Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower Review

Rhian Hunt's picture

Like a Swiss army knife on a grand scale, the Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II attempts to combine two different functions in one machine, and largely succeeds. A blend of recumbent exercise bike and rowing machine, the Conversion II offers a double dose of exercise options, letting you choose whichever type of workout best suits your needs and mood at the moment. Switching between the two modes is quick and simple, which makes the Stamina an even more attractive buy.

The machine has a few potential problems, but in the main, it is a good entry in the mid-range exercise rower market with recumbent bicycling as a bonus.

Size and Weight

As might be expected, the Stamina Conversion II is a bit larger than some mid-level exercise rowers, and in particular is somewhat taller and heavier. The machine is slightly more than 6 feet long (74.5 inches), 2 feet high (25.5 inches), and slightly narrower than 1 foot (10 inches). The construction is steel, with an extruded aluminum rowing beam for extra strength and lightness. Total weight is 106 pounds.

Assembly Tips and Facts

The Conversion II is complicated enough to require a bit more assembly than some stripped-down rowing machine versions. The package includes enough tools to build the machine entirely, but the process is easier if you have a few basic tools of your own, such as wrenches and a screwdriver.

The nuts and bolts are in a bag and the instructions direct the user to make an inventory of them; however, if a piece seems to be missing, check the machine first, since it is partly assembled and some of the fasteners are already in place.

Assembly is easy for beginners and takes about an hour. When assembling, check carefully to see if any small parts have been bent during shipping; these parts may rub, causing scratches in the surface and hideous squeaking sounds during use. Also, make sure you tighten all screws to avoid squeaks.

Toughness, Warranty, Weight Capacity

Sturdiness is good on the Stamina 15-9003 Recumbant/Rower, although not as great as a top-of-the-line model, naturally. The frame has a 3-year warranty and the parts have 90 days. The user weight capacity is fairly low at 250 pounds, and this is something of a drawback for a mid-price rower that includes both steel and extruded aluminum. The machine folds somewhat for storage and can fit nicely in a corner. It can be wheeled, making it easier to move out of the way when it isn't in use.

The seat of the Conversion II

The Stamina Conversion II's seat is an interesting feature of the machine, because it has a back as well as a seat cushion. This, of course, is because you lean back while using the recumbant bike mode, and need something behind your back so that you don't tip off the back of the machine. However, this back is also present when you are rowing, and helps to make the experience slightly more comfortable.

The seat slides smoothly while rowing as long as no small parts have been bent in shipping, and is well padded as well as contoured to keep the buttocks and spine more comfortable while exercising.

A Rower and a Recumbent Bike

One of the unique features of the Stamina 15-9003 Recumbant/Rower is that it can convert between being a rowing machine to being a recumbant bicycle instead. Switching between modes requires only a few seconds, so it is possible to switch back and forth between modes easily during a single workout. Although the Stamina 15-9003 is a 2-for-1 deal, the quality is not compromised.

Furthermore, the machine is built to allow weight training as well -- bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and forearm curls for the upper body, and light leg presses if you hook the resistance cord to the underside of the seat. All of these exercises are easy on the joints, especially with the Stamina's smooth action, and help with muscle building and toning throughout the body, as well as weight loss and cardiovascular health. 

Users like the multifunctionality of the Stamina 15-9003. Tams says:

“I used to hate getting up in the morning to exercise but this bike/rower/strength trainer made it exciting again. Now I look forward to biking, rowing and strength training and more.”

Problems and Complaints

The Magnetic Resistance Levels - The machine's resistance is magnetic, making it quiet although not silent, and has eight levels. The resistance levels for the rower are possibly the machine's weakest point. Although the resistance offers a moderate workout, the highest settings are probably not strong enough to challenge experienced or vigorous rowers. As Kathy, one customer, puts it,

"I am a woman, 5'6'' and weigh about 135 lbs. I can row on the highest resistance, so I think men with more body strength could use more resistance."

And Dennis agrees:

“It would be nice if the tension setting could get a little more difficult but for an older person using it it's fine. It certainly won't give you huge pecks or legs but it will give you a great cardio excercise."

Some exercisers report no problems with resistance, however; Mike B. reports that:

"… for moderate exercise, there is plenty of resistance. On the rower, I can get a good workout starting at level 4 and ending at level 6 or 7."

Footboards - The footboards include straps to hold the feet in place, but some users report that their feet slip off the foot supports, compelling them to hold their feet on the boards deliberately -- a process which results in cramps. In this case, it is possible to mount one's own straps or even attach shoes to the footboards with bolts.

Monitor: Good Quality, One Drawback

The Stamina 15-9003 Conversion II's monitor is a good-quality one for the price level. It is built into the machine's casing, meaning that it will not be accidentally knocked off and need taping or bolting to hold it in place. The monitor has a large, clear display and provides data on speed, distance, time, calories burned, and pulse rate. The pulse meter is built into the hand grips on each side of the seat, not the rower hand grips, so the machine cannot measure your pulse rate while you are rowing.

Overview

The Stamina 15-9003 is an innovative and interesting attempt to provide several different types of exercise in a single machine, including rowing, weight training, and recumbant bicycling -- and in the main, it succeeds. The primary faults with the rowing experience on this machine are the possible lack of upper-end resistance for some users, and the fact that the pulse meter cannot read your pulse while you are rowing. But by and large, this rowing machine is a good, sturdy, vigorous exercise device that delivers a quality workout.

Best Price

The best price for the Conversion II is to be found on Amazon.

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