space and lifestyle.

CITYROW Max Rower Vs Hydrow Rower: Comparison Chart


Hydrow Rower





$29/month or $348/year



19.5” HD screen

22” HD screen


61 lbs (dry) or 98 pounds with 17 liter full water tank

145 lbs


In use: 83.5” length x 22.25” width x 20” height

Stored: 20” depth x 22.25” width x 83.5” height

In use: 86″ length x 25″ width x 47″ height

Stored: 33″ depth x 25″ width x 86″ height


5 years for the frame, 3 years for non-electronic components and 12 months for the tablet

5 years for the frame and storage kit, 12 months for screen and any other electronic components

What is the CITYROW Max Rower?

 CITYROW GO Rower vs The Hydrow Rower

The CITYROW Max Rower is a lightweight stationary rowing machine. The rower uses a water tank to create resistance, akin to the real-life experience of rowing a boat. There is a 19.5-inch HD sweat-proof adjustable touchscreen providing you with trainer-led interactive classes and real-time metrics to help motivate you and better accomplish your goals. Subscriptions include a wide variety of interactive training that’s accessible to all levels. Tests have determined that the Max Rower is a very quiet rower compared to others and includes a BlueTooth headphone connection option. If you train in a noise-friendly space, two Hi-Fi 10-watt speakers are included for programming. You can compact and store the rower easily, taking up less floor space than a small table. Simply set the rower upright, adjust the television and use its wheels for effortless movement. The Max Rower’s see-through water resistance tank responds with a captivating wave to each motion, which helps stimulate a calming and meditative feeling many rowers adore while rowing.

Total Weight: 98 lbs including 17 liter tank

Programming: Yes, via CITYROW app subscription. $29/month or $348/year

Display: 19.5” HD screen

Weight: 61 lbs (dry) or 98 lbs with 17 liter full water tank

Footprint: In use: 83.5” length  x 22.25” width x 20” height

Stored: 20” depth x 22.25” width x 83.5” height

Warranty: 5 years for the frame, 3 years for non-electronic components and 12 months for the tablet

Reasons to Buy

  • Easily stored
  • Lightweight for a rower
  • Loud quality speakers

Reasons to Avoid

  • Low seat placement may cause knee stress
  • No outdoor rowing classes
  • Expensive

How does CITYROW Max Rower work?

The CITYROW Max Rower uses a self-paced water-drag to deliver the row motion and regulate intensity. When a boat crew travels through the water, their effort is based on the pace of their row. If they want to go faster through the water, they will need to row harder. The water-tank-based design simulates this, removing the need for manually adjustable resistance. Reflecting the literal practice of rowing-on-water, a more intense workout on the Max Rower means to try and row faster. The amount of water in the tank does not affect resistance but resembles the weight of a boat or crew. If you want to feel you are moving a heavier boat and crew you would add more water, or for the opposite you would decrease it. Regardless, the Max Rower has determined through years of testing that a 17-liter-full water tank best resembles the experience of competitive rowing as described by professionals.

Who is the CITYROW Max Rower best for?

The CITYROW Max Rower is a rower for rowing fans of all kinds. Extensive programming, helpful tutorials and a self-paced water resistance mechanism make the rower accessible to all skill levels. The Max Rower is a great rower for people with limited space. Unlike treadmills or ellipticals, the Max Rower lets you change it to an upright position anywhere in your house (radically minimizing the rower’s floor footprint), and boasts a lightweight build (especially when compared to other rowers). The two factors make the Max Rower great for people with smaller homes who don’t want to deal with a tedious or frustrating storage process.

More about CITYROW

The CITYROW Max Rower has a wood and aluminum construction, giving the rower an appealing look and warm feel. The subscription includes 1000-plus classes ranging from 10 to 50 minutes. Classes guide you in the intensity of your training. Beyond endurance classes that are rowing only, its programming offers ways to incorporate your rowing experience into a broader workout. HIIT and strength classes are available that incorporate weights and non-row exercises you can do parallel to your rower. Yoga and mobility courses are also available to encourage healthy joint and muscle care as your body develops (according to studied row-based results). Workout data is measured and compiled as you train and over time, helping you better plan your goals and realize your accomplishments. Unfortunately, the CITYROW app subscription doesn’t include outdoor scenic classes, with everything being studio-based. The screen being sweat-proof helps prevent that frustration we all know too well when trying to change a song or video on our phone or tablet in the heat of a good workout.

What is the Hydrow Rower?

 CITYROW GO Max Rower vs The Hydrow Rower

The Hydrow is an indoor rowing machine that uses computer-controlled electromagnetic resistance to regulate your row. The rower includes a 22-inch adjustable HD sweat-proof screen with two user-targeted three-watt speakers that are BlueTooth accessible, delivering sound to headphones and capturing your heart rate via fitness trackers. Hydrow requires a $38/month subscription fee for its pre-recorded and live interactive content. With the subscription, you can expect over 3000 pre-recorded row classes, live instructors, competitions and non-row-based training courses to incorporate into your routine. You can store the machine upright, saving a great deal of space, but this requires an additional $80 add-on storage kit and installing a wall mount.

Total Weight: 145 lbs

Programming: Yes, via Hydrow subscription. $38/month

Display: 22” HD screen

Weight: 145 lbs

Footprint: In use: 86″ length x 25″ width x 47″ height

Stored: 25″ width  x 33″ depth x 86″ height

Warranty: 5 years for the frame and storage kit, 12 months for screen and any other electronic components

Reasons to Buy 

  • Quiet
  • Large HD screen
  • Durable construction

Reasons to Avoid 

  • Heavy weight
  • Storage requires additional kit and fee
  • Speakers are not very loud

How does the Hydrow work?

Hydrow’s design attempts to best resemble the experience of rowing through water, without actually using water. Using a computer-controlled electromagnetic resistance, you can expect a smooth row. Electromagnetic resistance is a frictionless technology mechanism, making the Hydrow a far less noisy row than other rowing machines. Resistance is regulated through the computer interface. Following assembly, you simply need to connect the computer to your WiFi or ethernet cord, strap in and go. 

Who is the Hydrow best for?

Hydrow is for rowers seeking a quiet and sleek rowing machine. The advanced and shiny design can make for a decorative staple in any room on its own. Rowers who want that on-the-river feeling without having to refill a water tank will appreciate the unique electromagnetic technology that simulates this experience quite well. For rowers seeking outdoor-based interactive rowing, Hydrow’s library offers an extensive selection of scenic options.

More about Hydrow

The Hydrow has an aluminum and steel frame with a flat anthracite polymer body that gives the rower a truly modern look. It’s designed to maximize a quiet and smooth row motion. When you strap in, you are elevated 16.5-inches (This makes for easier access for people struggling with knee pain.) from the floor and placed precisely in front of an HD interactive screen. This elevation and angle placement help to stimulate the imagination, feeling as if there is water underneath your seat, creating a more immersive experience with the programming. The rower’s 6-watt speakers are not particularly loud but are designed to target and surround you directly as you row forward and back to try and simulate an on-the-river-type feeling. The combined factors of the Hydrow are very fluid in terms of each complementing the other to help the rower escape in the motions. Hydrow’s subscription offers thousands of pre-recorded workouts, live interactive workouts, optional landscapes and competitive distance rows. The programming package also includes off-machine yoga, pilates and strength training to complement your rowing session.

Comparing the CITYROW Max Rower and Hydrow Rower

CITYROW Max Rower’s features 

The CITYROW Max Rower’s simpler technology makes the rower noticeably lighter than the Hydrow, increasing the ease of the rower’s mobility when moving the machine around the house. Not needing a wall mount or any additional installation to store the Max Rower makes it a preferable rower when anticipating guests or needing extra space. The screen can swivel 30-degrees to either side for easy viewing access of the CITYROW app’s interactive workouts on and off the machine. The louder 20-watt speakers also can help increase the space you use around the rower by properly delivering sound to the whole room when diversifying your row routine. The live and on-demand classes are studio-style, making them preferable for people who thrive more in gym-class settings. If you prefer more of a rustic and warm aesthetic, the Max Rower’s sustainable black-stained wood and black aluminum frame would also be ideal compared to the colder and more modern steel look of the Hydrow. The CITYROW brand prides itself on delivering this rower fully assembled and not charging a fee if returned during their 30-day testing trial, while the Hydrow charges a $250 return fee and offers only a 14-day trial (unless you qualify as a first time Hydrow customer or are purchasing the Hydrow during a promotion). The CITYROW app’s monthly subscription is also $9 less, while still offering a great selection of classes. 

Hydrow features

Hydrow offers a huge library of out-of-studio scenic classes that are appealing when trying to stimulate your imagination. This option of a calmer or natural environment to interact with when training, rather than purely studio-based classes, certainly helps to distinguish Hydrow’s subscription package. Our testers can attest that the on-water follow-along training is “extremely fun”. For more precise and straightforward resistance and pressure calculation, the computer-based control you have over the force behind your pull can make judging or regulating your performance feel easier despite both machines offering real-time metrics. Hydrow’s modern aesthetic is not only a matter of looks, as the Hydrow’s steel and aluminum frame may make the rower more durable over time than the CITYROW Max Rower. Due to the seat’s elevation from the ground, it may be more easily accessible for people with knee and joint injuries to get on and off the machine. If the sound of splashing water isn’t an appeal when rowing, Hydrow technology is virtually silent. Finally, if a larger screen size is a plus for you, the extra 2.5-inches you get with Hydrow’s monitor may make it a better choice.


The CITYROW Max Rower is delivered to your door fully assembled and able to be returned without a fee. On the other hand, the Hydrow requires a fee for in-home installation and may require two people for assembly. The two machines are very similarly priced, with the Max Rower ($2,195) only $50 more than the Hydrow ($2,145), but this price difference changes with Hydrow’s more expensive subscription. Also, Hydrow’s additional $80 storage kit fee may come as a surprise when the rower already costs more than $2,000. If you are on a tighter budget and want a less heavy rower to handle in your home, the CITYROW Max Rower may be for you. But if you have the space, don’t mind the more complicated storage process, enjoy a more modern look and outdoor interactive rowing options are a priority for you, then the Hydrow may be worth the price difference.

Frequently Asked Questions