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Concept2 rowing machine review - rower up close

The Complete Concept 2 Model D Rower Review (2021)

The Concept2 Model D rower is arguably the best selling and most well-known high-quality rowing machine today. It’s one of the best we’ve ever reviewed. It’s made of a solid, aluminum frame which is durable and built to last for years, even with daily, hardcore use.

This air resistance rower replicates the action of rowing on the water and automatically adjusts resistance as you row, so the more you pull, the more it will match your strength. At the same time, you can control the level of your workout with the adjustable damper. 

This is the gold standard of rowing machines.

Quick highlights are that it has a premium contoured & padded seat that’s comfortable even after an hour or more of use (and most of us aren’t rowing for a full hour). It has one of the best screens available (I would say it’s by far the best but that’s my opinion).

It’s huge and it tracks your time, distance, intervals, and more (we deep dive into the screen below). And if you’re concerned with the cost, you’ll be happy to know that it has a 2-year and 5-year warranty depending on the product you get. It’s an absolute beast of a rower that’s built for hardcore CrossFit athletes (it’s literally the rower they use at the CrossFit games).  


Concept 2 Model D Rower

Our Rating

5/5

Okay, now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the Concept 2 Model D review…

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Full-body workout
  • Wireless Heart-Rate Data
  • Air-resistance system 
  • Non-slip footrests 
  • Supports up to 500 lbs 
  • Easy to store & move around

Cons:

  • It’s a fan rower so it’s a little on the loud side
  • Pricey

What we like About The Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

man and woman rowing on the concept2 rower

The Concept 2 has thought about everything and, as a result, they’ve been the top-level gold standard rower for years. From the resistance to the seat to the unboxing and assembly, it’s all very easy. The Concept 2 can be put together within about 20 minutes by yourself – even if you’re not savvy with that kind of thing. It’s a commercial level indoor rowing machine which means it’s built with minimal moving parts and made to take a serious beating without skipping a beat. 

The chain never skips, the seat and rail are fluid, and the resistance adjustment is spot on. There’s a reason this is the pro-choice. When you’re rowing on the Concept 2, the motion is as fluid as rowing a boat. The catch, drive, finish, and recovery are top-notch. 

When it comes to longer rowing sessions, the Concept 2 ModelD has a seat that’s plenty comfortable. While it does tend to become a little harder over time (according to rowing aficionados), it’s not a big deal to swap out the seat or do a little adjusting. 

Additionally, if you’re tall, you’ll appreciate the dimensions of the Concept 2. Its rail is 8” long and can accommodate users up to 6’8”. If you’re any height less than that, you’re all good (sorry Shaq). And finally, the footrests are a very important aspect of rowers. They’re your foundation and if they’re bad, the whole experience is bad. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that with the Concept 2. It’s been well thought out, ergonomically designed, and built for easy adjusting mid-row. Overall, there’s very little about this rower that we don’t love. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Concept 2 Model D Rower

When buying a Concept 2 Model D Rower, there isn’t much to consider because it is hands down one of the best rowers. That being said, it is by no means a cheap piece of equipment that everybody can afford. However, you can think of this rower as an investment — an investment in your health, body, and overall fitness. That being said, I know you want to know details so let’s get into the nuts and bolts…

Ease of Use

The Concept 2 is extremely easy to use. You basically jump on, turn on the monitor, and start rowing. There’s nothing more straightforward than that. 

Build Quality

When it comes to quality, the Concept 2 is top level. It’s made from lightweight materials so it’s easy to move but at the same time, it’s extremely durable. It can handle up to 500 lbs so if you’re anywhere under that weight, you’ll have zero problems with this rower. It also requires minimal maintenance to keep it in pristine operating condition.

Assembly

The Model D is very easy to assemble, and will only take around 20 minutes to complete by yourself. It comes with an easy to follow instruction manual that lays out a simple step-by-step guide and you can use the rower as soon as finished. 

Storage

While it may look large and heavy, the Concept 2 Model D Rower can be folded and stood on its end when not in use. At the same time, it can also be easily broken into two parts by using its quick-release mechanism — no tools required! When it’s time to workout again, you can put it back together in just a few seconds.

Price & Value

Okay, so we already know that the Model D isn’t cheap, so consider this an investment, rather than an expense. Most of its parts are easily replaceable, it has a long warranty, and it’s basically built to last a lifetime with regular use. If you’re intermediate to advanced, this is the best overall value rowing machine. 

In-Depth Review Of The Concept 2 Model D Rower

four people at crossfit competition on rowers

Below we take a look at all of the features of the Concept 2 Model D including things we like, dislike, and how it stacks up against the competition. 

Performance Monitor 5 (PM5) 

With the inclusion of the PM5 or Performance Monitor 5, it sets the Concept 2 Model D rower apart from the competitors. The PM5 offers a wide range of data that includes pace, watts, stroke rate (SPM), and calories, which will be stored in either its internal memory or an optional USB flash drive. The device is operated by using 2 D-cell batteries whenever it’s not being powered by the flywheel. 

The PM5 is the best rowing machine computer for those who care about monitoring their progress. It syncs with your smartphone so you can store your workout data, they have a WOD email they send out with daily workouts for you to follow, they do online challenges, and even online rankings so you can compare your records to others. In short, you’re getting a community with this rowing machine. 

If you simply want to jump on and go, it also has pre-programmed workouts and games. These are 30-minute rowing, interval rowing, 2000, 5000, and 10000-meter distance rowing, which are great for intense workouts. Want to have some fun while working out? Try the four basic rowing games (Fish game, Darts, Target training, and Biathlon) that comes with the PM5. 

Features Of The 

The PM5 monitor comes with both Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity, which allows you to connect to different devices and accessories like heart rate belts, fitness devices, and apps. Your smartphone can also track your progress by using the free Concept 2 ErgData app, which can also sync with the Concept 2 Online Logbook — an online platform that stores your progress from the PM5 monitor. 

Flywheel & Damper

With the Model D’s air-resistance system and flywheel design, it does it’s best to minimize the noise while maximizing smooth workouts. However, the sound is definitely noticeable and may not be the best choice for those living in small spaces, or those with children and pets as it can be heard in the next room.  

But compared to other rowers with limited resistance levels, the Concept 2 Model D offers unlimited resistance for all fitness levels, which is great for CrossFit athletes and anyone who needs a rower that can grow with you. 

Low Profile Design

The Model D has a dimension of 8 ft x 2 ft (244 cm x 61 cm) when assembled and 25 in x 33 in x 54 in (63.5 cm x 83.8 cm x 137.2 cm) when folded. So make sure that you have enough space at home to use the Model D before buying your own. That being said, it can be stored upright and broken down into two pieces for easier storage. It’s a longer rower than your budget options and accommodates users of nearly any height. 

Storage & Mobility

Unlike other indoor rowing equipment that requires tools to separate the machine into pieces for storage, the Model D has a quick-release frame-lock mechanism that separates its body into two parts. This makes it even easier to move and put back together. 

Adjustable Footrests & Ergonomic Handle

concept2 rower foot pedals

The Concept 2 Model D comes with an adjustable footrest making and an ergonomic handle with a 10-degree bend that supports a natural arm and hand position. Oftentimes, footrests tend to be a point of contention on many rowers. For whatever reason, budget machines tend to have lots of problems with the footrests. But with the Model D, the positioning, durability, and overall quality of both the rest and the straps is spot on. You won’t have any issues here. 

Seat & Handlebar

While every rower has a seat and handlebar, not all are made equal in terms of comfort and durability. The Concept 2 Model D has been ergonomically designed so you can do intense workouts for longer. The seat is molded plastic and moves very smoothly along the rail. 

Concept 2 Model D Alternatives 


Stamina ATS Air Rower

The Stamina ATS Rower is sure to burn calories while building our body strength and improving your overall health. Just like The Model D, it uses air resistance, so it can always match your pace, making it easy to slow down or pick up the intensity. Its LCD screen tracks distance, speed, time, and calories burned so you can always beat your record from yesterday. It has also added upgraded features from its predecessors such as an upholstered, padded seat, padded rowing handles, and adjustable footplates to keep you comfortable during your whole workout. 

It’s a solid rower that’s less pricey than the Concept 2. That being said, it’s very basic in comparison. 

Features:

  • Easy-to-read LCD 
  • Textured footplates and adjustable straps
  • Folding frame for easy storage
  • Padded seat for extra comfort

Schwinn Crewmaster Rowing Machine

With one of the longest warranties on the market for its frame, the Schwinn Crewmaster Rowing Machine is tough competition to beat. Its warranty consists of 10 years for the frame, 3 years for the parts, and 1 year for labor. Like many rowers, this model also includes a great LCD screen that keeps track of time, distance, count, stroke, calories, and pulse. 

In addition, it can be easily stowed away when not in use thanks to its easy-fold design. Finally, it has 10 levels of resistance which is good for many users. 

How does it compare? The LCD screen is relatively basic and it’s magnetic which has a cap on the resistance levels.

Features:

  • Good sized LCD screen
  • Impressive 10-year warranty on the frame
  • Oversized seat for more comfort
  • Easy-to-fold design for quick storage 
  • 10 levels of magnetic resistance

Who Can Benefit From Rowing & A Rowing Machine? 

fit couple on concept two rowing machines

If you want a high-intensity workout – without ruining your joints for life, rowing is a good match for you. Whether you’re a 24-year-old CrossFit athlete or a woman in her mid 50’s who’s never worked out a day in her life, you will love rowing. Moreover, when you use a rower, this is a sustainable form of exercise. You don’t have to worry about joint damage, you can remain seated while you work, and you can adjust the intensity of your workout to match your current fitness level. 

If you’re a 24-year-old CrossFit champion, you’ll find the Concept 2 just as challenging as the woman in her mid 50’s. The reason being that the rower automatically adjusts to match your intensity. So, if you’re going light, it goes with you. If you’re all out balls to the wall, it’ll push you to your limits. 

There are not many…maybe not any other ways to get a full-body workout so efficiently. Additionally, by spending a few minutes each day on your rower, you’ll increase your flexibility, improve cardiovascular health, and you will lose weight in the process. 

So, if you’re wondering if you can benefit from a rowing machine, I would say the answer is a resounding “Yes!”. 

Summary & Final Thoughts On The Concept 2 Model D 

If you’re an athlete, CrossFitter, or you know that you’ll be rowing often, then the Concept 2 Model D is hands down the best option for you. It has a premium look, feel, build, and can accommodate both slow-paced rowing and hardcore, high-intensity workout sessions. 

Get it here

That being said, it’s a little pricey so the decision is yours as to whether or not it’s worth it to you. If you’re not quite there yet, you may want to try one of the alternatives above which offer a good balance of budget and value. They’re both solid options and affordable. 

However, if you’re going for a premium rower that’s built to last, we hope this review of the Concept 2 Model D has helped. 

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