Concept2. What a name. What machines. Used by Olympic athletes there is no point writing a review about the quality of these rowing machines. The fact that elite professionals train on these says it all. Nothing is better.
I first got interested in rowing machines when Ernie a 76 year old titan from my gym logged his 100m score and discovered he broke the world record for his age. Immediately it pricked my interest that this was a really exciting and motivating way to push the boundaries of your fitness.
As he pulled his LogCard out of the monitor (previous gen PM4) he broke the news to me that he was planning on breaking the world record for his age and he did. I had to pretend that I Knew you could even plug a card into the console and log your time directly on the machine. You know man, I'm cool.
I have started at the base level concept rower the model d, but there is also the Model E and the Dynamic, which is the premium model. I would take a model d any day of the week though as it has everything you need unless you are actually an Olympic rower. In that case you won't be reading this review.
But if you compete at rowing at a serious level you'll want to invest probably in the top line dynamic model.
Does A 500 Pound Weight Limit Just Not Smack Of Quality?
Concept surely must be showing off with their 500 pound max user payload? But surely there's a reason for this folly. And there is. The thing is just that damn strong and robust. Professional, even above commercial grade. This thing would be impossible to tank, even in the water.
Just to reinforce the point there's a 5 year warranty as standard. Like all refined engineering products Concept have made this easy to get up and running. There are only 8 screws required for the assembly. Four are for the monitor.
Watch Strongman Brian Shaw and Elite Navy Seal Going Head To Head Here
The machine is rocking with Brian's 400+ pound weight but it still holds up!
What All Do You Get For Your Money?
Inside the packaging you will receive the frame which comes in 2 parts and can be took apart easily in 5 seconds with the framelock switch when you want to store it away for a while. There is the seat frame and the air resistant flywheel (provides smooth natural rowing motion).
You will also receive the hub of the machine - the wireless Bluetooth and ANT enabled Performance Monitor 5 (PM5) computer monitor- which apart from displaying your stats has cool rowing games built in, which will keep you and the kids happy, and thoroughly challenged. It also has a USB slot to log your workout data.
The wireless console works with loads of fitness apps > Zwift, ErgData, PerfPro Studio, and Sufferfest for those who like torture. You'll have no end of online tracking, coaching and duels.
It has a nice cradle on top which you can use to house your phone, and run apps or play some music, or record some seriously sweaty vlogs for your perusal.
You also get easy to follow instructions and all the assembly tools. The rower only weighs 56 pounds so its not much effort to get it up and running. Don't pay for assembly its a cinch and you can do it in 10 minutes.
Working and Folded Dimensions
It is a bit of a long beast. Once assembled the rower measures 8ft by 2 ft (96 x 24 in). You are recommended to have a 9ft x 4ft area for headroom and elbow clearance. It does fold vertically to approximately 2ft x 4.5ft (25 in x 33 in x 54 in).
As it is a light machine and splits in two, it's easy to store. It also has caster transport wheels underneath so no one will have trouble shifting it about.
A Little Maintenance
There is a little maintenance to be done. After using the machine for 40 hours you need to oil the chain. This could be once every 2 weeks for frequent users, or once a month for casual users. Or for the hardcore that's once a week. Chain oil is included with your purchase.
Oscar Worthy Reviews
What can you say bad about a rower that receives full review marks? Almost everyone who has bought this and left a review have given it the highest commendation.
The only negatives concerning this product is for anyone whose body does not cope well with rowing, this machine should not be bought. You can read about that further down the post.
It is also pricey. It is the difference between paying for a low budget car with rock hard suspension and a cheap plastic dashboard, to a luxury sedan with top of the line suspension, power and all the trimmings.
This Rower Will Bring Out The Animal In You
If you have a competitive streak but can't get out of the house that often sitting on this monorail will bring out the beast in you. The Concept2 software is great and allows you to compare your race times to people like you all over the world.
It's a great motivator watching the cheesy mugshots of fellow online competitors times - and what a feeling you get if you smash them out of the water.
Why Do Professionals Prefer Air Resistance?
Experienced or retired rowers prefer air resistance to magnetic resistance in rowing machines. With air resistance you will start your rowing stroke at a base level of exertion, as you build up momentum your stroke will finish with the flywheel spinning fast.
This makes pulling the last bit out slack out of the flywheel easier than if using magnetic resistance. Magnetic resistance provides a consistent level of force. It does not change. It is very static and unnatural. It is also quite taxing on the arms, and not in a particularly good way.
Unlike real rowing on water, magnetic resistance feel stifled. The harder you pull on an air resistant flywheel the faster you theoretically travel. You are exerting more force which is propelling you forward.
The machines intensity adjusts to how hard you row, That's the way it should be, and Concept have nailed this on all their rowers.
Who Should Stay Away From Rowing?
Rowing is an extremely repetitive sport, you use the knees to drive back, the shoulders and back provide a lot of the power. It is considered a low impact exercise. In other words it won't put a lot of stress on the body.
It is an all body exercise, and however with all forms of repetitive exercise, and rowing is about the most repetitive of all- if you have dodgy knees, hips or shoulders you won't want to suddenly buy a rower and think you can use it 3-5 times per week.
Although this machine is incredibly smooth it can tax the joints if you have problems with them.
If you are prone to joint problems try one out first if you have one in your local fitness club. Push yourself on it a couple of times per week and judge how you feel. You won't have to look too far to find a concept 2 rower, they are the most popular selling rower in good gyms and fitness clubs and YMCA's.
For anyone with arthritis in the knees- regular rowing actually strengthens the thighs but this can also dramatically stiffen up the IT band region - which runs along the outside of your thigh.
Once this stiffens flexibility will be further reduced and more pressure will be felt on the knees as a tight IT band will pull harder on the knee. You can reduce this by working the IT band region with a foam roller. This is discussed in our foam roller guide here.
Alternative Options Available
For those not needing such a pro grade machine the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is highly recommended. It's about a 10th of the price of the Concept 2 and has glowing reviews from many happy owners on Amazon. The parts aren't as hard wearing, but if you want something for casual use its ideal.
It's Biggest Rival Is The Big Brother - The Model E
The MSRP for the Model D is $900. The E Model around $1100. The E sits higher off the ground by 6 inches (recommended for someone with mobility problems). There is not a lot in it between these machines, the differences slightly cosmetic.
If you have balance issues or are elderly you will appreciate the seat height in the Model E (at 20 inches its just about at normal chair height). It will be easier to mount the machine.
The model E has a few refinements such as glossy paint, as opposed to matte on the D. The arm that holds the monitor is longer and fixed in place on the E - the D monitors have a pivoting arm which allows the monitor to pivot. Nothing really in any of these except the seat difference. They will not make any difference to the rowing experience.
The warranties are exactly the same- 5 years for the frame and 2 for the rest of the parts. Go with the D unless you have trouble sitting lower (14 inches from the ground). Unless you really like gloss paint and are prepared to pay the 20% premium.
Who Is The Model D For?
So who needs a machine that National athletes and elite competitors use?
The model D is designed for heavy institutional use. That's for gyms, clubs, using it for hours a day, 5-6 days per week, 352 days of the year. This is an investment for life product.
It is rock solid, low maintenance and provides a smooth workout machine. Cheap machines will wear out with a tenth of the use this rower can handle. If you like quality from your gym products and don't want to trace parts after breakdowns, this is what you will get.
Ideal for over 40s and 50s fitness right through to those Golden years unless you have bad lower back or knee problems.
It has a host of online capabilities to keep you amused, games, competitions, stat trackers. Most of all it will allow you to row in a fluid natural fashion, which can't be said of budget machines.
If you hate wasting money on spare parts and arguing with manufactures on the phone over warranties and out of stock parts, the Model D has you covered. It's a guaranteed stock.