Bowflex 552 Adjustable Dumbbell Review
Dumbbells are, far and away, one of the most important home gym implements for strength training. Incredibly versatile and easy to use, they are a must-have for both beginners and veterans alike, but full sets with variable weights are big, bulky, and expensive. Not ideal.
This is where Bowflex comes in with their famous SelectTech 552 fully-adjustable one-size-fits-all pair of dumbbells. They look cool, they’re priced at a reasonable level, but are they any good?
Our Bowflex 552 Adjustable Dumbbell review aims to tell you everything you need to know about this fan favorite, including comparisons with competing products that inhabit the same niche.
If you’re even remotely interested in getting a pair of these, we highly recommend you check out our review first to learn about all the ins and outs of the product. There are some things that prospective buyers should know before going through with the purchase.
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Review
Bowflex 552 has been on the market for some time now, and during this time, they’ve practically become synonymous with the idea of “smart”, adjustable dumbbells. There are a number of reasons for the product’s ubiquity, of course, not least of which is its highly competitive pricing.
No company can save money without skimping out on some aspects of build quality, however. This is where SelectTech 552 falters a bit, too. These dumbbells’ plastic parts feel considerably lower-quality than the metal parts do, and that’s something you’ll need to contend with.
Regardless, it’s hard to argue against the 552s, as you’re about to see.
Things We Liked about the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells
Sitting at about $350, Bowflex 552 might not differ much in price when compared to a full generic set of traditional dumbbells with a stand, but the difference in taken-up space is massive.
These adjustable dumbbells can and will easily replace 15 or more individual weights in your home gym set-up, and the fact that you can shove them into a closet after you’re done makes them tremendously appealing. Doubly so if you’re dealing with space constraints of any kind.
For many home gym users, convenience is an all-important consideration. It goes without saying that being able to have all your dumbbells – which range from 5 to 52 pounds, and then some – in one extra-portable package is invaluable.
Even if we consider the relatively high asking price, Bowflex 552 is still on the lower end of the spectrum compared to its competitors, as we’ll discuss a bit later on. It’s not too strange to see adjustable dumbbells go for twice as much, and not everyone needs truly high-end equipment.
While there are some quirks that the dumbbells could’ve done without, Bowflex delivers a very impressive amount of bang for one’s buck with the 552s. Especially if you’re only just starting to work on your home gym setup, or if you’re not that interested in getting truly top-end gear.
- Great pricing
- Simple and easy to use
- Take up virtually no space at all compared to normal dumbbells
- Incredibly convenient for home gym users
Things We Disliked about the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells
Now, it ought to be clear that any pair of adjustable dumbbells is going to be more finicky than a traditional set, thanks to the weight clipping mechanism. That’s the “gadget tax” you pay for the convenience of it taking up less space.
If you can deal with that, most of the other qualms we have with Bowflex 552 aren’t likely to bother you too much. For the most part, they relate to the long-term usage and reliability of the product.
Notably, there’s no way for you to upgrade your set of 552s with heavier weights or even a replacement mechanism, if need be. Whereas a number of other competitors in this niche do have some expandability on offer once you outgrow them, Bowflex 552 has no such thing.
Further, these dumbbells’ implementation of weight control means that the dumbbell will always be of fixed length, which might make it overly cumbersome for some exercises. Bench presses and curls, for example, may prove challenging with Bowflex 552.
Finally, we do have some concerns with Bowflex 552 dumbbells’ overall build quality. Being priced as competitively as they are, some shortcuts had to be taken with the product. There’s an awful lot of plastic used, and this might shorten these dumbbells’ lifespan in the long run.
- No upgradeability
- Fixed length
- Less-than-stellar build quality
How Are The Bowflex 552 Dumbbells Different from the Traditional Dumbbells?
The thing that sets Bowflex 552 dumbbells apart from any set of traditional dumbbells is the fact that you can fully customize them for the exact weight you may want to lift at any given time.
While Bowflex 552 isn’t the only adjustable dumbbell model on the market, it’s a reasonably ubiquitous one, and its highly competitive price-point makes it a serious consideration for home gym users.
What is the Lightest Weight Setting for the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells?
At its lightest weight setting, Bowflex 552 dumbbells weigh a mere 5 pounds (2.27 kg). Particularly light models of traditional dumbbells can be a bit lighter than this, mind.
What is the Heaviest Weight Setting for the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells?
At its heaviest weight setting, Bowflex 552 dumbbells can weigh a respectable 52.5 pounds (23.82 kg). This is a considerable heft for many users, though it’s worth pointing out that outgrowing Bowflex 552 is entirely possible and, in some cases, to be expected.
How Many Different Weight Settings Are There for the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells?
There are 15 total weight settings for Bowflex 552, and they are made in 2.5 and 5 lb increments.
What is the Weight Range for the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells?
The full weight range for Bowflex 552 is 5 – 52.5 lbs.
What is the Price Difference Between Purchasing Separate Weights vs the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells?
The MSRP for Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells is $349, while a full rack of dumbbells up to 50 lbs may set you back a thousand dollars or more. The difference between the two can reach hundreds of dollars easily.
This is because, if you’re buying a set of dumbbells instead of one adjustable pair, you need a dumbbell for each weight class from, say, 5 lbs all the way to 50. The cost ramps up quickly, especially if you’re after a fancier, more high-quality set.
With an adjustable pair of dumbbells such as Bowflex 552, the disparate weights combine as you set them up to be heavier, which obviously isn’t possible with traditional dumbbells.
How Are Handles for the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells?
As we mentioned before, one of the main ways in which Bowflex has decided to save money on their 552 models is the build quality. While they’re not outright shoddy, the handles on Bowflex 552 aren’t anything to write home about, either.
You’re getting a simple rubber grip that’s overly prone to sliding and spinning, and which may easily come off if you start picking at it.
We’d even go so far as to suggest that handles are the worst part of Bowflex 552. This is a real shame, and it is possible to set up aftermarket handles if you really put your mind to it. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, however.
Are the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells Bigger than Traditional Weights?
Yes – Bowflex 552 is bigger and bulkier than you may be used to if you’ve only ever used traditional weights and dumbbells. We already alluded to this being a potential issue, but if you’re not happy with fixed length weights, this might not be the product for you.
Find the exact dimensions below, keeping in mind that they’re for a single dumbbell:
- 15.75” L x 8” W x 9” H
- 40 x 20 x 23 cm
Now that we think of it, it is kind of funny how saving space is one of the main reasons to consider getting Bowflex 552, only for it to be significantly bulkier and more cumbersome than just about every standard dumbbell on the market.
Basically, you’re trading storage space for sheer bulk in use, and that’s something you definitely need to keep in mind while shopping around for 552s.
How is the Durability?
Bowflex SelectTech 552 is, sadly, not a very durable dumbbell. The product combines two less-than-ideal design features: considerable weight and relatively low-quality materials. If you drop one, chances are that it’ll break.
Instead of sticking with high-quality metal for most of the weight transfer mechanism and its fiddlier parts, Bowflex opted for plastic elements that are less than ideal, for reasons that should be obvious by now.
Are Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It?
Even with all the downsides we’ve gone over by now, Bowflex SelectTech 552 delivers a highly competitive adjustable dumbbell that does everything you’d expect it to do. We do recommend Bowflex 552, long as you keep the quality caveat in mind.
It’s not hard to understand why this dumbbell’s downsides are what they are, either. At around $350, you’re effectively getting a full rack of traditional dumbbells at a fraction of their asking price, and with the ability to stow your pair of 552s wherever while not using them.
That’s a very compelling argument for many users, and we’ll happily conclude that Bowflex SelectTech 552 deserves its status as an affordable, yet incredibly flexible home gym implement.
Bowflex 552 Adjustable Dumbbell Comparisons
Now that we’ve gone over the facts, all that remains is for us to compare Bowflex 552 with some other competitors in the adjustable dumbbell niche. For this review, we’ve opted for a wide variety of models, each of which delivers a slightly different experience.
Bowflex 552 Dumbbells Versus Ironmasters
The Ironmaster Quick-Lok system is one of the higher-end options on the adjustable dumbbell spectrum, and it allows a significantly greater range of weight than Bowflex 552 does. However, we do believe that Ironmasters may be a worse deal for many users.
For one, you can get a pair of 552s for about half the price of the Ironmasters, and in a surprising turn of events, they’ll even be easier to use. Namely, Ironmaster’s Quick-Lok turned out to be a far more complicated and time-intensive weight mod system than that of Bowflex.
Further still, it’s also worth pointing out that Ironmaster weight plates are made of cast iron and prone to breakage. It’s not built for abuse any more than Bowflex 552 is, so they’re at least comparable in that regard, too.
Bowflex 552 Dumbbells Versus Nüobells
Nüobell Adjustable Dumbbells are another competitor to Bowflex 552, though they, too, exist in an entirely different price range with an entirely different maximum weight limit.
It’s worth pointing out that Nüobells are reasonably close to being a top-of-the-line model, and that getting a pair means spending about as much money as you’d spend on two pairs of Bowflex 552.
With the increase in price, though, you’re getting an obviously superior product. Nüobells are heavy and hefty, and very clearly built to last. In fact, not only are Nüobells made of higher quality materials than the 552s, but they’re also easier and faster to adjust on the fly.
If you don’t mind paying more than twice as much as you would for Bowflex 552, and if you’d like to be able to go up to 80 lbs per dumbbell, then be sure to grab a pair of Nüobell Adjustable Dumbbells.
If price is, however, a serious concern, then we believe most users will do just fine with the 552s, too.
Bowflex 552 Dumbbells Versus Ativafit
The Ativafit Deluxe Adjustable Dumbbell is one of the newer products on the market, and it easily trades blows with the Bowflex 552. Most other contenders we mentioned up until now were far more expensive than 552, but this isn’t the case with Ativafit.
In fact, Ativafit’s custom pair of adjustable dumbbells outperforms Bowflex 552 in several categories while still maintaining its highly competitive $300 asking price. Not only can it be set up for a maximum of 71.5 lbs, but it comes equipped with a better switch mechanism to boot.
Another point for Ativafit’s product is that it’s not nearly as bulky as Bowflex 552, and its weight retention plates are made of metal. This means that the Ativafit dumbbells are less prone to mechanical breakage, and will likely prove more reliable over long periods of time.
All things considered, Ativafit dumbbells are likely the superior product to Bowflex 552, though their availability in your region may vary.
Bowflex 552 Dumbbells Versus Grit
Grit Elite Adjustable Dumbbell is yet another contender to Bowflex 552 in the $300 price range, and for the most part, it’s a solid toss-up between the two.
Both types of adjustable dumbbells will go up to 50-ish pounds at their maximum weight settings, with Grits winning out by 2.5 lbs (52.5 vs 55 lbs).
However, credit where credit is due, Grits are simply built better than the 552s. The handles, for one, are far superior on Grits, thus greatly reducing any potential risk of slippage and getting the dumbbells broken. They’re also more ergonomically designed, though still rather bulky overall.
The weight switching mechanism isn’t outright better on the Grits, mind. It’s different enough to be noteworthy, as not many other adjustable dumbbells have it integrated into the handles. It does feel reliable and comfortable, though, so we can’t rightly complain.
Bowflex 552 Dumbbells Versus Vergo
Finally, there’s the Vergo Adjustable Dumbbell, which may well be the single most cost-effective adjustable dumbbell on the market. This is, of course, because you can purchase a single Vergo dumbbell if you are so inclined.
At a mere $100 per dumbbell, though, the Vergo model is even cheaper than Bowflex SelectTech 552, with the only question then being – how do the two compare in quality and efficacy?
Somewhat expectedly, the Vergo model is made of comparative or lower-quality materials than the 552s, and if you opt for the cheapest model on the market – one adjustable dumbbell – it’s going to max out at a mere 25 lbs at the absolute top-end of the scale.
Unless you absolutely need the cheapest adjustable dumbbell on the market, we wouldn’t recommend going with the Vergo model. In fact, Bowflex already had to use lower-end materials than we’d want for the 552s, and going even cheaper than that isn’t highly recommended.
All in all, Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbells are the superior product to Vergo’s low-spec model.
Bowflex 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are far from the best product on the market, but they offer precisely what it says on the tin without breaking the bank.
If you can handle the downsides we mentioned as part of this review, and if you want a pair of custom dumbbells that you can tuck away when you don’t need them, you could do far worse than Bowflex 552.
Casual users, in particular, may get a lot of mileage out of Bowflex 552. Long as you don’t actually drop one of these dumbbells on the floor, we think you’ll easily get your money’s worth, too.
Garage Gym Reviews: https://www.garagegymreviews.com/bowflex-selecttech-552-adjustable-dumbbells-review
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Amazon Pages: https://www.amazon.com/Bowflex-SelectTech-Adjustable-Dumbbells-Pair/product-reviews/B001ARYU58