Which Model is the Best Rower for You? A Concept 2 Rower Review

Concept 2 is the leading manufacturer of indoor rowing machines, especially the most popular and top-rated Model D. In this Concept 2 Rower Review, we will compare the models D and E to help you decide which one would be the best fit for your needs.

Both models have the same quality and excellent construction with a few key differences. Read on for a detailed breakdown of their other specifications that you need to know.

The Concept 2 Rower Reviews That You Need to Read!

1. ​Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

The Concept2 Model D is a favorite rowing machine among athletes, Olympians, seniors, and even children and beginners. It is ideal for both gym and home use because it can be easily folded and stowed away.

With a nickel-plated steel chain and a 14-inch seat, it is made to withstand even the toughest workouts and the most intense cardio training. So, you do not have to worry about durability at all!

If you are looking for the best Concept2 Rower, their Model D sure is a hard contender to beat.

What We Like​

What We Don’t Like​

  • Currently the World’s Best-selling Rowing Machine for more than 40 years
  • Great value for the price
  • Has been proven to last for years
  • Used by both elite athletes and beginners of any age group
  • Cheaper than the Concept 2 Model E Rower
  • Simple and easy to assemble and use
  • Foldable front legs
  • Overall lighter weight than Model E
  • Easier to store
  • Good-looking and durable powder coat finish
  • Slightly lower seat height, making it harder to use for people with knee and back problems
  • Creates a bit of a noise while rowing which gets louder the harder you row
  • Some complaints about the seat being uncomfortable
  • The handles can be hard on the hands
  • While it is cheaper than the Model E rower, it is still quite an expensive investment for some

​2. ​Concept 2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

Now that you’ve had an idea about the Concept 2 Model D, let us compare it with its latest and most reliable competition in the market: the Concept 2 Model E. It has almost all the useful features of Model D, such as the ergonomic footrests and handles, the smooth flywheel design, and the Performance 5 Monitor among others.

The first noticeable difference between the two models is the heights of the seats. With a seat height of 20”, Model D is 6” lower than Model E. This makes the latter a bit better for people who have arthritic or injured knees and balance issues.

Model E also costs about $200 more, is heavier, has a larger footprint since the legs are not foldable, and a glossy instead of a matte finish. For a complete rundown of their differences, check out this table below:

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Feature​​Model DModel E​
​Weight​57 pounds​65 pounds
​Seat Height​14 in​20 in
​Chain​Nickel-plated steel, partially enclosed​Nickel-plated steel, fully enclosed
​Paint Finish​Powder coat – Matte​Double powder coat and clear top coat – Glossy
​Monitor Arm​Shorter, flexible monitor arm with adjustable viewing angle and monitor height​Longer, fixed monitor arm with adjustable viewing angle
​Storage Footprint​25 in. x 33 in. x 54 in.​27 in. x 45 in. 54 in.
​Supporting legs​Aluminum front legs and steel rear legsWelded steel

What We Like​

What We Don’t Like​

  • ​20” seat height is ideal for people with mobility and balance problems
  • ​Easy to maintain and assemble
  • ​Nickel-plated steel chain requires less frequent maintenance
  • Top-of-the-Line fixed Monitor which is closer to the user for better viewing
  • One-piece leg design for better stability
  • Recommended for older adults and those who are suffering from joint pains or recovering from injury
  • ​The upgrade from Model D is not that significant
  • ​Much more expensive than Model D while offering the same exercise quality
  • ​Has a larger footprint
  • The monitor arm and legs cannot be folded for storage
  • Occupies a larger space than the Model D
  • The seat is hard and uncomfortable
  • Heavier and harder to transport due to its size

Concept2 Rowing Machine Features

Full Body Low Impact Workout

Concept 2 Rower

The Concept2 rower, regardless of the model, provides a full low impact workout for your core, arms, and legs. This way, you can burn calories and build muscle simultaneously. It also makes your routine very simple without being boring.

You can adjust the resistance depending on the number of calories you want to burn or your target. This machine even allows you to practice rowing indoors and without having to brave freezing waters or harsh weather.

The motion you do with the rower is also easy on the joints, which makes it great for people who have joint pains due to injury or arthritis, and even for the elderly. You can sweat and workout without the consequence of muscle tear.


Both Concept2 Models operate with air resistance which works with a spinning flywheel and a handle for pulling. The resistance is created as the air in front of the flywheel is displaced. So, the faster and harder you row, more air is displaced, and the more resistance is felt.

You can set the damper settings to your preferred resistance to either minimize the noise or maximize your workout.

This mechanism is similar to that of water resistance rowers but distinct from hydraulic-piston and magnetic rowers. It makes rowing smooth and flawless.

Athletes love this type of resistance as it allows them to train at home or the gym with almost the same resistance when rowing on water.


Models D and E feature the PM5, Concept2’s most advanced monitor. It records and shows comparable and reviewable data for your every rowing session. These include stroke rate in strokes per minute, calories burned, distance, time, watts, and pace.

All your information gets automatically stored in a USB flash drive or the device’s internal memory. The PM5 even allows you to choose from a variety of pre-set workout routines or the “Just Row” mode.

The monitor works through the mechanical energy produced by the flywheel or using 2 D-cell batteries if this is unavailable. It has both an ANT+ wireless connectivity and Bluetooth, which enables it to various apps, fitness devices, or heart rate monitors.

User Capacity

Best Concept 2 Rower

According to the included manual, the Concept2 Rower’s weight capacity is 500 pounds. Users who are over 300 pounds still find the rowing machines stable and sturdy without any problems.

One issue that some people are concerned about is the height limit. Although there are no size restrictions indicated, the manufacturer assures the users that their product works for shorter people and even children.

The monorail is 54.0” or 137 cm long that can accommodate a maximum inseam length of 38.0”. For people who are taller than 6’9”, you can buy a 5” monorail extension.

Flywheel And Noise Level

The flywheel mechanism allows you to row consistently without wobbling or jerking even for prolonged periods of time. It also produces minimal noise, which makes both models suitable for home use both day and night, a plus for those who have long or odd working hours.


Concept 2 Rower D

Concept2 rowing machines are designed to make your experience as comfortable as possible, thanks to the ergonomic handles, adjustable footrests, and seats. The comfort level of the two models differ only due to the different seat heights.

The cushioned seats are also positioned so that you can sit for long hours without hurting your back. However, some users complain that the seat is too hard and uncomfortable to sit on.

As for the footrests, they allow the user to pedal properly without overworking the muscles. Moreover, the easy-grip handles minimize irritation, chafing, or slipping while you row.

Durable Construction and Easy Maintenance

All Concept2 machines have a reputation of lasting for years or even decades in good working condition even after rigorous and regular use. However, this still depends on your ability to maintain it.

Don’t worry; maintenance should not be too hard. You need to oil the steel chain every few weeks or so.

​To know how to properly use this equipment, please watch this video:

Final Thoughts

Based on what we have gathered in this Concept 2 rower review, both models D and E are superb choices. However, whichever you should pick is mostly dependent on their differences and your preferences or needs.

Model D is the cheaper option and is easier to store thanks to the foldable monitor arm, making it a favorite among users. Model E, on the other hand, has a higher seat which is great for people with knee and back problems. If that’s not an issue, the Model D rower should be alright! Whichever you choose, I’m sure you will get fantastic value for your money!

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