Monday, December 1, 2014

The Coffey SimulatOar review: Is this the ultimate rowing machine?

After a nearly two year absence the RFP blog rides again.  I will not belabor my absence but suffice it to say that only something of sufficient interest could bring me back to my keyboard.  That something is the Coffey SimulatOar.  Yeah, I finally bought one.  It is no secret that I love to row.  I am damn near obsessed with it.   It was a crushing calamity of circumstances that kept me off the water for nearly the entire past year.  (on one warm october day when I had no other responsibilities I managed to get on the water for an hour, thus snatching one small remaining morsel of victory from the jaws of defeat).  It took me about 10 minutes to get the hang of it again but I had a good row.  In any case I resolved to never get in that situation again.  After being off the water so long, I never want to feel that out of synch again and I decided that if I couldn't be on the water I'd treat myself to the next best thing.

You may recall my extensive review from a couple years ago of pretty much every dynamic erg there is.  In case you missed it, here is the link

If you would prefer my condensed and possible updated conclusions, I thought the Rowperfect Indoor Sculler was the best of the dynamic ergs as long as the somewhat limited monitor interface is not a deal breaker.  Also the fiscal outlay for this machine is a bit high.  Nonetheless I love mine and I would buy it again.   I still have the C2 static, I sold the Oartec and the C2 dynamic (I ended up hating that last one, it gave me a backache because it always made me open my back to early).  Enough about that.  Let's talk about the SimulatOar.  In fact, better yet, I will let these videos do the talking:

You can clearly see that this has a lot of boat-like action.  Using the Concept2 slides and springs made by Coffey (additional cost)  as well as the speedcoach monitor really makes this feel like being in a single.  The resistance can be adjusted by opening or closing the fan vent .  Also the cleverly designed feathering mechanism adds to the experience.  I plan on mainly rowing this during the winter.  When I'm not on this I will likely be lifting or on the skierg.  I also plan on using the Rowperfect a bit still.

The SimulatOar was easy to assemble and the fine folks at Coffey rowing were great to work with.  My first unit had some issues courtesy of FedEx but this was all handled and they had me up and running in no time.  The monitor, as I said is a Speedcoach.  It is easy to use, nowhere near as fancy as the concept 2 monitor, but that really doesn't matter.  As long as I have elapsed time, stroke rate, and some measure of effort like heart rate or distance I am fine.. Out of the box it gets fairly comparable numbers to the C2 static and the Rowperfect (set at 100kg 4x).  The other day I did some 10 min pieces on each machine at the UT1 training band (for me thats a heart rate from 141-154).  The meters rowed were as follows:

Rowperfect 2710m, SimulatOar 2686m, C2 static 2587m, Rowperfect 2632m, Rowperfect 2612m

The reason I did more pieces on the RP is that my ass was killing me because the skin over my tailbone was getting chaffed on the SimulatOar.  That is my only complaint.  My favorite seat so far is the one on the Rowperfect.  I chafe on every other seat over my tailbone.  On the water I liked the Dreher carbon fiber seat too but thats about it.  Unfortunately that seat doesn't fit my boat, so the SimulatOar is even boatlike in the respect that my ass hurts and I need skin grafting after 15k.  I just ordered a seat pad so we shall see if that fixes things.  In any case, I am thrilled with the SimulatOar.  It is the most boat-like of any erg out there.  It is a bit expensive coming in at just under 3k (including the Speedcoach, springs and sculling setup)  this does not include the slides as I had those already.  However when you look at how well constructed this device is, you will probably realize that your money was well spent.  Because of the width required, space may be a concern for some.   The total space required is 7 feet in width and 9.5 feet in length.  If you prefer not to use the slides (bad idea) you can shave off about 3 feet in length.

As the Coffey's say, "the only thing missing is the splash" I would like to add that the track bite is also missing thank God. Bottom line, if you like to row on the water and you have the space, get the SimulatOar.  Put it on your Christmas list, sell your plasma, cash in your 401k, just make it happen.