Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review: the Rolls Royce of dumbbells

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090i dumbbell lets you select the weight with the turn of a dial

Bowflex Selecttech 1090i Dumbbells review
T3 Verdict

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell is a must-have home weight for anyone creating a comprehensive home gym but lacks the required space for a big rack of dumbbells.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Innovative design

  • +

    Great spread of weights

  • +

    Chunky build quality

  • +

    Space saving

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not built to withstand drops

  • -

    If you're used to traditional dumbbells, the feel of them takes some getting used to

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Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review TL;DR: if you can only afford to house one home weight in your house, make it the Bowflex Selecttech 1090i adjustable dumbbell. It's versatile, sturdy and takes up very little space.

Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells have a significant cult following, and we mean BIG. As in the people who use them are sometimes enormous. Little wonder. New gyms are popping up all over the world at a staggering rate as more and more folk attempt to get into the shape of their life and follow some of their favoured social media stars down the path of healthy weight loss to the Eden of hard-bodied bliss.

But gym memberships can be expensive, and some people don't like all the public grunting. There is an increasing number of excellent products to service that crowd that allows users to divert their cash towards setting up a home gym.

Space is almost always at a premium when it comes to creating a fitness area in the abode, and the thought of lining up a comprehensive spread of the best dumbbells is unrealistic for all but the mansion owners among us. That's where Bowflex's adjustable weights come into play, such as the subject of this review, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell, but also other models like the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell and the amazing Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar

Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review: price and availability

Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell are available to buy now through selected third party retailers. That said, considering the demand for quality home weights, they are often out of stock: make sure you check our dedicated best Bowflex deals roundup often.

Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review: what are they?

These beefy 'bells from Bowflex offer a phenomenal spread of 4kg to 41kg in a product with a footprint little bigger than a standard large dumbbell.

The US brand is among the leaders of this technology and its SelectTech 1090i Dumbbells offer rapid weight change in an extremely compact package that is adjusted by simply spinning a dial located at the end of the weight, which increases or decreases mass in increments of 2.5kg.

Bowflex Selecttech 1090i Dumbbells review

Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review: what are they like to use?

It might sound like dark magic, but the system is actually pretty simple. That rotating dial turns a little bracket that attaches to a number of skinny plates, which determine the overall weight.

This means that it's possible to quickly swap weights during a bout of intensive exercise. Although you will need to ensure that the little plastic tray that keeps any unused weight plates in perfect alignment is nearby when swapping.

It is a very good system and the incremental weight plates are perfect for those looking to build muscle mass with the gradual increase of load over time. After all, 41kg should be plenty for those looking to add serious bulk.

However, we found that lining up the weight plates when returning them to the plastic holder required a little getting used to, and the look, feel and length of the dumbbell itself will be weird to anyone familiar with the solid dumbbells you find in gyms. Given time, you do get used to it, but it's never going to be as straightforward as a classic metal/plastic weight. But then on the other hand, that's because it takes the place of 6 or more classic metal/plastic weights…

Bowflex Selecttech 1090i Dumbbells review

The Bowflex stand (sold separately) makes life easier but isn't essential

Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review: accessories

Bowflex also offers a special stand, which makes storing the weights and replacing the heavily loaded dumbbells a little easier on the spine, but they are perfectly fine to use without.

Durable plastic moulding around the plates themselves ensure they don't clank and crash when in use, which will please partners and housemates, while the chunky rubberised grip is much easier on the palms than the knurled beasts you find in fitness centres.

Bowflex Selecttech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbells review

Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review: workout performance

Despite build quality being generally excellent, this system doesn't take too kindly to being thrown around or dropped onto hard surfaces, as the bracket and spinning collar mechanism can break.

This is worth bearing in mind for more serious lifters as it could be an issue if you want to lift really big during a bench press, for example. In that scenario, that one final, testing rep that helps to ensure progress might normally require you to drop the weights. That would be inadvisable with the Bowflex system.

Bowflex Selecttech 1090i Dumbbells review

Rotating collar quickly and easily selects weight

Bowflex Selecttech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbells review: verdict

These bad boys are expensive, clearly. Not only will a pair of more traditional dumbbells set you back a mere fraction of their cost, there are even quite similar 'modular' rivals from the likes of Bodymax and Men's Fitness that are cheaper.

However, the excellent build quality and the fact that this selectable dumbbell can go all the way to the heady heights of 41kg mean it's worth considering shelling out if you like to get technological about your fitness.

Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell review: also consider

It might be smaller and operating it might be a bit more cumbersome but the PowerBlock Sport 2.4 Adjustable Dumbbell is still worth considering as an alternative given its price: it's basically half of the price of the Bowflex SelectTech 1090i and you even get a pair of dumbbell for that much money.

As a low cost option, the Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbells are excellent and can withstand a much greater degree of abuse than the plastic shells let on. Even after months of heavy use, they are still going strong and have never once missed a beat. We even have a longer comparison of the two here: Bowflex Selecttech vs Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell.

And finally, the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell offers pretty much the same workout experience as the Bowflex SelectTech 1090i but cheaper, like, much cheaper. Go and check out our full review of it.

Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. When he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing. He's also a man who knows his tools, and he's provided much of T3's drills coverage over the years, all without injuring himself.