FDF E-520 Fluid Rower | Unrivaled Natural Catch and Resistance

The FDF E-520 Fluid Rower is part of the Evolution series by First Degree Fitness, and it is a champion indoor water rower designed for the health club or commercial gym environment. The E-520 water rowing machine’s shorter length, higher seat, and fitness monitor 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 a 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, stroke rate, calories per hour, watts, 20-level adjustment, and pacer. The IPM gives you a quick start, manual programs, and interval training, and it’s telemetrically fitted with a Heart Rate receiver. Unfortunately, the HR chest strap sells separately.

Learn more in my complete review below!

FDF E-520 Fluid Rower
FDF E-520 Fluid Rower

Product: FDF E-520 Fluid Rower

Price: For a great deal on this rower, merely go here on Amazon

Warranty: Frame Ten years / Tank and seals three years / Mechanical and wear parts two years

My rating: 8.5/10

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate Program participant, I earn commissions on purchases made through links in this post. Full disclosure

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)
  • Fitness Monitor: 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

E-520 Frame and parts

This FDF E-520 Fluid 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 supports 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 (standing up).

The machine is rather heavy,  weighing over 150 lbs. However, its front foot stabilizers incorporate transport wheels, which makes its relocation much more manageable. In addition, both front and rear stabilizers provide a superior grip on the floor.

FDF E-520 Fluid Rower

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. In addition, they integrate heel guards, which also add strength 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.

Finally, 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 FDF E-520 fluid rower comes with an ergonomic seat. The top of the seat features a contoured surface to provide optimal comfort, integrating a thin layer of padding. One of the best parts about this rower’s seat is that it’s quite high above floor level, at approximately 18″ (45 cm).

Thus, making it easy to mount and dismount, especially for elderly users or users with disabilities. In addition, there’s also an optional backrest accessory for the seat.

Unlike some other rowers, the E-520 features a dual rail system. Thus, the seat rollers are in the rails’ inside parts. They are thereby increasing the safety of the ride. In addition, 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

FDF E-520 Fluid Rower
FDF E-520 Fluid Rower

The FDF E-520 has a highly durable polycarbonate material tank. In addition, it integrates a stainless steel flywheel/impeller attached to a bungee cords system and pulleys, adding resistance to the overall rowing motion.

The water tank features a patented construction with two chambers: the “storage” chamber and the “active” chamber. A dial on top of the tank adjusts the water volume in the active section. Thus, changing the overall resistance of the machine.

The E-520 fluid 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 fluid rowers, the resistance depends on the strength you put behind each stroke. Therefore, the rowing feel is similar to rowing a real boat. Also, the machine’s operation is quiet, and most users have described the sound generated by the spin of the impeller in the water tank as “soothing.”

E-520 Fitness monitor

The fitness monitor that comes with the FDF E-520 fluid rower is an advanced unit. First, it features a multi-panel LCD, which shows all your workout statistics simultaneously. Therefore, you don’t have to scroll through the values to continuously 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. Unfortunately, an HR chest strap transmitter does not come with the machine.

FDF E-520 Fluid Rower

As the rower’s tank offers 20 exceptional resistance levels, the monitor also has 20 levels of intensity. Therefore, it’s advisable to correlate the monitor level with the tank’s selected water level to benefit from a correct reading of calories, watts, and other parameters.

The monitor offers several interval-based workout programs. Additionally, there are goal-setting functions for time and distance. It also has six previous workout memory and a unique pacer system. But the best part about this monitor is its online connectivity.

The monitor has a USB port, which makes online connectivity available. In addition, 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 fitness monitor is battery-powered and requires 2 AA batteries.

E-520 Assembly and Maintenance

The water tank, with its flywheel, pulleys, cord, and strap, comes pre-assembled and attached to the front steel frame. Therefore, in terms of assembly, you only have to attach the rails, the seat, and 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 and a small siphon pump for filling up the water tank also come included.

For maintenance, the water in the tank requires treatment with one of the four chlorine pills supplied every six months to prevent algae formation and keep the water clear. Keeping the rails clean is also recommended. Also, if stored vertically, the water can remain in the tank.


  • 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 stores vertically (standing up);
  • The water doesn’t require drainage for storage;

    FDF E-520 Fluid Rower
  • 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 an excellent feature for users with disabilities;
  • An advanced, multi-panel fitness monitor 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 is required;
  • Easy to assemble;
  • Tools for assembly included;
  • Excellent warranty.


  • An HR chest does not come with the rower;
  • The fitness monitor LCD doesn’t have an LED backlight.

FDF E-520 Fluid Rower 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. In addition, it offers 20 levels of resistance, from feather-light to Olympic standard.

Also, it comes with a highly advanced fitness monitor. It covers all your workout metrics, features several interval-based programs, and offers online connectivity through the USB port.

Moreover, it’s a machine for users of all levels, delivering a consistent cardio workout involving deltoids, rhomboids, biceps, paraspinal, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. Finally, it’s not exactly an affordable machine. However, the quality of its construction and parts and overall sturdiness match the price.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Please speak up if you have anything you’d like to share on the topic or opinions about my website.? I look forward to your comments, questions, and the sharing of ideas.

Please remember that you should consult your physician to determine if you have any medical or physical conditions that could risk your health and safety or prevent you from using the equipment properly. In addition, your physician’s advice is essential if you are taking medication that affects your heart rate, blood pressure, or cholesterol level.

3 thoughts on “FDF E-520 Fluid Rower | Unrivaled Natural Catch and Resistance”

  1. Once again, thanks for the excellent review!  I have been wondering about whether or not I should get the FDF E-520 Fluid Rower.  Before reading this, I was going to say no.  It is different, and I’ve never seen a Water Rower before.  However, after learning that it is sturdy, it might be something I’ll consider getting, as that was my biggest fear.

  2. Thanks for the excellent review!  I have been wondering about whether or not I should get a rower.  Before going through this review, according to my knowledge, I was going to say no. I’ve never seen a Water Rower before. The FDF E-520 is perfect, and after learning that it is sturdy, it might be something I’ll consider getting, as that was my biggest fear.


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