Normal rowing machine to Paddling conv?

The add for Vasa on the side of this site made me take a look at their paddling/rowing machines. It looks really cool but I dont have $2k to spend on one…

So, Has anybody tried to convert a normal rowing machine to a paddling trainer? Is it as simple as attaching a paddle shaft to the cable or is there something that makes the Vasa different/better? Have a link to anything like this?

I see rowing machine on Craigslist for $50 so if I could convert one to work with a paddle that would be great for the winter.


You need to extend your search.
$50.00 for a rowing machine ? Probably junk ! Ever hear of a Concept 2 ?

Various Ergs exist

– Last Updated: Aug-26-12 4:12 PM EST –

Paddling erg machines take abuse :
- repetitive - upwards of 60 times a minute;
constant pulling forces on the parts.

Speedstroke Gym from KayakPro

Kayak Ergometer from Vassa

PaddleOne Kayak ergometer

Stroke2max Kayak Ergometers

WEBA Sport Kayak Ergometer

When I was looking

– Last Updated: Aug-26-12 4:32 PM EST –

for a trainer in 2007 to get me in shape for the Yukon, I tried out several models of rowing machines with different types of resistance, including what many told me was the industry standard, the Concept 2. At the time there wasn't anything available as a canoe paddle simulator that I could find, or that impressed me that I trusted as quality equipment.

When I tried the Waterrower, I knew that was the best machine for me. While not perfect, I can hold the bar to the side and get a decent workout with torso and shoulder rotation. I haven't modified it so the resistance attachment is at the bottom of the "paddle", but I do think it works well enough to be the best of the bunch that was available at the time.

The Waterrower has a webbing drive, so unlike the chain of the C2, it doesn't restrict a half twist while holding the "paddle" vertical. But what really sold me was the realistic feel of the "catch" on the Waterrower. It is much more natural feeling than the C2 or the magnetic resistance types of machine, since the resistance comes from paddles in a tank of water. And a bonus is the sound of water as I exercise.

Traveling for my job, I have worked out at gyms that had C2 rowers, for a week at a time. With important races coming up, and lack of anything else, I did daily workouts on the C2. It was loud and clunky feeling compared to the Waterrower, and though I could hold the paddle to one side, the chain drive rubbed on the plastic housing. I saw in some where the chain had worn a deep groove in the housing caused by others holding the paddle off to the side.

I should just invest in one of the real canoe paddle machines that are available today, but the Waterrower works well enough for when I need to stay in tone as I use it through the winter, or otherwise when I cannot get on the water. Besides, being all wood it is a nice piece of furniture and doesn't look like something that belongs on a factory floor. I have recorded hundreds of training hours on my machine and it is still going strong with no signs of wear.

1 Like

I like my Waterower but the tank split at the seams a few months ago

The factory was out of it’s accessory glue, which is the consistency of silicone caulking

I researched West systems Gflex which is suitable for polycarbonate( the tank material) so I cleaned out the old seam adhesive and rebonded it with Gflex

$50 machines on Craigslist
We have been through about three of them. I think one actually cost $100. They are great for paddling cross training. They help keep your hands tough and are a good total body work out. They last about 200 hours of hard rowing at the most. The seat rollers can be repaired be anyone who is handy, but after that the seals go bad in the pistons because if you row hard the heat eventually kills them. Still a handy workout for less than $1 per hour.

concept 2 makes a kayak adapter
I have one, but today I’d get a Vassa as the adapter itself is 1.5K, and I doubt its as good as a dedicated machine.

just attach the paddle shaft have many hours on a $100 machine

Rowing isn’t Torso Rotation

– Last Updated: Aug-31-12 1:18 PM EST –

Kayaking is primarily a Torso Rotation motion
aka a twisting motion powered by core muscles.

You simply won't get that sliding back/forth
using those leg muscles to propel the seat.

Exercise is good, cross training is wonderful,
but sometimes using the right tool for the job
is the only way to get it done properly.

Hi, I also have a water rower and trying to build a paddle adaptor…do you have pics of how u did it? The webbing seems to slide out of the wheel casing…

I have a “Stamina BodyTrac Glider” rowing machine… just over $100. Not bad for a cheap rowing machine. I used to think that it was useless to help with kayaking… Sitting on it a few days ago, I realized how wrong I was. Granted, you are not holding a paddle, so you are missing a pretty big part. However, if you concentrate on/visualize your movements, you can get your leg drive and torso rotation. Your catch and recovery, you can’t do, so you have to pretend.

I was planning on getting something different… but since I realized that the majority of the “work” I needed to do, I could do with this, I can work on the technique that I’m missing, while I’m actually in the boat… the importance of getting something else, seemed to drop away.

Isn’t there a Nordic Track conversion plan somewhere online. Converts it to a kayak trainer. You can find a craigslist Nordic Track for under $100.

I’ve been using a waterower since 2007, mostly during winter months for training for five trips to the Yukon canoe races. I simply hold the handle vertically in a canoe paddling position and I do get rotation similar to the amount necessary while paddling a canoe. I keep the handle close, as if the paddle shaft is very close to the gunwale (as it should be), and don’t have any problem with the webbing slipping off the pulley. i’ve often thought about replacing the stock handle with a canoe paddle shaft but just have never gotten around to doing it and did not have any broken paddles anyway. I have my Yukon race route plotted on Google Earth, and I have GE “fly” as I memorize the route on a large screen in front of me monitor while paddling on the machine. It has served me well in that regard. I know I have well over the equivalent of 1500 paddling miles on it ( probably in excess of 2000 miles). My tank seam gave out about a year ago and I simply resealed it with silicone. So far it has been holding.

Last year the Canoe Nationals was held not far from me and Peter from had several C2 machines outfitted with paddling attachments (separate systems for either canoes or kayaks). Knowing my waterrower was aging, I fell in love with the canoe system and bought one on the spot.

While I originally bought the waterower because it actually felt more like canoe paddling (the sound of water helped) and the catch felt much more realistic than other machines available at the time. But the paddlesports attachment and the C2 was well worth the investment for an overall better workout. I still use the waterrower in the cold weather months because it is like a beautiful piece of wood furniture and it fits in the TV room. In contrast he C2 is a mechanical looking beast and is too long to use indoors in the living room, so I use that on the porch when it is warm and at times I cannot get my canoe onto the water.