How to tell a fake bowflex dumbbell

How To Tell A Fake Bowflex Dumbbell Using These 11 Signs

Anyone who has ever searched for a pair of Bowflex SelectTech 552 and 1090 dumbbells knows that the market is rife with knock-offs, imitations, and unbranded copies. This post teaches you how to tell between a fake and real Bowflex dumbbell.

Fake Bowflex dumbbells can be spotted using a variety of visual and tactile clues. Imitations usually do not have the Bowflex branding, are made from low-quality plastic, do not have a serial number, and usually display in kg rather than lbs. The adjustment mechanism is also more awkward to use.

I’ve tried my friend’s imitation Bowflex and I’ve also owned the SelectTech 552 dumbbells for 2 years (you can find my hands-on 552 review here).

And let me tell you- they may look similar but they definitely perform differently!

Keep reading to learn how to spot the difference between an authentic and a fake.

I tested real and fake Bowflex dumbbells to find the difference.

Looking To Get Bowflex Dumbbells?

Other than the authorised dealers listed on the Bowflex website, I found Amazon to provide the fastest shipping and most competitive pricing!

Bowflex also have an official store on Amazon to reduce your risk of ending up with a fake Bowflex!

Are There Fake Bowflex Dumbbells?

Fake Bowflex dumbbells exist. Although most of these knock-off dumbbells feature similar weight capacities and settings as the Real Bowflex dumbbells, they are usually of lower build quality. The materials are less durable and the weight adjustment mechanism is less reliable.

These dumbbells are usually found on Amazon or Ali Express.

On Amazon, they usually take the form of re-branded adjustable dial-a-weight dumbbells that look similar to the real Bowflex dumbbells. They usually have the same shape, design, and colors.

On Ali Express, they usually take the form of imitation Bowflex dumbbells that come unbranded. Again, they usually look very similar to the real Bowflex dumbbells.

How To Tell If Your Bowflex Dumbbells Are Fake

There’s a multitude of signs- visual and by feel- that reveal if your Bowflex dumbbells are real or fake.

Some signs can be spotted in online photos whilst other indicators are more difficult to notice and require you to get hold of the actual dumbbells to physically assess them.

Below, you’ll find 11 telltale signs that your Bowflex dumbbells are fakes or unbranded knock-offs.

Note: the signs are written for how to spot a fake Bowflex 552 but many of the indicators also apply to the 1090 dumbbells.

1) There Is No Bowflex Logo On The Top Bracket.

Real vs unbranded Bowflex 552 logo on top bracket.

This is the easiest way to tell a knock-off copy Bowflex dumbbell.

The top bracket is a piece of plastic that runs horizontally along the top of the Bowflex dumbbells.

The bracket is red on the Bowflex 552 dumbbells and black on the Bowflex 1090 dumbbells.

It should be branded with the Bowflex name.

On a real Bowflex 552, this is a simple paint job. The Bowflex 1090 it’s embroidered in a piece of clear plastic.

How to spot a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

Bowflex copy knock-off dumbbells either don’t have a logo at all, or they have a logo that isn’t “Bowflex”.

It might simply say “Dumbbell” or feature an unknown brand logo.

2) The Adjustment Dial Does Not Have A Bowflex Motif.

Real vs imitation Bowflex 552 logo on adjustment dial end cap.

The adjustment dials on both the Bowflex 552 and 1090 feature a plastic end cap.

This protects the dial by shielding the internal components.

It’s also there for aesthetic purposes and to let people know you are in fact using a real Bowflex dumbbell!

The endcap should be imprinted with the Bowflex motif (NOT the wording).

How to spot a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

The Bowflex imitations have end caps that are either completely unbranded or feature an unknown logo.

3) Dial Increments Are In Kg And Not Lbs.

Authentic vs fake Bowflex dial readouts in lbs and kg

Bowflex dumbbells are designed and manufactured by an American brand.

As such, the dial increments are shown in pounds and NOT Kg.

None of the Bowflex dumbbells, nor their post-release versions, feature increments in Kgs (to the best of my knowledge).

How to tell a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

Most imitation Bowflex dumbbells from China or the unbranded ones from Ali Express have increments in Kg.

You might also be interested in my other article to learn how heavy Bowflex dumbbells are (real ones of course!).

4) Dial Is Made From Hard Plastic And Not Neoprene.

Authentic vs imitation Bowflex 552 dial material.

The adjustment dial on real Bowflex 552 and 1090 dumbbells is coated in a protective layer of neoprene.

This coating is also easy to tell by feel; it has a grippy/tacky texture to it and feels like good quality material.

Another-albeit more difficult- way to tell is by eye.

The neoprene has a slight matt finish to it so it doesn’t reflect light very well. As such, any light that you shine on it is diffracted/dulled.

How to spot a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

Bowflex copy dumbbells do not have the neoprene coating on their adjustment dials. They usually use a hard plastic that feels cheap and also reflects light.

5) The Adjustment Dial Jams Or Feels Clunky.

Real vs fake Bowflex adjustment dial performance.

The Bowflex adjustment mechanism is slick, smooth, and satisfying to use.

The dial should glide and each turn produces a metallic “clink” sound.

This is something you have to feel for yourself, so having an in-person test is recommended.

How to tell a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

Speaking from experience, the fake copy Bowflex dumbbells are infuriating to use.

The dial does not feel smooth at all.

In fact, it feels rather cumbersome to turn.

It also jams frequently and you don’t get that same feeling of using a high-quality product.

For a full analysis of durability, you can go to my other post to see how reliable Bowflex dumbbells are.

6) Instruction Manual Is In Broken English.

Real vs knock-off Bowflex instruction manual.

Real Bowflex SelectTech 552 and 1090 adjustable dumbbells should both come with an instruction manual.

It’s written in perfectly clear American English and has the Bowflex branding on the front cover.

The manual details how to safely operate the dumbbell and gives you a list of exercises to do with your Bowflex dumbbells.

How to tell a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

Some Bowflex imitation dumbbells do not come with a manual at all.

Others come with a poorly written manual that’s full of broken English!

For more information on the Bowflex brand, you can go to my other article to find out where Bowflex dumbbells are manufactured and shipped from.

7) There Is No Bowflex Serial Number On The Base.

Authentic vs imitation Bowflex 552 dumbbell instruction manual

Bowflex makes each of its dumbbells with a unique serial number.

This unique number is printed on a label attached to the underside of the base on which the dumbbells sit.

It can also be registered on the Bowflex website or by phone.

The serial number allows current and future owners to validate the authenticity of a Bowflex dumbbell.

How to spot an imitation Bowflex dumbbell:

Speaking from experience, you can tell a fake Bowflex dumbbell if it hasn’t got a serial number.

Most of the companies who manufacture Bowflex copies or unbranded versions won’t even bother adding a fake serial number.

Interested in considering another dumbbell brand? You can check out my other post to find out why PowerBlock dumbbells are better than Bowflex’s!

8) The Handle Grip Is Made From Smooth Plastic.

Real vs fake Bowflex Selectech 55 handle grip.

Bowflex dumbbells have a grip on the handle.

This takes the form of a neoprene rubber sleeve on the Bowflex 552 (it’s textured with the Bowflex motif).

In the Bowflex 1090, the grip is provided by knurling (etching) on the steel handle.

How to tell a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

You can spot a Bowflex knock-off if the handle sleeve is made from plastic or hard rubber.

These sleeves provide very little grip, unlike the neoprene sleeve in a legit Bowflex, which feels tacky (sticky).

Unsure what these dumbbells can be used for? You can go to my other post for a Bowflex workout to gain muscle and lose fat!

9) The Dumbbells Are Half The Recommended Retail Price.

Bowflex dumbbell prices vary year to year.

I presume this is based on supply and demand.

But to the best of my knowledge, they won’t fluctuate by more than a hundred bucks.

Amazon is a good marketplace to gauge the Bowflex RRP.

In other words, you should use Amazon as an indicator of how much you should be paying for your Bowflex 552 and 1090 dumbbells.

If the price of a potentially fake Bowflex dumbbell seems too good to be true then it probably is!

How to spot an imitation Bowflex dumbbell:

Based on personal research and experience, unbranded and knock-off Bowflex dumbbells are usually around half the price of authentic models!

That’s for a brand new dumbbell by the way.

It’s not unusual for a second-hand authentic Bowflex to cost less than half the brand new RRP price.

You may also be interested in my other post to find out if real Bowflex dumbbells are worth your money.

10) Locking Button Is Not Black.

Authentic vs fake Bowflex locking buttons.

All Bowflex dumbells have a small locking button found on the bottom of the handle guards on either end of the main dumbbell handle.

You simply flip the dumbbell over to reveal this button.

The button serves to engage/disengage the locking mechanism.

When you place the dumbbell onto the base, the button is depressed and disengages the locking mechanism allowing you to turn the dial.

When you lift the dumbbell off the base, the button is released, the locking mechanism is engaged, and the dials cannot be turned.

The locking buttons are black on real Bowflex dumbbells.

How to tell a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

Knock-off and unbranded Bowflex dumbbells have locking buttons that aren’t always black.

They may be white, blueish, or some other color.

For more details on how Bowflex dumbbells work, you can check out my other article to find full Bowflex 552 instructions.

11) Internal Selection Plate Has Irregular Or Small Teeth.

Real vs imitation Bowflex locking disc.

Bowflex dumbbells have a steel selection plate attached to the external side of the handle guards.

This plate functions as part of the locking mechanism allowing you to select weight.

Real Bowflex dumbbells have a plate with regularly spaced teeth that are around 8mm wide and spaced 13mm apart (this is true for the SelectTech 552s, the 1090s should be similar).

How to tell a fake Bowflex dumbbell:

The teeth in knock-off and unbranded fake Bowflex dumbbells are usually much thinner, the spacing is larger, and they may even be spaced irregularly.

Where To Buy Real Bowflex Dumbbells

Where to buy real Bowflex 552 and 1090 dumbbells.

In my opinion, Amazon is the most reliable and convenient place to get the Bowflex dumbbells.

Bowflex actually has its own Amazon store.

You can tell this from the words “Visit The Bowflex Store” underneath the product name.

The pricing is fair (representative of RRP) and delivery is quick (and free on prime).

They also have flash sales now and again.

You can find the cheapest Bowflex 552 price here or the cheapest Bowflex 1090 price here.


I’ve explained how to tell if your Bowflex dumbbells are fakes, imitations, or knock-offs.

It can be difficult to spot the difference between a real and fake Bowflex on a superficial level.

But by using the 11 signs I shared in this post, you should be able to more easily spot the difference between an authentic and a fake!

Are there any other signs you can think of?

Let me know in the comments!

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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