The Concept 2 rower is well known in the fitness community for the company’s uncompromising attention to detail and their line of incredibly engineered indoor rowing machines.
If you need outstanding performance and comfort at a surprisingly affordable price, you don’t need to look any further. These workhorses are often found in fitness clubs and gyms and are used by more than a few professional athletes.
Part of the allure of Concept 2 rowing machines is their exceptional design. The founders were Olympic rowers who turned their attention to designing innovative oars, then expanded to the design of indoor rowers in 1981.
The company name has become synonymous with quality, and they won’t be changing any time soon. The factory in Vermont makes every single indoor rower, and then direct ships it to the buyer, so you’ll never have to worry about cheap, foreign parts.
The Concept 2 rower uses an air resistance flywheel that is perfectly calibrated and balanced for one of the smoothest performances around. The harder you pull, the greater the resistance, but it’s a truly seamless transition.
Performance is gauged by actual power supplied by you rather than revolutions, so you’ll get a more accurate evaluation of your stamina and improvement across time.
These are also easy to care for machines, and consumer reviews back this up. You should periodically wipe down the monorail with a soft cloth and put a bit of oil on the chain, but otherwise there’s no real upkeep required.
You’ll like the looks of these machines as well; the Concept 2 rowing machine is sleek and solid, with no extra trim or needless parts to mar the lines of your equipment.
Although you’ll pay more for a Concept 2 rower than you will for a basic one, you’re definitely getting what you pay for and then some. Notable features include several comfort extras such as padded handlebars, an ample seat with smooth, gliding action and even heel cups to prevent your feet from slipping down too far.
The weight capacity is an impressive 500 pounds, which is practically unheard of for machines that weigh less than sixty pounds.
(There was also a Model C that was discontinued that you might still find for sale on eBay or similar sites)
Let's take a closer look at these rowers to see how they compare to each other...
The Model D, at around $945 on sale, is the most popular model and the best selling rowing machine in the world today. It is available in light gray or black, and includes an advanced PM5 monitor with Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless capability, smooth and quiet flywheel operation, nickel plated chain, high adjustability and durable construction.
The Model E, about $1,160 on sale, is similar to the Model D with a few slight differences: it is 20 inches off the ground, as opposed to 14 inches on the Model D. This makes it much easier to get on and off, as it is essentially at chair height. Also, the nickel plated chain is enclosed on the Model E, providing a little more protection. Lastly, the monitor arm is longer and fixed, where it is shorter and adjustable on the Model D.
The Dynamic is the newest model in the lineup, and costs around $1,250 on sale. It is more geared towards competitive rowers, and differs from the Model D and E in that the footrest is not stationary; rather it moves with you as you row. So your upper body stays in a very controlled range of motion, while your feet move out and in. This most closely replicates the feel of rowing on the water.
As far as the home user is concerned, the Model D and Model E are definitely the best choices. For the more serious, competitive rower, the Dynamic will most closely replicate that outdoor on-water feel.
One of the most talked about features in Concept 2 rower reviews is the advanced PM5 performance monitor, standard on the Model D, Model E and Dynamic rowing machines.
This is one of the things that separates the company from the competition, as it gives you much more accurate workout metrics than even the most expensive rowing machines on the market. You can pay $1000 more and still get much less advanced computer that Concept 2 offers.
The PM5 is the latest version of their computer, and although it looks quite basic, it is far beyond what you typically get.
For starters, it is very easy to operate. It powers up with your first stroke, and there are easy to follow menu items so you can get right to where you need to be. Everything is backlit for enhanced visibility.
Of course you have your calories, watts, speed, pace and distance, and you can display your workout in five different ways: all data (which is everything on one screen), force curve (a graph of your power), bar chart (power in watts), large print (easier viewing) and pace boat (row against a target).
As we mentioned, you can sync up with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth and ANT +, using the Concept 2 ErgData App or a variety of other fitness apps. You can plug in a USB flash drive to get your data as well if you prefer.
This makes it easier to gauge your progress, set goals for yourself and share your results with family and friends. You can also monitor your heart rate wirelessly for more accuracy.
The Concept 2 PM5 performance monitor also includes various games that you can play to make your workouts more interesting, and the ability to race against another rower regardless of whether or not they are in the same room.
So you get a lot more functionality than you typically get, with much more information that is not only more detailed, but also more accurate than you find on most other rowing machines on the market.
The Concept 2 rower wins our top honors for quality, price and comfort. Every machine is easy to use, durable, and gives you plenty of comfort so that you’re more likely to keep exercising.
One of the most unique aspects of the Concept 2 lineup is the online support, which is located in their Vermont manufacturing plant. You can join for free and compete online against other rowers from around the world in virtual races. How cool is that? Online challenges, training tips and motivational articles are all part of their support package.
Concept 2 machines have the highest resale value of any indoor rowers by any manufacturer. The bottom line? People are willing to pay more for used Concept 2 rowing machines than they would pay for a brand new rower by a lesser manufacturer. That truly says it all.
You can read our reviews below to get a better sense of Model D vs E to help you decide between the two popular models. The main difference to keep in mind is just the height of the seat. The Model E sits 6" higher off the ground, so it is a bit easier for those with mobility issues or very tall individuals to get on and off of the machine.
Other than that there isn't that much that makes one better than another. Both are solid, smooth and maintenance free, available in two color options: black and light gray, and have Bluetooth wireless for monitoring your heart rate accurately and syncing your workout results to your fitness apps.
Here are reviews of the current Concept 2 rowers, so you can get a little more in-depth information on each one to help you decide which one makes sense for your home gym.
On these pages you'll find specs, details, what users and experts have to say about the machines as well as buying tips and other information. If you don't find something that you are looking for please feel free to contact us.
Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower - The best rower ever built, and it’s the same one you will find in health clubs and professional sports team facilities.
Concept 2 Model E Indoor Rower - Equally as good as the Model D, this one has a higher seat height, longer monitor arm and enclosed chain housing.
Concept 2 Dynamic Rower - the newest rowing machine in the lineup, with floating footrest that more closely resembles an on water experience. Ideal for competitive training.
The top choice of professional rowers and health clubs, a quality piece of equipment and a great investment for your home gym.
BEST WATER ROWER
The WaterRower Natural rowing machine is a stunning piece of fitness equipment and offers an amazing simulation of the feel of on-the-water rowing.
BEST BUDGET ROWER
A solid budget model offering great value for the money, with continuous resistance and ergonomic design.