The FDF E-520 Evolution Fluid Rower is a champion indoor water rower designed for the health club or commercial gym environment. The E-520 water rowing machine’s shorter length, a higher seat and rugged performance ensure robust performance, perfect for any fitness level.
The FDF E-520 Evolution offers unrivaled natural catch and resistance, featuring FDF’s patented Variable Fluid innovation for instantly adjustable resistance at the turn of a lever. With this in mind, the dual water tank resistance system delivers a massive range of resistance to suit every rower, from seniors to professional athletes and personal training.
The Interactive Performance Monitor (IPM) with USB port allows for online connectivity. Thus, you’ll be able to use various compatible online apps, such as the NetAthlon 2 XF for Rowers, to compete with others or train solo in a virtual 3D environment.
The IPM displays time; speed; distance; stoke rate; calories per hour; watts; 20 level adjustment, pacer. The IPM gives you quick start, manual programs, interval training, and it’s telemetrically fitted with Heart Rate receiver. However, the HR chest strap (is sold separately).
Learn more in my complete review below
Product: FDF E-520 Evolution Fluid Rower
Warranty: Frame Ten years / Tank and seals three years / Mechanical and wear parts two years
My rating: 8.5/10
Affiliate Disclosure: I may earn commissions from purchases made through links in this post.
E-520 Frame and parts
This First Degree Fitness rower is part aluminum, part steel. The front part of the frame which supports the water tank and the machine’s drive system is steel tubing. The dual rail system, however, is made of durable anodized aluminum. It’s made to support users up to 330 lbs (150 kg).
Like most rowing machines, the FDF E-520 is relatively large, especially lengthwise. It takes 75″L x 32″W (191 x 82 cm) when fully assembled; thus, it’s not exactly a machine for small spaces. Also, it requires at least two feet of clearance on each side and at the rear, for safe and proper operation. The frame doesn’t fold; however, it can store vertically.
The machine is rather heavy, with an assembled weight over 150 lbs. However, its front foot stabilizers incorporate transport wheels, which makes its relocation much more manageable. Both front and rear stabilizers provide a superior grip onto the floor.
All the metallic parts in the frame come with corrosion-resistant gray paint. The sustaining base of the seat has a black finish though.
The E-520 comes with size-adjustable footrests. They’re large enough to accommodate shoes of all sizes. They have adjustable straps for extra foot stability if needed. They integrate heel guards, which also add stability to the positioning of the feet.
However, their angle is not adjustable. The metallic plate they sit on is part of the steel frame, set at an angle of approx. 45°, though, providing optimal comfort.
Last but not least, the machine comes with a Deluxe Ergonomic handle, which allows a comfortable grip. It’s slightly curved towards the user to alleviate the stress on the wrists and elbows. It’s attached to a heavy-duty, maintenance-free nylon strap, designed to last for many years of use.
The First Degree Fitness E-520 fluid rower comes with an ergonomic seat. The top of the seat features a contoured surface, to provide optimal comfort, also integrating a thin layer of padding. One of the best parts about the seat of this rower is that it’s situated quite high above floor level, at approx — 18″ (45 cm).
Thus, making it easy to mount and dismount, especially for elderly users, or users with disabilities. There’s also an optional backrest accessory for the seat.
As opposed to the FDF Daytona Challenge AR, the E-520 features a dual rail system. Thus, the rollers of the seat are in the inside parts of the rails. They are thereby increasing the safety of the ride. The seat comes with a set of 4 heavy-duty, low friction rollers, which offer a very smooth, almost silent glide.
E-520 Water tank and resistance
The FDF Evolution E-520 has a highly durable, polycarbonate material tank. It integrates a stainless steel flywheel/impeller, attached to a system of bungee cords and pulleys, which also add resistance to the overall rowing motion.
The water tank features a patented construction, with two chambers: the “storage” chamber and the “active” chamber. There’s a dial on top of the tank to adjust the volume of water in the active chamber. Thus, changing the overall resistance of the machine.
The E-520 rower provides 20 levels of resistance. The first levels offer feather-light resistance, perfect for elderly users, warm-ups, or users who require recovery training. Conversely, the highest settings offer Olympic resistance, delivering the training settings required by professional athletes.
Like all other types of fluid rowers, the resistance also depends on the strength you put behind each stroke. Therefore, the rowing feel is similar to rowing a real boat. Also, the operation of the machine is quiet, and most users have described the sound generated by the spin of the impeller in the water tank as “soothing.”
The console that comes with the First Degree Fitness E-520 rowing machine is an advanced unit. To begin with, it features a multi-panel LCD, which means it can show all your workout statistics simultaneously.
Therefore, you don’t have to continuously scroll through the values to lock the ones you’re interested in on the screen. It displays all data required by a professional rower, including time, distance, speed, heart rate, watts, calories, revolutions per minute, strokes per minute, and 500/m units. The range can be displayed in miles or km, while speed in MPH or km/h. An HR chest strap transmitter is (not included) with the machine.
As the tank of the rower offers 20 distinctive levels of resistance, the console unit also has 20 levels of intensity. Therefore, it’s recommended to correlate the level on the console with the selected water level on the tank, to benefit from a correct reading of calories, watts, and other parameters.
The console offers several interval-based workout programs. Additionally, there are goal setting functions for time and distance. It also has a six previous workout memory and a unique pacer system. But the best part about this console is its online connectivity.
The console has a USB port which makes available online connectivity. There are various compatible online apps, such as the NetAthlon 2 XF for Rowers. You’ll be able to compete with others or train solo in a virtual 3D environment, record your progress, and access web-based logging and ranking systems.
The console unit is battery powered and requires 2 AA batteries.
E-520 Assembly and Maintenance
The water tank with its flywheel, the pulleys, cord, and strap come pre-assembled and attached to the front steel frame. Therefore, in terms of assembly you only have to attach the rails, the seat, the rear feet, connect the bungee shock cord to the seat, and finally fill the tank with water. The manual offers clear instructions for assembly. Tools for construction, as well as a small siphon pump for filling up the water tank, are also included.
For maintenance, the water in the tank requires treatment with one of the four chlorine pills supplied, one every six months, to prevent the formation of algae and keep the water clear. Keeping the rails clean is also recommended. Also, if stored vertically, the water can remain in the tank.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Assembled dimensions: 75.2L x 32.2W x 40H (191L x 82W x 102H cm)
- Assembled weight: 150.5 lbs (68.2 kg)
- Supported weight: 330 lbs (150 kg)
- Frame: Aluminum / steel
- Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
- Resistance type: Water, adjustable (20 levels)
- Console: Time, distance, strokes per minute, watts, calories/hour, 500m split time, HR capable, USB port, online connectivity
- Warranty: Frame Ten years / Tank and seals three years / Mechanical and wear parts two years
- Sturdy construction, commercial grade build;
- High user capacity, up to 330 lbs (150 kg);
- Dual aluminum rails for extra stability;
- Superior aesthetics, aluminum, and steel frame;
- It can be stored vertically (standing up);
- The water doesn’t require drainage for storage;
- Easy to handle and transport;
- Water-resistance system, providing the most natural rowing feel that you can get;
- Dual-chamber water tank, with 20 distinctive water resistance levels, from feather-light to Olympic level;
- Contoured and padded, ergonomically designed seat;
- An optional backrest for extra lumbar support;
- High seat placement, which makes it easy to mount and dismount the rower, and is a great feature for users with disabilities;
- Advanced, multi-panel console, that tracks time, 500m time, pulse, distance, strokes per minute, watts, RPMs, and calories;
- The USB connection, for online workout data tracking, or competing with other rowers;
- Its operation is smooth and quiet;
- Excellent for users of all levels;
- Little maintenance required;
- Easy to assemble;
- Tools for assembly included;
- Excellent warranty.
- Heart rate transmitter not included;
- The console doesn’t have LED backlight; thus, it may be a bit hard to read in a room with poor lighting.
FDF E-520 Summary
The FDF E-520 is one of the commercial fluid rowers in the Evolution series from First Degree Fitness. Specifically, it features exceptionally sturdy construction, with a high weight capacity. It offers 20 levels of resistance, from feather-light to Olympic standard. Also, it comes with a highly advanced console. It covers all your workout metrics, features several interval-based programs, and offers online connectivity through the USB port.
In particular, it’s a machine for users of all levels, delivering a consistent cardio workout which involves deltoids, rhomboids, biceps, paraspinal, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. Finally, it’s not exactly an affordable machine. However, given the fact that it’s for commercial use, the quality in its construction and parts, and its overall sturdiness matches the price.
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