Bottom line upfront: The Bowflex SelectTech 1090’s get my highest marks in almost every respect.
Following the massive popularity and success of their SelectTech 552 model, Bowflex also released a SelectTech 1090 model for those that needed a higher weight range than the 52.5 lbs offered by the SelectTech 552. The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 has essentially all of the same features and benefits of the 552, but with a wider weight range to work with (it’s adjustable from 10-90 lbs). Think of the 1090 as the big brother to the 552. They look nearly identical, and the SelectTech 1090 utilizes the same groundbreaking dial adjustment system that made the 552 the best-selling adjustable dumbbells on the market. My brother brought home a pair of the 1090’s about a month ago and we’ve been using them frequently, so I wanted to put together a SelectTech 1090 review to help anyone who might be in the market.
When Bowflex released the SelectTech 552 in the late 2000’s, they were a total hit and flew off the shelves. Their innovative dial adjustment system was the first of its kind, and drastically reduced the time it took change weights. No longer did you have to take dumbbells apart and add or remove the weight plates yourself. With the simple twist of a dial, you could adjust a dumbbell anywhere from 5-52.5 lbs in a matter of two or three seconds. You can easily see why the popularity soared and eventually led the SelectTech 552 to become the best-selling adjustable dumbbells of all time. However, there was one small issue.
The weight range of the SelectTech 552 maxed out at 52.5 lbs, and you couldn’t add any more weight because of Bowflex’s fixed bracket design. Stronger, more advanced weightlifters couldn’t get much benefit out of the 552 model because they needed more weight than the SelectTech 552 could offer. One year later, Bowflex released the SelectTech 1090 model. Same dumbbell, much more weight. Now, all of the same incredible features of the 552 model were available with a weight range of 10-90 lbs, so even the strongest weightlifters could take advantage of the Bowflex’s innovative new adjustable dumbbells. Ever since then, the SelectTech series has dominated the home dumbbells market and both athletes and personal trainers alike call them essential equipment for any home gym.
Features & Specifications
• Weight range of 10-90 lbs per dumbbell
• Adjustable in 5 lb increments
• 17 different weight settings: 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 75, and 90 lbs
• 3-year warranty
• 6-week Fitness Results Guarantee (money-back guarantee)
• Includes bonus workout DVD
• Dimensions: 10″ x 10″ x 17.5″ (W x H x L)
The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 was built with the stronger athlete in mind so it offers a very wide weight range to work with, starting at 10 lbs and going all the way up to 90 lbs per dumbbell! The weight is adjustable in 5 lb increments, which gives you 17 different weight settings to choose from. The only minor difference of the 1090’s adjustability compared to the SelectTech 552 is that it cannot adjust in 2.5 lb increments, but that’s really not an issue. Since the 552 only adjusts in 2.5 lb increments for the first 25 lbs, they’re exactly the same once you get past the 25 lb mark. There are some other high-weight-range adjustable dumbbells that offer 2.5 increments at any point in the weight range, but I’ve found that once you’re lifting on the heavier side (50 lbs or more), you don’t really use the 2.5 increments at all. I haven’t had a single problem moving in 5 lb increments with the SelectTech 1090.
Many home gym athletes will be a lot happier with this weight range than with the smaller weight range that good old PowerBlocks offer. But that’s not the only way that these two adjustable weight powerhouses differ. We break down more detail on Bowflex SelectTech vs PowerBlock and other brands in our Best Adjustable Dumbbell article.
Just like the SelectTech 552, my absolute favorite feature about the SelectTech 1090 is Bowflex’s dial-a-weight adjustment system. With the twist of a dial, you can change the weight from 10 lbs to 90 lbs with no other work required. Let me briefly explain how it works. Bowflex has a dial-and-bracket system built into the handle of each dumbbell. The dial is used to change weight settings, whereas the brackets inside the handle are what actually physically attach the weight plates to the bar for you. So let’s pretend you want to select a 50 lb weight setting. Twist the dial at each end of the dumbbell to 50 lbs. The brackets will essentially “grab” the weight plates it needs to make 50 lbs and lock them onto the handle. Then pull the dumbbell out of its cradle and you’re ready to rock. Done with your set and want to move up to 60 lbs now? Slide the dumbbell back into its cradle, twist the dials to 60 lbs, and then pull the dumbbell back out. Now there will be 60 lbs of weight plates attached. It’s really that simple.
Just to clarify, the “cradle” I talked about above is the tray that the dumbbells rest in. Some call it a base, too. It’s basically a tray fitted to the shape of the dumbbell that holds all of the weight plates in an upright position so you can easily slide the dumbbell in and out when you want to change weight settings. In fact, in order to twist the dial at all, the dumbbell must be in its cradle. When the dumbbell is removed from the cradle, the dial locks into place so that it cannot move during a workout (which means the weight plates can’t move either, which is good!). I was happy to learn about this locking mechanism because I’ll admit, I was a little worried about something coming loose or having a weight fall out during a workout.
Quality & Durability
In my experience, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090’s have worked pretty well, but not quite as great as the 552’s did when I tested those out (I tell you exactly what I mean in the Anything Bad? section further down on this page). For those who don’t know, the SelectTech 552 is the highest-rated adjustable dumbbells set on the market, so naturally I expected the same from the 1090. The 1090 is made with high-strength metals in order to provide a secure lock on the weight plates when the bracket system is in use, and the weight plates are coated in a thick plastic liner to help it take a little roughing up. But the plastic lining was put in place to provide more than just durability; it’s also done that way to allow the weight plates to move smoothly next to each other because of how the dumbbell has to slide in and out of the cradle when changing weight settings (which helps a lot, by the way).
The main issue you have to be careful with is dropping them. I said this about the SelectTech 552 and I’m going to say it again. Because of how intricate the dial and bracket system is, the SelectTech’s are not made to withstand dropping. There are a lot of small parts which make the system work, and these parts can be damaged if you drop the weights too much (or at all), so Bowflex repeatedly warns in the owner’s manual not to drop them to avoid this altogether. We all know working out can be a little rough, so you have to be careful that you’re not dropping these after every set.
Bowflex offers a 3-year warranty on the 1090’s, which covers all parts and even includes labor if you have to send them back for any reason. In addition, they offer a money-back guarantee called the 6-Week Fitness Results Guarantee. If you’re not completely satisfied with your dumbbells or the results they’ve given you in 6 week, Bowflex will give you a 100% refund and take the SelectTech’s back. I like this about Bowflex because it makes your purchase totally worry-free and gives you the opportunity to try the dumbbells out for a few weeks while still having the refund option to fall back on if you’re not impressed. Any company that stands by their products enough to offer a 6-week guarantee like that, is a company that I’ll definitely give a shot.
How Do They Feel?
The SelectTech 1090’s have that same big-dumbbell feel as the 552’s do. And what I mean by that, is that the overall size of the SelectTech dumbbells are significantly longer than any other dumbbell on the market (17.5″ to be exact). Because of the bracket-style weight design that Bowflex uses, the size of the dumbbell does not change according to the weight you have attached, so a 10 lb dumbbell and a 90 lb dumbbell are going to be the same exact length. This is because the handle still has to have open spots to attach more weight plates when you slide the dumbbell in and out of its cradle. The lengthy design isn’t a major problem, it’s just a little awkward at first because you’re not use to using a dumbbell of that size. After a few weeks, I got accustomed to the length and even found that it helped me learn to control the weight better because I had to work with stabilizing the long design in addition to lifting the weight. Cool little benefit or trade-off, if you will. The 1090’s handles are contoured to fit the shape of the hand, which is nice, and the grip is knurled steel (no rubber or paddding here).
Anything Bad About The Bowflex SelectTech 1090’s?
All-in all, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090’s have been great dumbbells to work with, but I did have a few issues with them. All were manageable though, so not to worry. For starters, the bulky size of the 1090 was a little awkward to lift with. This is an issue of the SelectTech series in general, both the 552 and the 1090 have a very long size because of the dial-and-bracket system they use to change weight. The 1090 is nearly 18″ long, which as you can imagine is significantly longer than any other dumbbell you’ve probably ever seen. My only complaint was that I wasn’t able to get quite the muscle “squeeze” I wanted on certain exercises (like on dumbbell chest press, for example) because at the end of the rep I couldn’t bring the dumbbells close enough since they would touch and get in the way of each other. The length will definitely surprise you at first, but it was manageable once I got used to it.
The next issue was minor, but I wanted to bring it up just to be as detailed as I can. The steel grip on the SelectTech 1090 is pretty rough. This isn’t a regular knurled steel grip like you would feel on a traditional dumbbell in the gym. The 1090’s grip is raised, kind of like miniature spikes (okay, that sounds super painful, but you get the idea of what I’m trying to say). Even with pretty calloused hands, I found that the grip dug into my palm quite a bit, especially when you get into the higher weight ranges (over 50 lbs). Luckily, this was easily fixable in 2 minutes. I wrapped some rubber grip tape around the handle and it made things much more comfortable, never had the rough grip issue again.
The last issue I wanted to bring up was not something I personally experienced, but something I read about. I always do my research through other user reviews so I can give you the most information, and I did find something a little concerning. Some customer reviews on Amazon of the SelectTech 1090 talk about the weight plates randomly falling out during a workout. It doesn’t seem to be a common issue, but it’s something I wanted to address in case you were potentially worried about this happening to you. Over 90% of the reviews on Amazon were positive experiences, so if I had to bet money on it, I’d say the people that had this issue were probably too rough on their 1090’s and dropped them too much, which damaged the weight brackets and caused them to lose their locking function. Bowflex repeatedly warns not to do this for a reason, so as long as you just follow their directions, you should be just fine. With that being said, it’s still kind of a bummer to me that you have to be so gentle with them. Weightlifting is rough by nature, and we all know that it’s sometimes hard to be easy with weights after completely exhausting yourself finishing a heavy set of 8.
Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Video Review
• Nice, user-friendly design
• Fastest and easiest dumbbells to adjust weight
• Essentially a wider weight range version of the best-selling SelectTech 552
• High quality materials and construction
• Money-back guarantee
• Long, larger size makes the dumbbells a little awkward during certain exercises
• Weight brackets susceptible to damage if dropped too much
• Steel grip is sharp and can dig into hands
Overall, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells were a great set of adjustable dumbbells to test out. It really is just the higher-weight version of the SelectTech 552 that I liked so much when I tested those several months ago. For me, I needed more weight than the 552’s offered, which is why I couldn’t justify keeping them. That’s why I was so happy when we got the 1090’s; it made all the difference having 90 lbs of weight range to work with! If you weren’t completely sold on the 1090’s, or you’d like a pair of weights that can handle a little more abuse, I’d highly recommend checking out the PowerBlock Elites or the Ironmaster Quick-Locks. These are two incredible high-weight-range models that I absolutely loved when I tested them (the PowerBlock’s are my personal favorite high-weight model).