Hammer COBRA XT Folding Rowing Machine Review

Product Description

The Hammer COBRA XT is a rowing machine from German brand Hammer. It has a powder coated steel and aluminium frame, utilises magnetic resistance with 10 levels of resistance changed using an adjustment knob, and a built in receiver for radio pulse sensor (not included).

Our Review

This is a solid mid-range rowing machine for a very good price – currently selling for under £400, a discount of over £200 on its recommended retail price. It offers robust build quality, 10 levels of resistance which actually offer a very good workout, and a built in receiver for radio pulse sensor.

Build quality

The Hammer COBRA XT Folding Rowing Machine is exactly what you’d expect from German engineering. It’s robust and well built, certified to Germany’s TUV quality standard, and is going to last you a fair few years even if you put it through regular solid workouts.

It’s made from heavy gauge steel and aluminium, and as such can support up to 19 stone (120kg) as its maximum recommended weight, so most users will be absolutely fine with this machine. It’s also fine for tall users – we’ve tested it with a 6″2′ team member and he still had plenty of room to spare.


The Hammer Cobra XT uses magnetic resistance, which offers quieter performance than the air resistance that is common on most professional-level rowing machines. As I expected from a magnetic resistance machine, the noise level is beautifully quiet, and you’ll be able to listen to music or watch TV quite easily while rowing.

While many low-cost magnetic resistance machines don’t quite offer the same levels of resistance you would get with a professional, gym-standard rowing machine, the Hammer surprised me – its 10 levels of resistance will be a challenge to even the most experienced of rowers.

I found it a lot tougher than many high end rowing machines I’ve used, so if you’re looking to challenge yourself then you’ll be delighted with the Hammer Cobra XT. There’s resistance even on level 1, so level 10 will definitely give you a tough workout.

Performance monitor

The built in computer offers all of the basic statistics you’d expect from a mid-range rowing machine, and does so on a large, clear screen, so no squinting at small numbers during your workout. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but that’s why you’re paying £400 rather than £1000, and it’ll be ample to allow you to track your workouts with accuracy.

There are no built in workout programmes, which may frustrate some users who prefer some more structure to their workout. However, one good and quite unique feature is the ‘Pulse Recovery’ button. At the end of your workout, if you’re using a compatible heart rate monitor, you can press this button and the machine will measure how quickly your heart rate returns to a normal level. This gives you a good overview of your overall fitness level, and lets you track this across time to measure improvement.

A final downside of the monitor is that it’s slightly hard to see the display in low light, so you’ll want to work out in a well lit environment if keeping track of your workout is important to you.

Setting it up

There were a few German to English translation issues in the rower’s manual, but I’m sure you can look past those. It’s irrelevant when it comes to putting together the Hammer COBRA XT Folding Rowing Machine anyway, as the instruction manual is complete with pictures to make the instructions as easy as possible. This was one of the more simple rowing machines I’ve put together, so you’ll find it very easy to assemble.

It’s a big machine, and even though it folds up, it’s hardly inconspicuous – but can still be tucked away when not in use. There are wheels at the front to help you shift it, and, unlike some other mid-range rowers we’ve tested in our time, is pretty easy to move on the wheels.


I was very surprised at just how much resistance the Cobra XT rowing machine offered up, so kudos to Hammer on that one. Some rowers advertise 10 levels of resistance as a selling point, but in reality offer up medium-ish resistance spread over 10 levels. This actually gives you a very good, hard work out on level 10, and I found it tougher than some serious gym-level ones.

As you’d expect from German engineering, it’s well built, reliable and will last you a long time. The fairly basic computer with no backlight may not make it 100% perfect for those of you who want sophistication and the ability to track the nuances of your workout over time, or download them to a rowing program, but other than that, this comes highly recommended from me.

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